Archive | March 2015

Gifted and Talented

Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Do you consider yourself gifted? We don’t really talk about this a lot. We don’t want to draw attention to ourself. Yesterday at church, we had a young lady bring a special. She played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”. It was to a different tune and it was beautiful. She did an amazing job. She is very shy though. All the attention was way out of her comfort zone. 

God has given each of us different abilities. Some have the gift of teaching – they should teach. Some have the gift of singing – they should sing. Some have the gift of encouragement – they should encourage. Some have the gift of preaching – they should preach. And then there are those jobs that we don’t often think about – decorating, organizing, serving, managing money, protecting, cleaning, childcare – all of these things are important, and this is just a short list. 

My point is this – God has blessed each and every one of us with different gifts and talents. Some are seemingly important and huge and some are seemingly meaningless and small. But they are ALL important. God does not give us something that is not important. He doesn’t give us something that He doesn’t intend to use. 

So, use whatever God has blessed you with to serve Him. It may be challenging and hard but you can do it. Sometimes using our gifts and talents puts us out of our comfort zone, but that’s okay. Just step out onto the ledge and go for it. I guarantee that the risk will be worth it. God will smile. 

The Soldiers

Matthew 27:27-37 – “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robeAnd when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his headand a reed in his right handand they bowed the knee before him, and mocked himsayingHailKing of the JewsAnd they spit upon him, and took the reedand smote him on the headAnd after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from himand put his own raiment on himand led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of CyreneSimon by namehim they compelled to bear his crossAnd when they were come unto a place called Golgothathat is to say, a place of a skullThey gave him vinegar to drink mingled with galland when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garmentscasting lotsthat it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among themand upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him thereAnd set up over his head his accusation writtenTHIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

A lot of verses, I know. But I wanted you to see something. Do you see the “they” menitioned in almost every single verse? This “they” is the soldiers. The Roman soldiers given the charge to crucify Jesus. Of course, Jesus’s last 24-36 hours was horrendous, but these soldiers had had a long day as well. I’m not trying to muster sympathy for the soldiers, but what I do want to pay close attention to is this “And sitting down they watched him there“. 

Just put yourself in their sandals for a minute. They had just done all the stuff mentioned prior to this verse. They had mocked Him, hurt Him; they had made Him and another fellow carry this condemned man’s cross. They had given Him yucky stuff to drink. And then they nailed Him to the cross and mocked Him again by putting a sign above His head. All the while, they gambled for His clothes. Then……they sat down. All that cruelty just took it right out of them. 

But as they sat there thinking about all they had done that day, they had to have began to look around them. They had to have seen those that were scoffing at Jesus. They had to have seen those crying for Jesus. They had to have heard Him speak to John and His mother. They had to have seen the pain, agony and compassion that was written across His face. 

And then they had to have experienced the natural wonders that began to happen – the darkening of the sun, the  earthquake – all of it had to have been concerning to them. In fact, we know that one soldier and those around him were truly touched – Matthew 27:54 – “Now when the centurionand they that were with himwatching Jesussaw the earthquakeand those things that were done, they feared greatlysayingTruly this was the Son of God.”

Can you imagine – doing all of this stuff to an innocent man and then crucifying Him and then realizing after He is dead that you have just killed the Son of God? 

We read this horror and cluck our tongues at these people. Yet are we innocent? Do we not reject His teachings every single day and then go to church Sunday morning only to realize that we have sinned greatly and ask for forgiveness? Now, we aren’t crucifying Jesus daily but we sure are hurting His heart when we reject Him on a consistent basis. This Savior who endured all of this pain and agony for us, this Jesus who choose to be our Sacrifice, this Lord who conquered death once for all – this is the One who we reject. This is the One we choose to hurt. 

Today, Princess, do your best for Him. Don’t just sit down and watch it all happen. Get up and make something happen for Him. 

A Piece of Peace

Philippians 4:4-9 – “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Many people are looking for peace. They are looking for peace in the Middle East. They are looking for peace in their home. They are looking for peace inside themselves. Peace is not elusive. Peace can be found. 

Through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us where and how to find peace – in Jesus. Peace can be found in living for Christ. Let’s look at a few ways to find and know peace in our life:

1. Rejoice, always. Do you always feel like rejoicing? Not me. When traffic is horrible and I’m late for work, I do not feel like rejoicing. But I should. I can choose to look at from this perspective – I get more time to pray and think on God’s word OR I get more time to enjoy the beauty of His creation. It is kind of hard to remember that when you are moving one inch every 10 minutes and you know that you are going to have to stay late because of the ginormous amount of paperwork you need to finish today, but it is possible to change your perspective if you give Him the opportunity to do so. 

2. Let everyone see God’s hand in your life. When you have the opportunity, give a shout out to Jesus. Let those around you know how He is working in your life – good and not so good times. You know, “it was raining yesterday but praise God He reminded me to bring my umbrella.” Little shout outs can make a huge difference. 

3. Pray. Lay it all out for the Lord. He wants to know the good, the bad and the ugly along with the praise, the cheer and the joy. This is like the fast lane to peace – when you give it to Him, your burden is so light you can’t help but embrace peace. 

4. Think on the right things. There is so much in this world that is depressing. It is sometimes hard to find good news. But you have access to THE Good News – the Bible. Choose to remove from your meditation the yuck that is so prevalent in the world today. Choose to think on the things of God which will lead you straight to peace. 

Peace is a beautiful thing. It can come and go because we fail. We don’t hold onto it like we should. We think we can handle things and then puff! There goes peace. Peace comes from a constant relying upon God to handle things. The world is too dark and too ugly to allow true peace to be prevalent on its own. We need the True Light to show us true peace. 

So let me encourage you today, Princess, to seek out a piece of peace. All of these things together will bring you peace. But also, one little slice will bring peace as well. Choose one or choose them all. Try one out and experience a piece of peace like you have never seen. God is ready and waiting to shower His peace upon you.

Being Epaphras

Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

Yesterday in morning services, our pastor did something usual during invitation. He asked that if anyone had been diligently praying for someone, to step out and let them know. You see, he was preaching a message about  really being a praying church, and he felt the Lord leading him to do this exercise. It really touched my heart, in more ways than one. For one thing, I was moved by the number of people who participated and to whom they went to. And I was also convicted. I realized just how selfish my prayers can be. We have lots of people in our church that are hurting. And I know several people who are unsaved that I need to diligently pray for. Yet, I find myself selfishly praying time and time again. 

So, today, I want to take a look at Epaphras. Paul mentions this fellow in the book to the church at Colosse. We know Epaphras was from Colosse because Paul calls him “one of you”. So he belonged to this church. And even though he was not with his home church, he was laboring for them – in prayer. This man was a prayer warrior, so to speak. He was diligently praying for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that were back home in Colosse. Back then they didn’t have cell phones and Internet to keep up on the latest that each person was going through. Yet, even though Epaphras had no clue who was sick or injured or having a bad time at work, he prayed. He prayed that they would stand in the will of God. 

I don’t need to know every detail about every situation in order to pray for someone. I just need to know that they need it. And whether they tell me they need it or not, they do. We all need prayer. 

I want to encourage you, Princess, to ask God to burden your heart for someone today. There is someone that you may know really well or not all who needs your prayers. You may or may not know all the details of what they are facing, but you can pray that they stand firm in the will of God. You see, we desperately need to draw closer to Him. And when we draw closer to Him, we draw closer to one another. We need to fervently pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we need to fervently pray for the lost. We need to have a real burden for them. I need to have a real burden for them. Prayer is powerful, sister. Don’t ever forget that. 

The Milk Story

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”

I have a thirteen year old son and I love him to death. He makes me laugh so hard sometimes. But like any thirteen year old boy, I can’t keep him full. On any given day, I usually have 1-2 gallons of milk in my refrigerator. The other day, I had two gallons from two different places – one from the grocery store and the other from Target. The gallon that was open was from the grocery store. Well, he had finished off the open one but needed more milk. Now in my mind, you open the one that has the closest date on it – use it before it expires. In this case, it was the gallon from Target that should have been opened next.  My son, however, did not see it that way. He opened the one from the grocery store. When I asked him why he would open the one from the grocery store instead of the one from Target, he simply said this, “Well mom, I was afraid the one from Target would taste different and I didn’t want to have two different kinds of milk in my glass!” And he said this quickly. He didn’t have to stop and think about it. He already had it planned out in his mind what he would say if asked about the milk. In his mind, it was a straight forward thing. No body wants to have two different kinds of tastes in their mouth when they are enjoying a glass of milk, right?

Yes, I know it is a silly story, but it’s a good one to show this spiritual truth – Be ready to give an answer, always. My son did not hesitate when asked about the milk. I’m not sure if he had been sitting on the couch just waiting for me to ask him about it or what. But he was ready. 

You are going to be out in the world every single day in same why shape or form. People are going to see you doing your job, getting groceries and spending time with people who mean a lot to you. Are they going to see you behaving differently or are they going to see the same thing that they see in everybody else? Hopefully, they are going to see something different. And when they do, they are going to ask questions. Will you have an answer? Will you be able to tell them what makes you different?

You know, I don’t think that I have ever had anyone come up to me and ask me why I’m different but I have had them come up and ask me about what I believe. I think that when people see that I choose not to curse and drink that is when they know that I’m a follower of Christ. People see those differences sharply. I’m very vocal about things, I know that surprises you. So when someone remotely asks me about something, I will go all out and tell them everything I know. Sometimes they get more than they bargained for! 

So my encouragement to you today, Princess, is to be ready and speak out. God has something to say to someone and you need to be His mouth piece. Don’t let fear stand in your way. But you have to be prepared. You have to get in His word. You have to make the effort to be in that relationship with Him. Spend some time with Him today. 

The Warning

Matthew 25:13 – “ Watch thereforefor ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

We are finishing up a long hard winter for some people. So much snow and ice and severely cold weather. Yuck! Yet, we have a pretty amazing weather prediction system. The meteorologist can predict weather fairly accurately. They don’t always get it right, but they are pretty close most of the time. 

We hear that a storm is coming, like a snow storm or a hurricane, and what do we do? We go out and stock up on water, can goods, and bread. We make sure that the batteries are working in our flashlights and that we have blankets if we need them. We make sure that we have extra cash, extra medicine and that Fido has extra food. We take every precaution that we can think of. We call our friends and family to make sure that they are prepared. 

But when it comes to our spiritual life, are we so prepared? When people hear that a storm will be passing through their area, they prepare for that short event and the quickly passing consequences. But do we warn others of the eternal consequences of the upcoming storm caused by sin? A day is coming when Jesus will return and the day of repentance will be over. You will warn your friend of the upcoming tornado but would you warn them of the consequences of sin by rejecting Jesus as their Savior? 

I am guilty. I let social pressures get to me. I don’t want people not to like me because I ask them about their eternal future. I like to be liked. But guess what? That won’t show people how to get to heaven. I try very hard to allow God to work through my life and I try very hard to acknowledge Him in all things. And that is good. But what I really need to do is say to people “hey, do you know Jesus?” Yet, those words are elusive to my vocabulary. I fail. 

But there is hope. Today is a new day with new opportunities. I need to be more brave. I need to be more concerned about a person’s spiritual wellbeing than my own popularity. 

That’s my challenge for you today, Princess. Be brave. You would share a weather warning. Make sure you care enough to give out the warning that God has left for us in the Bible – Jesus will return. Are you ready?

The Invitation

Luke 24:28-29 – “And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

We had a missionary come and speak last night. It was amazing. I love it when you have read a passage before but then you read it again and God just reveals something that knocks your socks off. That’s what happened last night. 

In these verses, you have the two men walking away form Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they walk, they discuss the events that have just gone on in the last week. It had been a horrible week – Jesus had died. And as they walked, Jesus came up alongside them and began talking with them, but they didn’t know who He was. As Jesus expounded upon Scripture, they arrived at their destination. Jesus was going to go on, but they implored Him to stay with them a while. 

Here is the lesson and the speaker explained this very clearly – You have to invite Jesus in every day. Every single day. He won’t come where He is not invited. You have to ask Him to come be a part of your day. Now you may be thinking, “He is always with me. Why should I have to ask Him to be a part of it?” Have you ever had someone over to your house and you began cooking dinner and for a bit of time you don’t ask the visitor to join you but when you do their face lights up and they are eager to help and add to the dinner? That’s the way it is with Jesus. If you don’t want Him to help, He stays out of the way and observes until you ask Him to step in and take over. I don’t know about you, but more often than not, I flail around through life screaming and pounding my fists before I ask for His help. I think I can handle it on my own. Usually, all I’m doing is making a bigger mess for Him to clean up. 

Now the other piece to this lesson was this – The faith you had yesterday wil not get you through today. Faith is something that has to be refilled every morning. It’s like your gas tank. Some of us try to run on an empty tank. We don’t refill in the morning. We think that we got this. I read my Bible yesterday. I went to church yesterday. I should be good to go for a couple of days. Wrong! You see, it has to be a daily renewal. Every day is a new opportunity, a new possibility. But without a fresh tank of faith, you are running on fumes or flat out stuck where you are. You don’t make progress toward anything. 

So today, Princess, remember this – Ask Him into your life today and get filled up before you hit the door. Take some time and share your heart with the One who loves you unconditionally. Read from His book and/or listen to  it on an audio track, either way, let His words seep into who you are. Let them stick to your heart. Think about them throughout the day. Remember, you invited Him in, let Him help.