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Eternal

1 John 5:11-12 – “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

My husband and I were at the mall this weekend. We saw a shirt hanging in a window that said, “We are eternal.” I had to stop and get another look. My husband said, “Sure we are eternal. But what eternal are they talking about?” He was thinking heaven or hell. 

It seems that our society thinks it is above reproach. Somehow or another, they think they will never die and never be held accountable for anything they do. I have heard songs about that “we will are never getting older” and songs about doing something “anyway”. 

No thought for consequences. No thought to anyone else other than themself. 

Eternal. Do people realize that is a really, really, really long and never ending time? Do they realize that their eternity will be spent in a smoking or non-smoking place? They have the choice of everlasting love or everlasting fire. They have the choice to accept Jesus or reject Him. 

So yes, we are eternal. But which eternal will you choose – eternal love or eternal damnation? It seems like such an easy choice. Choosing love means allowing Jesus to lead and guide you. Choosing damnation means leading yourself and trusting that you can make all things good. For me, I choose to let Christ lead my life. I choose eternal love. 

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Overcoming 

1 John 5:4 – “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

So this weekend, I had the opportunity to talk with a lady who has a very serious genetic condition that causes cancer. She shared with me about her struggles and more importantly, her attitude through the trials she faces. 

She was telling me about another lady that she knows that is facing the same illness that she is, BUT her doctors are not positive with her. She is not supported by the doctors or nurses. I’m not sure how someone faces a chronic and serious illness without positive people round them. She felt the same way. She said that her doctors were always straight with her but also compassionate. The nurses were understanding and thoughtful. Her husband is dedicated and loving. She has her church family that lifts her up. 

You know, we all need positive people around us even when we aren’t facing an illness. We need people who lift us up. We need people who are real with us. We need people who genuinely want to see us succeed.  

Now are these people going to be skipping and bringing us flowers? Probably not. 

Will they tell you when you need to put on your big girl pants and deal with it? Let’s hope so!

Overcoming is about compassion with a generous dose of truth. Jesus was about both. He loved all those He came in contact with, but believe you me, He told them like it is! Remember the story about the woman caught in adultery and the leaders were ready to stone her. He began writing things in the dirt. Whatever He was writing made those guys turn on their heals and quickly get away. He was writing truth in the dirt. And it hurt those guys. The woman was guilty but Jesus showed compassion and gave her the opportunity to turn away. He gave her the opportunity to become an overcomer. I hope she took advantage of that instance in her life. Every once in a while we all need a second chance. 

Let me encourage you to take on that positive attitude. Surround yourself with people who will love you enough to give it to you straight yet hold your hand when times are tough. And always remember this – “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” John 1:37. Jesus overcame it all for you and me. And it is our faith in Him that will overcome everything you and I face. 

Wiped clean

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We have been talking about salvation in Sunday school and with VBS this week, it will be THE hot topic. I was trying to explain to my class about Jesus forgiving sins. It seems like an easy concept but is it? I mean, do you really get that when you ask for forgiveness from something that God really forgets it? How can He just no longer remember things? 

Here is the example I gave them – When we confess our sins to Jesus, we are, in essence, writing them on a chalk board. When we ask forgiveness for those sins, Jesus takes a wet rag and wipes it away, never to be seen again. Now, there is a wet spot which represents the consequences for our actions, but the sin itself is totally removed. When the wet spot evaporates, there is no way to know it was even there. You see, when we write our sins on the board and try to remove them ourself, it leaves chalk behind and we can still see what was written. It is only when we use a cloth made red by the blood of Jesus do our sins vanish. 

When we confess our sins (write them on the board), we have to be specific. We have to identify what we did wrong. We can’t just throw a blanket over it by saying “forgive me of my sins”. Ideally, when we sin, the Holy Spirit is active in our life and we confess that sin right away. He jabs and pokes us until we make that thing right, immediately. It’s like washing your hands – you should do that frequently throughout the day. 

So let me encourage you, use that chalkboard! Get things cleaned up! The time is now. You never know, you may not have tomorrow to be wiped clean. 

Lip Smackin’ Evidence

I John 2:3-6 – “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”

My children are getting older. Every day I see the evidence of the things that I have have taught them being lived out in their life. For example – every since day one, I have taught my children to do their homework as soon as they get home. And they still do it. I have also taught them to work on projects ahead of time, if they can. This simple task has saved us from countless late nights. 

But the evidence is there. I see the good and the not so good things that I have taught them. Sometimes I see pointless anger pop up in them. I know exactly where they get that from – me. Sometimes I see them never back down from a verbal dispute because they KNOW they are right, even when they are not – they get that from both their dad and myself. Good and not so good. 

What about the evidence of God in their life? Do I see that? Do they see that? 

John tells us that if we know Him (Jesus), we should be keeping His commandments. And that if we are abiding in Him, we should be walking like Him. Basically, John is saying if we are living in God’s love and following His commands, there should be evidence of such choices in our life. 

Is there evidence? Would you be convicted of being a follower of Christ? 

If not, John says you are a liar. Not my words, it is the Truth of God’s Word speaking here. 

In order for a conviction to be made, there has to be sufficient and strong evidence to the contrary. It can’t be just a bit of proof here and a bit of proof there. That being said, a bit of proof will not make it obvious. 

It’s just like sweet tea – and I mean good, Southern sweet tea. There are imposters calling their beverage “sweet tea” that barely have enough sugar in it to quantify. In order for me to call it sweet tea, it has to be lip smacking sweet. (I know you know what I mean!) The evidence has to blatantly clear. 

You can have a little bit of Jesus in your life, that’s well and good considering the alternative of no Jesus at all. But in order to be a true follower of Christ, you have to allow Him to pour Himself into you. You need to allow Him to make the evidence of Him in your life overwhelming. It is your choice whether to follow after Him or not. But it is only by keeping His word that His love is perfected in you. You see, a little bit of Him should never be enough. It should be our desire to be so full of Him that others smack their lips at wanting what we have. The evidence should be so overwhelming in our walk that there is no denying His hand at work. 

So let me encourage you today to choose Him. Choose to let Him fill you up today. You have to ask for it. You have to invite Him in. He won’t just show up in your life. You have to ask Him to be present, to show you the way, to make His plan evident to you each and every day. You have to choose to follow after His commandments. You have to choose to live in His Light. Make the choice today to let the evidence shine clear. 

Hungry

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

Do you realize that in the place that you live right now that there are probably hungry people within a stone’s throw of your house? And I’m not talking about casually hungry. I’m talking “I haven’t had enough to eat for days” kind of hungry. There are people out there, close by, who can’t afford a new pair of cheap tennis shoes. There are people out there who are trying to figure out a way to make it to next month without losing their electricity and water.

I don’t appreciate these situations like I should. I have never been truly hungry. I have been blessed that if I need new clothes, I can go get them. I have been blessed with a good job and an awesome husband so that I don’t have to worry about paying my bills. For the most part, these are foreign concepts to me.

But last night I was searching the Internet for a food bank in my area. We are doing a teen project at church and would like to donate canned goods to a local charity. I found out that 10,000 people in my small part of the world are hungry at some point every year. And 4,700 of those are children. 4,700!!! That’s 47%! How can that be? I have been told stories by one of the young ladies at my church that when she was in high school that this club she was in would provide canned goods for students to take home over the holidays so that they had something to eat when they weren’t in school. I can’t imagine. Just shows the bubble that I live in.

But there is One that sees it all – Jesus. He sees these people who are desperately struggling. He knows their needs. He sees their heartache. So, you might ask, “Why is He letting these people struggle and go without?” I don’t know how to answer that question. But I do know this, He has given us the opportunity to step up and step out. 1 John 3:18-20 – “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

You and I have the opportunity to be the help that someone needs. We have the opportunity to do something. It doesn’t have to be anything big. You could simply pick up some extra groceries at the store this week. You could go volunteer to stack food at the local food pantry. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen this weekend. You could give a donation to a provider of needs to those who truly need it. There are lots of ways to help.

But more importantly, you need to do it for the right reasons. If you go in there with pride in your heart and tell every one every where what you have done or are planning to do, you have just blown it. You have received your reward. You see, God wants us to help others because they need it, not because you need a pat on the back.

So today, I want to encourage you, princess, to step out of your comfort zone and do something for some one else. Show them God’s love by giving of yourself unselfishly. Find some way to reach out to those in need anonymously.

Meet the need

1 John 3:17,18 – “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Last night at our youth group meeting, one of the young men brought a lesson based on these verses. He did an amazing job. So this morning, I’m giving you my take on the verses.

It’s one week until Thanksgiving. One week before we stuff ourselves full of holiday goodies. One week until the shopping frenzy officially begins. One week until the world tries to continue its quest to make us forget the reason for the season – the day we celebrate the most perfect Gift making His way into His creation as a baby.

It’s the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our hearts may make that proclamation but do our actions? Christ’s coming as an infant was about love. He loved us so much that He was willing to give up the wonders of Heaven for the burden of human life. He was willing to be our sacrifice. He provided us with the gift of forgiveness by His death on the cross. He also provided us with the gift of eternal life by rising from the grave three days after His death.

Jesus’ life and ministry was all about love. Not necessarily the warm squishy kind, but always the true kind.

So, how do these verses relate? Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are probably in America. (If not, I would love to know where you are at!) God has truly blessed us here. Even the poorest people have more than the poorest in other countries. Yet, it is not enough. We want more. But in these verses, we are encouraged to give. Give of our self. Give of our time. Give of our blessings. There are so many organizations and people out there asking for assistance this time of year. It’s not hard to find someone to give some of your blessings to.

Giving a gift takes sacrifice. It costs something. It requires you to be humble. It makes you realize a need and choose to step up and meet it. Jesus saw the need for salvation and forgiveness in our life. He stepped up and filled the need. We have the opportunity to see the need in others. The question is: Will we step up to meet the need in others lives or will we continue to focus only on the wants in our own life?

Love is an action word. The word “love” can be said all day long but until there is some action behind it, it is nothing more than a word. Giving and love go hand in hand. A true gift given cannot be given with the attitude of begrudging. If it is given in this attitude, it is more of a prize – something you get for doing something. Not near as special in that light.

The young man who brought the lesson last night challenged us to complete a random act of service this week. He asked us to give the gift of service to someone unexpectedly. One example he gave was paying it forward. Have you ever been in the drive through line of a restaurant and found out that the person in front of you paid for your purchase? That is what a random act of service could look like. Or maybe you shovel someone’s driveway early in the morning. Or maybe you rake someone’s leaves from the yard. Or maybe you take a day off and go and volunteer at a shelter of some sort. Anything that puts you in the position to choose to serve someone other than yourself.

You see, love requires action. We are expected to show Jesus’ love to the world. We are expected to tell others about His gift. How can we love the world and tell others of His gift when we “seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him”? We have to live and love out loud and with action behind it.

So this week, don’t get caught up in the insanity of the holidays. Choose to see a need and meet it. Meet it without expectation of recognition or praise or honor. Meet it because Jesus would have met it. Meet it because love requires action. Meet it because His Gift is so worth it.

How to be holy in a modern world of weird – part 4

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

“hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

Hope. Hope is something our world is lacking most days. People are constantly searching for it and wanting to believe in it. As followers of Christ, we should be expressing the hope that is found in Jesus loud and clear.
What is hope? Webster’s 1828 defines it as “confidence in a future event”. In this verse, what is that event? It is the return of Jesus Christ. It is the promise that He will return to take us with Him to live eternally. John 14:2,3 – “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This is real hope. This is not a wish. Webster’s 1828 also gives this explanation – “Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.” You see, a wish can be unfulfilled. A wish can bring anxiety in the unknown. Hope is different. Hope expects confidently that the desired outcome will happen. There is no anxiety because hope can only be found in Christ. Hope remembers the fulfillment of past promises and knows without a shadow of doubt that future promises will be fulfilled as well.

And this hope has no bounds of time. People have been hoping in the return of Christ since He left. And throughout the generations that hope has endured, despite the deaths of its firm believers. That is the difference between hope and a wish – hope continues until the end when it is fulfilled. A wish is short lived and easily rejected.

God is not a fulfiller of wishes. He is not the “genie in the lamp”. When asking for God for things in your life, it is imperative that you do so with the right attitude. 1 John 5:14,15 – “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” Do you see the important condition in this verse? We must ask “according to his will”. That means that our own selfish desires have to be tabled and we must be willing to follow after Him. Attitude is vital in this scenario of hope. Hoping when we pray is found when we are willing to conform to the desires of our Holy God. Wishing when we pray is found when our selfish desires are being offered before The Giver of all things. As harsh as it sounds, He doesn’t give when our hearts are not pure. James 4:3 – “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Hope is a beautiful thing when His children see it and apply it as He has instructed. It provides comfort. It provides assurance. It brings joy even before it is fulfilled. As a follower of Christ, I am excited about what is to come when I see Jesus. I am excited to see His face and to be in His presence. And even if I die before I see Him return in the eastern sky, I will die hoping. Because I know that His promises are sure and firm and eternal. And until that day comes, I must live with the promise and hope of His return in my life. I must live each day as if it were my last. I must live each day with the promise of hope on my lips. This world is dark and dreary. Bad people get more attention that good. People are being hurt and killed for a variety of reasons that make no sense whatsoever. But I have hope. I have hope that my Savior cares, that He wants to see all come to Him and that He will fulfill His promises. Hope – hold onto it and share it with everyone you see.