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No changes

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

On occasions, I have a chance to be still. And when I have that opportunity, I realize something – no matter how crazy and technologically advanced our society gets, the birds are still going to sing and the squirrels are still going to throw acorns and the weeds are going to grow in my garden. As much as things change, some things stay the same. 

And there is a comfort in that. Especially when it comes to Jesus’ love for me and His grace and His mercy and His promises. 

People can get so consumed with the next best thing. With Christmas coming up, retailers will be vying for our attention to their “amazing” price and “unbeatable” deals on this wonderful, new do-dad. Chances are, you don’t need that do-dad but the retailer convinces you that life will never be the same without it. Know what? They’re wrong. Now, true, life is more convenient with gadgets but will we cease to exist without the latest and greatest? I doubt it. 

My point is this – sometimes we need to take the time to be away from the “stuff” of the world and listen to the birds and the squirrels and watch the grass grow. Sometimes we need to unplug and get lost in the truth that Jesus never changes. Let me encourage you to take that time. I think I’ll take some right now and listen to the birds for a while. Happy weekend. 

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Don’t let it slip!

Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

This was our verse for worship service yesterday. It really made me pause. I had obviously thought about this verse before because it was underlined in my Bible. But I hadn’t thought about it in some time. 

We have let it slip. Oh, it’s not a surprise party that we have accidentally told someone about. No, we have let our guard slip. We have let our passion slip. We have let our sold out desire for Christ slip. 

Although the picture is far from reality, we are sticking our head in the sand like an ostrich. If we don’t acknowledge it, it’s not really there. We don’t want to offend, therefore, we ignore. We don’t want to not be liked, so we don’t stand up. 

We have let IT slip. 

The writer of Hebrews warned his readers “lest at any time we should let them slip.” What is he talking about? What is the “them”? It is what we have heard, what we have learned, what we know is true – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the “them”.

As a follower of Christ, we get into His word and we read and we learn and we take it all in. And then we let it slip. We let it fall through our fingers like sand at the beach. Easy come. Easy go. 

Brothers and sisters, this ought not be! 

We can longer sit by and watch it all slip away. What do we have to fear? Rejection? Who cares! There are millions of people out there that need to hear the Good News! They aren’t rejecting you personally. They are rejecting Jesus. Well, what about the people I work with? I have to see them and work with them every day. Yes, yes you do. And how are you living out what you take in? Do they know the difference in your heart or are you a hypocrite? Harsh, I know. But WE ARE LETTING IT SLIP AWAY! 

It is so easy to make excuses. And hey, I’m the chief leader of the group! I have more excuses than you can shake a stick at! (I really don’t understand that expression but it totally fits!) I am letting it slip away. 

I’m telling you, every time I go to the gas pump, I’m convicted. Someone there needs Jesus. I have a tugging on my heart. Sometimes I listen to it and sometimes I stuff it down. I make it slip away. Ouch. 

We need to decide to accept the challenge. Each of us need to decide that “I will NOT let it slip away. Not on my watch!” 

Here is your challenge for the week. Be aware. Be aware of the times that you let “it” slip away. Be aware when you choose to let a moment go by. Be aware when you choose not to tell someone about Jesus. Be aware of the times when you stuff your beliefs to the back of the box. And then change. DON’T let it slip away. 

Leave me alone

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

“Leave me alone.” I think that we have all said that at one time or another. We may be tired, angry, frustrated or just down in the dumps and we want to be left alone. And sometimes, that’s okay. We all need our alone time. I remember when my children were small and going to the bathroom and closing the door was my idea of alone time.

These days, however, I feel that my alone time has multiplied. They are at activities and I am at home, alone. Now, sometimes I enjoy my time at home alone. I get things done. For example, this weekend while one child was away at a soccer tournament and the other one was at play practice, I was able to get some serious house cleaning done, of course you can’t tell it now, but at some point during the weekend, it was spotless.

But there are other times when I miss having them home. I miss their conversations and dancing and questions and challenges. I guess this is all part of God’s plan to prepare me for an empty nest. But I don’t want to talk about that right now….

Anyway, no matter how alone I feel, I am never really, truly alone. I can’t be when I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. He promised that He would “never leave thee (me), nor forsake thee (me).”

There are times, however, that we may feel that He is gone. We feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and that our reading of His word is no more than words on a page. But that isn’t Him. That isn’t what He does. You see, the problem is that I have moved. He hasn’t left me alone. I have left Him alone. I have let some sin come between me and Him.

But so many times, we don’t want to admit that we have moved. It is much easier to blame Him and say that He has moved than to admit that we have messed up and allowed sin in our life. Sin makes us move – makes us move away from Him.

So this week, when you feel alone and left behind, remember, He doesn’t move and He will never leave you alone. If you are feeling away from Him, move back to Him. Ask Him to show you the sin in your life that is keeping you from His presence. When you walk with Jesus, you are never alone.

Working

Hebrews 4:10-12 – “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

“I want to take a closer look at one of these verses.                        For he (the person) that is entered into his (Jesus’s) rest, he (the person) also hath ceased from his (the person’s) own works, as God did from his.”

What does this and the rest of the verses mean for you and me? You cannot work for your salvation. It just doesn’t work that way. There is nothing that you or I could ever do to earn our way into Heaven. We have too many things tainting our motive. We have pride, apathy, sympathy and the such ruining our ability to do things with a completely pure heart – at least on our own.

However, we are supposed to work. We are supposed to do things to serve God. We work because of our salvation, not to earn it. Our work, the things that we do in service to God, should prove our salvation and love for Christ. We shouldn’t be working to stack things in our favor so that one day God will let us in!

So, how do we know when we are getting it right? Is there any way to know when we are serving and working for the right reasons? Yes. It’s called reading God’s word. You see, that book is alive. Oh, I’m not talking about some weird, wacked-out book that is going to bite you on the leg if you don’t strike the spine. No, I’m talking about a Living Book that has the ability to be used to convict one of sin that is impeding blessings and success.

This Word is a gauge. This gauge tells us when our works are being done selfishly and/or wrongly focused. However, this gauge cannot and will not work if you don’t use it. You can’t expect the vacuum cleaner to get your floors clean if you don’t plug it in and use it. Just having it in the house is not a way to get your house clean. The same is true for your Bible. Just having it in sight will not make your life and your decisions honor and glorify God.

So let me encourage you today to get involved in your Bible. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ and the only way that you will truly find out about Him is by reading about Him. You won’t know when He shows up on your doorstep if you haven’t read about Him and seen Him in your heart. Let His word show you where you can make improvements and what you need to get rid of in order to serve Him fully.

Convictions

Hebrews 3:14,15 – “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

Conviction. Webster’s 1828 defines conviction like this – “the act of compelling one to acknowledge…the truth of what is alledged.” (Note: Most of the definitions I found related to conviction of sin, especially when related to legal matters. However, this definition is plasible with relation to the subject matter.)

Conviction in one’s life is sometimes a hard thing to come by. I don’t live my life with the passion that I should. If I did, I would be telling every person I come into contact with about Jesus…but I don’t. I live my life with more fear than I do courage and passion. And that is so sad. Last night at church, we were reminded that we serve the same God who called Gideon out from his hiding place and labeled him a “mighty man of valor”. This fellow, hiding from the enemy, was considered by God to be someone of standing and courage. God sees us the same way. Gideon was no super man who was going out there spouting off Godly wisdom and making a name for himself. He was just this guy who wanted to have some wheat for him and his family without someone taking it away from him. He was scared; he was timid; and he questioned God’s instructions. Sounds a lot like me. 

But Gideon was able to turn things around by trusting in God. Actually, Gideon didn’t turn things around, God turned Gideon’s life around once Gideon decided to let go and let God. God developed a passion in Gideon. God developed courage in Gideon’s life. God developed leadership in Gideon. You see, God would not have done all of this in Gideon’s life had Gideon not surrendered. 

I want more passion in my life for Christ. I want more conviction in my life. I want to be so closely associated with Jesus that I would be convicted of being a Christian with only one accuser. 

I know that this sort of thing takes time. I need to be diligent in praying for this level of conviction. If I don’t pray for it, how am I going to express my true desires to God? I know that He knows my heart, but He also wants to hear it from my lips. 

So this week, think about it. Do you have the level of conviction in your life that you truly desire? Or are you like me and find yourself lacking? Have you hardened your heart and convinced yourself that things are “good enough” or do you want more? The day that Gideon got up and decided that he was going to go thresh his wheat behind the wine press, I’m sure he never dreamed that an angel of God would be calling him a “mighty man of valor” before the end of the day. God can take anything and make it into something amazing. We just have to decide that we are going to let Him do His thing. 

ROI

Hebrews 11:7 – “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

I’m not a business person. I have never been a business person, but I have heard my husband talk about “ROI” several times. ROI stands for “return on investment”. This means, basically, that you get back in profit what you put in. Or at least that’s my layman’s understanding of it. I’m sure that’s not the correct business definition, BUT I am not a business person – so it’s all good. 

Anyway, let’s talk for a minute about Noah and his ROI. Noah is a Bible hero. He endured super tough circumstances and came out on God’s side. He chose God at the beginning of his life and walked beside Him the rest of the way. The people of Noah’s time we’re not good. The Bible tells us that their thoughts and actions were evil continually (Genesis 6). God was sad that He had created man and that they had chosen so horribly. But then He remembered Noah. And so He chose to rescue Noah and his family from impeding judgement.  And judgement it was. The whole entire earth covered in water and destroyed. I can’t imagine what Noah and his family must have felt. 

Especially after the fact that he had preached about the upcoming rain for 120 years. One hundred twenty years!! And no one listened. Can you imagine how sad that made Noah on the day it started to rain and all those people that he had been preaching to decided that maybe he was right? God had determined it was too late. They had their opportunity and they chose to scoff and mock Noah instead of turning and getting their hearts right with Him. 

ROI 

Noah had zero return on the time he invested, outside of his family of course. Noah preached and taught with the power of God on his side and no one listened. Do you ever feel like Noah? Do you get to see the ROI on all that you do for Christ? Probably not. But that’s okay. You see, we aren’t working here on earth for praise and recognition. We are working here because God loves us and gave His one and only Son for us. We work because we want to show our love and adoration to Him. We don’t really need an ROI to keep going. One day, when we are in Heaven, we will see the ROI. We will be with our Savior forever and ever. That, my friend, is a return on investment if I have ever dreamed of one. 

So this week, remember that you must keep working even if you don’t see the dividends. All your dedication, all your hard work, all those hours in prayer will eventually show fruit. You may just have to wait for Heaven to see it. 

Life more abundant

John 10:10b – “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Last night, we had a fellowship with our “in-betweeners” from church. You see, this group is special – we aren’t in the youth group and we aren’t in the “Golden Ager” group – so, we are in-between. 

It was fun. We went to a hibachi grill, which our meat and potato boys (and girls) had a bit of a struggle with, but they made it. They didn’t starve. 

Which brings me to my first thought – live life more abundantly by getting out of your box, you comforting food box, that is. We all need to broaden our culinary palate from time to time. God has given us so many wonderful things to eat but we shamefully contain ourself to the familiar. Let me encourage you to try new things. You never know if you like them until you try them. Here is my most recent example – boiled peanuts. My husband likes to eat them. Typically, he eats the ones in the can. I can not handle those things! The smell…..not good. However, he had some fresh the other night and I tried one. They were really good. I was shocked! Of course, then I wanted to eat the whole cup but I refrained. My point is this, your palate changes every seven years (true info, look it up). You need to be willing to step out into the gray area of your taste buds and give new things a shot. If you don’t like it, you can always spit it out!😉

And then there was this thought – live life more abundantly by getting out of your comfort circle of friends. There is a whole world of people out there waiting to be your friend, well maybe just an aquantaince, but still. They want to get to know you. They just don’t know where to start. I know exactly how they feel. Sometimes it is hard for me to find common ground with people. But until I get out there and start trying, I will never know and understand all the blessings God has in store for me through these people. 

And one more – live life more abundantly through fellowship with His people. The writer of Hebrews encouraged us in Hebrews 10:25 to “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another : and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Time’s a wastin’ people! Don’t neglect the ones you love! When we assemble in a church building to worship, it is a beautiful thing. But it is also a beautiful thing when we get together at a hibachi grill to hang out together and show others that you can have a great time with fellow followers of Christ. I believe Christ was smiling down on us last night. He had to have enjoyed seeing us laugh with one another and share our lives with one another. Jesus set each and every person that was at that restaurant for fellowship in my life for a reason. It is my responsibility as their sister in Christ to identify and fulfill that reason. And most of the time, the main reason we are put in others lives is for encouragement. And that is what last night was all about. It was to remind each and every one of us that even though our life is crazy and hectic and sometimes uncertain that we are not alone in our journey. We not only have Christ alongside of us, but we also have our brothers and sisters at church to lift us up. 

I want to encourage you to live life more abundantly today and do it through Christ. He gave you this great big world to taste and experience and find joy in. Don’t let it pass you by just because you refuse to get out of your comfort zone. Remember that sometimes the food and the fun are outside the box. Christ has given us an amazing, abundant and blessed life to live. Get out there and live it!