All of me

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
We were challenged this weekend to love God with all that we are. Easy concept, right? Umm, no. Not so much. Not when you really take a good hard look at yourself. And that, my friend, is no fun. 

The challenge began with “Who is #1 in your life?” Well, I’m at church, on a Sunday night. The Sunday school answer is “God”, right? But when the question was asked again at the end of the challenge…the answer wasn’t God, if I was being honest with myself. And that is tough stuff right there. 

Love God with all my heart. What does that mean? As I have thought about it, I see it as loving God with all my emotion. Our heart is the center of our emotional state. When I love God with all my emotion, I make everything about Him. I choose to see His hand at work in my life. I allow Him to change and mold my attitude. Now, does that mean that I go around gushing and acting all cheesy? No. I believe that you can love God with all your heart by acknowledging Him every opportunity you get. You are deferring your emotion to Him. You are choosing to allow Him to guard and guide how you feel and respond. Loving God with all my heart.

Love God with all my soul. I think about this in this way – loving God with my eternity. My soul is something I can’t see; I can’t touch; but it is something I can give. I can give my soul back to it’s Creator by choosing Jesus as my Savior. I can allow God to have control over my eternity. Loving God with all my soul.

Love God with all my mind. Some days, I do okay with this and others days, it’s just plain ugly. In my way of thinking, this is loving God with thoughts. This is allowing God to control my thoughts. This is choosing to see things in the scope of eternity. “What would Jesus do?” It’s not wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve but rather seeing all things in the light of the love of Christ. Letting Jesus control my thoughts. Loving God with all my mind.

Love God with all my strength. To me, this is my actions. These are the things that I do or don’t do on a daily basis. This is reading my Bible. This is going to church when the doors are open. This is preparing for VBS. This is the physical action of the group. This is loving God with all my strength.

There are times when I get parts of this challenge spot on and there are times when I fail miserably. But you know what, God wants me to try my hardest. He wants me to make the choices to do things right and to seek Him daily. He knows when I am doing the best I can and when I am doing just enough to get by. This is where grace and mercy come into play. This is where I really need grace and mercy. And praise God, they never run out.

So this week, ask yourself “Who is #1 in my life?” And don’t just give the Sunday school answer. Really look hard at yourself. Ponder where your priorities really are. Happy Tuesday. 


Life in grace

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

How do you like my tablecloth? It is probably one of my favorite fall tablecloths that I have. (The other one is the one with the foxes. So cute!)

I have heard grace defined so many times that I struggle to remember each one I have heard. The most popular definition is “unmerited favor of God”. But I have also heard it described as “God giving you what you do not deserve”. 

The term “grace” is also used to describe a person’s actions and behaviors. The word “grace” has been used in conversation in the place of prayer – “Would someone like to say grace?” Grace is also used as a name. 

But what should grace be in our life? And how in the world does it relate to this Bible verse? How is grace a way to live?

We do not deserve what God has given us in our life. We have blessings in abundance even on the hardest of days. We have the opportunity to spend eternity with Jesus despite our constant and devious desires to do things that are wrong. We do things out of duty rather than out of love. We moan and groan when things don’t go just as we had planned. We do not deserve what God has given us in our life.

Yet, He has given us the opportunity each and every day to put away the old things that may have gone on yesterday. Each day is a clean slate, a new opportunity. Each day should be seen as a challenge to truly put away all those old ways and truly become new. 

And grace plays a part in all of this. Grace is remembering what God has done for you and living your life in newness so that you might, in some small way, say thank you. You can’t earn grace. You can’t buy grace. You can’t construct grace. Grace is one of those beautiful gifts that you have to accept by faith. It just is. 

So this weekend, as you notice the chill in the air and see the newness of color in the leaves or just appreciate a slight decline in the temperature, remember grace. Remember the beautiful, free gift that it is and the fullness it has to offer you in your life. Live life in grace. 

St. Augustine “grass”

Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Have I ever told you how much I detest St. Augustine grass? For me, it is no more than a glorified weed. We have it in our yard and I do believe it is on a mission to overtake the world. 

You see, this “grass” has tentacles that reach out and invade everything. It has sprung up in our bushes. It has overtaken our rose bushes. I believe it would attempt to destroy the house if given the chance. It is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. When you go to pull out one “weed” you see in your bushes, that “weed” keeps going until you feel as though you are pulling out half the yard! It is maddening.

As I was facing this battle the other day, God reminded me of sin. Sin is a lot like this “grass” that I have in my yard. It may look nice and people may want you to take care of it, but in truth, you need to get it as far from you as possible. Sin invades. Sin takes over. Sin reaches out and deceives you into thinking it is just one tiny thing when in reality, it has taken over all parts of your life, if you let it. Sin is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. 

However, we aren’t to be judges of people we see overtaken with sin. No, we are supposed to go alongside of them and show them a better way. We need to realize that we are none too high and mighty to escape the clutches of sin. It is only by the grace of God that we ourself have not been overtaken. Sometimes it is difficult to go up to that person you see ravaged by sin. We want to stay away lest we would be accused of such wrongdoings.

But Jesus wasn’t like that. He went to the overtaken. He reached out to them. He showed them a better way. And aren’t we supposed to be more and more like Him? Aren’t we supposed to be that light in a dark world? Aren’t we supposed to plant the seed and make disciples? We can’t do that if we are sitting back judging others.

So let me encourage you today to be that living testimony that people need to see. Don’t steer away from those who need Him the most. And don’t let the tentacles of sin overtake you. Be on your guard and listen to the Holy Spirit convicting your heart of unrighteousness. And for Heaven’s sake, pull some weeds! Happy Friday!

The last days…

2 Timothy 3:1-9, 12-15 – “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Hmm, sound vaguely familiar? 

It’s like Paul had the ability to look at a day in the life of Joe Blow citizen in 2016. In truth, the Holy Spirit has that ability and He used it to inspire Paul about what would be going on in today’s world. 

If you ever had a question about were the end times really coming and/or are here, well, here is your proof. 

It is sad to say, but too many people fit one or all of these depravities. We see it in the news. We hear about it in social media. We see it happening down the street! 

People are selling people (and little people at that!) at an alarming rate. Children disappear every day! People are fussing over bathrooms (and rightfully so, I might add). People are demanding “rights” at the expense of everyone else. People are stealing from other people because they think the more wealthy have too much. People are getting something for nothing all the time, well, just because they think they deserve it. 

I could go on and on and on and on….you get it. It is bad, people. And the time is drawing nearer and nearer. 

I’m not saying we need to be hateful and disrespectful and intolerant. Absolutely not! We need to hate the sin and love the sinner. We are all sinners. And those of us who are a child of God, are sinners saved by grace. 

That’s what the world needs more of – grace. Not our grace, but rather the grace of Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to save these people who portray the negative attributes above. No, we can do nothing.  Hating them will get us no where. Being intolerant and judgmental will prove nothing. But disagreeing in love and standing up for what is right IN LOVE will show that Christ is King of our life. 

Jesus didn’t put up with sin. He called a spade and spade and then offered them a better way. His way. His path. His love.  

So, do what you feel the Lord is leading you to do in regards to social issues, boycotts and justice. But whatever you choose to do, do it in love and with respect to everyone involved. 

The last days are here, folks. We need to wake up. We need to identify the problem and the present the solution – Jesus Christ. 

The Crooked Smile

Hebrews 3:13-15 – “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 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.”

Last night, I had a pretty exciting thing happen to me. My daughter was in dance class. Usually, while she has her class, I go for a walk around part of the lake in the town that we live in. You see, the lake is located right beside her dance studio. There is a nice sidewalk and lots of people were out last night taking advantage of the beautiful weather. 

Well, I was moving along at a pretty good clip – my daughter’s class was almost over and I wanted to be back at the car before she was. Then I came upon this older man walking in front of me. He was tall but had a very pronounced lean to his left side. I could tell that he was struggle a bit just to get his walk in this night. He was looking at his watch like he had a goal to meet and it was taking everything he had to keep going. 

I just moved right on past him. But then, I heard a whisper across my heart. It was soft yet I could hear it loud and clear above the music in my ears. I was being told to go back and encourage that man. So, I began to make excuses. “I’ve got to get back to the car. I’m too far ahead of him now. I’ll look like a weirdo turning around now.” But the whisper would not go away. In fact, it got stronger. When I started to apologize for my sin, as I kept going, that is when the guilt set in and I did not want to deal with that. There was still time to follow this leading. So, I did.

I turned around and walked back to the man. I turned off my music and took out my headphones. When I got to him, I said, “I just want to encourage you to keep going. I feel that the Lord wanted me to let you know that you need to keep doing what you are doing.” You should have seen the smile on his crooked face. It was beautiful! He told me he was 72 and had been retired for a long time. He said he tried to walk every day. Sometimes he had to go to physical therapy to get his walk a little straighter but he always tried to walk every day. 

I know that God sent me back to that man to encourage him but he encouraged me as well. I was encouraged by his smile, his story and his resilience. But I was also encouraged by following God. It gave me smile that lasted tonight and even to today. 

You see, just like in the verse, it was easy for me to harden my heart. I could think of a million excuses not to turn around and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And I did for a time. But He wouldn’t let up. And I’m thankful that He didn’t. We ought to be out there encouraging one another more. By enouraging someone, you take the focus off yourself and see others the way Jesus sees them – someone in need of some lovin’. 

Today, I want to encourage you to listen to the whispers in your heart and do what He is telling you to do. Don’t fuss with Him. Do whatever He tells you to do. It may seem weird and/or our there, but what have you got to lose?  Remember, God takes the ordinary and makes them extraordinary by His grace and mercy. Just do it, sister!

Spring Cleaning

1 Corinthians 4:5 – “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

It is that time of year again – spring cleaning. I have been on my hands and knees these last two days cleaning baseboards. I’ve also been cleaning doors and tile and just about anything that will stand still long enough for me to get my cleaning rag around it. I try to do this once a year – give everything a good once over. And as I sit here this morning at my kitchen table and see gleaming white baseboards and sparkling tile behind my stove, I am content. I love a good clean house. Too bad my house rarely sees that time for any length of time. 

But you know something about spring cleaning? People rarely know that you have done it unless you say something to them. They just come in and see the house the way it always looks after you have cleaned. It’s a little frustrating, actually. You spend all those hours scrubbing and getting the yuck out and no one notices. But you do. You know. And God knows. 

He knows it all. You know that little corner of your heart that enjoys something it shouldn’t? He knows. You know that website that you have vistited that you think no one will know about because you erased it from the history? He knows. You know that little thought you think in your head when you see someone? He knows about that too. You can’t hide anything from Him. You may be able to hide your dirty baseboards with furniture, but you can’t hide your sin from God. 

It is time to have a spring cleaning of the heart. It is time to take some time this weekend and reflect. Look at your heart and your attitude. When Jesus comes back and all things are revealed, will you be embarrassed by what is revealed about you? Oh snap. That’s right. Everything will be laid open when we stand in judgment for our sins. Not going to be a pretty day. 

BUT there is hope. We don’t have to wallow in our sin. We can climb out of the mud with the help of the Father, and we can get cleaned off and set up straight. See, that is the beautiful thing about mercy and grace. He is right there to pick us up when we find ourselves in a mud hole. 

So this weekend, Princess, it is your responsibilty to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind what you do. I sincerely believe that our attitude is the key to what we do and how we act. It stems from what we believe. If you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and rose on the third day victorious over death and sin, the sister you have the opportunity to have the attitude of Jesus. And when you have His attitude, most every thing else will fall into place. It is when we put off the attitude of Christ that we have problems. So, do a little spring cleaning of the soul, if you will, this weekend. Pray about your attitude and ask for direction in changing it or modifying it, if need be. No one else may see the cleaning of your soul, but the One that matters will certainly appreciate it. 

Psalm 119:73-80

Psalm 119:73-80                                                                                                                                                                                             

   “73 JOD. Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. 

   74 They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. 

   75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. 

   76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. 

   77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. 

   78 Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. 

   79 Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies. 

   80 Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed. “

I read this this morning and was touched. So many good things in these verse. I would like to look at each one individually this morning. 

73 – This verse identifies God as my Creator. He formed me in my mother’s womb and fashioned me to His liking. Now, I ask Him to give me understanding. My desire should be to understand more and more of Him and His commandments. It’s growing, plain and simple. God created me and all I have to do is ask and He will give me what I need to grow in the light of His love. 

74 – Fellowship. When I am around my brothers and sisters in Christ, it should be joyful because they know that I have been seeking God’s council in all that I do. And I can’t have fellowship if I don’t make an effort to seek out those who follow the Lord like I do. Fellowship is about attending my Local New Testiment church. 

75 – Sometimes I mess up. I don’t always seek out God’s will and desire for my life. And when I stray off the path, there are consequences. That is the time when I have to suck it up and accept the consequences for my actions. That is one of the times that I know that I am loved because He cares about me enough to correct me. And I know that His corrections are always right and just. 

76 – Even in times of correction, He is merciful. He does not give me what I deserve. He comforts me through my consequences. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I cling to that promise with all that I am.

77 – This verse makes me think about a mother correcting her child after the child has done something completely against the rules and it requires some harsh discipline. The mother holds the child in her arms and comforts the crying child while gently explaining why what they did was wrong and that when you do that thing, you will be punished – not because the mother enjoys it, but because the child needs to learn that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. 

78 – Sometimes people are going to be mean to me even when I am doing the right thing. In those times, I can’t dwell on ways to get back at them. I must choose to instead seek out God’s council and wisdom on the matter. I need to leave the revenge to God. 

79 – This is a lofty request, one that makes me a little nervous – encouraging people to turn to me. I don’t always give the best advice. I don’t always listen like I should. But as I look back over these last two statements, I see the problem – “I”. I try to give my advice and listen with my ears. I need it give God’s advice and listen with His ears. 

80 – Now this verse, I can relate totally to. I pray that my heart remains firmly planted in God’s garden. I want my fruit to be sweet to His sight and to His taste. I do not want to be ashamed of any thing that I say or do because I want all that I say and do to be a reflection of Him.

So, there you have it , Princess. My short little verse by verse of this section of Psalm that truly touched my heart this morning.