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John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

Words

James 5:12 – “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Why do we feel that we need to use God’s name in vain? Are we trying to verify the intent of our words? Are we trying to confirm our words? Are we trying to sound important? What is it? Why do people think they sound intelligent when using it?

James is reminding us that we need to have honesty and integrity and truthfulness in our words. We shouldn’t have to verify or solidify what we are saying by invoking God’s holy name. No, our words should stand alone. 

But they don’t. Too often we tell that little white lie or stretch the truth just a bit or leave out a few of the details. In other words, we hide the truth and smother our honesty in hopes to make ourself look just a bit better. 

I think we all are guilty of this from time to time. And shame on us for that being the case.

I don’t have any profound advice or words of wisdom. Just this bit of info to offer you -watch your words. They mean something- to everyone, including, and especially, God. 

Matthew 12:36,37 – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Two sides of a coin

Judges 4:4-9 – “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Sorry there are so many verses – one or two just wouldn’t do!

Let’s think about Deborah for a few minutes today. I was having a lively discussion with my little spitfire daughter last night. I love her tenacity and grit. She isn’t afraid to lay it out – even to a teacher, respectfully of course. 

She reminds me a lot of Deborah. Deborah is the only female judge that I know of in the time of the judges. Can you imagine? Women were usually considered second class citizens in those days. Yet, here she was telling it like it is to an army commander. 

Deborah was a judge. But she was also a wife – and more likely than not, a mother. No children are specifically mentioned but they usually come along with the territory of a wife. 

I know that Deborah was prophesying when she said that the victory would be given to a woman, but can’t you hear just a bit of sass in that response? I can almost see the eyes rolling and the arms flopping to pick up her things to leave. Maybe there was some mumbling under her breath. I’m sure many prayers were lifted for this man who needed a woman to come along to assure Israel’s victory. 

I guess the point that I want to make is this – there are two sides to every coin. Every woman has two sides – the “get out of my way or I’ll run you over” side and the “here, let me take care of that” side. The side that says “well, I’ll do it because it needs to be done” and the “come on, you can do it” side. We all have two sides. In my perspective, a woman’s two sides are just more pronounced. It depends on the day. 

I was thinking about what I’m teaching my daughter. Am I doing it right? Will she have that meek and quiet spirit that is sometimes needed in a relationship? I know she already has developed the “get it done” gene. And the sass gene seems to be working quite well too. 

I want her to be like Deborah- capable of being wife and leader all at the same time. A wife is a helpmate – someone to come alongside and help out, not a dictator or wet washcloth to be swished around. But rather, a beautiful combination of sass and grit, gentleness and compassion. 

We need more “Deborah”s in this world. We need more women listening to God’s word and living his statutes and commands in their life. We need more gentleness and compassion in our marriages. We need more grit and sass for Godly truths in our society. We need more lively conversations between a parent and their child. We need more students respectfully stumping their educators.

 We need more pronounced sides to our coins. It’s okay to have two sides – God gave them to us for specific times in our life. We need to develop them both equally and efficiently. 

If you have children, pray for them. They need it. We, as parents who hold ourself accountable to God and God alone, need to develop within our children the characteristics they need to be the Godly men and women He is calling them to be. Pray for both sides of the coin. 

Control

John 10:17,18 – “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Power. We like to think that we have power over our life. We like to think that our date book is our own. We like to think that we have control over when we sleep and when we rise. We like to think that we have control over what the scales say or doesn’t say. We like to think that we have control over how our children are raised and who leads us into the future of our country. 

But do we really have control over any of those things?

I’d venture to say no. No we do not. Oh, our perception may be that we got this. But in reality….we don’t. 

In these verses today, Jesus reminds us of a very important fact – He has control. He has so much control that He has the power to freely give His life and take it back up again. This blew His audience’s mind. How could this possibly be?

We serve an amazingly powerful God. One that has the capability to give His own Son who has the power to willingly sacrifice His own life. One that has the power to raise Himself from the grave because He is all God and all man all at the same time. Did you hear that? Minds being blown all over the place!

What I want to get across today is God is in control. He knows what has been, what is and what will be. And if Jesus can raise Himself from the grave, He won’t forget you when He returns. Sometimes life feels so uncertain, so easily downtrodden, so discouraging. But take heart, God is in control. Truly, we have nothing to worry about. 

The Power of a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

Gifts. We all love them. We love do-dads and widgets and practical things and things to eat – it doesn’t matter; we love gifts!

But as I was reading in my Bible yesterday, God laid it on my heart to further explore the word “gift”. 

Here in Ephesians, the word for “gift” means a sacrificial present. In other words, the gift cost something extreme. We all know that that cost for salvation was – God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here, the word for “gift” means a spiritual endowment. An endowment is something given without expectation of return in payment but does come with the expectation that the receiver will utilize and work with what is given for a determined end. You receive wages for the work that you do. You receive an endowment with the expectation that work will follow to accomplish some goal. Death is the wages for working at a sinful life without Christ. Eternal life is the expected outcome from the free gift of salvation. 

The free gift of salvation is not something to put on a shelf and look at from time to time. No, the free gift of salvation should be seen more in the light of receiving a major appliance as a gift. When someone you know gives you a stove as a gift, you don’t put it in your kitchen and look at it. You use it. You feed your family with it. You make food for others on it. You provide comfort and assurity with it. Looking at it gets nothing done. Looking at our salvation does nothing to advance the will of God that all men should come to Him for salvation and thus eternal life. We need to use it. We need to share its’ blessings. We need to tell other people how to receive such a magnificent gift. 

So today, get out there and share your gift. It wasn’t given to you to make you look pretty. It wasn’t given to you to beat someone over the head with it. It was given to you to multiple and grow. It was given to you to bring others to Him. Be nice – share. 

The Encourager

Deuteronomy 3:28 – “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.”

Encouragement. We all need a good, hefty dose now and then. We need someone to come alongside of us, wrap their arm around our shoulder and hear those words, “It’s okay. You got this.”

Too often, however, sometimes I find myself looking at that encourager and laughing at them. I want to say, “Seriously? Do you SEE what I’m up against?”  I don’t allow the one trying to lift me up to do so. Whatever good they are trying to build up within me, I’m tearing down just as fast as they build. 

Why? Why is that? Why do we reject emotional and spiritual and, sometimes, physical encouragement? 

Pride. “I don’t need no body’s help!” (Yes, I know it’s horrible grammar but it paints a more realistic picture. Work with me here!)

Pride is a horrible, ugly monster that creeps out of us at the most yucky of times. Here we are, wallowing in the mud and someone offers a hand to help and we push it away by trying to convince them it’s a spa treatment and we like it. When in truth, we are bawling our eyes out on the inside. We want their help but pride keeps us from accepting it. 

In these verses, God is telling Moses to go and have a few words with Joshua to build him up. He needs to be encouraged. He’s about to take over as leader of the children of Israel. I underlined “children” because that’s how they acted most of the time. You know, kinda like us…..

Joshua needed all the encouragement he could get. And know what? He took it. He gobbled it up like a Thanksgiving turkey! He knew he needed all the wisdom and encouragement Moses was willing to offer. 

We can learn a lot for Joshua. When someone tries to encourage you, take it. Gobble it up! Don’t be stubborn about it. Don’t try to be all cool about it. Take it in! God knows something you don’t know and He is using that encourager to get to you and build you up. 

Listen. Listen well. God is speaking. He wants you to hear. 

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.