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Keep on truckin’

2 Peter 2:5 – “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly”

Let’s talk about Noah for a bit. 

Noah was 500 years old when he began building the ark and preaching repentance. He was 600 years old when God told him to get on the ark with all the animals. For 100 years Noah preached and explained things to the people. I mean, it’s not like he could hide building a boat of that size nowhere near the water! One hundred years of preaching and pleading and instructing and only 8 people got on the boat. Eight. 

Can you imagine?! Can you wrap your brain around working that hard for that long only to have 8 people believe as you do? 

We get frustrated when the one person at work that we invite to church doesn’t show up when they say they will. We get upset that people are falling away from church services to do other things. We don’t understand how people can drive by our place of worship and see all those cars around the place and not want to stop in and be a part of what we are doing. 

We need to be faithful. We shouldn’t let the poor choices of others dictate our faith. Just because others are making bad choices doesn’t mean that God is any less powerful. It doesn’t mean that He cares for us or them any less. 

It means that we are not robots that He controls. We have a choice and the free will to make that choice. He wants us to serve and worship Him because we want to, not because we have to. 

That’s why just like the people of Noah’s time had a choice, we have a choice. We can let the world drag us down and rain on our parade or we can chose to dance in the rain. We must keep going. 

Noah could have given up. He could have thrown up his hands at year 50 and said, “That’s it! These people won’t listen and I look like a fool!” But he didn’t. He kept on following God and doing exactly what He said to do in spite of how crazy and weird he looked. 

What about you? Are you ready to give up? Are things going south in a hurry and you are holding on for dear life? Well, keep on holding. It may seem that your world is falling apart, but it’s actually falling together. (I heard that in a song the other day.)

I’m not saying anything you don’t already know – but life is tough. Things aren’t fair. People will let you down. 

But life is good when you are following Christ. When He is the reason you wake up in the morning and He is the reason that you keep going – well, life can’t get much better than that, can it? 

Let me encourage you today to keep on truckin’! Keep on keeping on. Dance in the rain and keep doing what He leads you to do. 

Enter the butternut squash

Matthew 6:31-33 – “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yesterday morning was a rough time for me. I was super stressed out right before church. I woke up ready and excited to be going to church for worship. I did the finances and praised God that things were going in a positive direction. And then it was time to prepare lunch. Thus entered the butternut squash into my morning. I was having the worst time trying to peel that thing. Peelings were flying all over the kitchen; breakfast dishes were sitting in the sink; I needed a shower before church; and the clothes weren’t sorting themselves. And here I had put God first when I woke up, but somewhere along the line, I had put Him in the backseat.

So, like any good girl, I cried, in the shower of course. My husband was doing his best to talk me off the emotional ledge, but I jumped anyway. But in those tears, I decided to ask forgiveness for my pettiness and disregard of the day. And Jesus forgave me. I was able to go to church with a renewed spirit and a readiness to worship Him. It was all good. Lunch was prepared. Laundry got done. And the kitchen…well, it is relatively clean.

To tie it all together, sometimes we let the devil use silly little things to get in the way of the bigger picture. When I was telling my husband what set me off (the butternut squash), it sounded silly and stupid. Why would I let a dumb thing like peeling that squash ruin my day? It is because I was focusing on the wrong things. God knew that I needed to get lunch ready. He knew that I needed a shower before church. He knew that my family needed clean clothes for the week. And He has ALWAYS helped me get these things done in the past. Why was I worried that they wouldn’t get done on this day? Sin. I chose sin instead of trusting Him to provide. I wasn’t seeking His kingdom first.

Let me encourage you this week to be aware of what is going on in your day. Be aware of the opportunities for sin to creep into your day and steal your focus. Don’t let the devil lead you astray. You see, I chose to let those things bother me. But I also chose to seek forgiveness and accept a second opportunity to worship Him.

Word Challenge

Acts 17:11 – “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

My pastor used this in his sermon Wednesday night and it really struck a chord with me. Yes, we have preaching services on Wednesday night. We don’t play around with the Word of God. 

Luke wrote the book of Acts. And here, he is writing about Paul and Silas who had left Thessalonica and went to Berea. The people at Berea were very different than the people at Thessalonica. They didn’t take the words that were spoken to them and just absorb them as truth. These people searched the Scriptures to find out for themselves if what was being taught to them was truth or not. They would not allow themselves to be spoon fed. 

We can learn a lot from this one little verse. You see, too often we take the words that we hear on Sunday morning, or whenever the Word is expounded upon, and just absorb it as truth. We should not be doing this! We need to listen AND follow along in our Bible. We have the complete written Word of God right in front of us. We have the leadership of the Holy Spirit, if we are a child of the King, to let us know if what is being said is true or not. The problem that we get into is laziness. We don’t follow along in our Bible. Or we think that just because the man is behind the pulpit, he must be okay Scriptually. We can’t let ourself be fooled, sister! We have to take every thing we see, hear and read and look at it through the lense of God’s Word – and that includes this blog. You see, this blog is not the inspired Word of God. It is my interpretation of it and my application of it. You need to look at the verses and the context for yourself and see if what I say is in agreement with the Ultimate Word. 

Another thing to take from this verse is this – they were ready to receive the Word. They had a heart that was ready to be stirred up and planted with the good things of God. Do you go to worship services with that attitude in your heart? Or is it just what you do? Or do you go for the social aspect of church? Or are you there because someone dragged you to the service? We have to be ready to receive the things God is trying to communicate to us every time we open His book.  It is that important. And I think that sometimes we don’t treat it as such. We get a little too comfortable. 

So, this weekend, Princess, I challenge you to go to worship services with a whole new attitude and in a whole  new light. Don’t allow yourself to be spoon fed. And don’t go just because you have to. Go because you want to service the One who has done so much for you. Worship Him in spirit and in truth. Celebrate His love and be humbled by His wanting to be with you. 

Loyalty

2 Timothy 4:3,4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

In my Sunday school class yesterday, we talked about loyalty. Dictionary.com defines loyalty as “faithfulness to commitments or obligations.” Loyalty is hard to come by in our world today. People change opinions and their minds all the time – depending on the direction of the wind. It is sad really. What people have stood behind and depended upon for years now seems cliche and unnecessary.

Yet, loyalty to Christ is absolutely necessary. Too many people are walking through the doors of the church building without the desire for a commitment. They want a short term fix for their long term problem. Some think that coming to church will appease God so that they can get what they want. They aren’t there for worship. They are there to appease the genie. There is no loyalty or desire for devotion in their actions. And that is sad.

It saddens me to think that people are missing out on an opportunity for a long term solution. Yes, it requires action and decisions and an openness to God’s leadership. But the benefits of loyalty to Christ far outweigh any tough times one might incur because of Him. You see, loyalty to Christ for me is an extended family. I have people who care about me because they want to, not that my blood family doesn’t care, they are just really far away. Loyalty to Christ also means that I have a friend all the time. When I’m by myself, I’m really not. Jesus is always there. Loyalty to Christ also means to me that there is no question of right or wrong. He always has the right answer. I always have the Guidance in the right way to go. Now, whether I follow that Guidance is a whole other issue.

Loyalty is more than a once a week thing. Loyalty is an every day thing. I choose every morning to get up and be loyal to my husband that day. I get up in the morning and choose to be loyal to the commitment I made to my job. Loyalty is an every day choice.

So let me encourage you, princess, to be loyal. Choose today to be loyal to Christ. Determine in your heart a way that you can show your loyalty to Him and go with it. Not only will you bless His heart, but it will bless yours as well.

Growing a friend

John 15:12-15 – “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

A friend. We all need them. We all desire to have a close one. A friend is someone you can talk to – who will listen and give you advise, if needed. Friends come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and genders. Chances are you have had different friends for different stages of your life. I know I have. But there are some friends that stand the test of time.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent the time shopping with my daughter. We had so much fun giving advise on shoes and sunglasses. We looked at books, swimsuits, camera cases and so much more. We laughed and talked and just enjoyed the time together.

I have a girlfriend with whom I love to talk. We will chat via texting for the longest time about so many different things. But as much fun as chatting over texting is, being face to face to share a good laugh is necessary. You can’t have a friendship without a relationship. And building a relationship means spending time together.

And then I have the friendship with my husband. Oh, this one is a must. How can two people live under the same roof and share the same bed without friendship? He is the one that knows my moods, my actions, my quirks and my determination. He knows my dreams and my fears. But as well as he knows me, there needs to One who knows me even better – Jesus.

How can I expect to be a better friend in all of the above mentioned situations if I don’t have a relationship with Him? I truly believe that one cannot know real love until they know Jesus. He showed us what love is. He showed us what being a friend is all about.

He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to allow Him into all parts of our life. He wants to be a part of our thoughts, our dreams, our quirks, our moods, our actions – He wants to be in it all. You can’t have this type of relationship on Sunday morning alone. It is something you have to choose to work at every day of the week.

I have a friendship that is growing right now. As I mentioned above, we text a lot. But when we get to see one another, we cherish that time together. We hold onto it. And we treasure it.

Growing a relationship with Jesus is the same way. Now, you can’t text Jesus but you can pray. You can spend time chatting with Him in your heart. And just like texting, sometimes you need to listen. It’s not a one way communication. And then there is your together time. One way to spend time together is through Bible study. Another way is when you go to church to worship. That is the time that you should treasure and cherish. That is the time to hold onto when you leave. You need to remember that time. You need to remember what you have learned about Him. You need to remember what He has commanded you through that time of learning and worship. And you need to go. Hebrews 10:25 – “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.”

Friends. They are near and dear to our heart. We have to spend time with them to know them and grow our relationship with them. The same is true for the One true Friend. Our friends on the earth are special and to be treasured. But we must remember this: Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” The One that sticks closer than a brother is Jesus. He is the One that will never hold us back. He will never disappoint. He will never leave nor will He be far away. Develop that friendship and make it grow.

Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2 – “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Sunday is a day of praise and worship. It is supposed to be a day of rest. It is supposed to be a day of peace and reflection.

For some reason, my life missed that memo. Yesterday was a wild and wacky day for me. We had a potluck at church to celebrate our pastor and his family being there for 15 years; I had to present our Operation Christmas Child information; I am leading the youth in their Christmas program; laundry had to be done so that the family had clothes for this week; projects had to be completed that are due today for school (that is a whole other blog on forgiveness and patience right there!) – my brain and my heart was overwhelmed. And the devil knew it. He made sure that I was feeling every minute. I’m running around he church building like the Tasmanian devil. Everyone is asking me if I’m okay. “You looked stressed,” they would say. “Oh no, just busy.”

And then I get home. The insanity starts all over again. One hopes that her home is a place of refuge and peace. Mine was anything but that. We only had so long at home yesterday; we had Christmas program practice last night. We had to get homework and laundry done at a lightning pace. That, my friend, causes stress. And stress like that oozes. It’s like a nasty blister. When one person has that kind of stress, it leaks out onto everyone else. And that makes all the attitudes nasty. I was the one leaking yesterday.

I was overwhelmed. I wanted to have the right heart and attitude, but I just couldn’t find it. And that was my problem. I was looking for it in me. I have been at this life for long enough to know and understand that I can’t find it in myself. But I forget. I chose not to remember. I thought I could handle it all on my own.

But I can’t. I have to run to the “rock that is higher than I”. That is where peace is. That is where love and understanding abides.

So, as I was getting out of the car last night to go to practice, my husband says to me, “Have a good attitude.” And I responded, “I hope so.” And somewhere in between the car and the door, I ran to the Rock. Peace overtook my heart and mind. Practice went smoothly. I got to hear my darling husband bring the message for evening worship service and it truly touched my heart. God reminded me over and over again just how truly blessed I am. I learned yesterday, again, that when I take my eyes off of myself and choose to see Him that things go much smoother – life is much more manageable.

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.