The Struggle

For some, the struggle to do what is right is a daily fight. This struggle includes making wise decisions, being considerate of others, standing up for justice, doing what God says to do, and do it well. Why is this struggle so great?

The struggle to do right is greater because it is so much easier to give in to temptation. It is easier to think and act selfishly. It is easier to cuss someone out than to think about how to say what you want to say. It is easier to go along to get along than to stand on principles aligned with God’s Word.

 

If the struggle to do right was easy, many people would be saved and living abundant lives. But it is so much easier for people to live unsaved, without thinking about the consequences of their action, and how what they do impacts others. Since there are so many people struggling to live–without fear, without concern about finances or what the economy will bring or what the politicians will do, we know the struggle is real, we know there are people who have yet to find peace with Jesus, who are yet unsaved.

 

Lord Jesus, help us in our struggles to do what is right and help others to do the same. Help us to fight the good fight of faith in You, not self. Help us to resist the devil and watch him flee from us.

Thanks For The Support!

Over a year ago, I was praying my writing and the Lord showed me that He would have 1 + million readers read my books. Well, of course He didn’t share His timeline, but I’m so grateful to those who are hearing Him speak to their hearts and we’re getting closer each day. My God is an awesome God and He is more than able to fulfill His promises to us and through us!

So, for those who are reading my books–Thank you! For those who haven’t–what are you waiting for–you’re missing out on good, wholesome literature–Mystery with no profanity or violence, Christian Romance with no porn, Christian literature clarifying scripture, poetry, and fantasy for kids–I’m writing so there is something for everyone!

Reading–research has shown–increases literacy and for the older generation, helps to allay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer disease.

So, let’s get away from the television and curl up with a good book.

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-M-Hall-Rayford/e/B00BAW31CQ/

Better Than Life Love!

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Psalm 63:3 NIV)

People may have a number of different opinions about David and I’ve heard many of them. He was a hero, he was murderer, he was adulterer, he was callous, he was… and the remarkable thing about David is that he was probably all the things many say about him, but he was also quick to repent when he was wrong and he had no problem remembering who God is and praising Him, even in the midst of trials.

In this Psalm, David is in the desert and begins it my talking about how his thirst is quenched by God even when there is no water in the land. Jesus reminds us that when we hunger and thirst for righteous we will be satisfied.  But when we are lacking in the natural substances–food and water, are we praising God simply because His love is better than life?

We are so quick to complain about current circumstances rather than praising God for His love that we sometimes lose our focus and become bitter and angry and our faith wanes. David is our example of how we should treat those moments (and we all have them) when things are going exactly the way we want them to go. Instead of complaining, let’s sing a song of praise, even if we have to create one–just for our moment. When we sing praises to God, it lifts our heart and the weight of circumstances become lighter. If we would just remember that every trial is only for a season and we can determine–in that season–how we respond to it.

I’ve often said out loud when trials come that appear to want to take me out, “Devil, I will come through this and even if I don’t, I get to go home sooner so I still win!”

If we exercise our lips to lift our hearts, we will experience the love of God that truly is better than life–just surviving it– and know that God’s love will help us get through anything.

Exercise for the lips to lift the heart:

You, O God, always know what I need when I need it,

You, O God, are the creator of my life, know my every thought and deed,

And You, O God, love me enough to life me from the bottom of the pits in which I fall,

In the face of all those who would scorn me and You shower me with favor so they understand,

Just how much You love me and that Your love is better than life,

Because it is You, who makes life worth living!

And I praise You, lifting Your name higher than any trial that comes my way,

You, O God, have already established victory as the end result! We Win in the end!

On Whom I Will!

“And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19 NIV)

I love the fact that I am not God! And what’s even greater–you are not God! God says, He will cause of His goodness to pass in front of us, He will have mercy on whom He will, and compassion upon whom He will–not as we decide out of our own superiority complexes and arrogance. There, I said it–we don’t get to decide what God wants for others–He does!

What’s great about God’s mercy and compassion–shown to whoever He chooses–is His non-discriminatory practice for all who are obedient to Him. God doesn’t care what our ethnicity is, our skin color, our religious practices, our economic status, our educational level or to whom we’re related–unlike some of us. We tend to think that because we belong to a specific denomination or practice a specific form of religion that we’re the only ones who have a right to access heaven. Wrong!

The only way anyone gets to God into heaven is through acceptance of Jesus Christ and the work on the cross. That’s it! “No man comes to the father except through the son.” There are no other qualifiers to get into heaven than this.

So, when we–us, mere mortals–attempt to be play God and try to beat people over the head with our beliefs–we’re wasting our time. If we’re not saying what God says, we do err.

Going to church doesn’t get a person into heaven–but it’s okay to go.

Tithing doesn’t get a person into heaven–but it’s a good thing to do.

Being baptized doesn’t get a person into heaven–but it’s okay.

Speaking in tongues doesn’t get a person into heaven–but it’s gift from God to use as we will.

We don’t even have the right to “call people” into ministry, but some try and make messes of the person’s life and those they attempt to minister to.

God is God–and He can choose whom He will, to do whatever it is He wants them to do–and He doesn’t need our permission or approval. So, we with our limited knowledge of anything need to stop saying who God will use based on our limited understanding of who God is. He’s God–He knows more than any of us will ever know and He knows the outcome of what He wants before anything is ever started!

Okay, now aren’t you glad I’m not God? I am! If I was God, the world would be in a bigger mess than it is, because quite frankly, I’d rid the world of all who hate and create evil and chaos without any consideration of mercy and compassion. And if the truth was told, you would do the same thing. Thank goodness He’s God and we’re not. At least now, we all have a chance to get things right before Him.


While We Were!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Who is the “us” Paul references? In this letter to the church at Rome, Paul is speaking to the Jewish converts, now called Christians, followers of Christ–reminding them of God’s love for us--who are followers of Christ. While we–before we became Christians and lived any way we wanted to live–He died for us–that’s God’s love for us.

Most of us can quote John 3:16, but I often wonder if we really know what it means. I have learned from experience that being able to quote a scripture doesn’t mean a person comprehends the magnitude of the words they quote.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son that whoever believed in Hm would not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There is a distinct difference between what John tells us and what Paul says. John tells us that “whoever” (I am a whoever) believed Jesus is the Son of God would not perish but live for all eternity. The whoever applies to anybody and everybody who chooses to believe. Paul says, to those who have already believed and proclaim to be Christians–“remember, we were also sinners at one time,” and His love saved us–and His love continues to save others.

Now, there is so much debate about the term sinner that for simplicity’s sake, I’ll explain it this way. A sinner deliberately chooses to live in opposition to God’s Word. Since I am not a sinner (though I was and His grace saved me), and do not deliberately do things in opposition to God’s Word, I will not say, “I am a sinner.” I am not perfect and when I inadvertently mess up, I am quick to repent and seek His forgiveness. I know many won’t agree with me and that’s okay. When we get to heaven, we can seek clarity from the One who said it. We need to understand the “tenses” of the verbs–the distinction between “present and past” tenses–am (still doing), were (no longer)!

The important thing to take from this passage of scripture is for us to remember, we once were sinners, living in opposition to God’s Word, until we received understanding and chose to live according to God’s Word. And while we were living in sin, He loved us so much that He chose to die for us so we might have access to heaven. Now that we know, we cannot condemn those who are “yet in their sin” but pray for them, teach them and bring them into the Light of God’s love.

That’s why we’re saved–to bring others into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ and His love. Remember, while we were doing our own thing, He still loved us and now we must demonstrate that love towards so they too, can walk in the light as we are in the light.

Brace For The Trial!

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 NIV)

One of the reasons many cave is because they have not learned to brace themselves to withstand the pressures of life. The end result for caving to pressure is suicide, depression, hopelessness, and frustration with everything and everyone.

I remember a number of years ago when I was visiting a church, a preacher called me out for prayer. He didn’t know me and made some erroneous assumptions about my character simply because I was wearing a red suit. I know this because of what he was praying–for my salvation and at the time, I was not only assured of my salvation, but I was also ministering the Gospel as an ordained Elder. He didn’t know that. While he was praying, he had the audacity to lay hands on me attempting to force me to fall “under the spirit” so he could get the glory. He also didn’t know I knew a phony when I heard one. So, while he was trying to push me down, I repositioned my feet to brace myself and I didn’t budge and he was left stunned. When I finally looked up at him, I smiled and walked away. Needless to say, I had no respect for that man or the leadership in the church.

About five months later, he found out who I was and was annoying in his attempts to show me how much he respected me. I don’t seek to impress people and I’m not usually impressed with others–especially those who are attempting to impress with foolishness. I’m impressed with a demonstration of their relationship with God, not who they are.

My point to this little anecdote is to remind people that when the pressures of life assault us, we have to know how to “reposition ourselves” to brace against the pressure, so the trials of life won’t cause us to fall, defeated.

In order to brace for the trials, we must be determined, using stubborn character constructively, refusing to give in or give up, no matter what happens. When we feel the strain of the pressure, we need to flex our spiritual muscles and reposition our thinking, finding balance to push back against those things that attempt to bring us down.

While we’re pushing back, we need to have enough Word in us, to help us to withstand the attack of the enemy and when we are armored up and know that God is going before us, enabling us to “stand” we can expect to receive the prize for the win on earth and in heaven. Brace for the trials of life and never cave, being blessed and receiving our crowns!

Watching and Waiting With Hope!

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7 NIV)

Watching the news is depressing with all of the negative reporting. Human beings slaughtering other human beings because of difference of opinion. Kids killing kids. Teens assaulting teachers. Teachers involved in illicit sexual activity with students, Husbands killing wives. Wives assaulting people on the road. Extreme weather conditions causing people despair. Foolish people venturing out in extreme weather conditions causing others to be precarious positions trying to rescue them. Judges ruling on the side of evil incarnate and in opposition to God. Where will it all end?

It will end–all of it-when Jesus returns and for those who have chosen to live without His guidance, they will be left behind to deal with the consequences of their choices.

While I wait in the hope of His glorious return, I watch and pray and pray and watch. I pray and watch. I cry out to the Lord and I know He hears my cries, but He will not override a person’s will. So, I pray for those who are living in opposition to seek Him while He may be found. I pray for those who are the cause of evil to reach the end of themselves. I pray for parents to become Godly parents, understanding right from wrong and teaching their children the same and how to respect others.

I pray for teachers to be adults with integrity to teach their students and not become physically involved with them. I pray for the students to be wiser and more interested in amassing an educating than in seducing or enticing or being enticed by their teachers.

I pray for preachers to be men and women of integrity, exercising wisdom given from on high, inspired to teach God’s Word, based upon God’s Word and His intent for all mankind. I pray for those attending churches–that they will read the bible for themselves and seek God for understanding, not allowing mere mortals to entice them away from God’s intent.

I pray for all of mankind to receive God’s love so they’ll be able to love others and stop the killing. I pray for all of us to hear God when He speaks and that we will obey Him, in promoting the Gospel and loving one another.

I’m watching and waiting with hope in my heart to see change in hearts of people–that we’ll do better and be ready when He returns. And while I’m waiting, I’m writing–trying to motivate others to live for The Lord in all things, seeing Him as the example as how we do it.

A Friend’s Love!

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (I Peter 2:11,12 NIV)

When Peter writes this letter to Believers–especially to those who are new to the faith–his greeting lets people how he views them–friends.

When we write a letter to a friend (I know–strange concept huh), how do we greet them? Dear______! What’s more important is how we treat them. Do we love them enough to tell them the truth or do we simply keep quiet and let them fall by the wayside of life?

Peter urges all to abstain–don’t give into–from sinful desires which engage our spirits with our fleshly drives. We can do it. We have Holy Spirit to give us strength to fight off the urges of the flesh which desires those things that are not good for us. Sometimes, in order to fight that fight–we have to remove ourselves from certain environments or people to make sure we are not enticed or led astray. Those who deliberately lead another astray–away from doing what is right–are not friends, they are fiends–tools of the devil.

We are to live the good life that God has planned for us–doing what is right no matter what others think or say. In fact, we are told to do to keep doing what is right or saying what is right to the extent that those who find fault with us, will soon acknowledge that we are indeed messengers of God and live according to His Divine Plan for us. When they see us not caving to gain favor of others, but living to please God, they will be convinced and some will change their ways because of what they see in us–the love of God shed abroad in our hearts–filled to overflowing onto others! Hallelujah!

Are you a friend that loves enough to tell your friends the truth? Do you love your friends enough to live God’s Best Life for you in front of them? Do you love your friends enough to be a living letter of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Dear Friends,

I love you enough to always pray for you–that you’ll understand why I do what I do and say what I say–in agreement with God’s Word–so that I will spend eternity with you in heaven and together, we will glorify God at the foot of His throne. I love you enough to back you up in all the good you do and to admonish you when I see you going astray. I love you enough to always tell you the truth, even though the truth may sting for a moment. I love you enough to be there when you need me, always ready to listen and to encourage you to do things God’s way!

Love, your friend in Jesus!