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.

Why There Is Power In These Seven!

Why There Is Power In These Seven!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. I Thessalonians 5:16-22 NKJV

I have seen a number of blog posts, articles, essays dealing with numbers and or promoting numbered steps to achieve anything. Usually, I avoid these simply because each numbered step may or may not work for everyone. But as I read this passage of scripture today, I realized there is indeed a methodology to seeing the power of God at work in our lives.

Rejoice always–the phrase, “don’t worry, be happy” comes to mind. No matter what happens in our lives-the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, we can find something to rejoice about if we think about it. There are a number of jokes out there that would be applicable, but I want to bring this point with clarity. When someone loses a house in a fire or storm, we can rejoice when there is no loss of life. Things can be replaced–people cannot. Job managed to find peace within himself until he started listening to his friends. He had lost much. When we don’t get the job we want–we can rejoice in the knowledge that there is something better waiting for us. We have to be like the battery bunny–know how to keep going, and going, and going.

Pray without ceasingcontinuing to talk to God no matter what happens. This does not mean we keep saying the same thing over and over again; it means we keep communicating with Him who can change our circumstances in an instant. Most people only talk to God with they’re in need, but we should always talk to Him and listen to Him on a daily basis. Prayer is not just asking–or petitioning God–it is communicating–talking to Him like we talk to one another. Think about it–if we’re saying the same thing to people every time we talk to them, soon we stop listening because it becomes boring to hear. What makes us think that God doesn’t hear what we say the first time? He’s not forgetful and He’s certainly not deaf.

In everything give thanksfor this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. We need to thank God for the opportunities we have to learn from our mistakes and not just for the things we do well or what we receive. In sickness–give thanks for the strength to endure to the end. In poverty–give thanks for the will to rise above it. In turmoil–give thanks for His peace residing within. Now, notice this scripture says, “in everything” not for everything. There is a difference. When people do not know how to “rightly divide” The Word, they often lead people astray. In all of our circumstances we give thanks to God in whom we can count on to bring us out.

Do not quench the spirit–the Spirit of the Living God who resides within us, speaks to us–when we’re willing to hear Him, guiding us at all times. Hear Him! Don’t try to squelch His commands in order to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Heed what He has to say at all times!

Do not despise prophecies--from those we can ascertain are speaking God’s Truth because we know God’s Truth. When we know The Word, we know when someone who purports to being a prophet is actually hearing from God for what they say, will line up with The Word.

Test all things, holding fast to that which is good–by exercising the spirit of discernment we can determine if something is right or wrong for us. When things we do or want are not in opposition to God’s Word, we maintain our integrity to keeping God’s Word. If a person proclaims to be something and yet there is no evidence of it, disregard what they say. If the evidence is present, they have proven their credibility. This is almost like testing water temperature before we step into it. Water too hot will scald and too cold will chill.

Abstain from every form of evil--keeping away from all things that could be construed as evil or out of the will of God. This covers so much territory that I cannot begin to enumerate all of the facets of evil to which this would apply. There is an adage, “Birds of a feather flock together” that applies. If we hang out with the wrong folks, people will assume we are like the people with whom we associate. If they are liars, we’ll be labeled a liar. If they are thieves, we’ll be labeled a thief. This is why we should be careful in our associations with people.

IF–we can do these seven things–always keeping them in the forefront of our thinking, we will see the power of God working in our lives like never before and we can rest in His peace.

 

 

How We’re Overtaken With Blessings!

How We’re Overtaken With Blessings!

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: Deuteronomy 28: 1,2 NKJV

In order to “fully” (NIV) understand how we are blessed by our obedience, we need to “fully” read God’s Word and obey it–completely. What appears to be a stumbling block for many people is their misunderstanding of God’s Word–thinking we are obligated to the letter of the Law instead of the “spirit” of the Law. The Pharisees knew The Law and all of its various postscripts (one has to know what was said in the first five books) and they couldn’t keep it or wouldn’t keep it.

To be honest, it was too much remember, but Jesus came and said two commandments I give you, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.” How easy is that too remember? Love God, Love others! Obedience brings into play blessings that will overtake us when we observe (do daily) what He says. Verses 3-14 in Deuteronomy list how we’ll be blessed and we need to go back and review the blessings when we think we are tiring of being obedient.

Blessed in the city and in the country–everywhere we go–we’ll be blessed.

Our children will be blessed and everything and everyone we influence will be blessed.

Whatever we produce with the work of our hands will be blessed.

When we come into places and leave them, we will be blessed.

We will be victorious over our enemies every time they attack.

We will be blessed in whatever place or condition we find ourselves.

We will be established–known to all–as God’s Holy people.

All the people in the earth will revere and respect us as God’s people when they see us.

We will be blessed with prosperity in all areas of our lives.

We will never know drought of any kind.

We will be the head and not the tail of every venture we attempt, always at the top and never at the bottom.

All these blessings will overtake us–if we completely and fully obey God--living to please Him only.

So, if we’re not experiencing being overtaken by His blessings, perhaps it is because we have not fully executed obedience–living to please Him, rather than others and loving others even when they are unlovable. Something to ponder and rethink what we do.

I don’t know about you, but I am waiting to be overtaken by all the blessings He has for me and if others don’t want their blessings–I’ll take them, too. Loving to love you all today!

 

 

How Many Can Say, “The Lord Is Great?”

How Many Can Say, “The Lord Is Great?”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!” Psalm 40:16 NIV

How can anyone say anything about someone they don’t know? A surface knowledge of anyone is not enough knowledge to judge anyone or make any determinations about them. Getting to know people on more than a passing greeting, level is how we determine our level of knowledge of others.

Although some may read a bible, go to church on a regular basis, sing in the choir, usher on the usher board, serve on the trustee or deacon board or pulpit committee or even preach in the pulpit–unless there is a thoroughly, intimate knowledge of God and how He wants us to live, we can’t say much about Him and tell the truth.

When I listen to some people talk about Jesus and then every other word falling from their lips is profanity, I have to wonder–do they really know Him? I’ve even witnessed people do all manner of evil and then say, “Thank You, Jesus!” I’m confused. Why would anyone thank Jesus for them not getting caught in doing evil? People can do this because they don’t know Him. If they really knew Him, they would be ashamed of the evil they do.

And then there are those who think they know Him because of their parents’ relationship or affiliation with a church. Really? They think affiliation with a church or well-known pastor makes them know Him. They think their association puts them in a position to say, “I know the Lord!”

What I’ve learned through the years is that no matter which church I attend, what role I played in the church, or how many messages I preach–none of that puts me into a right relationship with God. It is having an experience with God–one in which He makes Himself known, leaving no doubt as to who He is and what I mean to Him–that brought me into a personal, intimate relationship with God. So when I say, “The Lord is great,” it’s because I have seen Him working on my behalf. I have known Him to move mountains out of my way and I have heard Him speak to me–on a consistent basis–guiding me along the path He established for me. Oh yes, I know Him!

Because of His love for me, I discovered who I am in Him and do all I can to live for Him, since He loved me enough to die for me. He loved me before I was born and the discovery of Him praying for me in the Garden of Gethsemane changed my life and my attitude about living a life to please Him. How great is our God! He didn’t wait for me to put in an appearance to love me, or me to shout and dance in church; He loved me before my mother and father, before their parents and before their parents–from the beginning of time–He loved me, and no demon on earth or principality in the air, will ever make me doubt Him.

Now, how many people can truly say, based upon their personal knowledge and experience, “The Lord is great?” Where are they who can truly proclaim His goodness and promote others to live for Him? Now is the time for every born-again Believer to make themselves know and make His greatness known so others can say, “The Lord is Great!”

Why None Can Compare To Our God!

Why None Can Compare To Our God!

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5 NIV

Reading this passage reminds me of what testimonies used to be--a testament of God’s goodness.

I know many people are still testifying of His goodness–all the things He has done–delivering them out of darkness and bringing them into His marvelous light. He has healed bodies and emotional distress. He has saved us from ourselves when we didn’t realize we needed to be saved. He has made ways out of no way. He has planned our future and keeps us on the path of success when we obey Him. He warns us of impending dangers and keeps giving us chance after chance to get living right–according to His Word.

While I cannot speak for others, I can certainly speak for myself. I am here today because of His Love and His Plans for me. When the enemy attempted to take me out by discouraging me, God was there. In the midst of two rear-end collisions in which I should have been dead, God was there. When I thought I was so grown I didn’t have to listen to anyone else, He was right there, waiting for me to reach the end of myself so I would know, I needed Him.

When I had a stroke, He reminded me of His promise to me–and I reminded the devil, I will live and be restored whole. When darkness clouded my life and thoughts, He removed the clouds so I could see all that He had prepared for me. I am a survivor of so much that my heart is filled to overflowing knowing that He was right there and nothing the enemy planned, worked. I have been through some fires, some floods (figuratively speaking)–been on the mountain-top and in the valley and everywhere I was, so was He. There is none like Him!

When we trust people–they usually let us down because of their fickleness, but God is faithful, even when we are not and He never changes. Doctors may have some book knowledge and skills, but it is The Lord who guides them when they listen. When we fly–our hope and trust should not just be in the pilot’s abilities, but in God who can keep the plane in the air until it’s time for it to come down and safely land it. When we ask Him to bless our food (and our tummies, too), He can remove anything from the food that might harm us and we may never know it.

There is not enough space for me to proclaim all that He has done for me and what I know He will do because all of His promises are true–I simply have to stay in position–in obedience–to receive them. Can we say that anyone does what God does? No! There is no One like Him!

How We Own Our Faults!

How We Own Our Faults!

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Psalm 19:12 NIV

One of the most difficult things most human beings have to do is to recognize their own shortcomings and faults. Why? We don’t like to see ourselves as we really are. Some might say, our refusal to see us as others see us, makes us delusional. In many cases, that is probably very true.

However, we don’t have to navigate our journey in life wearing blinders. When we are able to look at ourselves and admit our imperfections and faults, we put ourselves in position to be molded into the person God always intended us to be. Building character takes time and since our time on earth is limited, we shouldn’t waste it trying to be more than we are or were intended to be.

Let’s face it–many of us don’t recognize the ugliness that resides in us because we are too short-sighted to see it. What ugliness? The need in us to belittle others or to make fun of them. The urge we have to always say something about others that is not entirely true. The things we think we hide in our hearts–bigotry, rebellion, low self-esteem and our insecurities. We think we hide these things but because they reside in our hearts, they rise and surface for all to see, except us.

Think about it! That spirit that complains all the time in our heads about everything–surfaces and those around us hear the complaints when they are voiced. The nastiness that resides in our hearts rises when our tongues speak evil and we cuss everything and everyone who dares to disagree with us.

If we were ever able to force ourselves to see us as we really are and then work to change for the better, we defeat the enemy who attempts to influence us on every level. When we admit our shortcomings, the enemy has nothing to use against us. Willingness to see ourselves as we are is the first step to building character–changing us to be more like Christ. We don’t have to be dishonest, liars, thieves, complainers, or any other worthless thing–and when we build character, we become more valuable and are able to accomplish great things.

Let’s openly recognize and proclaim all those things that we think are hidden, but nothing is ever hidden from God. Then we can start building, one step at a time, the character that resides in the inner person, but has been hidden by our imperfections and our inability to recognize us when we see us.

Why We Defend The Defenseless!

A psalm of Asaph. God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. Psalm 82:1-5 NIV

Because of all the injustice in our society and in the world, it is the responsibility of every Born-Again Believer to defend the weak and the fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed, the weak and the needy. This is our duty–when these groups are unable to stand up to the pressures imposed upon them, by the bullies in our society.

The bullies in our society are not just kids in schools–picking on those who are smaller and younger, but it is all those who think that their size, wealth, and intellect make them superior to others. We have also seen this scenario play out in the media–especially with politicians–the poor get poorer because they have no spokesperson speaking up for them and the politicians only care about themselves. Those in charge of making policies for educational equality are remiss in their duties to consider all the children in every city when they overlook the disadvantaged and turn their heads when wrongs are reported.

Specifically, the situation that exists in Michigan regarding education and water safety has blown the minds of many, but it has existed for decades and only now is coming to light. The biggest problem with both (DPS and Flint) is the laxity in those governing is the imposition of Emergency Managers who have done nothing other than to line their pockets with money that should have been used for education and the continuation of safe water. Because it has not been a concern of the greedy, the end results now impact the needy.

In reviewing the steady decline in Detroit Public Schools providing a quality education for all students, we must look at economics, transience in people moving, and the greed that has overshadowed the district for decades. Every would-be, wanna-be superintendent in the country knows how easy it is to put one over the unsuspecting. When greed supersedes the desire to do right, everyone suffers. But now, the teachers and students are fighting back–being extremely vocal about the dire situations and those in power are attempting to silence them with punitive actions. Since I am a retired educator–fully aware of the existing climate–I can support and promote the cause of the students and teachers without fear of repercussions for there is nothing they can do to me to silence me.

While the water issue in Flint is not exactly the same, the results are devastating. Once again, greed as opposed to need has led the way to the potential harm of thousands of people. The villains in the both situation are the emergency managers and the governors who appointed them. If every-day citizens had committed same acts of theft and potential manslaughter, they would be jailed. It’s time for the governor in Michigan and Darnell Earley to own up to their responsibility in both situations and resign or be jailed.

God’s mandate to defend and uphold those in a position who cannot defend themselves against the army of those who have more political clout and money is clear--we have to speak up for them and their defend their rights against the enemy of greed. I pray that more people will join the effort to make sure all students have an opportunity for a quality education and that safe drinking water is available for all–without risking health and life.

 

Shadow Security!

Shadow Security!

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:1,2; 9,10 NIV

When the shadows fall over the land, we can either feel security or fear. There are so many stories about our reactions to shadows that one blog post would not do it justice. There are times when shadows have caused people frightening experiences when they did not realize that tree branches and plastic bags caught on branches can give the allusion of something else that is far more sinister than what it is.

And then there are times when dangerous acts have been defeated because of the shadows alerting others of the dangers contrived by those who are evil.

But there is security in the knowledge that those of us who believe that the shadow of the Almighty is with us, daily. We can trust in the security of that shadow knowing that nothing by any means shall harm us when we dwell in His presence.

I started to title this post, shadow boxing–because that is what many of us do when we’re trying to overcome mindsets that keep us from enjoying the benefit of belonging to God. We feel we must always fight back–boxing our imaginary opponent that only exists in our heads–and yet we never win. Though shadow boxing has its benefits for those who are training to be boxers, there is no win since we are actually boxing our own shadow. And every time we move–in the right conditions for shadows to exist–the shadow moves and looms larger than we are.

So, too does God’s shadow–loom so much larger than we are and therefore we can trust Him to protect us. If we truly understood what dwelling in the shadow of His presence meant, we would indeed–fear no evil that conspires against us. We would boldly travel the paths He sets before us and not concern ourselves with the mediocrity that attempts to distract us. His shadow–on every side–because He is Light and where there is Light, His shadow is present.

Remember–when Peter passed by some and those who were enveloped in his shadow were healed. David said though the shadow of death was always present, he would not fear any evil coming upon him.

We do not have to fear shadows–unless we are in the wrong place for all the wrong reasons. Living in God’s shadow–we are fully protected and have no need to fear.