Living in The Light

In the little church we attended in Santa Fe, we often sang this chorus:

“If we are living in the Light, 

 As He is in the Light, 

 We have fellowship 

 With one another.” 

 “But if we are living in the Light, as God is in the Light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7 NLT

How do we know we are living in God’s Light? Are there spotlights from heaven, and brass bands and choirs of angels around us, pointing us out over all others? It’s much quieter and simpler than all that.  We know we are in His Light through the company we keep in the fellowship of His believers, and we know because we can hear His quiet voice speaking to us. 

Has God spoken to you lately?

  “While you were doing these wicked things, says the LORD, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer….. But my people would not listen to Me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward…..  But my people have not listened to Me or even tried to hear. They have been stubborn and sinful—even worse than their ancestors.” – Jeremiah 7:13, 24, 26 NLT

I ask again, has God spoken to you? I’m probably the worst listener on the planet, too busy doing whatever I’m doing to listen to Him. Oh, I hear His voice; at least, I know He is speaking, I just don’t listen to what He is saying. FYI, looking back on my own experiences, not listening can be harmful to your health…. even now, I don’t really want to hear what He is telling me. I’m quite comfortable in my rut, even if I’m not particularly happy, it’s much more comfortable and easy to stay in it than to dig my way out. I’m tired of the financial struggle, and I’m tired of feeling like I’m running in place, not getting anywhere. 

And as I write these words, TobyMac comes on singing the amazing song “Move…” (These are just the beginning lyrics):

Another heartbreak day 
Feels like you’re miles away 
Don’t even need no shade 
When your sun don’t shine, shine

Too many passin’ dreams 
Roll by like limousines 
It’s hard to keep believin’ 
When they pass you by and by

I know your heart been broke again 
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet 
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left 
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on 
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes 
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on 
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Songwriters: Bryan Christopher Fowler / Christopher E Stevens / Toby Mc Keehan

Move lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

Sometimes God speaks through a friend, sometimes His Word, and sometimes He speaks through a song. It isn’t coincidental when the “right” words come through…. Go to your search engine and look for this song. It will raise your spirit, at least for a moment. Until Jesus returns, life isn’t over. As long as we have breath, we have the choice to listen to God and to live in His Light, even in deplorable circumstances here on earth. Focus at the prize at the end, instead of the dirt around us. God is still in control. Do you believe it?


(http://bible.com)

Trials

 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NKJV 

For the past several days I have been in a brain fog, and physically feeling as though I was mired in a vat of molasses. Have you ever felt that way? It is depression, pure and simple…. but not so simple to deal with. For some people, depression is something they deal with on a daily basis; for some, it is seasonal or situational  (or both); and for a few, I suppose never experience it. There’s medication for that. Yes, I’m well aware of the pills available, and the counseling that is available, and I have integrated both into my life. However, sometimes all you can do is muddle forward as best you can. 

I just finished a book by Jennie Goutet called “Stars Upside Down, A Memoir of Travel, Grief, and an Incandescent God.” In her journey, Jennie struggled with depression and addictions, and finally, her return to God. There was a lot there I could relate to, and a lot I couldn’t. What I came away with was the message I have shared many times, yet I still need to hear. God never leaves us. We can turn our back on him: we can run from him, even to foreign countries, but He is always there beside us.

We can get discouraged, and feel frustration. Look at Job, and Abraham and Moses; even Paul was frustrated at times. Fall on this verse that he wrote and hold tight to it.

  “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NLT

We will have many trials in life. I fight the discouragement and helplessness of not having an income. You may also be struggling financially, or you or a family member could be dealing with illness or death. We can’t know what trials anyone else is facing. Our God is not only capable, but completely willing, to move our mountains. As Jesus said about the mustard seed:

  “It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches…. “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” ” – Matthew 13:32; 17:20 NLT

Jesus loves me, this I know. Oh, for the faith of a mustard seed!

(http://bible.com)

Duty 

​  “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” – Galatians 6:10 NLT

How well do you think we are doing in God’s eyes? Do you know a believer who is hurting spiritually? Physically, from accident or abuse or illness? One who is hungry; hurting financially? 

  “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:20‭-‬21 NLT

Too often, we are too focused on our own issues to see the pain of a fellow believer. It isn’t that we mean to ignore them or hurt them, we just don’t see them. I see a broken down person begging on the street corner, but can I see them if I don’t know their story? The tweaky person you pass on the sidewalk. Do you see them?

Had to share this from Billy Graham:

  “Courage to Stand – A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly. But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!

  “Yet if anyone  suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” – I Peter 4:16 NKJV

If the life and example of the Rev. Billy Graham is, as he states, “spineless and pampered,” where does mine fit? I can choose to let the monsters of the world keep me cowering in fear, or I can face them and destroy them with the armor of God.

  “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:10‭-‬12 NLT

http://bible.com

  

We Cannot Stop

​  “For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” 

  The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” – Acts of the Apostles 4:11‭-‬13‭, ‬18‭-‬20 NLT

To be like Peter and John, who stood in front of the authorities and defend their belief in Jesus Christ, or C.S. Lewis or John Piper in their ability to make the Gospel available for anyone to understand! What a privilege to get to meet them when we get to heaven. God has a mission for each person – every person – to share His Love. It might be the witness the mother shares in her actions, the teacher who cares for the troubled student, and boss who mentors rather than “bosses”. It could be the smile and wave at the neighbors every time you see them. God knows that a little touch of love goes a long way toward as a witness. Not all of us can be a Peter or John, but we can all be a breath of heaven in a fallen, ugly world.

That last verse is the one we should focus on. We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” – Acts of the Apostles 4:20 NLT

If we have seen the Truth and the Love of the LORD in our lives, how can we not be telling the world about it? 

(Scriptures from http://bible.com)

Just As I Am

Just as I am – words by Charlotte Elliott 1789-1871

 Just as I am, without one plea, 

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one dark blot;

To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt;

Fightings within, and fears without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind;

Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 Just as I am, Thy love unknown

Has broken every barrier down;

Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

God doesn’t want us to live in pain and suffering and sorrow. He wants us just as we are, with all of our baggage. Old and soaked in sin or as an innocent child. Just as I am, without one plea. We are guilty. We have nothing to plead our case, until we bring our burdens to the cross and surrender them to Jesus, The Advocate. There at His feet, He will welcome us and pardon us and cleanse us. He willing takes on all that weighs us down, leaving us free to worship our LORD! 

 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34 NLT


(http://bible.com/116/mat.6.34.NLT)

Wounded – And YOU Can’t Fix It

Yesterday, disciplined; today, wounded. Ugh.

  “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:5‭-‬6 NLT

When you are running as hard and as fast from God as you can, being disciplined and having friends and family confront you are the last things you want! Any kind of confrontation by family is, to an addict, like sandpaper and salt to an open wound. Until the addict chooses to hear, no one can reach them except the Holy Spirit. I know because I have been there, and because I have witnessed it with countless others. It isn’t just drugs or alcohol that a person can be addicted to. Add in the easy ones – cigarettes, prescription drugs, shopping, hoarding, lying. Then the “bad” things: stealing, burglary; sexual addiction, whether looking at pictures in a magazine or online; even as far as the violent, despicable crimes of rape, mutilation, murder…. did you know that God doesn’t distinguish sin? Any action can become an addiction; an escape from the real world.

Why? Why does God allow this? What causes people to do the things we know aren’t right, and what on earth could allow us to harm others?

There’s only one answer, and it isn’t one many people want to hear. Free will. God gave it to the first humans to pass down through the generations because He wants us to CHOOSE Him. Even the angels have the choice of loving God or leaving Him. 

  “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’ ” – Isaiah 14:12‭-‬17 NLT

Lucifer, the Shining Star of heaven, wanted to be greater than the Almighty, the Creator. When Lucifer chose his desires over God’s desires, he was kicked out of heaven and along with him were the angels who followed him. 

  “Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.” – Revelation 12:7‭-‬9 NLT

Satan has spent all of his time since being thrown out of heaven scheming to beat God. The only way he wins is by turning us away from our Creator LORD, and He is very vigilant about it. Michael threw Satan out of heaven, and it will be Michael at the side of Jesus when He returns for us. I want to live to see that day! There was a time when I dreaded the return of Jesus. I was always aware of the things I was doing that were sin in my life, and for years, I was powerless to change it. That answer to the “Why” questions, that free will, when given to Satan is impossible for us to get back on our own. The next question becomes “Why would anyone give SATAN control over their life???” 

Again, the simple answer is that he makes it look beautiful. Whatever the sin, whatever the addiction, he makes it looks pretty and easy… much easier than the “straight and narrow path” of Jesus. Even though I’ve done it, and left the path of Jesus, I still can’t explain it. It may be narrow, but His path is well lit. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” – Mark 8:34 NLT

“Turn from your selfish ways….” And there’s the answer.

We turn away from Jesus because we are selfish and want things OUR way. There are only 2 ways to turn. Toward God, or toward the enemy, Satan. We are FOR Jesus, or we are AGAINST Jesus, and if we are against Him, we have chosen the enemy. Free will. That’s where our friends come in. When we become aware of a friend or family member slipping, getting into something we know is a bad thing, it is our duty as Christians to help them. Carefully, prayerfully, lovingly help. Being careful not to fall ourselves, or to wound unnecessarily. Remember:

  “How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” – Luke 6:42 NLT

Discipline with care. Rebuke with more care, and only after much prayer. We don’t want it to hurt the person, just to get their attention turned to God. He is the ONLY cure; our only Salvation. Amen.


(All scriptures quoted from http://bible.com)

Disciplined and Loving It

​  “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction…. Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” – Proverbs 12:1‭, ‬15‭-‬16 NLT

Love discipline, listen to others, stay calm, don’t take offense. In these verses, God isn’t talking about the kinds of “discipline” that abusive, controlling people use. I’ve been there, lived through it, and there is nothing godly or good in abuse masquerading as discipline. 

Whoever wrote these words in Proverbs, whether King Solomon or someone else, managed to reach across the millennia and slap me up side the head. I don’t think I’ve ever taken being disciplined very well. Whether it was being scolded by my parents when I was little, or bosses, or my husband, or friends, I don’t like being told I am wrong. I wrapped myself in self-righteousness and used anger as a shield to protect myself. At first, with my husband, it was to protect myself from his belittling words and from his anger. Holding in all of the fears and anger; unable to really talk to anyone, I became cold and angry. The only way I could cope with it was to withdraw and to control whatever slivers of my life I could. Eventually, nothing I did – in his eyes – was good enough, so I defended myself the only way I could see. Anger. 

When I did talk to anyone, I hid the realities of my life. Both fear of reprisal and pride kept me from reaching out. How could I admit to such a grievous error in letting myself become entangled in such a relationship? Through this first marriage, I came to know myself as a person with no value. Since my pride kept me within myself, I built walls of control and temper around my heart. I know now that those were all lies of the enemy. I still don’t like discipline, and it is too easy to want to always be right. Staying calm when challenged with everyday life, and not reacting in anger when insulted or when someone is rude, can be difficult. Whenever those provocations occur, I try to remind myself that that person could be in pain. Physically, or emotionally or spiritually. We don’t know what they are dealing with in their own lives. We are told by our bosses to keep our personal and business lives separate… but is that really possible? 

To remain calm in the face of insults or confrontations is never easy. It is a process to learn to give up that anger and let the Holy Spirit deal with it. Holding on to anger and resentment doesn’t do anything good for the person who is holding it, and it doesn’t affect the one we are angry at, at all. These three verses may be the ones I need to put on my bathroom mirror as a reminder! GOD is Good. Through thick or thin, good or bad, sickness or health, riches or poverty, hell or high water, He is with me and willing to help me out anytime I ask. Remember, He is a gentleman and He won’t step into the fray without an invitation. 

  The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your Rod and Your Staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely Your Goodness and UNFAILING LOVE will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NLT

GOD will exact justice and revenge on all who have hurt His children, so we have no reason to even try in our lifetimes. Let it go! Until that time, hold tightly to Jesus, our Rock and our Salvation. Amen!

(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com)