I Am Strong

From God’s Not Done With You, a devotional by Tauren Wells, on http://www.Bible.com:

“When we admit that we are prone to failure, that our strengths aren’t strong enough to save us, we find the power to live righteously through Christ….. When sin affects our opportunities to use our strengths, a perfect situation can become a perfectly wrong situation.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

Did that hit you like it did me? It’s when I stand on my strength, and rely on my abilities, that I fall. It’s that old “I can do it” attitude. When I rely on me, I fail. I’m a “fix-it” person. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t wait, don’t take time to pray about it, just get it done. I’ll do it if it kills me.

Sound familiar?

I’ve known so many people with that attitude. Then there’s the opposite: those who sit back and do nothing, expecting God (or man) to step in and take care of the problem with no effort from them.

In my opinion, both attitudes are equally wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that God takes care of those who take care of themselves. It also doesn’t say to be lazy and expect others to take care of you. God gives us our strengths, our talents, to use in conjunction with Him and His Will. Do I do that? Unfortunately, no, not like I should. Sometimes I’m determined to do whatever it is on my own. No help. Other times, I give up, and want someone to to do it for me. I’ve turned many opportunities into disasters with these attitudes. Even Peter, the Rock, loved by Jesus, fell when he tried to stand on his strength over the Lord’s.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 NASB

We need to weep for the many times we have denied Christ by trying to stand on our strengths rather than His. I weep for all those times, past, present, and future that I stand on my own. I’m human, I will continue to fail, but I am also a child of the King, forgiven for my failure.

Lord God, help me get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’ that I can stand without You; help me to take heed of Your Will so that I will not fall. I know that no temptation has ever overtaken me, or will ever overtake me, but such as is common to man; and I know that You are faithful. You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able as long as I depend upon You, and with the temptation, You will provide the way of escape also, so that I will be able to endure it. Amen.

Raw Honesty

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

Rest in the LORD. That’s where I need to be.

“When we get injured, God covers us. Stop picking at that scab.” Wow. A lady just called in to K Love (radio) and said that. My heart feels like one giant, deep, open raw wound, where I don’t even have enough scab to pick at. God covers that hurt, and every hurt, no matter how big or how deep. I get that. I believe that. But, oh, how it hurts. How did I get into such a bad financial situation? How is it even possible for my heart to hurt this much?

Easy. My choices. My decisions. Not waiting on and relying on and trusting my LORD. Instead, I trusted and relied on a man, and he is leaving it to me to resolve. My heart doesn’t want to give up. My head hopes he will step up. I want him to. Trust is fragile anytime, and mine has been trampled on.

Please pray for me. This time, for this situation, is beyond anything I can see a solution for. It is going to take a miracle, a bonafide, God-generated miracle to heal my heart and this hole I have dug myself into.

Raw honesty. Hard to write. Hard to admit.

I Hate Her / Him

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:22‭-‬24 NASB

“The life we live today will determine the life we will live for eternity.” Mark Hitchcock (Pastor, Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK)

Think about that for a minute. If I spend my time, my life, on earth holding a grudge against someone, hating them, how will that affect my eternal life? I know it can’t hurt my salvation, because that comes solely through God’s Mercy and Grace in Jesus Christ. It can, however, affect my eternal life.

Every person who has accepted Christ as their Saviour enters into an undeniable, unbreakage relationship with the Creator Father. We are saved from damnation with the enemy for all of the ages. That is indisputable. The question of all time is what will it be like, and how will we be when we get to that glorious place called heaven? Does how we live on earth affect our lives in heaven? The Apostle Paul thinks it will:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬25 NASB

“….. for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB

We are striving for an imperishable wreath, or crown, in our lives. One that will be rewarded to us at the Bema Seat when we first see Jesus, and that will stay with us throughout eternity. Those people I want to hate because of their actions – is it worth it to lose out in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Is it worth losing out on the rewards He wants to give me? Turn them over to Jesus. Lay them at His Feet. Let Him deal with their lies, betrayals, ugliness. I don’t need that trash cluttering up either this life, or the next!

Willful Disobedience

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay.” And again, “the LORD will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NASB

We can know the truth, but sometimes in the moment (oftentimes?) the reality is that we think we know better and that what we are doing isn’t really a sin. Anytime – any time – we are willfully disobedient we sin. Did that strike a nerve? It did with me. I sin many times daily, but I don’t (usually!) consciously choose to do so. If I know the risk, and do it anyway, is that being willfully disobedient? If I choose badly, no, when I choose badly, especially in big decisions, my body immediately tells me. My stomach clenches. I get crazy butterflies….. or an angry swarm of bees….. in my gut. An indescribable ache starts up betweenmy eyes. Then when the error manifests itself and becomes obvious, my heart drops and fear tries to overtake me.

My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….. I could listen to this, and sing along with Josh Baldwin, all day, but right now, my heart is on the floor, and Mercy Me’s lyrics to Even If resonant within me.
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul. I know it, but I can’t feel it. I know to let God lead. His hands are holding me, no matter what. I know this, but right now I don’t feel it, and that’s on me. All He can do is offer. It’s up to me to accept His help. Amen.

The End Is Coming!

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 PETER 4:7‭-‬11 NASB

How many times has the end of the world been predicted? Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands? Over the centuries, many leaders have convinced their followers that Jesus is returning at a certain time and a certain date. The Jehovah Witnesses have predicted at least 5 different dates, and we are still here. Nostradamus predicted 1999 (Still here). Google “end-of-the-world predictions” – it’s interesting to me that so many people seem to want the world to simply go away. Matthew, Luke, and John all recorded Jesus saying that no one would know when He was to return.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. …. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” – MATTHEW 24:42‭, ‬44 NASB

Peter wrote 1 Peter 4 as a guide of how to live in the end times; to live in the knowledge that our Lord is coming to see us at some point, and to take care of His people as if we expect Him now. In the Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, as Aslan prepares to leave Lucy he tells her he will return soon. I love her reply, because it is what we all want to ask: “What do you call “soon”?”

Are we living our lives like Jesus will return “soon”? Like there is no tomorrow? It is especially important as Christians to keep sound judgement and a clear head – don’t succumb to the panic of the end times. (Remember Y2K?) One way to avoid the panic is through a dedicated prayer life – sustained and energized, aware of the immenence of Christ. We have the only Love that can be stretched and strained to the max, but will never reach a breaking point, because it is a unique Love that comes only from the Father.

We need to be more fervent in our love of others, and let our love cover their sins…. not condoning the sins, but not broadcasting or highlighting and exposing them. We can be gracious putting up with other’s weaknesses – because we have so many weaknesses ourselves! Less isolation of ourselves, because hospitality is sharing the message that “you matter to me.” Finally, using our spiritual gifts shouldn’t be hard for us, because it will be natural act and will serve other people.

The end is coming. Just don’t get too excited about putting a time or date on it. Only the Father knows when it will be.

Sex = Sin???

In a word: No. God created sex as a beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman ….. in the right context.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18‭-‬20 NLT

Sexual sin. That’s a tough subject. Sex….. we can’t even get a consensus of what that means anymore. If you ask a teenage today to define sex, I think you’ll get a different definition than if you ask someone in their 40’s and up. Sexual sin is much more than the physical act of intercourse between a man and a woman, and there are quite a few scriptures addressing it as immorality and sexual sin. Hear what Matthew recorded Jesus saying about it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery’ (Exodus 20:14); but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – MATTHEW 5:27-28 NASB

According to JESUS, Who is the ultimate authority, just thinking the lustful thought is the same as actually following through with the physical act. The way I read the scriptures, there is only one way that sexual activity is correct and sanctioned by our Creator LORD, and that is two-fold: between a man and a woman, and within the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is a promise between a man and woman and God. It doesn’t have to take place in a church or place of worship, and it doesn’t have to be a ceremony ‘performed’ by a cleric. I believe that as long as it is properly witnessed and the committment of both the man and the woman is entered into whole-heartedly, it is as binding as any church or government ceremony….. and I believe God honors those committments. Anyone who is married, however they decide to commit, is bound to their spouse ‘until death’ and needs to honor that by being faithful in mind, heart, and body.

Sexual sin affects much more than just the one committing it. Whether it is ‘just’ mental or you follow through with a physical act, because you desire someone other than your spouse, it affects your actions towards both the object(s) of your lust and your spouse. If you aren’t married, it still affects you and any other party involved. You may think you have it covered and it’s a secret, but I promise you, everything – everything – will come to light sooner or later. Lust compromises your heart and your emotions, making simple things difficult. It’s a lie. A whole Pandora’s Box is opened: consequences follow wrongs. You may ‘get away with it’ the first time, or the 20th time….. or so you think.

Pray about it. If you find yourself attracted to someone, give serious thought and prayer to the matter. Go to someone you trust and talk about it. We have each other to lean on. Even the Apostles struggled with sin! Paul writes:

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” – ROMANS 7:19 NASB (Read all of verses 14-25)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” – JAMES 5:16 NASB

By the way, for anyone who wants to play the “but I’ve fallen out of love with my spouse and I ‘love’ this new person …….” As Col. Potter on Mash used to say, “Beaver biscuits!” LOVE is a choice. If you have “fallen out of love” then you’d best climb up that ladder and get back into it. Just my ‘2 cents’ on love…..

For further reading and study: Matthew 5:31-32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21-22; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:1,11; 6:9,18-19; 7:2-5, 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 13:4; Revelations 21:8

MY Plans 🙊🙉🙈

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” – JAMES 4:13‭-‬16 NASB

Ah yes. I had great plans for my life. Yep….. I had great plans for my life. From high school to college, where I would graduate with a degree in Art (not education, mind you, just Art.) While at college, my plan was to meet “the” guy who would love me and protect me and support me, for the rest of my life. Problem was, instead of allowing God to lead, I became impatient (who, me??), and began making choices and decisions based on emotion and human want. If you’ve been following me for long, you know that hasn’t worked out too well. The guy I picked, the Prince of my dreams, turned out to be more the Prince of my nightmares. I was determined not to fail, though, so I stuck it out for eight long years of lies, cheating, and physical and emotional abuse.

Did I learn from that experience to lean on God, and rely more on His Will and less on mine? Of course not! I was on a roll! I picked another “Prince” to rescue me…… only it turned out that I was the one needing rescue, again, because I was right back in the same situation. I learned from that one, right? Oh, no, of course not. So I tried again, and again, and again. (My ‘picker’ was obviously broken!) I have to keep doing the same things over and over again, determined to get it right on my own, without outside help from other people or from God. That’s the definition of insanity, by the way.

You know how you hear from men who have been through divorce that their ex’s got “everything,” kids, house, car, child support, alimony? Somehow, I kept getting stuck giving them all those things!

I can blame the men, and I can blame God, for my situation in life, but ultimately it all falls on me and my poor choices. James said it perfectly:

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

I’m slow and late to acknowlege it, but it is absolutely true. What the future holds, I have no idea. The only thing I know is that I have to rely on the Lord and do my best to understand His Will for my life. Sounds simple; difficult for some of us to accept and do!! A line from an old tv show pops into my mind, and it probably should be one I repeat to myself more often. From Hogan’s Heros, whenever things spiraled out of control, Sgt. Schultz would say “I know nothing!” Only instead of waiting until after things go wrong, I need to say it first – and then listen to God! He knows everything. Amen!

Listen to Mandisa “I’m Just Unfinished”