Living in the Spirit 

  “​Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” – Galatians 5:25‭-‬26

God knows how far short of this admonition we fall! It is true that when we follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we are better people and better examples to the world. Of course, as we all know (whether we admit it or not!), we have a really hard time hearing the whisper of the LORD over the VERY enticing voice of our enemy. We will sin. That’s a given. It is NOT a given that we have to stay mired down in that sin. God has provided us with a way to get out of the “mud” that is sin, and He has given us a way to come clean. By becoming the Living Water, Jesus is able to wash us so clean that there is no trace of the dirt.

  “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly Righteous. He Himself is the Sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of ALL the world.” – 1 John 2:1‭-‬2 

In the United States, we are so blessed to be able to learn about Jesus without the oppression of a tyrant or a godless government. Sometimes I wonder, though, if our freedom gets in the way of God. Perhaps being unable to worship freely and in the open makes the Gift of Salvation all the more precious. Certainly something to think about.

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/NLT)


Why? Why ME?

Why? Why ME?

I know this life is temporal, and we have a limited amount of time on earth. I have had this tendency, especially when I was younger, to think my physical body was indestructible. I could do physical labor all day, party well into the the  night, and get up the next day to do it all again. As I get older, I begin to realize that the enemy is behind all of the discomfort and pain we experience, not God. I’m beginning to understand why my Dad would get so frustrated that he couldn’t do what he was used to doing, and would have to allow someone else to do things for him. We think we are so self-sufficient that we can do it. Pull ourselves up the bootstraps and get it done. Ha. No longer! But listen to what Paul says on this subject:

  “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 

  “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” – Galatians 5:16‭-‬17 

It doesn’t matter what the pain is, and it doesn’t really matter how the pain came into our lives. These is an absolutely breathtakingly amazing and awesome future for us when our physical bodies give up and we get to see Jesus! It’s HARD to let go of control, even when we just imagine that we have it. We think we know better than the GOD of the Universe…. how misguided we are. There’s only one way to know – REALLY know – that we will spend our eternity with Jesus. 

  “But EVERYONE who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.’ King David said this about Him: ‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts His praises! My body rests in Hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the Way of Life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’ Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to G6od, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts of the Apostles 2:21‭, ‬25‭-‬28‭, ‬38 

Where will you spend eternity? I pray it is with Jesus Christ and all of the saints who precede us into heaven!

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

GOD Created…

Have you ever made something to make a child smile? It could be a sibling or a friend, students or babysitting charges, family members, or your own child. There’s something about children and babies that makes us want to make them smile. Especially with Littles ones, we tend to do all sorts of silly things just to see that grin… I love to make things for others that I hope will make them smile. A special cake – a John Degree tractor in all of it’s green glory, once! – or a pie or a special meal, a doll or other plaything. It is inate within us to seek to make our children happy. I’ve seen parents go to extraordinary efforts to make their children smile. Do you imagine God could do anything less?

This feeling, this desire, this inborn behavior. Where do you imagine it came from? God, when creating man, made us know like Him. His desire is for us to be happy. He wants us to make good choices in our lives and make the kinds of decisions that are healthy and good for us. I believe that the angels rejoice with us when we are genuinely smiling and happy. Sound familiar? Almost anyone with a child in any capacity can understand this. So imagine this: God is a father. He is the ULTIMATE Father, both to us and especially to His Firstborn Son, Jesus Christ. 

  “Christ is the VISIBLE image of the INVISIBLE GOD. He existed before anything was created and is Supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created THROUGH Him and FOR Him.” – Colossians 1:15‭-‬16 

Focus on that last sentence, verse 16b. “EVERYTHING was created …. for HIM,” Him being Jesus Christ. God doesn’t just leave it at that. Knowing full well that we humans would persist in making bad choices, He allowed His Son – His SON, His Beloved Child – to sacrifice Himself in order that we may be redeemed from the harsh sentence we will receive for our sins. I certainly wouldn’t sacrifice ANY child for someone else. I might, maybe, offer myself, but not a child. They are the innocent, and they don’t deserve the harshness of this world. Jesus is the epitome of innocence.  

  “For GOD in all His Fullness was pleased to Live in Christ, and through Him GOD reconciled EVERYTHING to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of CHRIST’S BLOOD on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19‭-‬20 

  “For this is how GOD LOVED loved the world: He gave His ONE and ONLY Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. GOD sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in GOD’S One and Only Son.” – John 3:16‭-‬18 (All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com/NLT)

WOW. Can’t top that.

Father of my Father

Father of my Father

Oh, I pray this day comes soon!

  “Rise up, O GOD, and scatter Your enemies. Let those who hate GOD run for their lives. Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in a fire. Let the wicked perish in the presence of GOD. But let the godly REJOICE. Let them be Glad in GOD’S Presence. Let them be filled with Joy. Sing Praises to GOD and to His Name! Sing loud Praises to Him Who rides the clouds. His Name is the LORD – Rejoice in His Presence! FATHER to the fatherless, DEFENDER of widows – this is GOD, Whose dwelling is Holy. GOD places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them Joy. But He makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land…. Praise the LORD; praise GOD our SAVIOR! For each day He carries us in His Arms. Our GOD is a GOD Who saves! The SOVEREIGN LORD rescues us from death. But GOD will smash the heads of His enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.” – Psalms 68:1‭-‬6‭, ‬19‭-‬21

Many of us are saying “When, LORD? When will we be free; when will we have this Joy You speak of? And when will our enemies be crushed and perish, since so many of them seem to be the ones who prosper th most in this world? ” A thousand years to us is but a day to the LORD, so consider that it has only been a couple of days since Jesus died and rose from the grave. 

  “LORD, through ALL the generations You have been our Home! Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are GOD. You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” For You, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.” Psalms 90:1‭-‬4 

When you feel most hopeless, completely mired down with despair, you are not alone…. IF you have accepted Jesus as Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit into your life. I’ve dealt with those feelings, and it was only through the Grace of our Glorious GOD that I made it through them (with a lot of help from the doctors that the LORD has given the talent to help others). I absolutely cannot imagine experiencing all that without GOD on my side! Even when our spouse cheats or abandons us; losing our livelihood, our home, our “stuff” through experiences out of our control; losing a child or beloved family member to death…. The LORD will sustain us, IF we allow Him to. Far too often, we react to bad things by blaming GOD, when we should be looking at the enemy and swath of destruction, Satan’s joy. Satan’s excitement and satisfaction comes from us rejecting GOD; from us blaming our LORD, rather than him. When we turn away from GOD, I imagine he and his demonic beings are doing a little happy dance. BUT, he will get his just rewards:

  “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse [see, I TOLD you there are horses in heaven!!] was standing there. Its Rider was named FAITHFUL and TRUE, for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war…. On His robe at His thigh was written this title: KING of all kings and LORD of all Lords. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast – miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16‭-‬16‭, ‬20 

  “And He (The LORD) also said, “It is finished! I AM the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the Water of Life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their GOD, and they will be my children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:6‭-‬8 

Have you received the Water of Life? Because if you have, we’ll get to meet in heaven with Jesus and all of the saints and our loved ones who have gone before us. HALLELUJAH!
 (All scriptures quoted  http://bible.com/NLT)

I Search For You

 “In the night I search for You; in the morning I earnestly seek You. For only when You come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.” – Isaiah 26:9 

The ultimate oxymoron: If I know that God is always with me, why do I have to look so hard to find Him?

My humble opinion is that we spend so much of our energy and our lives searching, because we have a preconceived idea of WHO and WHAT He is. The problem is that our construct doesn’t match up with the very real and Holy God Who is in front of us…. at least, that’s how it appears to me. Don’t think I’m pointing fingers, because this is an observation I have made concerning my own life; I’ve corroborated my theory by watching others.

It makes me wonder why we try to hard to make our lives, and the lives of others, so difficult and so often painful. Here is what King David had to say about it: 

  “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD GOD, my GOD, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” – 1 Chronicles 28:20a 

If we choose to believe that God is indeed the Be-all and the End-all, instead of the puny little god that we try so hard to make Him in to, we can gain the assurance we so desperately need. It’s incredibly simple, yet so difficult for us. Thus the difficulty.  We have to CHOOSE to trust that what we cannot see; some ONE Who is beyond all that is humanly conceivable. But when we DO choose: 

  “You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a GLORIOUS, INEXPRESSIBLE JOY. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8‭-‬9 

Imagine that!

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/NLT)

God’s Plan

  ” “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” ” – Jeremiah 29:11‭-‬13 NLT

What are God’s plans for our lives, and how, exactly, do we determine what they are? I’m reading the “Chop Chop” series by L.N. Cronk. It’s written about people living their lives and searching for God’s wisdom and guidance throughout. These are written like real people, who have emotional and physical issues; who struggle with the “WHY?” do bad things keep happening to us. It’s both entertaining and thought provoking, happy and tearful. It’s about getting out of the way and letting our God have control. It’s about how difficult it can be to relinquish our grip on a situation, thinking that WE can control it better than God is able to. It’s about hearts and desires and human fragility, and it’s about how our LORD is truly the Great Physician. It’s about struggling to figure out God’s plan for our lives.

I relate on so many levels with some of the characters. I have never been very good about putting my God first in my life. I have a serious problem understanding what it is He really wants of me. (And I’m SURE that failure to understand has absolutely nothing to do with my fierce stubbornness!!)

Look at the people around you, even within your household. Do you really know what struggles they might be facing?  Are you quick to make a judgement call on someone, and to pass off their issue as no big deal? I realize that there is a LOT of angst out there that I don’t understand – that I CAN’T understand, because I haven’t experienced whatever that person has experienced. Christians need to be cognizant of that, and empathize or sympathize or sometimes, just be quiet. And PRAY. Always pray, whether it is out loud or in a whisper or silently. In our places of employment, it’s often difficult to know what’s going on with someone to understand why he is habitually late, or she misses a lot of work. Your boss maybe decides you should know how to solve an issue or fix it without any help, but really you are so frustrated you cannot even think.

Guilty. Yes, I’m guilty, and I have been both “hired hand” and “boss”……. And I still don’t have a handle on what God has planned for me. Are YOU in His plan today? It’s certainly something to think and to pray about today.

(All scriptures are from  http://bible.com.NLT)

Warning…

Paul gets pretty down and dirty with his letters to the churches…. Honesty and truth can be difficult to hear.

 “(3b) Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (16) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (19) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” ” – Romans 12:3‭b,16‭,‬19 NLT

I’ve studied these verses before, but they are never easy to read when I consider how I have lived most of my life. Being the third child, I struggled with following a “perfect” older sister who did everything right (my perception – sorry, Lu!), and an older brother. Instead of being obedient and compliant, he rebelled, leaving me in a limbo of achievement (to gain approval) and rebellion, because I wanted to be accepted by him, too. It’s a weird place to be. Now, I realize that my sister had more expectations to live with as the oldest sibling than we did, but we couldn’t see it while growing up. Then to that, add the perceptions and expectations that were added on to us since we were the “pk’s” (preacher’s kids). A lot of those pressures came from outside the family, both in the church and the community. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not making excuses or placing blame. My parents did the best they could, and we always knew we were loved. Despite their best efforts, I – as well as several of my siblings – responded very differently than was expected. Rebellion became a big part of my life once I left home for college. A good Christian girl goes off to a respected Christian college (hmm, could be the title for a book!) and was immersed in a society that this small town, naive girl had  never really imagined. Something like going in the deep end before you learn to swim! It didn’t take long for the seduction and temptations of the the enemy swept me into the rapids of life where I was rather quickly caught up, spun out of control, and unable to escape. 

It’s human nature to try to control our situations and surroundings. When our lives spin out of control, oftentimes we react by focusing, almost with tunnel vision, on the things we do have power over. I couldn’t be honest with myself or my family, because to do so would shed light on things in my life that I couldn’t stand to see. My self worth had already been beaten up pretty well by my brother. According to him, I was ugly and stupid…. and regardless of how many times I was told the opposite by others, his comments hit me the hardest. How did I cope? Attitude, baby, pretentious attitude! I quickly discovered that men wanted me. Not only any permanent basis, but they could make me feel beautiful and desirable for a few minutes. I took advantage of this, and married the first one that asked… and egotistical, completely self-absorbed misogynist. I lost the little bit of myself that was left under his “reign.” After years of his abuse, I managed to get away, where I took on the attitudes he taught me. My hard protective shell was one of being better than others. I discovered that if I acted as though I knew the answers, people believed me. I was a snob, a know-it-all, and quick to plot revenge on anyone who did me wrong – real or perceived. 

In short, I was miserable, so I maintained a near constant “party” so I didn’t have to feel. I married my best friend, a good man who actually treated me well, and lost him because of my attitudes and inability to believe he could truly love me. It was messed up. Sadly,  after that I spiraled deeper. I was mad at God for allowing all of the abuse and garbage into my life, and determined to lay ALL the blame on Him. To prove it, I looked for another man to save me. I found another one who loved me and married me, and we continued to party together. Long story…..

Eventually, after losing him to drug addiction and death, I set out to rescue lost souls, because you know I was so healthy myself. It took two more abusive husbands to get it. Humility can be a harsh lesson to learn. As I slowly began to learn it (progress, not perfection), I also realized that over all those years of searching for Mr. Right, He was standing right next to me! Jesus provides me with all that I need. He doesn’t denigrate me or abuse me. He loves me as I am, uncompromising and unconditionally. That’s AMAZING!! Not only did Paul point out the attitudes we don’t need to carry as Christians, but John says it perfectly for me:

  “Such Love has no fear, because Perfect Love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His Perfect Love.” – 1 John 4:18 NLT

I spent years in fear, hiding behind ego and perfectionism and plotting revenge. I hurt others, and I especially hurt myself. We create these prisons in our hearts for other people, but the truth is that we are locking ourselves up instead. As Peter saysYou have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” – 1 Peter 4:3 NLT 

Jesus made sure that we will never be alone if we accept His gift of eternal life. He has sent the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us as a constant. We are never alone. Jesus said: And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will NEVER leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” – John 14:16‭-‬17 NLT 

The Advocate lives with me. Thank You, Jesus!


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