Now to Him

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

It is so easy to be judgmental based on how a person looks. We can look at someone on a street corner & think “Get a job! Quit begging!” But do you know their circumstances? Personally, I find it difficult to understand how – and why – anyone is homeless with all of the resources available now… And yet, I spent several months living on the street years ago because of my own bad choices. I was too proud to reach out for help, so God used others to help me out of that pit. Not with money, because He knew that wouldn’t help me, but with a place to stay and food to eat until I got my health back, and I could get a job and my own place. We look at the outside, but thank God that He looks at the heart!

“I thank Him who has given me strength, CHRIST JESUS our LORD, because He judged me Faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received Mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief*, and the Grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received Mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12‭-‬17 ESV

*Unlike Paul, I was not ignorant of God, nor was I an unbeliever. Still, in His infinite Mercy and Grace, the LORD of the Universe forgave me and took me back into His arms. How thankful I am for His Mercy and my wholly undeserved forgiveness! I remain convinced that of those people who helped lift me out of the muck, some had to be angels in disguise. Take time today to thank God for what you have, and do something good for someone. We never know when we might be entertaining angels!

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

Good Friday

“When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Mark 14:17‭-‬26 NIV

I grew up celebrating communion, or as we called it, the Lord’s Supper, and it was a solemn occasion. Not sad or upsetting, but serious. We always ended with a prayer and my Dad (the pastor) telling us all to go in peace and without speaking, but as we would leave we sang (a capella) Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Today, as we prepare for Easter Sunday and the joyous day that it is/should be, is a great day for families to gather and participate in the Lord’s Supper, just as Jesus did with His friends. I lift my cup and my bread to Him, and thank Him that I have the freedom to do so. I miss my family and friends during this period of social distancing, but I thank God for “the Tie that binds”!

Motivated

Motivations can be positive things or negative things…. These are some motivations for us; the benefits of a robust spiritual life:

“For if these qualities (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8‭-‬9a NASB

Spiritual growth is spiritual productivity; to be fruitful you must be growing and prgressing. Failure to grow leads to spiritual amnesia.

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; FOR AS LONG AS YOU PRACTICE THESE THINGS, YOU WILL NEVER STUMBLE [into doubt of your salvation]; …. 2 Peter 1:10 NASB

Do you need reassurance of your salvation? How do we make sure we are saved? God has called us and chosen us, He has elected us. HE chose US, but WE have to choose HIM. If we are not growing and moving forward, we are slipping backwards. We cannot lose our security in Christ, but we can lose our assurance when we stop growing in Him.

God’s Word to us – “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, …..” Romans 8:15‭-‬16 NASB

Along with the fruits of the Spirit that we read about in 2 Peter, our growth is shown by our prayer life.

“…… and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full.” Matthew 15:36‭-‬37 NASB

Wow. I fail miserably at this…. how many times have I sat down to eat something and skipped thanking God for the fact that I have food? What about the blessings of my life, and the challenges, too. Am I thanking God daily for them? I’m not concerned about where I will spend eternity, but I wonder sometimes how I will spend eternity…. Is my life, my example, enough to show the people around me that I am sure of my future? Our “glorious entry” to heaven is the evidence that we lived to please Christ, not to boast for ourselves. The kingdom is Eternal, it is the Future, and it belongs to Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” 2 Peter 1:12-‬15

For Great Is The LORD

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised; He also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and Majesty are before Him, Strength and Joy are in His place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD Glory and Strength. Ascribe to the LORD the Glory due His Name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array. Tremble before Him, all the earth; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.” 1 Chronicles 16:25‭-‬30 NASB

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” Psalms 9:1 NASB

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. It’s difficult for a lot of us, and for a plethora of reasons. Still, there are moments…. when the 5th grader with an attitude problem introduced me to her dad and said I was “really nice” (!!!). The special chocolate bar a coworker gave me, and the excitement of the girls I shared it with. Coming home to a card and chocolates from my sister and niece. Even though I was (am) alone, I’m not alone. God gave me these moments. I’m grateful!

It’s the little things. The LORD is Great, Mighty, All-Powerful, yet He remembers the little things.
He wants to be everything for you, too. The big things and the little things.

In His Word I Do Hope

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD. LORD, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His Word do I hope.” Psalms 130:1‭-‬5 NASB

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the FATHER of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

I accompanied my Mom to a banquet Sunday night. When I took her home, she was thanking me for taking her. Why should she thank me? Considering all of the things she has done for me, places she has taken me, sacrifices she has made for me and my siblings, everytime I see her I should be thanking her. Likewise, every single good thing that has ever happened to me, I should be thanking my LORD. My bad decisions are all mine, and my good decisions are all His.

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12‭-‬13 NASB

I’ve had abundance, and I’ve had hardship. Sometimes it feels like it’s ALL hardship. A friend used to tell me “You have 5 minutes for your pity party, then get over it and MOVE ON.” Throughout my life, even at my lowest, there was something to be grateful for, even if it was having my family mad at me – because it meant they still cared. If there is absolutely NOTHING you can think of to be thankful for, be thankful for toilets and toilet paper!

What are you grateful for today? Where do you find your hope?

A Sacrificial Thanks

A sacrificial thanksgiving. That’s a different attitude!

I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.” Psalms 116:14‭-‬15 NASB (Read verses 1-19)

Are we thankful for the people who have sacrificed their lives for us? Today, I’m reminded of the men and women who have unselfishly volunteered to dedicate their lives to keeping our nation free. They serve in our Armed Forces as Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force personnel. They serve in our Border Patrol, and they serve in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. These men and women don’t know me, yet they are putting their very lives on the line to provide me with freedom and safety from other nations who want to destroy us.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6‭-‬7 NASB

You know the truly astonishing thing about those people serving us? Many of them aren’t even Christians! They don’t know our LORD; they don’t have a personal relationship with Him, and yet they are ready to give their very life to save mine.

A humbling thought.

Am I prepared to offer my life as a sacrifice – a joyful sacrifice at that, overflowing with gratitude that I could offer my life for my LORD? Not even for a stranger, but for my Saviour, Who died for me? Am I thankful for the uncomfortable things that are happening in my life?

Attitude of Gratitude

In recovery programs, this is a key concept. Since beginning my steps into a life free of of codependency, I know I’ve heard the phrase hundreds, if not thousands of times. Have an attitude of gratitude. Make a gratitude list. When we take time out of our misery – because that’s what addictions are – and make time to write a few things we’re grateful for, it moves our focus onto something good.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is GOD; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is Good; His Lovingkindness is everlasting And His Faithfulness to all generations.” Psalms 100:1‭-‬5 NASB

What five things can you write down that you are thankful for today? Make a list; write them down!

1) LORD, I’m grateful for a warm house today!

2) Thank You for my part time job at the little local grocery down the street.

3) Thank You, God, for Christian radio, that I can listen to 24/7 if I choose.

4) I’m grateful for 2 little dogs who wormed their way into my life and who taught me how to spoil them.

5) Thank You, LORD, for the financial hardships that encourage me to trust in You for my sustenance daily. Amen.

A Time of Thanks

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8‭-‬9 NASB

Christmas is coming. What are you going to be grateful for? Jesus, the reason we even have something to celebrate, or how much “stuff” you get?

Self Love

This is worth repeating! Who do you love? Do you love your self?

What is the greatest commandment?

Jesus said, ” ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Law and all the demands of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NLT

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that Jesus’ entire ministry is built around loving God and putting Him first. In fact, verse 37 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the entire Bible. I know that as a Christian, my heart and soul and mind belong to Jesus Christ; that He should be the Rock I base my life on. We’ve got that part down pat.

But what about verse 39? How are we doing with this one? You’re probably wondering about my title “Self Love,” and what it has to do with loving God. Over the years, I’ve struggled with self worth. I still do. Who am I, what am I, and what have I accomplished with my life; does anyone even care? I turned to outside sources – self help books, non-Christian counseling, meditation, astrology, exploring “past lives”, séances and other secular avenues. You know, not a single thing I did improved my so called self worth. I was still the same insecure, searching soul as I was when I started that journey, and the beginning of that journey was very inocculous. At a slumber party, one of the girls had a ouija board, and we didn’t see any harm in playing with it.

I knew Jesus. I grew up with Him being a strong presence in our home, but something inside me was missing. I loved Jesus, and I wanted to follow Him, but I didn’t give my entire being to Him. I doubted my self worth, and I believed the lies the enemy was whispering inmy ear. I opened the door to my heart and let Satan in. There is nothing innocent or innocuous about a ouija board! The door had been cracked open the night we “played” with that board, giving the enemy an easy way into my mind. If it was so easy for him to get into the mind of someone who loved Jesus, imagine how easy it must be for him to get into a mind who doesn’t know Jesus. Scary thought.

We know the first and greatest commandment. You must “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Pay attention to the second in verse 39 “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Your “neighbor” is not just the person or family who lives next door. Our neighbors extend beyond our dwellings, and encompasses every person on the planet earth. Every. Person. Our physical neighbors; our family, friends, coworkers; the staff at the coffee place or resturant or convenient store, even to – maybe especially to – the smelly, homeless person on the street.

You have to love yourself before you are even capable of loving another person, but we have to keep in mind that loving ourself doesn’t mean what the world wants it to mean. It isn’t selfish, “me me me” love. Self love doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have (i.e. credit card debt) to compete with others. It doesn’t mean spending hours at the spa being pampered, and it doesn’t mean that dream car/job/wardrobe, unless you have the income to enjoy those things after taking care of your responsibilities. I can’t condemn anyone for wanting to better their quality of life, because I do it, too. I really believe the lesson is treat each individual you come in contact with as a fellow human being. How we treat others is how we want to be treated, or it should be. Jesus also said And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 ESV (Read verses 27-36) “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

We don’t know their circumstances or how they came to be where they are. Our cab driver might have a PHD, and be unable (for whatever reason) to find work in his field. Our barista could be a person trying to make ends meet on a limited retirement income. We shouldn’t judge unless we are planning on living a perfect, mistake-free life. Minimum wage clerks should be treated with the same respect we give to sports figures, the CEO/CFO of our company, or anyone else. It’s difficult when dealing with certain situations to remember this. The next time a clerk is rude, tell them you’re sorry they are having a bad day, but Jesus loves them. When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing or flipping them off, think of the time you cut someone off. When we treat others rudely or with disdain, we aren’t loving ourselves or them. But for the Grace of God, we could be in their situation.

Seems like we all have something to work on.

Addendum: I first posted this a couple of years ago, and when I read it, I knew I needed to make some adjustments (so I did). I also have to admit to spending too much of my time lately feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have the thing I yearn for, a partner to share my life with. I count my blessings of friends and family, and even with the struggles I face daily, I am blessed. I still want that partnership, and although I am exploring a friendship (long distance for now) and praying it (he!) is the one I’ve been waiting on, I am also working on praying and resting in my LORD, and trusting in His timing. Pray with me on that!