Season of New Beginnings

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  – Romans 5:18

If all we look at is the original sin, life looks so hopeless, doesn’t it?  But as we see what Christ did on Calvary, we see that there is hope for renewal and real change in behavior and lifestyle – for everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!  I like the sound of HOPE, don’t you?

This portion of Scripture celebrates freedom for every Christian.  There is finally good news that we can have eternal life because of what Christ endured to pay the price for our sins – past, present, and future.

If we put blinders on and see just the one original sin, we’re likely to lack vision regarding our own life.  Salvation does not guarantee that we will never sin, and the truth is, that ol’ devil will mess with a Christian more than a non-Christian!  When we do get tangled up in the weeds, we do have hope for better days ahead.

Sin is only fun for a season, and be sure it will find you out one way or the other.  When it does, turn back to God, seek His forgiveness and the forgiveness of those you wronged here if possible.  Move out of the ruins and walk in God’s beautiful light.  Nobody knows your heart better than He does.  He can and will help you get your act together again.

It’s almost May and the April showers are nearly a thing of the past.  As the May flowers start growing around you, don’t you want your life to be heading in the right direction?  Discover a new life that will not only make you happier, but be pleasing to God as well.  That’s what matters – pleasing our Heavenly Father.  Let Him pick you up, dust you off, and set you on His straight path.

Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.  – 1 Corinthians 15:22

New life.  That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Why live under the death curse, among the weeds and the waste, when with Christ, you can have a new life?  He loves you so much and wants to give you His peace, joy, love, hope and eternal life.  Walk out of the ruins and into His loving arms.  He will make you a beautiful flower!  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Flowers are Coming Back

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each person according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  – Revelation 22:12-13

Maybe it’s just me, but winter seems to linger and last forever!  My friend Kelly is a gardener.  She has had her seed packets since February and posted one cold winter day that she is going to have to wait two more months to plant her seeds.  It’s excruciating, this time between winter and spring.  Here in Kansas, even when spring is officially here, we still have rain and chilly temperatures.  We don’t trust anything we plant to be protected before May.  Winter is the longest season – and we have no choice but to be patient and wait for warmer weather.  But the watchword is…  ANTICIPATION!  We prepare, then we wait!  

Sometimes I’m tempted to feel the same way about the second coming of Christ.  I want the Lord to hurry up – but He reminds me that not everyone is ready for His return.  It makes me feel selfish, to be honest, but once that feeling passes, I realize that it’s just a reminder that I need to get to work!  The Gospel is something to be shared, not hoarded.  Our Lord wants everyone to be ready to make Heaven their eternal home!

Remember the Great Commission?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  – Matthew 28:18-20

I like the last part of this portion of Scripture:  I am with you always, to the very end o the age.  Do we know when that will be?  Nope.  Nobody knows except God Himself.  Even Jesus won’t be privy to that information until it is time!  So, while we’re waiting for the end of the age, we need to be busy in whatever way we can, sharing and caring for the lost souls around us.

Revelation says that Jesus is coming quickly.  I’m sure you think as I do…  “You call this QUICKLY” – ???  We’re not questioning God – we really aren’t.  We’re just saying that the time between Christ’s resurrection and His second coming to earth has been a very long winter…  but we wait with anticipation, knowing that one day the proverbial spring will arrive and we will be enjoying the most beautiful garden we’ve ever seen.  The best news of all is that, we’ll never have to endure another winter again!  🙂

 

 

Spring Into God’s Word

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  – 2 Timothy 2:15

I’m not one to voice righteous indignation very often.  I do my best to be a peace-loving, joyful child of God.  But sometimes I think silence is not golden, but plain yellow with cowardice.  I must speak to something that has bothered me for some months now.  This is a taping of The View from last February:

I’m livid.  Absolutely livid.  I know the Vice President does not read my humble little blog (yeah, right) – but I want him to know that there are MILLIONS of Christian folk in America and probably around the world praying for him.  Believers support fellow believers and lift them up in prayer, Joy!  Let’s call it a PERK!  It’s actually proved to be a great blessing in my life.

It’s often through the Words of Scripture that God speaks to His children (yes, Joy – God SPEAKS to us and we’re perfectly sane, thank you very much).  I pray that one day Joy, like the Apostle Paul, will see the light!  Literally.  Paul, I’m sure you recall, experienced a very, shall we say – dramatic conversion that left him blinded by the light (Acts 9:1-31).  You’ll also recall that he killed Christians before his conversion.  What a conversion that was, eh?  If God was to convert Joy, can you imagine how great that would be for Christianity?  She could do so much good in this world with God on her side.  Now she’s just making money.  Will she take it with her to eternity?  Um…  I don’t think so.

So, Christians, it’s not a far stretch to conclude that if we do not carve out the time to read the Bible, we will not hear from our Father.  If He’s not speaking to us, how will we hear?  The answer is…  we won’t.  Of course, prayer is the other way the Lord speaks to our hearts, but the combination of Scripture reading and prayer is the winning way to know exactly what God wants you to know.

It’s a faith thing, Joy…  I really pray that one day you’ll “get” it.  It’s very sad that you get paid well to make a mockery of my faith.  If you don’t understand it, the least you can do is RESPECT it and stop putting it down.  Mental illness is a serious accusation – not to be mocked and certainly not to be used in the same sentence with Christianity.  Stop it!  Shame on ABC for letting this continue!  I refuse to watch that network – I’m done with them until they pull “The View”.  

So let’s spring into God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  We rely on our Heavenly Father to direct our paths, and there are so many verses to help us!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  – Proverbs 3:5-6   

Our own understanding of things is often more of a misunderstanding.  If we will trust God, lean on Him and submit to Him, then He will make a way for us to walk that is straight and He will keep us in His peace and protection.  God can be trusted and His promises never fail.  He will never let you down.  If you want to reap a bounty of beauty – this is where to begin!  Our Lord wants us to be discerning and wise in everything.  He wants us to search His Word for ourselves and discover truths, then apply them to our life.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  – James 1:5

Ask God – that means we PRAY to God.  But see, it’s not a one-way conversation.  HE GIVES GENEROUSLY to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you!  Now, that’s not to say that God is a bubblegum machine.  We don’t insert a quarter and get a gumball.  Sometimes the gumball is not the color we may have wanted.  Sometimes it’s not the flavor we hoped for.  Sometimes it feels as though the gumball got stuck in the machine somewhere – but when God doesn’t answer a prayer just the way we think He should, it doesn’t mean that His ways are not the best ways.  It means that I need to trust that His way is better than my way.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it imperative that I learn to do that?  Yes.  He knows which gumball I need and when I need it.  

So, you see, the insane thing to do is talk to God and not stop talking long enough to let Him speak in return!  Who asks a question and just keeps talking, not waiting for the answer?  In faith, we receive answers from God’s precious Holy Spirit.  Faith… it’s better felt than telt.

We ask for wisdom, then trust that God hears our prayer and is working on our behalf the second we get finished praying!  Actually – He already knows what we need help with, and I think He starts the work before we even ask for help, but He still wants us to ask.  No parent wants their child to just assume things will be done for them.  They want to be asked and kept in the loop.  We are God’s children and it’s the same concept.  He wants to be kept in the loop.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  – John 10:27

We need The Bible – not just to keep on the coffee table gathering dust.  Open it every day and see what God has to say through it, to your heart.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING INTO ACTION

 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  – Ephesians 4:32

It’s a calling from our LORD…  be light, salt, kind, loving, forgiving and tenderhearted.  Nobody wants to be tenderhearted because that means you are also vulnerable.  It hurts to make yourself vulnerable because to open yourself up to others has no guarantee of success associated with it.  God never said that being obedient to Him would result in automatic joy or happiness.  Does that mean it’s not worth doing?  No.  Does it mean that we won’t need to walk away from the ones who hurt and disappoint us sometimes?  No.  Is it a sin to walk away?  No.  It’s probably a sin to give up and not try again.  The sin is to quit trying.

We have to rely on God to help us forgive – and forgive as quickly as possible.  Forget?  Well…  not really.  It’s like you sort of tuck it in the back of your mind.  You don’t want to dwell on it, but you don’t want to forget completely so you aren’t that stupid again.  I don’t need to keep hitting my head against the same post over and over.  That’s just an insane thing to do!  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.  I refuse to do anything remotely insane ever again.

Does that mean I don’t forgive past wrongs?  No.  I need for others to forgive me – and frankly, I need God to forgive me – so I will absolutely forgive others when I feel I’ve been wronged.  This ol’ world needs more kindness and less anger-driven violence, to be sure.  If you allow hurt feelings to fester and get infected, it affects all aspects of your life.

How can we shine for God and serve Him if there’s a cloud of hurt hanging over our heads?  We just have to ask God to help us through those hurtful times and be what He wants us to be!  I want to be light, salt, kind, loving, and yes…  even tenderhearted.  It doesn’t mean we are door mats.  It doesn’t mean we are stupid enough to walk back and take more.  We’re not.

We can conquer the hurt we encounter in this life with help from God.  We can conquer the hate we encounter in this life with help from God!

Are you ready to spring into action – and throw kindness into this wicked world like it’s confetti???  Instead of deciding to merely DEAL with the hurt in our lives, let’s trust God to help us HEAL from church hurt and other disappointments along life’s way so we can effectively SHINE for Him!  When we live in the complete freedom that Christ bought for us, it makes Him smile and it makes us whole!  🙂

 

 

 

Blessings and Miracles

Of course it’s March, and we will be hearing all about LUCK.  When you give luck the credit for something wonderful that happens in your life, you are not giving God the glory and honor for it.  I’m sure we don’t intend to slight our dear Lord at all – ever, but we should be more mindful of how we express joy for our blessings (and in some cases, miracles).  

It’s really a matter of where you place your trust, isn’t it?  Luck is such an elusive and vague thing, so why would you place your trust in it?  Luck is not higher than we are, and I’m not convinced that it even exists.  Some people think that way about God, and I think that is very sad.  I will bless the Lord God Almighty!

My faith and trust will be placed in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He’s all I need to navigate this life and make Heaven my eternal home!

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.  – Proverbs 16:33

 

Chance encounter… random happening… plain ol’ luck?  No.  There’s more to it than that.  Do you catch yourself saying things like…

What a lucky shot!

Wish me luck on that test tomorrow!

Only luck had kept her from getting sick too!

Good luck getting the secret ingredient from mom!

I’ll try my luck fishing on the other side.

I’m gonna take a chance and change my luck.

I’m sure we’ve all slipped and said these things at one time or the other.  If we can just think a little bit about what we’re saying, and more to the point, the implications of what we’re saying, we’d be giving all the credit for the good to God by saying:

Thank You, Lord, for helping me with that shot!

Whisper a prayer or two for me as I take that test tomorrow!

Thank the Lord she didn’t get sick too!

I’ll pray that you can get that secret ingredient from mom with no problem!

Lord willing I will catch some fish over on the other side!

I’m gonna dump the luck and say a prayer instead!

What just happened here???  The randomness and chance in the first sentences were turned into gratitude, praise to God, and prayers!  When we acknowledge God in these ways, we are letting Him know that we recognize His sovereignty and His control over everything – big and small.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.  – Thomas Goodwin

Don’t leave your life in the hands of randomness and chance.  Luck belongs at the local casino, because let’s face it, gambling is probably the most random activity human beings engage in!  Your life deserves more order and planning by God, who loves and cares for you more than you can imagine!  🙂

His Breath

The last sentence of this quote made me cry!  God is love – He’s not like love…  He IS love, yet to Him, I’m so beautiful that I take HIS breath away???  Wow…  just WOW!  Little ol’ me does that?  Incredible!  Thank You, Lord! 

Sometimes I do sort of think of God as a sort of “Wizard of Oz” kind of computerized being in the sky.  I know we’re made in His image, so why I think He may be computerized – I have no idea.  I blame it on living in Kansas.  I’ve actually walked that yellow brick road and have seen the movie a gazillion times.

In reality, our God is a loving and compassionate God.  He’s higher than us, yes – always.  His angels are a little higher than us – but He is way higher – that’s why we worship Him.  He alone is worthy of all our praise!

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  – Romans 5:8

I taught Kindergarten children in Sunday School for a long time.  I’ve probably heard every “How come” question you can think of.  How come grass is green?  I usually answered that ours is brown and the neighbor’s is green.  I don’t know the answers to most simple questions they ask.  The most difficult question is, how old is God?

How old is God???  Try explaining the inexplicable to kids with attention spans the size of sugar ants.  I never had to answer the question because by the time I gave it some thought, they’re ready to move on to something else – the puzzle or the flannel board.  Frankly, I’m thankful for the attention span of a small child!  I remember thinking, “Whew!  Dodged that bullet!”

I’m so thankful for God’s love toward His children.  I’m thankful for childlike faith because we all have questions – some will be answered on this side of Heaven, but so many will not.  May we know when to press for answers and when to set the question aside and accept that we won’t get answers until we get to Heaven – and probably by then, it won’t matter what the answer is.

Wow!  I’m beautiful to God…  that’s probably the most encouraging bit of news I’ve heard so far this year!  You’re beautiful to God too.  You take His breath away!  Yep, you do!  🙂

 

 

 

Seek Him

The last thing a Christian woman wants to be is unequally yoked.  No…  not an egg yolk, silly!  Yoked…  hooked together.  Till death do you part can seem like a life sentence in San Quentin if you’re pulling the wagon with the wrong partner!

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  – 2 Corinthians 6:14

I didn’t learn this until I was older, but now I know – as long as I keep my hand in God’s hand, He will set me on a joyous journey and my path will be straight.  The first time I saw this quote, I literally cried – it’s so true.  When I was younger and immature, I didn’t think about this at all.  Back then, I can’t say my heart was hidden in God – so there’s the first problem, eh?

How can a non-Christian man understand a Christian woman?  He can’t.  He may try, but all of his suggestions and solutions would be gleaned from the world, not from God’s Word.  Prayer?  He would not be a man of prayer.  Where does his strength come from?  If not from God, then from the Wall Street Journal, I guess.  Most Christian couples pray together, so…  that leaves you alone to pray – by yourself.  Soon you would feel resentment at having to bear the spiritual burden alone.

He could be of a similar mind to you in every other sense and still not make the cut.  He could vote a straight political ticket, be a non-smoker, go to the gym three days a week, drive a car made in America (wait – are there any cars made in America anymore?) – anyway – unless he is a believer in Christ Jesus…  nope – sorry – he would not be the man for a Christian woman.

If two Christian people can just come together and look to the cross of Christ Jesus – together.  Show devotion to Him – together.  Praise Him – together.  Seek His face and His grace in prayer – together.  Then…  they are equally yoked and the wagon’s pulled without one partner feeling strained or resentful toward the other.

Christians are not perfect people…  we embrace grace – God’s wonderful, amazing grace!  It’s as simple as that.  We need a life partner who wants that same thing in life.  We wilt and die without it – marriages end when God is not invited in.

If a woman will keep her heart hidden in God – the right man will know he needs to find God before he can get to know her.  Two people yoked together should be looking in the same direction – that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  🙂