Even HE

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When He was here, living in flesh amongst us, even Jesus – the Savior of all – even He looked up. He made communion with His Father of the utmost and primary importance in life.That causes me to wonder something in relation to what we should do ourselves:

Maybe that’d be a good idea for us…..to look up….all the time.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will
darken their faces. Psalm 34:5 NLT

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You’re Doing it Wrong

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Photo Stockvault

Photo Stockvault

Hurry up, you cannot be late……Just chill out, you gotta wait.

Speak up man, what’s the word? Just be quiet, you don’t need to be heard.

Move on over and step aside…..Get up ahead, take a wild ride.

Get busy, you need to be quick….Just calm down, you’re gonna get sick.

Discipline those kids, quiet them down….aww, c’mon – let ’em run around.

Be the best, show your verve…will you stop it, you’re ruining the curve!

Lift heavy, run really fast, lighter and longer, those results last.

Go the extra mile, move on along….Better not own it, you’ll end up wrong.

Listen to me – carefully though…..I can’t tell you, only you really know.

Guaranteed, it’s the best….We don’t take returns, give it a rest.

Let her go first, it’s what’s right….Be assertive or be here all night.

Just be honest, just be you……Disagree with us, and we’re gonna sue.

I’m open minded, really hip….Talk about Jesus? Button your lip!

Be smart, good stuff in store….Better play dumb or they’ll ask for more.

You can trust me, here for ya, yo……I’m uncomfortable, too much info.

Let’s get real, we’re all awake………Just pretend for everyone’s sake.

It’s a free country, America is…..Pay up now, but none of it’s His.

Be a good person, don’t be mean…..Get on face book, start to scream.

Invest your money, save those dimes….Get this on credit, it’s the best time.

That dress is too short, get a grip….Are you too conservative? Lose the slip.

Be organized – watch your back……Conveniently lose it, they can’t do jack.

Man is everything, we’re the best….Life just stinks, give it a rest.

Accept everything; no white or black…..That’s a grey area, you’re talking smack.

The joy of me, I celebrate the self….Time to get busy and spread the wealth.

Be really careful, people take and take….Be a bit risky, we learn from mistakes.

Listen to me, I know it all…..I don’t have the answer, maybe the mall?

Seek to understand for your own good….You’d better listen, I don’t feel understood.

Jesus loves me, sing His song – You can’t talk about Him…..you’re doing it wrong!

I think I will listen to HIM.  🙂

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

Photo Credit CreationSwap

Photo Credit CreationSwap

Big God, Big Air

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.

Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.

This is how I feel about Jesus. May you jump with joy for Him too!

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“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55:12

You say Leap and I say How Far?

It’s not that I don’t want to express my willingness to take a leap of faith… it’s a matter of not knowing how far I am supposed to jump that concerns me. This is where I allow my feet to get stuck in the sand…it’s always on the “how far” part of it all.

susan helmuth via creation swap

susan helmuth via creation swap

Friends, I don’t know if you ever do this, but I do –  I confuse myself sometimes. But I also realize that sometimes it’s just me, and other times it’s really because there is this dark and kniving evil one that likes to whisper in my ear in deceitful and just ugly ways. He likes to make me fear. He likes to erode away at trust and faith in the Holy One that I love. He likes to do mean and nasty things.

Doug E Fresh via Creation Swap

Doug E Fresh via Creation Swap

One thing that makes it easy for him to do is that (remember the control issues i mentioned?) I have a thoughts-driven mind. Yah…it can get in the way of surrender sometimes.  There are great benefits to thinking the way that I do, but I have to keep turning it all over to Jesus or it can turn against me in certain situations, cause me to be less of a risk-taker, and move me out of His will and into my own. I have to pray about this….a lot.

Courtesy of CreationSwap

Courtesy of CreationSwap

We all have changes that we need to make sometimes in our lives. Occassionally, it all lines up clearly for us, while other times, not so much. That’s when it’s time to trust in the Lord to either open a door, shut one, or give us the courage and the strength to start listening to the Holy Spirit and just start walking (or kicking, or diving, or jumping…depending on what He says to do).

Jennifer Powell via Creation Swap

Jennifer Powell via Creation Swap

Sometimes the changes aren’t even because something “bad” is going on…in fact, the one I am considering would be going from good to better in most ways, and only scary because of worldly things that offer a sense of comfort and security for me in my little life. Hmmm….that one seems obvious, but our little minds get in the way and complicate it all, don’t they? God sometimes asks for a blank slate from us – a willingness to go in blind.

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A big part of my problem is I am a planner (uh-hem, “control” again). I’m usually okay with a certain degree of the unknown, but I realize that the Lord may be trying to grow me in this area – you know, more of “let go and let God?” See, it’s time to be more trusting in Him for ALL of it – not just the stuff that doesn’t seem too terribly scary or ultra-risky. God’s plan for me is whatever He leads me to in the now. I’m ready to believe in the promise that He has good things in store, and that I don’t always need a backup plan to make me feel comfortable.

David Bierdebeck via CreationSwap

David Bierdebeck via CreationSwap

Have you heard the saying about the Israelites and their lack of faith in crossing the Red Sea back in the day?  “Step FIRST, and then He shall part the waters.” I don’t know who said it, but whoever it was seems to be onto something. Um hum. This kind of faith entails completely uprooting oneself from what seems safe and secure in this world and putting down new roots where Jesus wants us to be – and stay rooted in Him, no matter where this life takes us.

Jeff Boriss via CreationSwap

Jeff Boriss via CreationSwap

So when the enemy plays this confusing game with my mind, which is all too often cooperative with his malicious little efforts, I have to turn off that thought driven brain of mine and press in deeply to the voice of the Lord. I have to shut up and listen, seek Him and His guidance, and then move when I feel the little push on my back to venture onward.

Chris Kennedy via CreationSwap

Chris Kennedy via CreationSwap

And as I prayed this morning I heard God say to me that asking “how far” really would be just sort of the same thing those Israelites did. And, I had an ah-ha moment with the Lord. Bright, aren’t I? (sheesh)

Jeff Boris via Creation Swap

Jeff Boris via Creation Swap

Yep, asking  “how far” to qualify my “willingness” to leap is really only my effort at covering up the fact that I am not displaying enough trust and faith in the Lord. He may want for me to be uncertain as I step forward – he may want to do it for a multitude of reasons. Wouldn’t it be cool if He wants to do that so that I can stand in awe at what happens as I am stepping – one foot at a time, with only His light and inner voice to guide me?

Forest Cavale via CreationSwap

Forest Cavale via CreationSwap

And I am reassured today too as I think on this. Because even if my foot lands in some icky stuff, and I start to sink, God has a reason for that too – and we know He is good at pulling people out of those types of troublesome situations. He saved us from the worst already.

Krist Adams via CreationSwap

Krist Adams via CreationSwap

So, I am not scared any more. I never thought I could be this way about something as life changing as this little thing is going to be for my family and myself. And  you know why? In addition to knowing that God has me covered, I see that it really isn’t all that big of a deal in the face of it all. We have overcome obstacles together – rather, HE has delivered ME from challenges, torments, pain, past, sin, suffering, craziness, that makes this pale in comparison.

Marian Trinidad via Creationswap

Marian Trinidad via Creationswap

I’m not sure where I’m going yet…..is it here? or there?  I just know I am ready…ready to jump. I think I’ll even get a running start as soon as He says “Go”. I already hear the whispers now, saying…”get ready.” I can literally feel the green light of God about to turn on any moment.

Matt Gruber via CreationSwap

Matt Gruber via CreationSwap

I am actually kind of excited now. In fact, when He says leap, I am going to stretch out with everything I  have, ask Him to put His mighty and divine muscle and power behind me, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll even do a backflip

Sharolyn Newington via CreationSwap

Sharolyn Newington via CreationSwap

Do you need to take a leap of faith into the unknown or something that might seem a bit scary either today or sometime soon? If so, you are in good company if you trust Jesus as your Savior…. and you need not fear.

 “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”  Matthew 8:26        

Trust in HIM.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  I Corinthians 2:5

Krystian Jaskula via CreationSwap

Krystian Jaskula via CreationSwap

Neediness Nudges

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Today I need.

I was thinking all day long about the fact that it is good to know that we need the help of our Savior, isn’t it?  And yet, I continue to have things come up in which I realize I am not relying upon Him to meet those needs like I should.

It’s so difficult to remember that we are always in need! The enemy, working through just our personality, circumstances, or messaging from the world, can often deceive us into thinking that we are okay – that we don’t need any help – and that in fact, self-sufficiency is what we should strive for in life. Lies!

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I like freedom – but I have come to realize that a need to feel in control is not only an illusion in regard to liberty and freedom, but a very deceitful ruse as well.  It’s a deadly trap. It’s an ambush. Self-reliance is not true freedom at all. It’s utter slavery.

We can fall into this web of lies so easily, and I will be the first to admit that I struggle immensely in this area. Sometimes, if I really look to the root of it, I start to become self-sufficient out of fear. Other times, it’s due to an underlying pride of sorts, a false idol of it’s very own! And then there’s just plain selfishness. That ugly, icky, dirty selfishness. I guess that’s not too “plain.” But all of it is then laced up and covered with a nice little layer of “goodness” on top. That’s what makes it so deceptive – it’s just a pretty little weed.

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The moment we forget our need for Jesus, we are beginning to spiral out of control whether we recognize it or not. Isn’t it ironic that the more self-sufficient we think that we are, the more deep (up to our necks, actually) in need we truly are? By the time we do figure it all out, we are in danger of drowning. And this happens over and over again. Sometimes, I figure out the trickery that has been going on in one area, only to find there are three others that have piggybacked right on top of the original one. It’s exhausting!

But, lest you think I am in a mode of self-condemnation, fear not, my dear friends. I realize that, thankfully, and ever-so graciously, the Lord can handle things for me if I can simply remember to surrender – daily. Second by second. I am asking for His help with this, because I clearly do not have a good memory. 🙂

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See, He wants to be there for us from the very beginning – to lean upon, to help, to guide and direct, to answer, and to fulfill. He wants for us to realize that we need him all of the time, not just when we perceive troubled waters and storms on the way. So often in life, I have waited until I am in the middle of the hurricane before I even think to call upon Him. You would think I would learn my lesson from these near death experiences, but stubbornness and sin breeds more, well…….. stubborn sin! But even when I mess up, and don’t call as I should have right away, He is there for me – every single time.

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So, neediness nudges us closer to Jesus doesn’t it? I often wish I could manage to truly remember my need without having to be reminded through stupid mistakes and things that show up to reflect my lack of faith. But then, that’s just me trying again to be something that I am not – not on my own, at least.

Today I need. And today I know it. Today, I remember. And I am thankful for the nudge.

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Guess what else? We are being nudged closer and closer to that day, friends of mine; that glorious day when we don’t have so many wimpy, shallow little needs. That day when we will see no more weeping,  no more crying, no more shame or violence or hatred. That day when we will not battle with the mind and the flesh. That day where we will get to live within His presence and light constantly, never overshadowed by the sin of self-sufficiency or anything else for that matter. That day where we only will be focused upon basking within His light and love, not the muck and quicksand of self  here on this earth. It will all be about worship, of Him, our One and Only, the Mighty One. Great is the Lord!

I guess, if we really think about it, every breath we take moves us one step closer to that glorious day – the one that will last forever and evermore. That’s why Jesus did what He did for us – to give us the Blessed Hope – that we will reign with Him in His kingdom forever and ever some day! I can’t wait.

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Let’s wallow in that promise instead of the muck and mire of self, shall we? Let’s listen and wait upon the Lord and revel in the nudges when we feel them within us. Let’s embrace our need for a Savior, and look forward with delight to that day in which we can continue to sing His praises, rest in His ever-present light and warm arms, and never, ever, need nudging again.

For today, I still need.

How about you?

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“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16: 23-24

 

All Images in this Post Used with Permission from Microsoft Office

Dear You

“Then  they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their  distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then  they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired  haven.”Psalm 107:28-30

Dear You…………..

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To that person that is crying today, feeling lost, and utterly devastated? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who is caught in the darkness of depression or loss today? I am praying for you….you know who you are

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To that person who has huge, emotionally-impacting, life-changing decisions to make in the face of the unknown today? I am praying for you…you know who you are.

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To that person who is waiting, hoping, not sure how it is going to work out today? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who is shattered, lonely, sad, crying out today? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who doesn’t know why they are suffering, whose life seems to have no meaning, who is begging to be brought back to who they are and where they were before? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who lost their job and is seeking God’s direction and guidance and doesn’t know which door to open or try to go through? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

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To that person who is praying for their loved one who doesn’t know Jesus to accept His gift of salvation and whose heart breaks because their loved one is refusing? I am praying for you…you know who you are.

To that person who is afraid because they have been judged by “religious” people in the past and are scared and afraid? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person that seeks a companion, who is tired of living alone, who is lonely and sad and unsure of how to meet people? I am praying for you, you know who you are.

To that person who is reaching out boldly, but no one is listening? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who senses something is missing and doesn’t know where to look or who to turn to? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

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To that person who doesn’t think that they know who they are and doesn’t know me and doesn’t know God and just doesn’t know what to know or think or do or wonder? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To the One, the Almighty, the Savior, our Redeemer, our Friend, Our Shepherd, our Comfort, Our Joy? I am praying to You….You hear my prayers….And we know who You are.

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Dear You….

Dear, Dear, Dear, Dear YOU.

Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for  Satan. ~ John Bunyan

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**All images included in this post are not my own and have been shared from royalty free websites no restrictions applied – attribution not desired or required.

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Are you Dangerous?

Nemo via Pixabay

Nemo via Pixabay

I’ve never been much of a risk taker. My radar has typically been on high alert when it comes to whether or not there could be danger up ahead. The fear of the unknown, the wrath that others might inflict on me if I offend them, or those things that could knock me off course? Such things were to be avoided at all costs.

Danger? Not really my thing. But I am starting to see very clearly that I am called not only to be willing to face that which might be scary or foreign to me, but also to be dangerous myself.

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You see, Jesus didn’t live a safe or comfortable life. He walked amongst those considered to be the dregs of society, shook the very foundations upon which the all-powerful leaders and lawmakers of the land stood, spoke truth that flew in the face of everything accepted as “politically correct” or culturally appropriate at the time, touched, hugged and healed lepers and others who had been shunned by everyone else, broke bread with sinners, ran off as a young child to go about His Father’s business, stayed quiet when He could have saved His own neck, spoke up when He knew it probably wouldn’t, and, all the way up to the very last breath – showed mercy and compassion  and offered salvation to the thieves, drunkards, and all the sinners of the world (uh-hem, that’s you and me) – past, present, and future.

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Danger? It is Jesus’ thing.

Not everyone is called to or equipped to go out to war-torn countries to live dangerously for the Lord. We don’t need to seek out the criminals of the world, the drug dealers, the pimps, or the people fighting brawls in every bar across the land. Danger is present all around us – we just don’t confront it enough. We hide. We stay comfortable. We play the game that the world tells us to because “safety first” and “live and let live” are the mantras of our culture, our world. It’s a world that does not embrace Jesus, that’s for sure. But we have the opportunity to proclaim his truth daily – right where we are at.

God’s truth has been viewed as dangerous for the majority of mankind’s existence. Few want to hear it, live it, or face it, much less fully embrace it. His truth entails real change if we are to walk it, talk it, and live it, and most people don’t want any part of it.  Change isn’t comfortable. Right living? Not comfortable. Living for the glory of God versus self and making the occassional sacrifice for all that is good and right in the world?

D-A-N-G-E-R!

greyerbaby via Pixabay

greyerbaby via Pixabay

I am reading a wonderful book right now written by Greg Laurie, called “Making God Known.” I absolutely love what he has to share about proclaiming the gospel. He says that we are to be “spiritually dangerous” if we desire to make an impact for the kingdom of God – and he emphasized that the Lord has asked us to be this way. And just sharing the simple, yet powerful message of the gospel with others, in whatever way that we can, makes us “spiritually dangerous” in this world in which we live. But it takes courage and a willingness to trust that the Lord will be with us every step of the way; empowering us, telling us what to say and do, carrying us through the darkness and over and through the obstacle courses that are part of the dangerous places in which we will begin to reside.

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No, we don’t have to be scared, because Jesus is at the wheel as we venture off the highway and into the sidestreets of life. He will be the light for us in the wooded, dark areas, He will give us the gas that we need to keep moving down the road, He will be our signpost when we am not sure which way to turn, and He will guide our every action, thought, and word. He doesn’t promise us that we will come out unscathed; not at all. But He does promise us that He will never leave us.

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him,
but also to suffer for him Philippians 1:29

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

MattGruber via CreationSwap

MattGruber via CreationSwap

We don’t have to worry if others feel offended, because we are looking at life in the face of eternity, not just this time we spend here on earth, and how comfortable we are while we are here.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have people feel a bit angry towards now – initially offended- uncomfortable- unsettled – than to have them cry out later “why didn’t my friend tell me about Jesus? Why didn’t she share how crucial this was and that I would spend eternity apart from Him if I didn’t make a decision to accept Him as my Savior? If she only would have told me! If she only would have cared more about my soul than her comfort!”

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Mr. Laurie shares in his book, “People don’t convert people – the Holy Spirit does.”  Allow me echo that: GOD is the one who converts people – God and God alone! But He likes to use us to reach other people – He has His divine reasons for that. To do so, we have to be willing to take what the world might call risks. To do that, we must at times, be politically incorrect. To do that, we  have to be willing to take up our own cross, just as Christ has done for us, and not only carry it, but kiss it and embrace it – even when we think we can’t carry it one more step! And it can be done with the love of Christ – it can be done by speaking that truth of His in LOVE.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘if any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me’. Matthew 16:24

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If we are going to follow Jesus, there is going to be danger involved. But He is with us.

It is then up to us to obey His command – We are to share Christ with others, in love, yet boldly too. It’s up to us to proclaim the gospel and the truth. It’s up to us to be willing to live dangersouly for Jesus, and to be committed to that and faithful to Him every step of the way. And we will have to face worldly dangers in order to be “spiritually dangerous” for the Lord – lots of them!

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If you are wanting to be more of a risk taker for Jesus, listen to that inner voice and just do it!  Jump in armed with the word of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit. Find the ways that you can use the gifts the Lord has given you to proclaim the good news of the gospel, to sing His praises, and to bring others to Him so that He can do His work within their hearts and souls.

And lest you are wondering if you have what it takes? God is who qualifies you to do this. You don’t need special skills or a degree in theology to do it. He chose fishermen and tax collectors to carry this out when He picked His own disciples over 2000 years ago.

Aaron Dailey via CreationSwap

Aaron Dailey via CreationSwap

Let me share something with you about  being dangerous for Jesus:  Is it going to be anxiety-producing at times? Yes. Are people going to reject you for it? Yes. Could you lose a job, a position, a special invite, a friend over it? For sure. Are people going to laugh at you, ridicule you, shun you, or even worse, beat you up for it in every way imaginable? Probably.

But again, you can take heart in this: You are not alone…….

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If
they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching,
they will obey yours also. John 15:20

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And if you haven’t already accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, are YOU feeling led to do something dangerous, what might you do to join us in this adventurous life that God has in store for you? I will share that with you below, so PLEASE read on!  I must tell you, if you make the decision to follow after Christ NOW, you will enter into a dangerous earthly life, but, in reality, you will truly be safer than you have ever been before – because your life will now be spent eternally with Him, not apart from Him. And Hell is very real, my friends – really, it is. Hell is the ONE danger that I, personally, want to avoid at all cost!

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How do I obtain salvation through Jesus Christ and accept Him as my Lord and Savior? It’s not complicated at all. The Bible tells us that we “all fall short of the glory of God.” Because of that, we must………..

Acknowledge that you are a sinner and in need of forgiveness. Sin is anything that falls short of the mark of holy perfection. No one is perfect, and utterly holy but God – so we are all sinners. We need our sins to be forgiven so that we can no longer be separated from God.

God sent His only son, Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin…………..

Believe in Jesus and recognize that he died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. He is alive and He paid the penalty for OUR sin.

We must turn away from that sin and turn towards Jesus and accept the fact that it is by “grace and grace alone” that we are forgiven………….

Repent from your sin – We must admit we have sinned and sincerely wish to turn away from it. We can ask Jesus to then forgive us of those sins, and He promises to do so.

We then need to invite Him into our hearts and lives and ask Him to save us and be the Lord of our lives………..

Pray to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior – you can pray something similar to this below, but realize that you can use your own words and the Lord will hear you:

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Jesus, I know that I have sinned and am in need of your gift of salvation. I realize that what I have earned of my own doing would be death and separation from You. I do believe that You died in my place instead and I ask that You forgive me for my sin.I realize that only You can save me and offer me forgiveness, I cannot do this on my own. I repent of my sin, and reject it from my life; I truly desire to turn away from it and change directions with you. Jesus, please come into my life, remove my sin, and show me how to make you the Lord of my life. I wish to live a life that is pleasing to you.

Jon Romero via CreationSwap

Jon Romero via CreationSwap

If you just prayed this with a sincere and believing heart, you are now saved by the blood of Jesus Christ! You are ready to start being spiritually dangerous. And you will spend eternity in heaven with Him!

Please go to the homepage of this blog and click on the page entitled “Salvation through Jesus Christ” for more information and suggestions on things you can do to start to grow in your personal relationship with your Savior! You need to begin to arm yourself for the wonderful adventure you are about to embark upon as you start to follow after a life with Christ!

Bruce Jennings via CreationSwap

Bruce Jennings via CreationSwap

And if you are already a Christian who loves your Savior and has made Him the Lord of your life – are you ready to start being spiritually dangerous? Take up your cross, and take the first step. There’s someone far stronger than you are that will help you to carry it if you grow weary.

Danger? Never really been my thing. Until now.

I am glad I have others to keep me company along the way.

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“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

Brilliance of Hope – It’s Eye Opening!

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Another Glorious, God-GivenTruth: We have the gift of hope in Christ Jesus!

How can we really experience the full meaning of hope with our mere human language? We can’t, really. Yet, even though what we can SAY about hope is certainly not sufficient to fully describe it, we can try to understand aspects of it a little bit better when we talk about and ponder it for a while.

Hope:

  • To desire something with the expectation of obtainment
  • To expect with confidence
  • To cherish a desire with anticipation

Pretty simple little bullet points to offer a description of something so completely amazing. Yet they are all spot-on.

Look at the strong words utilized here. Desire. Expectation. Cherish.

And the end result: Obtainment.

Those are not feeble things! Each of these descriptors are strong in and of themselves. They conjure up thoughts and feelings that paint a very powerful picture.  And they are only the descriptions of this wonderful thing we are talking about…that thing we call “hope”.

Hope is powerful. But what is even more critical is what we decide to place our hope in throughout our lives. That can be something that is as tiny as a mouse, or another thing entirely; one that is so very grand that we cannot even fully soak the whole of it in with just our eyes.

The very nature of living a life of hope is obviously active, not passive. Although many times, the realists out there in our world like to scoff at the idea, having and holding onto hope takes a lot of courage. It takes risk, surrender, motivation, dedication and desire. Especially when one places their hope in that which is unseen in our physical realm.

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Yet, that which is  unseen is often far more real than the things we can view right in front of us. True hope involves the use of a different kind of vision than what we normally rely upon. Again, we find it to ring true that anything of much lasting value starts within our hearts, and the truth that God has placed there.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is
seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

My Lord in whom I place my hope may not be fully seen with my shabby mortal vision, but I assure you, He is quite real.  He is more real and more true than anything else that I ever experienced. Further, everything that I do experience or see I owe to Him…for He is the Author and Creator of all. He paid for my sin on the cross. That too, is quite real.

By cherishing the hope that we have in Christ, and all of the promises He has made to us, we reap blessings we could never even imagine before we accepted Him as the Lord and Savior of our lives!

In His sovereign and merciful grace and power, He has done nothing but strengthen the hope I have in Him, and reveal Himself to me more and more each day. He has brought more conviction, more confidence, more strength, and more joy into my life since I have looked with great expectation towards Him, than I ever thought possible. The hope I have in Him – it is alive. It grows. He is the living water of my life.

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HE is my only REAL hope. Hope in Jesus is massive.

Can you imagine, for a moment, the enormity of it all? If we place our hope in Christ, we are blessed even more in return just for doing so. As if having the hope and the promise of salvation and an eternal life with Him weren’t already enough! He wants to shower us with blessing upon blessing too.

These blessings are realities He brings forth in our lives and are too many to be numbered. We certainly can see, hear, feel, touch, and smell them all. This is one of the great and blessed mysteries of our God and His power….that He can translate faith, hope, and belief in Him to very real and tangible things that are a witness of His existence through us for all the world to see.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”” John 7:38 

On top of it all, we are given the gift of enjoying things while we live here and await with expectation the day we go home to be with the Lord. The life we have here has been just another one of the Lord’s gifts unto us, and He wants us to enjoy it too. It’s good to hope for some things while we are here on this earth.

  • I hope for good health.
  • I hope my children will stay strong as they walk through this world.
  • I hope that people I care for and love will be comforted through trials, and blessed through joyful experiences.
  • I hope my coffee tastes good in the morning, that my hair looks good when I go to work, and that the brand of peanut butter I like to buy is at the store when I get there.
  • I hope my husband still thinks I am cute when I am 90.

But as I write this, I realize even more, that these aren’t really things in which I place my “hope”. They are just things that I desire or would like to have….or even think that I need in this life.

It is Him and what He tells me in His word that is truth – and it is in Him and what He tells me in His word that I should place my hope. The hope that HE offers to us is all that we can count upon for all of eternity. Our salvation in  Him, the promise that we will reign with Him forever in  heaven one day, and the fact that He IS the real way, the real truth, the real love, and the real life? Those are the brilliant nuggets of hope in Him that I cling to in life……and they all spill out and rain down from the magnificent and brilliant God that we are privileged to call our Father.

That is the hope we will see fulfilled that will last forever and ever. That kind of forever feels really good to me. It’s the forever that I plan to live out with my Savior and Mighty King.

“And this world is fading away, along with everything else that people crave. But anyone who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 Jonn 2:17

And the things of this world that aren’t faded yet? Remember to look upon those that are true and lovely, and enjoy them.  We just need to remember to focus and keep our vision sharp. There is a lot of false hope out there in our world, so proceeding with caution is a good idea. For what goes along with true hope is trust….which is also something we must do actively versus passively. And placing our trust in the wrong things – the things which are not lasting – making those things our “God” – EVEN the things that seem to be good – well, that can be dangerous if we allow them to be what we look to for purpose and meaning in life.

Lies and deception are a part of reality too. They just aren’t truth.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I assure you, they are very “real.”

I’ve been there…too many times. I have looked far too often to things in this world to fill me up. And I’ve always ended up running on empty. I’ve lost hope in those situations. That doesn’t feel good. Hope is only a good thing if it’s in things that are good for us and will draw us closer to God! Hang my hopes on Him – that’s going to be what I do.

So, my ultimate and overarching hope is in the only One that is fully true. It’s what I have in the Alpha and the Omega….in my Father God, in the Almighty and Great “I AM”, in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Revelation 22:13

Christ IS eternity and He IS God. Our Lord will never pass away. God has always been. God is. And God will always be. Hope in that above all else!

And the best news of all, is that by placing our hope in Him above all else, we are assured that we will get to live with Him for all eternity. For He is “Mighty to Save”. Even if we “pass away” from this earthly life before the Lord comes back for His church (which He absolutely WILL do some day), we will live with Him forever in a new life that will never end.

What greater hope could I ever cherish than that? What more could I look forward to with anticipation? And after all of the promises He has made that have come true, how could I not live with the utmost of  confidence and expectation that all future promises He has made to me will be fulfilled? I’m certainly not entitled to them in the first place…those promises He makes and fulfills are made out of grace – and because He chooses it – they are made out of God’s love for us.

Although hope in Jesus is a choice, to me, it is not a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity. The gift-aspect of it comes into play in the fact that I could not have the hope I have in the Lord if it weren’t for the fact that He chose to offer it to me.

Thank you, Father God, for being my glorious hope! Thank you for offering Your true and Mighty Self to me. I desire You. I cherish You. And I look forward with nothing but utter and complete anticipation and expectation of obtaining the promise I have in You for all eternity. You have already given me the opposite of that which I deserve. You are my Brilliant Hope.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Helen Lemmel

Heart Check: Humble Pie is Joy Filling!

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Today I am doing a quick heart check on significance and humility. In my devotions, God reminded me of something that at first, comes across as kind of gut-wrenching: My Lord, My God……well, He doesn’t need me.

But guess what? That doesn’t mean that I am unwanted. And today, he is showing me just why that’s an AWESOME thing!

I am full-on aware of the fact that I am quite flawed and sinful at times. I can’t say that I always see all of my imperfections with full clarity, because if I did, I’d probably keel over on the spot out of total shock!

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My Father in heaven reveals the areas in which I need his help (uh-hem…ALL areas, mind you) gracefully and mercifully, and always exercises compassionate and divine timing in so doing. Talk about LOVE!

As only He can do, as he brings back home to me the full-on understanding that He is not a needy God, he also makes certain to assure me of what is more important; that instead, he chooses me. I think that is just glorious!

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Ephesians 1:4

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I have spent far too much of my life trying to gain a sense of significance through being needed. I think that for some reason, I accepted that I would never be truly wanted just for who I was, and so I took the counterfeit of that and translated it into the next best thing: being someone people could count on – someone who could fill needs.

Pride can do some strange things in a person’s little heart and feeble mind sometimes. But God knows this, and in his love for us and his all-knowing wisdom, he reveals these things to us in time.

Although I now realize this is not where true joy lives – being the “need filler”,  Satan likes to deceive me with the same old trap because it has worked so frequently for him in the past. He’s been getting more and more deceitful about it in the last couple of years, has had to evolve it and be really creative and innovative, so I thank God for lending me his vision so I can keep on watch fervently.

Once again, Jesus comes to the rescue. Isn’t it great how he does that with the HUGE things (like salvation) and the smaller, earthly things – like pride?

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Our wonderful pastor once shared with us that living out humility entails knowing who we are in Christ. It is not thinking of ourselves more highly than we should, NOR is it to think of ourselves as less than all we are in Jesus. Although I now know this, I haven’t gotten much better at getting rid of all the clutter of self and letting Christ shine through me in the fullness of his glory.

I was supplementing my study of John tonight by reading about this very thing in Frank Manno’s book Spiritual Sobriety. He also shares about the need to remember that God isn’t the needy one in the relationship we have with him. He  quoted the very same part of scripture that I have been coming back to over and over these last couple of weeks………………..

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

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This is where true joy lies – in staying attached to the vine – the Lord, our God. This is where we find our significance. This is the place where we strip away self and realize that all that we are is because of him – and only him. This is where our needy-ness is married to his mighy-ness and forms an eternal relationship that yields true joy – the fullness of that joy comes from clinging to that vine with all that we have.

There truly is no greater love than this. Real joy far surpasses the happy feel-good stuff that mere happiness entails. It is lasting and fulfilling…..it won’t be cut short or interrupted…..as long as we stay attached to the true source of it all – Jesus Christ.

Psalms 63:5-7 My soul will  be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with  joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches  of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

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So today I will eat my humble pie – again. But I can and will do it with joy in my heart. We like to joke that humble pie tastes like a bitter pill. But that’s only when we judge it by our human tastes and inclinations (pride and ego, anyone?). Instead of swallowing up our pride, maybe we should just spit it right out entirely. In so doing, maybe our taste buds will change and become a little more heavenly.

That pie fills me up with the truth of the Lord and the reminder that it’s not about me. It reminds me of who I truly am in HIM, which is so much better than anything I could ever be in myself. This brings me joy – the fullness of it. That’s what I like to call “Jesus Joy”!

I am not needed by God….not really. But I am so glad to know that I am wanted.

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Visine for the Heart

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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Don’t get me wrong. I want 2013 to be a good year for all of us too. But I feel a bit bummed tonight.

As I checked facebook, emails, the news, and interacted with friends and family at church, work, and home throughout the day, I found myself feeling “odd”, so to speak – for pretty much the entire day of the 31st. Everyone was sending out “Happy New Year” wishes, and conveying joy and happiness all around me…about a new calendar year….about the hope that the chance for a new year holds for them….and to me, well, I just felt.. NOTHING.

If you know me at all, that’s a very strange thing. I tend to feel things quite deeply most of the time. But I felt absolutely empty in relation to celebrating another “New Year.” And for a few hours, that made me feel pretty sad about myself and what that says about me as a person.

With Permissions Microsoft Office

With Permissions Microsoft Office

I have just arrived back home after work tonight, and as I was driving here, I used that time to search my heart and pray about it. Clearly, God has something that He wishes for me to learn about through this, right? As always, He does. I thank Him for that.

I found myself thinking….”what is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like others and be positive and cheerful…happy-go-lucky…excited about starting a new year?” Where is my “celebrate good times” attitude? If others could read my thoughts right now, they would think I am the darkest party pooper the world has ever known. Maybe I am.

So I searched and prayed. Here is what I have concluded:

I want to see God NOW. This is not because I am depressed. It is not because life stinks. It isn’t due to wanting to escape my responsibilities, or the joys that life with our family and friends can hold for us here on earth. But I have grasped….I have SEEN….that this world can never compare to what we will have if Jesus returns for us to rapture us out of here today. And I want to see Him NOW.

But, the time that Christ will come back to snatch us to His bosom so we can leave this world and enter into the most blissful existence imaginable, well, that is not for me to decide. CLEARLY, this is a very good thing too, because I am not a patient person! Beyond that, I obviously don’t have a deep enough love for all those who are still lost to Jesus at this point in time. If it were up to me, the rapture would have happened yesterday! 🙂 But seriously, that is very sad. I need to fervently beseech the Lord to fill me with HIS supernatural love for others, because this has shown me just how deficient I still am in this area. (Love is a VERY important thing to God, by the way – I find it almost comical that I continue to have to remember that very important fact).

Josiah Kopp via Creationswap

Josiah Kopp via Creationswap

I told my husband several months ago that I knew the challenge for me in this gift of anticipation…of actually looking forward to the end times…being excited and hopeful about Jesus’ return, would be learning how to do that while simultaneously living life here to the fullest. You see, I am pretty much an all or nothing type-person (Big surprise, I know – ha ha – it’s okay to laugh). And I knew this would be a huge obstacle for me to overcome. How do I keep that spirit of anticipating Christ’s return while still living life to the fullest, for the glory of God, here on earth? After all, not only is this life a gift, but God has chosen in His sovereignty and wisdom NOT to come back for us yet….and that means there is more to do while we are still here. That’s exciting, isn’t it? But not as exciting as the prospect of the rapture…at least, not to me.

And I realize it comes down to my heart. Again.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

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I need to pray for patience. I need to pray for God to not only help me to stay bold for Him, but to give me a selfless and pure heart. I need to be excited about His return one day, but focus just as intently on being happy that we have at least one more day to do all we can to proclaim His glory throughout this earth! There are multitudes of people out there who have not accepted Christ as their Savior yet….and there will still be many when He comes back to rapture the church before the tribulation begins. And so often these days, I find myself thinking selfishly….I think to myself….”now that I am actually looking forward to you coming back, Lord, why don’t you just get on with it already? I am ready!”

And once again, I realize….that’s pretty selfish of me. When will I ever learn? Ug!

So on that drive home, it hit me pretty hard that I may not get to literally “see” God this year….or I might get to – but only He knows, and He knows what is best. He knows it’s not all about ME. He knows He has to remind me of this fact all-too-often too. And He still loves me anyway.

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And as this wonderful verse in His Word tells us, our hearts need to be continually purified to see God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

I have a lot of heart work to do…I always have. If I am fully honest with myself, it isn’t hard to see that. It isn’t difficult to see that if my motives were always truly pure, I would be more excited about getting to be a vessel for Christ right here, right now, in this world. I would trust Him to keep me confident through that process that I will not go back to getting overly attached to this world. I would believe with all my “heart” that God is strong enough…that He is faithful enough….to keep even ME from going back to living for this world instead of for Him.

Courtesy of uponthisrock.com

Courtesy of uponthisrock.com

It IS possible to not live for this world, yet live to the fullest while we reside within it – I truly believe that. And by living to the fullest, I mean fulfilling the mission that the Lord has set before us to proclaim His name to the ends of the earth (at least as far as we are individually and collectively capable of doing).

I have been blessed to get to do that in many different ways in 2012, and 2013 just looks even more promising. I know these opportunities will continue to grow as the Lord has His mighty hand on it all. And it’s not for me….it’s for Him. It’s because He wants for everyone to have every last opportunity possible to choose Him, to choose eternal life with Him…before He comes back….because He loves us all…so very much. One day He will decide to come back, and there will be many who are still not saved. But for right now, He has not decided it’s time for that yet. Having more time to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the earth needs to be seen as a blessing more than a chore.

Photo Credit uponthisrock.com

Photo Credit uponthisrock.com

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

I pray tonight that the Lord will purify my heart. I know that thankfully, when it comes to my salvation, I am seen that way by Him already…because the blood of Jesus covers all of my sin and impurity when it comes to where I will reside for eternity. Yet while I am here, still walking this walk, and living this life, I must seek daily cleansing…for it is all-too-easy for dark shadows to prevail and block our vision.

I trust the Lord to lift the fog out of my heart on a daily basis. I will not stop asking Him to do so. And if tears must come at times as that murky cloud is lifted out, so be it. Tears can be useful. They wash away pollutants and clear out the toxins. And then we can see far more clearly.

I realize I don’t need to feel sad about who I am as a person, because it is the LORD who will fill me up and take ME out of the picture in the process of purification. That is good news, my friends….that is good news.

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So, I will chime in with everyone else and say to you all…”Happy New Year, my Friends!!!” May 2013 fill you with the love of Jesus and make your hearts overflow with a love for Him and for one another that screams “CELEBRATE” over and over again!!!!!!

I want to see God -I want to see Him NOW. And His Word….well, it tells me that I CAN.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 NIV

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**All images not attributed in this post used with permission from royalty free websites- no attribution or link required.