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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Staying Popular

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:25-33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
Jesus wasn't looking to be popular. If He were on social media, He wouldn't be looking at the number of 'likes'. Though, in His day, He had many that liked Him, actually. As it says in this passage, "Now great multitudes went with Him..." That would be a pretty big Twitter following! 

But Jesus wasn't interested in His popularity. He didn't focus on keeping it either. Where many of us would be tempted to say or do anything so as not to lose our following, Jesus recklessly did the opposite. He put His whole 'career' on the line and spoke radical challenges to his fans. 

And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple..."

Whoa, Jesus. Way to risk your entire ministry! You say things like that and people may get turned off and walk away.


Jesus' message was not an ear tickler. He wasn't interested in telling the people what they wanted to hear to make a bigger name and following for Himself. What He was after was people's sincerity. He was looking for people who were not just interested in seeing Signs and Wonders, (and He was doing many!) but people who were serious about turning from their ways and loving God with all their hearts. Jesus said the things that His Father wanted Him to say. Simply put, Jesus was not interested in pleasing people. He was interested in pleasing His Father.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Safe But Uncomfortable

Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry!

“Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—
so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭8:13-14, 16-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It must have felt like the longest year of their lives. Noah and his family had been safe (yet stuck) inside a massive boat with literally the smell of every kind of animal on the earth. Not exactly Carnival Cruise Line.

It's funny how we can be completely safe in God's palm, yet completely uncomfortable at the same time. Sometimes God puts us in situations which aren't what we would call paradise in the sun, but it's exactly where we need to be. We are wrapped up in His love and centered in His will, yet we find ourselves squirming and fidgeting as we wait for the season to pass.  

No one ever said following God would be a walk in the park all the time. Yes, we definitely have our moments of bliss as we enjoy God's goodness toward us in this world. But it doesn't mean that He won't lead you to some smelly places, too, to make you learn and grow. 

It makes me wonder what Noah learned on that boat. Maybe patience as he kept sending out the birds to check for dry land. Maybe thankfulness as he contemplated the depth of what was happening around him and how he somehow found favor with the Living God that saved him and his family. Or maybe he had a greater understanding of God's Holiness and Righteousness and how serious God is about sin and the evil that is in the world. Whatever Noah learned, there is one thing that we can be pretty sure of - he most likely came off that boat a changed man, for the better.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Watching Over Me

I usually try to be careful to grab every bag. But, this time I didn't. I grabbed two bags from the store counter, but left the third. When I got home, I showed off my new purchases to my husband and still didn't realize I was missing something. 

But, Someone else did.

The next morning, I ran to the grocery store at 7am. I never go that early, but it was the only time I could fit it into my schedule. As I got out of my car, I looked up and saw the cashier from the store I was at the day before.  

"Funny meeting you here,"  I said, wondering if she recognized me.

Her eyes lit up. "You left your bag yesterday!" she blurted out. "I tried to stop you in the parking lot, but it was too late. You had driven away. I can't believe I'm running into you now. I never come to the grocery store this early. Just go back to the store. I saved your bag under the counter."

Someone had my back. He always does. It was no coincidence that I happened to run into her. I never shop that early and neither does she. I can list multiple times that things like this have happened - things I know that were orchestrated, not by me, but by a Father who is keeping His eyes on me and caring for me. 

Like the time, years ago, when I left my purse on the top of my car. (Apparently, I have a tendency to leave things!) When I got home, I couldn't find it and didn't even remember leaving it on the top of my car.

But Someone else knew.

Being in a panic, I remember it was one of the first times I ever truly asked God to help me. I said a small prayer that went something like this: "God, help me find my purse that has so many things in it that are important to me." It wasn't but a minute later that the phone rang. It was a woman who was looking for the owner of a purse she found in a parking lot! I was stunned and speechless for a moment over the phone. I knew then that God had my back. So, my purse was found and it was not only returned to me, but nothing was missing from inside it. God had protected the money, the documents, the photos, and everything else. 

That day, I realized three things.

1) God is not only real, but hears me and responds to my prayers.
2) God cares not just about the big things like running the universe, but also the little things that are big to me.
3) I can ask God to help me because I know He cares about me. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."

He's watching over me. He's watching over us - Yesterday, Today, and Forever. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Talked Right Out Of Our Senses

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

"Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden
that we are not allowed to eat.
God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

"You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God,
knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:1-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬


That slimy deceiver. The first thing he ever brings to the table is confusion. Though we know the Truth, his questions make us question.

"Did God really say..." the devil asked Eve. At first, her response was quick and accurate. She was clear-minded about the Truth and even corrected the devil by clarifying exactly what God did say. But her clarity didn't remain. The devil's persistent and persuasive words talked her right out of her sound mind and right into his web of confusion and lies. Before she knew it, she was not only listening to him, she was out-and-out convinced!

How can this be? How can someone who knows the Truth, end up so confused?

Time and attention.

Eve obviously gave her attention and consideration toward the devil's convincing theories. Instead of keeping her senses and stopping the conversation as soon as it didn't line up with what she knew to be true, she listened, entertained, and absorbed the deception, and in the process, she let go of all Truth.

Eve remains one of our best examples of what happens when the devil wins the battle over our minds. She lingered too long with that nasty snake. She never should have even continued in the conversation when the devil contradicted God's words. She should have quickly dismissed him and all his stupid thinking.

Remember, the battle starts in the mind. If the devil can get in your head, he's already on his way to trapping you. Our best defense is to know the Truth and refuse to let it go or trade it for new thinking and philosophies. Know what God has said. Read His Word. Listen to His Spirit. Pray like your life depends on it (because it does). And REFUSE to entertain anything that doesn't line up with the Truth. Don't be the next victim of his deception.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Choice to Love

Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east,
and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:8-9, 15-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Our free will has always been very important to God. Right from Creation, we don't see a controlling Father, but rather a God that establishes the right for people to make decisions and choices. God could have easily decided not to put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. He could have controlled the situation in a way that Adam and Eve would never have had to encounter a choice to fear Him and obey His instructions. But Love does not control. Love respects boundaries and a person's free will. 

God doesn't necessarily remove temptation from our eyes. If He did, our worship would no longer be because of choice, but rather because God is controlling it. God is always looking for the heart that will decide for themselves whom they will worship, love, and follow.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Free Woman!

It's where it all begins for each of us - right there in our mother's womb. Biologically we all start life this way, yet we are all different types of people because of the mothers who birthed us. We are different nationalities, different temperaments, have different inclinations...we are who we are because of the parents we have and the womb we came from. 

The Book of Galatians tells us that if we have the Holy Spirit in us, our 'mother' is a FREE WOMAN. We have been spiritually birthed by Grace because we are are receivers of the Promise made to Abraham who supernaturally had a child with Sarah by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is very different from the Slave Woman who Abraham also impregnated but through human effort. The Slave Woman, Hagar, represents the Law. Sarah represents the Promise - the New Covenant, a Life of Freedom given by God as a Gift through Jesus. 

My friend, if you believe in Jesus, your 'mother' is Sarah. And she is a FREE WOMAN. This means, you are a receiver of the Promise! Which also means YOU ARE FREE! No longer are you chained down to religious rules, regulations, and ceremonies to win God's approval! No! You are FREE in Christ to love Him without fear of condemnation. You are FREE because your 'mother' is FREE! Your spiritual DNA is completely made up of Absolute Freedom. 

So if you feel held back or stuck under a weight of the rules of religion, you have God's permission to let that all go. He did not set you free for you to continue to live as a slave. He set you free so that you really can be FREE!

“And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 
So, dear brothers and sisters, 
we are not children of the slave woman; 
we are children of the free woman.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭4:28-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Monday, May 8, 2017

Good Enough

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. 
For if keeping the law could make us right with God, 
then there was no need for Christ to die.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I used to think this way. Many do. We think good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell. It's sort of a Santa Clause mentality - if you're good, you'll get presents, if you're bad you'll get coal. 

What we forget is that Jesus came to save sinners. But, what if you don't see yourself as much of a sinner? What if you do your best to be a good person and think that all of it will eventually add up to a nice sum of good deeds that you can present at the pearly gates? If you think this way, you have been sorely misled. Like the scripture above tells us, if being good could get our names into the Book of Life, Jesus never would have had to die on the cross. It's actually ridiculous thinking to proclaim that you are a Christian but still believe that it's on you and your own goodness to win God's approval and a pass into heaven when you die.  

So we must put this kind of thinking into the grave once and for all. Whether you've been a Christian for 50 years or 50 days, we must remember this: Jesus has never been impressed by your own works done outside of His own Righteousness. In fact, they are like filthy rags to Him. What He is impressed with is a humble heart that knows there is no good thing that can be found in him and he is in need of a Savior. THAT is a life that God can then forgive, heal, and do GREAT things through!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fertilizer & The Seed Life

Some of the sweetest, prettiest, and even savoriest things in life come from the most stinky of places. Fruit trees, flowers, and the gorgeous produce we grow in our gardens are all examples of this. We cover our tiny seeds in fertilizer and/or compost, knowing that though there may be a stink in the air in the beginning, the end result is going to be amazing and worth it all.

I think many of us can relate to these poor little seeds. No one escapes planet earth without living in a bit of fertilizer at times - the stinky trials of life that we'd much rather avoid than embrace. But, just like the seed, those trials can be the very thing that make us grow, mature, and even bear fruit!

But we must remember this thought, as well...a seed is only a seed for a short amount of time. The germination process lasts only days - a very short time period compared to its future self as a blooming, beautiful plant. And so it is with our lives. We are 'seeds' for but a moment. And one day, we, too, like the seed, will die and change. But our future self will be lasting and eternal. So though our cares on earth sometimes seem to be unbearable and last forever, we must remember to keep a heavenly perspective. The 'seed life', with all its stinky 'fertilizer', is all temporary. Our life beyond this is lasting, beautiful, and worth it all!

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, 
since what is seen is temporary, 
but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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