Friday, February 28, 2014

Tears

I am a weepy mess lately. I cried as I text my daughter the other day because the children playing at recess reminded me of my sweet granddaughter. I began to worry about myself until I searched the Bible for "tears" and found that tears are actually very therapeutic. There are criers all throughout the Bible!

Genesis 29: 9-13 tells of a time when Jacob sees Rachel for the first time. He cries tears of joy.

Genesis 43:30-31 tell of tears of joy as Joseph is reunited with his brothers.

1 Samuel 3:1-7 tell of Hannah's tears of bitter sorrow as she weeps because of her barren womb and   broken heart.

David cried with "loud weeping and many tears" over the death of his son. 2 Samuel 13:35-37

Esther's tears were tears of pleading as she fought for her people. Esther 8:3-6

Psalm 116:7-8 David cries tears of relief as deliverance comes.

In Psalm 119: 129-136 tears shed because of the lack of love for God's word.

Joel 2:12-13 expresses tears of repentance over sin.

Tears are cleansing! They free us by releasing our emotions. As the tears flow the overwhelming emotion is set free, and we are left feeling lighter and released! Tears happen when our pride is broken and in our humble state we allow raw emotion to surface. Tears fertilize the soil of our hearts in order to grow the seeds that have been planted!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Get Some Rest

So then, as the Holy Spirit says, 
"If you hear God's voice today, do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were when they rebelled against God, as they were that day in the desert when they put him to the test. There they put me to the test and tried me, says God, although they had seen what I did for forty years. And so I was angry with those people and said, 'They are always disloyal and refuse to obey my commands.'  I was angry and made a solemn promise:  'They will never enter the land where I would have given them rest.!'"
Hebrews 3:7-11

I wrestled with God for a good portion of my night last night and I told Him that I expected answers to my questions by morning.  Although a loud and clear yes or no would be way easier to process, God spoke to me through His Word and taught me something very important.  Through reading the passage above, I am reminded that I have a life on this earth and as a follower of Christ, my life is His.  I have to be completely committed in believing that He is capable of handling my life much better than I am.  There is no room for wavering back and forth like the Israelites did during their escape from Egypt.  Time and again they proclaimed their trust in God only to be found moments later taking back that trust.  This scripture displays God's anger when His people chose to be stubborn and unbelieving.  I recalled my own life and all of the times I have taken back my trust and tried to make decisions based solely on my own knowledge, fears and desires.  At times I am no different than these Israelites and look what happened to them!  They were not allowed to enter His rest because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:19).  

We all could use rest.  All of us would benefit from some time off from our busy schedules, but even more important is time off from the guesswork of making decisions.  My friends, we can all have time off and get the rest we need if we would put our trust in God.  In every circumstance, big or small, we need to ask God what He wants, hand over our doubts and fears and then seek His Word and trust His answers.  We can't let our fears and desires get in the way.  We can't be like the Israelites who tested God's ability to protect and provide!  Instead, we must listen to God and obey.  Trusting in God takes the weight off of our shoulders.  We don't have to try and fix everything or play out every scenario.  No, we don't even have to know what the future brings.  In fact, our only responsibility is that we must be willing to do everything God asks of us and believe in His plan for our life.  Over the last few years God has shown me that when I trust Him completely I do not tire.  He takes care of every detail and allows me to keep going.  I know that if I put myself in charge I would fall apart!  Unfortunately, sometimes I don't realize that until its too late and I am worn out, but with God in charge I am confident and rested.   Form a relationship with God today and get to know Him.  Believe every word of the bible and trust that God will lead you to a life of rest. 

                

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Need Each Other



I want to see you so I can share some special gift of the Holy Spirit with you! It will make you strong. Both of us need help. I can help make your faith strong and you can do the same for me. We need each other. Romans 1:11-12 NLT

     I think this is one of the most beautiful scriptures in the Bible. It includes all of the best things in life… the gift of the Holy Spirit, a true friend, compassion, and a shared faith! The longer my life goes, the more I am realizing how valuable Godly friends are to my walk. 
     On a rough day, I can lose myself in self-pity for hours. My mind becomes muddied and consumed with negativity. And then if I take time to refocus on the Lord and allow him to put a friend on my heart, instantly my sorrow turns to joy. I quit thinking of self and become the hands and feet of my God as I reach out the the one he's placed on my heart.
    Receiving a scripture text from a treasured friend can turn my day around. Praying and knowing that the verse I'm reading is to be shared with a friend is encouraging to both of us. A good cry with a friend is therapeutic. Laughing till my belly hurts over good clean fun is the best. 
     Yes, friend, we need each other. Whether it is a God First Friend, a spouse, a next door neighbor, or the counsel of a pastor, we need each other. This life is tough and it wasn't meant to be walked alone. Reach out today. Share your life with another in a large or small way. It doesn't matter, just share it! You will both be blessed and your faith will grow stronger. Yes, we truly do need each other!

Thank you, Sweet Jesus for our friends. Thank you for the ones who share our faith, our burdens and our blessings. We love that you created us to walk this life together! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Well Done My Faithful Servant

'Well done, you good and faithful servant!', said his master.  'You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts.  Come on in and share my happiness!'
Matthew 25:21

What has God laid on your plate lately?  I can say he has kept my plate very full these last few days.  I am blessed to be used by God and today as I read this scripture its meaning became a little clearer to me.  God allows challenges in our life for a reason.  He tests us to see how we handle certain situations.  He wants to see what we do with our little bumps in the road and how we take care of the special gifts He places in our care.  Everything in our life has been given to us and God is waiting to see what we do with it all.  I know I have really messed up at times but now as I better understand this scripture I can keep moving forward knowing that everything I have in life and every situation I run into is designed for me and my walk with God. 

Friends, God gives you obstacles and blessings because they are meant to shape you and grow you.  He loves you and trusts you with these things.  He has his eyes on the prize and the great future He holds for you.  God sees eternity and the many people you will lead there! And when it comes to that glorious day He can't wait to tell you, "Well done good and faithful servant".  Are you doing a lot with, and staying faithful in the small things?  Has God given you the big stuff yet?  Keep persevering and thanking God for using you!  Use the good things He gives a multiply them!  Be responsible with God's gifts and He will reward you with more!

Who is a faithful, sensible servant to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family?  If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.
Matthew 24:46-47
  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love Jesus The Most



"If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26


Wow!  Just to see it in red words right there in front of me.......wow!  I've always known about this command and just recently I have begun to understand just a little of what Jesus is asking.  It is not an easy statement to take in.  I can't imagine what the people following Jesus, this day, thought when He said this to them.  It was a huge crowd and I'm sure they were looking for miracles and healing,  intelligent words and guidance but instead they were told that they must love Jesus more than anyone in their life in order to be His disciple.  I don't know what you think, but I'm thinking they may have been a little let down and intimidated by those words.  But the words are clear and simple.  No sugar coating this, in order to be a true follower of Christ we must put Him very first in our life and love Him more than those closest to us. 

Today, think about this statement.   Put yourself there with Jesus and visualize Him saying this very statement to you.  As you go to work, take care of your children, visit your parents, lie down with your spouse, think of your answer to Jesus' request.  Who is most important in your life?  Who do you love with all you've got?  Who comes first when you make decisions about your daily activities?  If your answer is Jesus then you are on the right track.  Teach your children about this command.  They need to know the importance of loving Jesus more than anyone else.  They need to understand, at an early age, that Jesus should be first place in their hearts and they also need to know where you stand too.  It's okay to tell your child or spouse that you love Jesus more and it's your job to encourage them to do the same in their life.

Loving someone takes a relationship.  We spend time with the people we love and just because we can't see Jesus doesn't mean it should be any different.  Friends I encourage you to spend time with Jesus today.  I encourage you to choose Him as your Number One.  Put forth an effort to establish and maintain a relationship with Jesus and your life will change!  I promise to do the same and if you make a decision for change today, let us know by sending us an email and we promise to encourage you in your walk.  We will pray for you and send you encouraging words and take the pressure off of doing this all alone.    

Friday, February 21, 2014

Taming The Tongue



Understand this my dear brothers and sisters; you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.                                            James 1:19
As I was driving in an unfamiliar town the other day I realized the lane I was in was coming to an end.  I had the only natural response......I sped up and tried to pass the car beside me.  Well that person was determined to be the leader of that lane so he sped up too!  I quickly let off the gas as I was running out of lane and let him go by then proceeded to change lanes.  Let's just say I got an angry expression thrown my way and probably not so nice words to go along with it.  I really could care less where I was in the lane, I just needed to go somewhere before I was in the grass but unfortunately my "neighbor" had a different opinion.  I immediately felt sadness for him because he took that so seriously and let it get him so worked up.  I thought about his whole day and how he must not be a very happy person inside if me changing lanes,at the last minute, made him that angry.  I especially thought that if he knew I was not from that town and wasn't familiar with that lane ending he would totally understand............yes I am that optimistic ;) 
Well I was convicted of my own moments where I had lost my cool too soon and angry words spewed from my mouth.  I was taken back to the times when I would prematurely assume things or begin to speak before knowing the whole story.  I'm not naturally an angry, negative person but we all have our moments and I fell to my knees asking God to forgive me for my imperfections.  I was also led to this passage from scripture that speaks volumes!  Not only about being angry........it summarizes who we are with Christ living in us and how we can't have curses and blessings flowing from our mouths!  It made me realize the dangers of the tongue and the huge trouble something so small can make.  I want to leave you with James 3:5-12 to meditate on and think about today.  I believe as God's children we are expected to tame our tongue and think before speaking and only let love and encouragement flow from our lips.  It's not a natural response, all the time, and it certainly isn't an easy task, but it says here that no-one can draw fresh water from a salty spring.........no-one can be encouraged by us or be lead to God through us if we are saying nasty, unkind, negative things.  Let this scripture improve the person you are today.  Allow it to penetrate deep into your heart and mind and decide to change your habits and dealings with people.  I know it has made me think a lot!  But  living for God is more than just knowing what to do.......it is acting on what we know is right.  And so dear friends I am praying for you today.  I love you!   
James 3:5-12
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I don't know what's going on in your life right now, but NO MATTER WHAT IT IS, OR HOW BAD IT FEELS, you can and should praise the Lord! Praise him in the good and praise him in the hardships! You don't need to be thankful for the yuck and pain of a situation, but the God who loves you and the Christ who has already claimed victory are still sitting on their thrones in heaven!Your thankfulness can be for things within a situation and just for the blessings you have in people and possessions, but more than that you praise because:

     You are created in God’s own image. (Genesis 1:27)
    You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
    You are filled with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
    You are the temple of God and His Spirit dwells in you. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
    You are complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
    You are a child of God. (John 1:12)
    God will never leave or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be Humble


God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.  So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.
1 Peter 5:5-6  

We are all born to be selfish.  At the moment of birth our survival instinct kicks in and we aren’t concerned about anyone or anything but getting our way.  We will cry and scream until we get our diaper changed and we will fuss until we are snuggled to sleep.  Getting food is our main goal and we won’t stop crying until we get it.  We wake up at all hours of the night demanding our way without worrying about anyone else.  Even as toddlers and into young children we carry that selfishness with us.  Sharing toys is near impossible and doing something that we don’t want to do is a daily struggle.  So you can see where it is difficult to humble ourselves before God and others, but indeed, we are instructed to turn off our selfish button.    

God uses the humble, in fact, He favors the humble.  Moses was more humble than any other person on earth (Numbers 12:3) and he was used in a mighty way.  God loved him so much that he spoke to him face to face!  In this scripture above, it says that God is against the proud.  He opposes those who are prideful and cannot give Him complete control but He favors those who will set aside their own will and follow Him. The bible instructs us to humble ourselves.........so what does that look like?  

God isn’t using his authority and overstepping His boundaries like some might like to think.  He isn’t being selfish by asking us to be humble.  He just knows the future and He knows what is best for our life.  Humbling ourselves is submitting to God’s will.  We can’t begin to obey God without putting our desires aside.  Even legitimate goals and dreams that are not God breathed can bad for us!  God doesn’t always care what we want.  He is more concerned with the world and all of His people. Yes He loves us dearly, way more than we can understand, which is why we must trust that His will is best.  

Being humble is a daily choice and it takes hard work!  We must not lose sight of the end result of this demand from God.  He promises to give us strength to be humble and He promises to give us glory and honor in doing His will.  God would never ask us to give up something that He isn’t planning on replacing with something much better!  As a humble person keep a steady focus on God and let His will become your will!  Your life will improve and you will reap the many benefits of living the life made just for you!

Dear God,
Help me to put aside my selfish goals and dreams.  I want to live out the life you have planned for me.  Give me strength to put You first in my life and to submit my will to You.  
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sin is Costly

“So get started. Purify the people. Tell them: Get ready for tomorrow by purifying yourselves. For this is what God, the God of Israel, says: There are cursed things in the camp. You won’t be able to face your enemies until you have gotten rid of these cursed things. Joshua 7:13 MSG”

Achan had taken plunder in the battle Jericho when the Lord clearly told the men to destroy everything and everyone. God was very clear about what the men were to do. They were to destroy everything and everyone except for Rahab and the men who stayed with her. Yet, some things, namely a beautiful robe, gold and silver caught Achan’s eye and he took them for himself. He then proceeded to hide them by burying them in his tent. 

As a result of his sin, Achan was stoned before all of Israel. But, to ensure that no remnant of sin remained, his family was stoned as well. 

As I read this, I am feeling a very real fear of God. He is holy and just. His word is to be obeyed to the letter. God does not take sin lightly. He will not tolerate willful disobedience. Achan was punished for his sin, but sadly, his sin affected the entire family. They suffered because of his sin. 


Build relationships, pray for honesty among our family and friends that we may confront one another in love when sin has entered our lives. Daily we must confess our sins to God and others so that we may stand pure and holy before our God. Don’t take sin lightly because your father in heaven does not either!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What Have You Thanked God For?


They took the stone away.  Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me.” 
John 11:41

Jesus showed up to heal his friend, whom He loved (John 11:3).  When he arrived he was told that Lazarus was already dead, in fact, he was already placed in his grave 4 days earlier.  There were many people who were weeping and wailing, mourning the loss of Lazarus, with his sisters, Mary and Martha.  When Jesus saw them he was deeply troubled and He wept (John 11:35).  Martha took Jesus to her brother’s grave as they rolled the stone away Jesus thanked God.  

I’d imagine some of you can put yourself in Jesus’ sandals.  Most of us have experienced the great sadness of losing a beloved friend or family member.  I wonder, though, how many of us have thanked God in the midst of our loss?  

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Jesus loved his friend and he wasn’t thanking God for Lazarus’ death but thanking God for what He was about to do.  In the same way we are to thank God in everything.  Not for everything, but in every situation we are to give thanks for the work that God will do for us and through us.  We are told to give God thanks for carrying us through our mess and giving us overwhelming victory in the end.  Often times we confuse this scripture with thanking God for our problems.  While that is fine in some instances, there are other times when giving thanks for the untimely death of a friend, being thankful for a horrible car crash or thanking God for your loss of a job just sounds crazy.  And it is!  We aren’t expected to enjoy these unfortunate circumstances in our lives, but we are expected to trust God to carry us through and thank Him for the good He promises to make from it.  We don’t have to like what is happening to us but we do have to believe that God is in control and thank Him for using our circumstance to bring Glory to His name.  

Change your perspective on giving God thanks in everything.  From now on don’t ignore this scripture because you aren’t happy about your situation.  Stand up and thank God because you can!  Thank Him because He knows what’s best and He wants nothing more than to make everything good for you and those you love.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Love of a Friend



Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6

With the recent celebration of Valentine’s Day, Love has been the main topic of discussion. But today I’m going to challenge you with this Proverb. The world views love as a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is seen as always pleasant and cheerful. Many are the people who want to be built up by the words of another, but few are those who want to hear the truth.

This Proverb tells us that a real friend will love us enough to speak the truth in love because it is for our betterment. The hurt that comes from a true friend’s love and honesty is much better than the sweet words of a person who doesn’t really love us.  A true friends is willing to risk the negative reaction that we might initially give because they know that the direction we are headed leads to danger or even death. A real friend speaks the words that we really don’t want to hear but are the exact words that we need to hear. 

Now, think of your best friends. Do they tell you when you are wrong, or do they just smile and let you make foolish mistakes? Do your friends confront you or avoid conflict? As a friend, are you willing to speak truth to your friend or is their approval more important than the truth?


Lord, today we ask for Godly friends. Lead us to those friends that will speak truth and life into us. Teach us how to speak openly and honestly with each other not to prove ourselves right, but rather to uphold your word and prove that your ways are right! Bless our friendships, Lord, so that we do not compromise your word for the approval of another. Amen

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Speak Life!





Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. 
Ephesians 4:29

When I first read this it is only natural to apply it to my conversations with other people, but today God has laid a different perspective on my heart.  I had a conversation with a friend recently and I was concerned with her attitude regarding a situation, in which she was anticipating bad news.  It is a place we have all been in.  The time when we want to get excited about something but past results tell us otherwise.  We begin to get very cautious and claim we don’t want to get our hopes up.  I questioned my friends trust at that moment but she stated that she believed and trusted God, but she was just being realistic.  I absolutely understood what she meant and I agreed with her.  I was in no place to blame her for being cautious with her emotions.  No one likes to be excited about something and then be let down.  Like when you are so looking forward to that Big Mac and fries but the rest of the family votes for Taco Bell, it can be heart breaking.  

The scripture above speaks not only of our conversations with others but with our personal dialogue.  When applying it to our thoughts or the things we say about our own circumstances, it takes that cautious idea and throws it out the window of a speeding train.  What is in your heart determines what you say (Luke 6:45).  Maybe our hearts don’t really believe that God can help us.  When we state we don’t want to get our hopes up it makes me question what or who our hopes are in.  We should never put our hopes in anything or anyone besides God.  People will eventually let us down, worldly things will disappoint us but God will always keep His word.  If we are trusting in God then we should let our hopes run wild!  He cannot let us down if we trust in His knowledge and perfect plan.  Yes our circumstance may not go as planned but if our hope is in God he will see to it that we get through it.  Further more, I looked up the meaning of realistic and found that it's having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.  I questioned where the term fits into God's vocabulary.  The more I thought about it, realistic seemed more like a word limited to human understanding and well, God is above all that. 

Here are a few more scriptures speaking of the tongue and how powerful our words are.  I encourage you to speak life into your situations.  Next time you find yourself speaking or thinking negatively stop and think about who or what your hope lies in.  If it is anything or anyone but God wipe those thoughts away and focus on God’s promises.  Speak life! The words of the Godly lead to life! (Proverbs 10:11)  


Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life. 
 Proverbs 18:21

Some people make cutting remarks; but the words of the wise bring healing. 
Proverbs 12:18



Dear God,  set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)  Amen and amen! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

God's Love



Within 1 John 4:16 it simply says, “God is love.” I absolutely get giddy when I think of this verse. It doesn’t say God tries to love me or that he feels love for me. It doesn’t say he is obligated to love me as my creator. It says HE IS LOVE! It is his very essence. It comes from the very center of who he is. He cannot do anything but love me because it’s just who he is! Therefore, there is nothing I can do to earn his love and nothing I can do to make him love me less. Thus, I am basking in his unconditional love! 
Think on that for awhile... It is so absolutely contrary to human love. So often others don’t love us because we don’t do what they want or because we fall short in their eyes. Human love is fickle and fleeting, but God’s love never fails. 
What’s even more amazing is that as Christians, we possess the very Spirit of God. It is within us to love like God! We must focus on Him, allow the Spirit to work within us, and surrender our own desires. Oh, Dear Friend, that we would all learn to love like our Father!
Click on these song titles to Praise God for his love!                                                      Lincoln Brewster's Love the Lord               Mercy Me's Love of God                                                                                            

Here are some love verses to meditate on today...
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it- we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to. 1 John 3:1 MSG
My God is changeless in his love for me. Psalm 59:10
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.   1 John 4:11-16 MSG


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Confess Your Sins To Each Other


While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and throwing himself to the ground in front of the Temple of God, a large crowd of people from Israel - men, women, and children - gathered and wept bitterly with him.
Ezra 10:1

For many of us, confessing of our sins never leaves our minds.  We say it in our head and pray a prayer of repentance but we never say it out loud.  For some people saying it out loud (behind closed doors) forces them to own up to it and in hearing it come from their mouth, allows them to let it go.  In the bible we read of one man who confessed in front the Temple of God.  No, he didn’t take a piece of paper and pin it to a wooden cross or drop it at the foot of the cross, he laid down in anguish, tears running down his cheeks, (yes the ugly cry!), in front of so many people and stated aloud all the sins of he and his people.  Read the scripture again............the result of this should make us look at confession differently and take to heart the words in James 5:16 that state: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you will be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”

Telling people our sin, and letting our friends know our mess?  I know it sounds difficult but the bible tells us to do it and I gotta believe that it might know a little more than I do.  Let me tell you what I do know about confessing sin to someone.  It is freeing.  It allows you to walk out of the pit of shame and accept God’s mercy.  When we keep it to ourselves we tend to hang on to it and never really let it go but when we know someone else knows, and still loves us, we can begin to understand, just a little, about God’s amazing grace.  I’m not saying to share it with the world and I’m not telling you to share every little detail.  What I am suggesting is you find a godly friend, whom you can trust and share with.  Someone who will love you regardless and who is willing to hold you accountable so you don’t fall into that sin again.  I know from experience that once you tell just one person it gets easier and easier to say it again to someone who may desperately need to hear it.  Someone who is struggling to get out of their own pit. 

Ezra was not afraid to get real with his people and what a blessing that was for many!  People joined in and wept with him, and confessed their sins which later resulted in repentance and changed hearts and lives!  Maybe if we look at confessing to a friend as helping them and freeing them we would be more willing to share.  I believe that if we all started getting real and stopped hiding, our community and nation would undergo a spiritual revival like no other.  God expects honesty from us, in fact, we can’t hide anything from him, so why hide from a trusted friend or pastor?   Besides, it takes so much effort and energy hiding, dwelling on and reliving our sin.  The shame alone can make us physically ill!  And why be ashamed of something that God has forgiven us for and no longer remembers?  It does’t matter what others think of us, it only matters that our hearts are committed to a God First Life and that, my friend, includes getting real.  He wants us to use our past, to share our stories! Today.......free yourself and focus your energy on repenting and changing your life and leading others to Christ!

Dear God, I confess my sin (          ) to you.  Please give me one friend who can handle this truth about me so that I can share with him/her.  Free me from the guilt and shame that I work so hard to hide.  I want to experience Your Amazing Grace and be free to live for you and help others in the process!    In Jesus Name,     Amen 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Time for Honesty

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.  Psalm 32:3-5


We work so hard to keep our sins hidden from others. We often wear masks of pride and perfectionism to cover the sins and shortcomings in our lives. We even try to hide our sin from an all-knowing God by not addressing them with him. They become the elephant in the room. We don’t address them and we think he isn’t seeing them!

Oh, how I long to live a portion of the Old Testament today. I love the times in the Bible when the sinners and those who were hurting would approach the throne of God with weeping and wailing. They tore their clothes, covered themselves in ashes and poured out their hearts to the Lord. No shame, no fear of God or man’s disapproval. I love that I am a sinner saved by grace. No shame, no fear!

Are you willing to lay down your pride and mask so that you, like David in this Psalm can be honest with God and at least one other Christian? This Psalm tells us that hiding our sin eats us alive from the inside out. Sin weighs down our hearts, minds, and physical body. It causes our mind to “go crazy” with regret, shame, and fear of being found out. Our hearts become a playground for Satan to lie and shame us. We feel stress, lose weight, and become emotional time bombs.  But most importantly, it distances us from God. It keeps us from the freedom he offers.


Today, let us humble ourselves before the Lord!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ezra


God led me to the book of Ezra this weekend.  I really didn’t know anything about him and hadn’t really heard his name mentioned but a few times.  As I read through this book I was stopped cold in chapter 9.  

Let me back up a bit and explain a little to you about this man.  Ezra was a trusted man with great wisdom.  He was committed to obeying God and He was dedicated to God’s people.  He was a priest and a great leader who was devoted to studying God’s word.   Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem King Cyrus of Persia declared God’s vision for him to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem so he sent thousands of Jews, under the leadership of Zerubabbel, to Jerusalem where they began rebuilding the temple.  They met much opposition while they were there and within 6 years the rebuilding came to a halt.  Ten years later the temple rebuild resumed and within 5 years it was completed.  The city itself was still in ruins but the people had an alter where they could worship God and offer sacrifices.  About 80 years later Ezra came on the scene and was chosen to take some 2,000 men and their families to Jerusalem to carry out a program of religious education.  When he got there he was hit with the hard truth that his people were living in sin, marrying pagan women and accepting their way of living and worshipping their gods.  His reaction really touched me and made me stop and think long and hard about how I handle the sin I see.

“When I heard this, I tore my clothing, pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat down utterly shocked.”  
Ezra 9:3 

Ezra was devastated to hear of the sin his people were living in.  He sat down utterly appalled, crying for his people, and while some joined him, he sat there for the rest of the day!  As evening came and a sacrifice was ready to be offered up to God, Ezra stood up from his place of mourning, in his torn clothes, and fell to his knees in prayer.  Ezra was ashamed of not only the sin of others but his own sin.  He related to the people and humbled himself taking responsibility for the sin in his own life as well as the others’.  He didn’t point fingers or blame any one person or group of people.  He knew full well the sins of his people since the day they left Egypt and he was scared of the consequences.  He was truly dedicated to his people and to helping them repent from their sins, as well as his own.  His motive was not to condemn but to help them heal and rebuild their holy community.
What caught me when I read this was Ezra’s deep concern for his people and I began to look at how I view sin.  Ezra took sin very seriously and was willing to fall to his knees weeping and whaling for his people.  How many of us could say that’s our first response when we hear of someone’s sin?  I looked back on my life and realized that up until recently, when I heard of sin, my first thought wasn’t always to fall to my knees in prayer.  Unfortunately my first thought was usually of judgement and condemnation.  Of course I wouldn’t humble myself to identify with them, I wasn’t the one who sinned.  I would just look down on the person involved and come up with my solutions to their problem.  I know it sounds awful when I get brutally honest, but I believe it’s how a lot of us view sinful people.  Until I was able to get real about the sin in my life and accept God’s forgiveness, and until I was in a committed relationship with God, I was unable to take sin seriously.  Especially now that I have been a foster parent, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world that I sheltered myself from.  God has shown me that the sins of others is no different than my own sin.  We are all brothers and sisters in a fallen world.  We are each equally susceptible to temptation and sin and instead of pointing our fingers at each other we should be falling to our knees in prayer for our own sin and the sins of others.  Like Ezra, we should be concerned for people who are hurting and living a life full of sin and bad choices.  Before we ever lift a finger we need to identify with someone who has sinned and remember that our sins are no different.  

Our job is to love and forgive no matter what.  God din’t say forgive those who ask or forgive those who work really hard to get better.  We are to forgive everyone and love them because God loves us.  I hope that you can begin to see things a little differently and understand how satan will use our sins against us and cause division between people.  I hope that you will take your sins and the sins of others seriously and begin to pray for people in our community and all over the world instead of condemn them.  It is a different view, one I struggle with daily but in God’s eye it is the only view.  We must continue to love in a fallen world!  We don’t have to accept sin, or brush it under the rug, we need to take it seriously and pray for all involved.  I challenge you to humble yourself and pray for someone today who is living in sin.  Recall the sin in your own life and remember how easy it was to make one bad choice.  Fall to your knees weeping for God to forgive the sins of our community and our nation!  If forgiveness is hard for you, ask God to help you.  He is waiting for us all to step up and make our community and our nation holy again.