Monday, September 24, 2012

You are in a war

Our Pastor spoke yesterday about putting on the armor of God so that you are ready to engage in a war with the devil.  This post contains some things I’ve thought about since that sermon.

John 10:10  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief in this verse is understood to be the devil.  Never forget that the devil has unending desire to steal, kill, and destroy anything he can in your life and he will destroy you if he can. He is not going away.  He is going to continued to hammer at you. 

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Be alert – Be aware. Be awake.  The devil wants to catch you off-guard.  Be ready.  Be prepared.

Never forget the devil’s intentions – to steal, kill, and destroy

He will steal your reputation, your peace, your good judgment

standing firm in the faithHow do you do this?  I think this is accomplished through being in the Scriptures on a daily basis.  You need to know the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he rebuked Satan by quoting Scripture. 

James 4:6-8 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

To resist the devil, you need to live a life of humility.  The proud and arrogant are easy targets for the devil. 

Submit yourself to God.  Keep seeking God’s will for your life.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Come near to GodThe nearer you live to God in your daily life, the more difficult it will be for the devil to attack you.  How do you live near to God?  Get together with other believers and encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25)  Have a thankful heart.  Be in prayer.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Be in the Word. 

Have a repenting heart.  Confess your sin regularly.  Keep short accounts with God.  Don’t let anything interfere with your fellowship.  (1 John 1:9)

Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Remember that you are not fighting flesh and blood but your are in a spiritual battle.  You are fighting the spiritual forces of evil.  Jesus has already won this fight.  We need to stay close to him.  Incorporate as much Scripture as you can into every facet of your life – into your thoughts, words, and actions. 

You can only do that if you know the Word.  Start today.  Pick a verse and start memorizing.  You can’t learn the whole Bible over night.  Give yourself time but get started. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

I am…

This is kind of a follow-up of yesterday’s post – Who Are You?

In Jesus Christ, I am …

  • Saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Forgiven of my sins. (1 John 1:9)
  • Protected from the evil one. (John 17:15)
  • Loved by the Father.  (John 17:23)
  • Justified by faith (Romans 5:1)
  • Made righteous through the obedience of Christ.  (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Set free from the law of sin and of death.  (Romans 8:2)
  • Enriched in every way.  (I Cor. 1:5)
  • Given wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (I Cor. 1:30)
  • Bought with a price, and I desire to honor God with my body.  (I Cor. 6:20)
  • Reconciled to God, and I have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  (2 Cor. 5:18)
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3)
  • Holy and blameless in God's sight.  (Eph. 1:4)
  • Strengthened with power through His Spirit in my inner man.  (Eph. 3:16)
  • Confident that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)
  • Not needy, for God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. (Phil. 4:19)
  • Delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  (Col. 1:13)
  • Not fearful, for God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind -- which happens to be nothing less than the very mind of Christ. (2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Cor. 2:16)
  • Redeemed (Gal. 3:13)
  • Adopted into the family of God. (Eph. 1:4-5)
  • Crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20)
  • Born again. (John 3:3)

    Wow, what any encouraging list!  It’s good to remind ourselves who we are and that this was only possible because the sinless Son of God willingly gave his life on the cross so that we could be saved.

    Have a great weekend.

  • Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Who are you

    I am currently living with my parents and my husband is currently living with an uncle.  We are in the process of trying to build a house.  We are hoping to be in our house together by Christmas.  Our relatives have been great taking us in and taking care of us, but I have to tell a story.  (Mom forgive me.  I love you.)

    I work long days.  I have an hour commute each way and then I drive out and feed our dog – who doesn’t live with either of us but is currently living in a friend’s backyard.  Anyway, I am usually gone about 11 hours.  One of the huge blessings of living with Mom and Dad is that Mom cooks supper almost every night.  It is amazing to walk in after a hard day of work and smell something good already cooking in the kitchen.  (I will definitely miss that when I move out.)

    Last night we are sitting around the supper table and Mom decides that the casserole that she fixed didn’t have enough salt in it.  So she picks up the salt shaker and shakes some onto the casserole that was still in the dish.  I already had some on my plate so she reaches over and salts the food on my plate.  I use very little salt when I cook.  I just try to avoid it and so my natural reaction was, “Mom, what are you doing!” To which she replied, “It needs more salt.  It tastes flat.”  I am just not used to someone else messing with the food on my plate.  After all, I am 51 years old.  I can salt my own food. 

    The more I thought about this situation, the more I realized that I am still my Mom’s little girl.  I will always be her child and age can’t change that.  She has always looked out for me and she will continue to look out for me as long as she is able to.  Her salting my food was a demonstration of her love and care for me.

    I began to think about who I am.  I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a teacher, an administrator, a friend, a neighbor, a writer, a Steeler fan, a reader, a music lover, etc….Who are you? 

    Did you remember these?  I am a follower of Jesus. I am a child of God.  I am a new creation.  I am a witness.  I am more than a conqueror.  I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.  I am an overcomer.  I am a co-heir with Christ.  I am an ambassador for Christ.  I am God’s workmanship created for good works.  I am a spiritual light in a dark world.  I am part of the family of God.  I am a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I am blessed beyond measure.

    Have a great day and never forget who you are.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012


    I have been driving about an hour to work every day since the beginning of June.  I have found the time to be refreshing.

    The time I have spent with the Lord has been amazing.  I pray out loud and talk to God as if He is sitting in the seat next to me.  Sometimes I sing choruses or hymns.  Then about the last 30 minutes or so I put on a Christian radio station (the Compass).   I didn’t realize how good this time was until I lost it…

    I guess I didn’t lose it but I traded it.  I traded my time alone in the mornings and afternoons for a traveling companion.  I am now carpooling with a man who lives near me.  With gas at almost $4 a gallon, it seemed like a good financial decision.  He’s a nice young man and we talk casually going to and from work.  However, I miss my prayer time. 

    It is really hard for me to find alone time.  I get up at 5:30 and leave for work at 6:30 and usually get home again about 5:30.  Then there is dinner, the dog, chores, my husband and daughter to help, and before I know it, it is bed time again.

    I need to go back and look at my priorities and something has to go.  I’m not sure what it will be.  I do not function well in the morning and so getting up any earlier would be counterproductive. I am exhausted by bedtime.  I welcome any suggestions….

    What have you traded that has cost you time with the Lord?  Have you shortened your prayer time for Facebook, music, TV, reading, sports …..  These things aren’t bad but anything that takes you away from spending time with God every day is a hindrance to your Christian walk.


    Psalm 5 1-3  “Give ear to my words, O Lord. Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto Thee will I pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning. O Lord in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up."

    Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Psalm 51

    Last Thursday I wrote a post titled “When life knocks you down”.  I used Psalm 51 as a reference.  When I went to church Sunday night, the pastor taught from Psalm 51.  Since then I have had this song stuck in my head…..  (See video below)   Think God is trying to teach me something?

    This is a song I learned about 30 years ago.  I haven’t thought much about it since then but it came to my mind this week.  Music is powerful.  I remembered the entire song.  Protect your mind and input good things.  The brain’s ability to remember and recall things is amazing.

    2 Corinthians 10:5 “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Start talking

    God has plans for the world. He laid out those plans in his Word.  You remember ….

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

    “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

    “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

    God’s plan for the world involves knowing Him, worshipping Him, and glorifying Him.  (See Psalm 96)

    It was God’s idea to use people to help accomplish His plans. It is amazing that He uses people despite their flaws, doubts, and failures to do terrific things.  We are all sinners and He is perfect and holy and yet He is able to use us to reach the world around us. 

    This is a part of faith that a lot of people miss.  We are to take God’s plan for the world personally and take responsibility for making a difference in the world.  God is already at work and all He desires is for us to get onboard with Him.  We need to join in with the mission of reaching the world for Christ. 

    This isn’t just for the chosen few.  This isn’t just for the pastors and the missionaries.  God’s plan was for all of His people to be involved.  His mission is our mission.  It starts with having compassion for the lost. It requires hard work and dedication and in the end it will bring forth the realization that the gospel is worth our all.  (Think about that one.)

    Now is the time for Christians to stand up and be counted.  Go public with your faith.  Tell someone what you believe.  Believe that God has the power to change the world and that He can use you to change your corner of it.

    So, are you ready to live what you believe?  If so, then start talking about Jesus  …

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    When life knocks you down …

    “Faith says,”I trust God, regardless of what is happening, I will press on; I will not be a wishy-washy, halfhearted, fair-weather friend of God. I will trust God when it is difficult. I will persevere when I see the night is coming. I will persevere when life is hard, when I fail, and when I don’t feel like persevering.”” (Johnnie Moore)

    Everyone has difficult times in life. It isn’t a matter of if trouble will come. It is when trouble comes, how will I survive? When I am getting clobbered by the world, how will I deal with it? God doesn’t shield you from difficult times. However, He will help you get through it. He will make you “more than a conqueror”.

    We will all cry our share of tears, have our misfortunes, and make our mistakes. We will fail. We will stumble. We will let ourselves down. Even as well-intentioned Christians, we will sometimes respond to problems in ways that just make things worse. We will disappoint ourselves. We will disappoint others. We are sinners. We are flawed people who are apt to prove it sometimes by the decisions we make.

    You could have the faith of the Bible heroes Moses, David, and Peter and you will still have to deal with failure and discouragement. These men all failed at some point in their Christian life. (Moses struck the rock. David sinned with Bathsheba. Peter denied Christ.) However, they refused to let failure define them. They found a way to navigate through their failures, deal with their problems, and bounce right back up into serving the Lord.

    How did they deal with their sin? Take a look at Psalm 51 as an example. This was written after David sinned with Bathsheba. He confessed his sin. He took responsibility for it. He repented (determined not to do it again). He asked for forgiveness. He asked God to cleanse him from his sin. Only then was his relationship with God restored and David could move forward with his relationship with God.

    You might wonder why God would let you encounter some of the difficulties you are experiencing in your life. I think sometimes He allows things to happen in our lives to teach us lessons that can only be learned in the midst of strife and turmoil. (I’ve learned a lot through some difficult times in my life.) Sometimes the difficulties we are going through are our own fault. There are consequences to sin. Sometimes the difficulties are just the result of living in a fallen world. When Adam sinned and sin entered the world, so did some of the difficulties of life. We need to trust God and persevere through them.

    God believes in us sometimes more than we believe in ourselves. He knows we will get through it and be better for it in the long run. Some things can only be learned through first-hand experience. Like a young boy learning to play baseball, you have to get in the game to really see what you can do. It’s only when life knocks us down that we really know we have the strength to get back up and do it again.

    When we find ourselves stumbling in our relationship with God, disappointed in a decision we’ve made, frustrated with words we spoken, or upset with how we reacted in a crisis, we shouldn’t stay down long. We have a God who loves us, forgives us, and wants us to get back up and persevere through it.

    2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

    We aren’t defined by our failures but by what we do with them. We will have our ups and downs, our good days and our bad, our triumphs and our defeats. That is part of life.

    However, we serve a risen Savior. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He makes the sun to rise and set. He sees the beginning and the end of time. He is faithful and trustworthy. He loves us with an everlasting love. When life knocks you down, get back up. When you blow it, confess it to God immediately, and then move forward. There’s a whole lot of living left to do. Do it hand in hand with the Savior.

    “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10 – 12)

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Personal not Private

    As I was commuting to work this morning, I thought about the fact that Christianity is a personal faith.  You can’t inherit your faith from your parents.  Eternal life isn’t found in your culture or how you were raised.  We must individually come to a point in our life when we recognize we are a sinner, ask for forgiveness, accept that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and ask Jesus to be our Savior.  It is a personal decision.  No one can do it for you.

    On the flip side of that, some Christians feel like their faith is a private thing.  That’s not what the Bible says.  Yes - I had to personally accept Christ as my Savior but I am not to keep that to myself.  I am supposed to tell others about my faith.

    Romans 10:9 – 10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

    1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

    I’ve been writing about living out our faith and that is important but we are also to speak about our faith to others.  Acts 1:8 says that we will receive power from the Holy Spirit to be a witness.  Matthew 28:19 tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.

    Our faith was never intended to be private.  As I write this blog, its primary purpose is to take what God is teaching me and share it with others.  I am not perfect.  God is still working on me.  He is molding me into what he wants me to become.  Sometimes He has to break me down so He can build me back up in order to make me more like Christ.  It can be a painful process but a very worthwhile one.  It is like a refining fire.  God has to melt away all the impurities from my life. (1 Peter 1:7) 

    The gospel changes people.  I am not who I was before I accepted Christ and I am not who I was last year.  It is a journey.  It is a process.  I need to completely submit my life to God.  That is hard because as I do, He continues to show me areas that I am still holding on to.  I am not who I want to be and I am not who I will be next year or next week.  As I continue to trust God and submit my life and my will to Him, He will change me and it will happen from the inside out.  As that happens, He wants me to praise Him and tell others of His goodness, grace, love, and mercy.

    What about you?  Are you a Christian?  Have you started a journey with the Savior?  Is he refining you - burning away your alloys so you can be pure and holy?  Are you telling others what God is doing in your life?  If you’ve kept it a secret, make today the day you go and tell…. 

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    It’s simple but it isn’t easy

    I guess I should say “I’m sorry” to my audience.  One of my friends who reads my blog told me my last post was boring and that I should stick with Bible stories or personal stories.  She found those posts to be much more interesting.  I’ll try to do better.  Smile

    I think most Christians want to live out their Christianity.  Most would not tell you that they want to be a hypocrite.  Ask any little child what they want to be when they grow up; how many would say, “I want to be a hypocrite when I grow up.”  No.  That is not what people intend to do but it is what happens frequently.  Perhaps it isn’t overtly hypocritical but anyone who says they believe in Jesus but doesn’t live a life that reflects those beliefs, is a hypocrite. 

    It really is simple.  Do what God tells you to do.  It’s not just enough to believe.  We need to submit our lives to the truth and live it out daily.  I’m not saying it is easy.  It is often a battle of the wills.  Your will must give in and be submissive to His will.  It isn’t enough to just read the Word daily.  We must live it out daily.

    This is sometimes hard for me.  I like calling the shots.  I like being in control.  That’s why I got a degree in school administration.  I like making decisions and planning out events.  I desire to be the master of my own destiny. I don’t like being submissive.  I like being independent. 

    A lot of people are like me.  We’ve been raised in a culture that says I can do anything I set my mind to.  I can “have it my way”.  I can achieve my dreams if I just work hard enough.  I customize my car, my PC, and even my dinner.  I get to pick exactly what I want and when I want it.  After all, I’m entitled to that, aren’t I?

    Now the problem….  It doesn’t work that way in my relationship with God. I have to put God on the throne in the very center of my life and make my life revolve around Him, His glory, and His will.  He has to become more and I have to become less.  If He is to be Lord of my life, then He has to be in charge.  I must submit to Him.

    Idolatry is basically making something more important than God.   A.W. Tozer said “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”  

    The Israelites built a golden calf.  They actually had a physical idol.  Most of us don’t have anything that tangible that is an idol in our lives but we do have idols.  It could be money, relationships, popularity, or success.  These aren’t necessarily bad things; they just have a misplaced priority.  We have an omnipotent God who talks, listens, and works in our world and in our lives.  Why settle for something less to worship?

    Do you value anything above God?  What about yourself?  You can be your own idol when you put your desires and will above God’s will for your life.  I have to intentionally examine my life for things that are trying to subvert God's place.  I have to determine in my mind and my heart that I will keep God on the throne of my life.  I have to purpose in my heart to seek His will and walk in His ways; to submit my will to His.  Not my way Lord, but yours.  Not my plans Lord, but yours.  Not my thoughts Lord, but yours.  Not my desires Lord, but yours.

    It is a daily fight in my life to love the Lord God with all my heart, mind, and soul. 

    Daily I need to ask:

    • What would God have me do today?
    • What would God have me say today?
    • How would God have me spend my money today? 
    • How would God have me react to my spouse today?
    • How would God have me use my time and talents today?
    • Is what I am doing, pleasing God?

    God is the only source of real truth.  I must daily devote myself to this truth.  I must turn from idols in my life.  I must choose this day and every day to serve the Lord.  Daily surrender all to Jesus and freely give Him reign in my life.

    It’s simple but it isn’t easy.