Love vs Selfishness – Grace

“34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

First of all, let’s read it again remember John was quoting Jesus himself. This must be VERY important if Jesus not only said it, but commanded it. Do not read on until you read that a couple times and get it in you. Because this post is not about that verse. It is about the opposite of that verse.

So they (everyone and anyone in the world) will know you are a follower of Christ, because of your love for others. The opposite of love for others is love of self. Lately, I have seen some usually Godly people become a shadow of who they were because fear overcame them, leading to reactionary self-preservation, leading to selfishness, leading to every evil thing.

But, we will get to that.

The atmosphere lately is heavy. Fear is creeping in further, taking more ground. No matter how much I pray, it is thick in the air. (I posted about a spirit of fear a couple posts ago)

My heart is saddened by the panic and crazy over stocking of products that people are doing. Friday, I left work and pulled into the store to pick up some storage containers (just a usual errand) and pulled next to a vehicle where a couple was loading it full of toilet paper, soap and bleach. How lost are we that we do not trust that God will provide? How did we as a society lose all hope? And what is with all this selfishness?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
God will give us the grace to get through this – let’s just keep praying.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The last time I wrote about this Covid-19 pandemic – I tried to focus on tools to fight off fear and battle for your mind.  But let’s get control of our actions and spirit as well.  They will know we are Christians by our love – what then will they think of us by our selfishness?
It shows bondage to fear – It shows no love or concern for others – It shows no faith in God’s promises – when we overly stock up on supplies to the point where our stores are empty and others in need left without.

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:16
Take warning, this behavior is not loving your neighbor as yourself and it is the essence of “every evil thing”.  Let us not get ensnared as followers of Christ.

In the midst of this pandemic, I am already on a walk with God who is shining light into my life to grow me and change me. I am already praying for others to come to and grow in their walk with the Lord.
I believe God showed me this same spirit of selfishness in one person I have been praying for when they confessed to me that they think they are being selfish and feel they cannot help it.  I have been praying for God to break the bond of selfishness in him.

I have been doing a devotional on love and got to the chapter about: Love isn’t selfish. I saw it as a confirmation to my prayers and continued praying for my friend. Then I seemed to stall out – unable to proceed in my devotional book. I reread it and immediately could not remember what I read. I did it again. And again. I found myself struggling to be kind and caring. I found myself struggling in obedience to God’s will. I found myself fighting…. Myself.
Even the great apostle Paul said in Romans 7:19 NIV: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” 
Even Paul struggled with flesh while God worked within him. There is ALWAYS room for improvement and growth and this struggle of trying to be obedient will always exist as long as you are growing in the Lord.  So, what area is God pointing out to me?

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 NIV

Oof! That hits home!  Here I am talking about the selfishness of the toilet paper hoarders and the selfishness of my friend and I have a huge plank in my eye!!!
What do you mean you don’t see it? What do you mean I do not seem to be a selfish person?  Just because I hide it well, doesn’t mean it is not there.

I was abused as a child. I have endured many Godless relationships with people who did not treat me fairly or kindly. I have said from the start: my love is broken – I do not understand love and I do not know how to give or receive love.  Then, I was blessed with a series of sermons on God’s love and then another series on God’s love over the past few months. I got a devotional book to work on this as well. I am blessed.
So, what does this have to do with selfishness??? 
The toilet paper hoarders do so out of fear and self-preservation – not knowing what to do with something they cannot control, they control the things they can.  I built up wall, after wall, after wall around my heart out of fear of being abused, vulnerable and hurt – it was self-preservation. I cannot control the actions of others but I can control my feelings and keep everyone at a distance.
Toilet paper hoarders have toilet paper, so others are left without access to toilet paper.
Walls around my heart hoard hurt emotions (and prevent Gods love from flowing in and out of me), so others are left without access to love from me or from God through me. It is selfish – just as selfish is taking all the toilet paper. Just as selfish as my friend who keeps hurting me because all he cares about is his fleshly desires instead of anyone else’s emotions and value.
[Dear Heavenly Father – I acknowledge my selfishness, my sin. Please forgive me and give me the grace to acknowledge when I want to be selfish and how to repent from this pattern of behavior. Help me heal and not be selfish any further. Thank you for your merciful forgiveness!
In the precious and powerful name of Jesus, rebuke the spirit of selfishness in me, in my friend, and in my community! And push back that spirit of fear so that Jesus can be glorified in me, my friend and my community!!!! Change us, soften our hearts, let our emotions be healed, safe and protected in you so that we can be free to accept your love and have it flow through us to fulfill your will, glorify your son, and draw others to you. Let them know we are Christians by our love! Help us be the love you want us to be. Thank you for preparing us for your blessings and healing us and our community. Through Christ Jesus we pray, amen]

As the Lord works on me, my heart is heavy today for the hopeless and lost. I hurt for those driven by a spirit of fear to practice selfishness and every evil thing. This selfishness is an affront to our Father who created the heavens and earth and is wealthy and resourceful enough to provide for all our needs. Be cautious not to slide down that slide and not to lose faith and remember our hope is in the Lord.

Psalm 33:20-22 NLT
“20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.”

Therefore, they will know we are Christians by our love and know we are evil by our selfishness.

Please agree with me in prayer, in love, for the people in our community who are bound by this fear.  Fear and worry weaken the immune system and can cause all diseases to spread more quickly and further. God is still ultimately in control. He’s got this and we need to pray it through and resist selfishness.

Thanks for reading – Be healthy and blessed – pray Psalms 91

Grace for the battle over your mind

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” NKJV – Philippians 4:8

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Amp – Philippians 4:8

Seems like just yesterday, none of us knew anyone who had contracted the Covid-19 virus. As I said, I live in New York State. Then the Governor decreed small businesses may only run at 50% capacity and no crowds over 500. Schools and colleges are shutting down, churches are closing, museums and Broadway has shut down, the business work for is initiating emergency protocol (I am in a healthcare field). I find myself with you all in this surreal landscape without education, arts, limited healthcare, and closed churches. And supplies are getting more and more sparse. Fear and worry and confusion have taken over the minds of so many. And I already know of a friend who has been exposed and is in actual home quarantine while the rest of us are in a state of social distancing.

I wrote about the sound mind the other day and yet I think everyone is losing their mind. Never have I thought we should not be wise and use wisdom in preventing the spread of disease – But I still can’t help but think this toilet paper shortage and shortage of supplies is over reacting.

“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV

How do we bring every thought into captivity of obedience? Some are worry and fear based on this virus, some are the situations in our life and some are our own battle with flesh. Well, start with focusing on the things we are told to think about; like Philippians 4:8 up there at the top.

And “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 KJV

This applies in fighting the battle in our minds created by the press coverage of this disease. This also applies to every area of your life, and my life. And believe me, it’s not easy!

I could say, because I am neuro-atypical, having the diagnosis of both ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome, that I am unable to harness my mind or bring it into captivity. I would be close to correct. In my fleshly nature I am not able to control much of my mind. I can hyper focus and get a bunch done (but my version of hyper focus means I am still thinking about a million things).  Most of them made-up scenarios where I work out problematic social situation – I am a tad socially awkward. I have heard that normal people do this too – just not at the same time as thinking other things.
These imaginations can get carried away. For example: I had a situation at work where a person became upset with me suddenly and seemingly without cause. I thought: how can I fix this?  I became fixated and in my mind ran imaginary dialog after dialog trying to find a favorable outcome. On a small scale it is a good coping technique. On a large scale – it drown out what God was telling me.
I saw 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 in my devotional and realized I needed to cast down my own imagination!!! Stop dwelling on the negative and imaginary situations that are just make-believe – and worship God. (Stop dwelling on the imaginary “what if” with this world pandemic; and I say imaginary, because it is not our reality at the moment.)
The next day I was supposed to meet with the upset person at my work (and had no idea how I was going to handle it – probably apologize), but she called out of work and stayed home. I went to tell my boss about it to see if my boss could assist with the situation. She already had.
See, I was trying to fix it when God already did. Cast down those imaginations, be it worry or fear motivated, or be it regarding your personal issues or the Coronavirus – Encourage your faith because GOD has already handled it!!

Every area! Did I say that?! Even the following area:
So, I have a flesh problem. Hard to confess, true none the less. Like the apostle Paul himself wrote about in Romans 7:19
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” KJV
And because of this the mind is a battle field of fighting for ground for Christ! We slip, we fall, it happens. (More on this flesh issue tomorrow)
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV
And while we take back ground in our minds fighting fear, worry, sin – thinking on the things of Philippians 4:8. And we begged for forgiveness of our sins but still remember them ourselves and feel unworthy of that glorious grace I keep trying to explain to you.

Seriously – I know this battle first hand and repeat “there is now no condemnation”!  There is just GRACE! GLORIOUS GRACE!!

So, instead of worrying we won’t have enough toilet paper for this pandemic, or letting our imagination create drama in our mind, or let our flesh struggle and sins keep us condemned only in our minds – let us instead mediate on the word of the Lord. Resisting the devil though mindfully filling our brains with scripture.
Like this one:

Psalm 103 Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.”

Let’s really read and fill our mind with all the good stuff in this passage, above and see who your mind belongs to after thinking about this all day. All day. Every time your mind starts to wander, read it again.

Be blessed and full of peace that passes understanding, and I pray the Lord God be the King and ruler of your heart, spirit, and your mind! (mine, too!) Thanks for reading.

A Grace-full Temper Tantrum

But I don’t want to obey – A three year old’s temper tantrum coming from this adult body minus the flailing arms and stomping feet…

Here it is Folks – This walking with God isn’t easy.

Sunday’s service was about faith.  I think, hey I am all about that Faith thing! God has given me the grace to Faith it through! Oh yeah!  I’m a faith girl! He turns to Hebrews 11!!! Whoo-hoo! Faith hall of fame! Someday I want to be in that hall of fame!  And he describes 4 types of faith.

First, believing when you do not see (Hebrews 11:1).  Ok, I got this. I believe God is working, even when I cannot see it! I believe that! I’m good I have it! I know it’s not easy for many but God will give you signs and reassurances in his word if you seek them.

Second, obeying when I don’t understand it (Heb. 11:7-8).  I never understand how God is doing it. Put the word obey aside and I have faith when I don’t understand!!! I am rocking this!

Third, giving when I don’t have (Heb 11:4). Well, I already told you I am in the midst of a financial crisis. I don’t have. I heard a guy at church say when he was convicted about not tithing and started to, and he and his family never even felt the pinch. They never noticed that 10% missing from their family’s budget.  I started tithing and I feel the pinch. I have to cut more out of my life and I was already running on the “without” side of the meter. God has been and keeps on providing. I believe; and tithe in faith of that promise. Look at me go!!! 3 for 3 in this hall of fame.

Finally, persisting when I don’t feel like it (Heb. 11:27). My inner cheerleader was silenced. … … … … .

I type away in faith. I do my bible studies on faith – because of the grace of it all and quite frankly grace and faith are sprinkled throughout the Bible. I stir up the faith like in 2 Timothy 1:6
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
These posts are meant to encourage me and you.
But then “when I don’t feel like it” hit a chord I was stirring loudly to drown out.

God has told me to pray for my cherished friend that he would restore his relationship with him and to restore my relationship with him.  I love my sweet man a whole lot (probably more than I have ever loved another) – and this sounds great! I obey, mostly. I persist, mostly.  I kind of kept a part back.
If restoration is to happen, then I have to work on me. I’m on fire over here speaking faith into every situation but I do not want to work on the broken hurting walled up depths of me.  Doesn’t God understand how deeply this man hurt me? Forgiveness is a battle I fight every day. Didn’t God read my post the other day about my struggle with Love?  I am doing a devotional book on love (or maybe it is doing its thing on me). It is hard. I’ve gotten to the point many times where I say – Lord, draw my friend to you, but not back to me. Then God reminds me of his will for me – and the things he has told me.

As I sit listening to the sermon, my sweet man is sitting next to me – because of some miracle he came to church with me. I should be rejoicing!!! Instead in the pit of my gut, turning, is the knowledge that he was out with another woman the night before.  He puts his arm around me, and I want so badly for that. But his arm was around another woman the night before. I want to say: “ya know what God? I prayed. I did as you told me. I am done. I don’t want to keep hurting. Find someone else to show him your love. Burden someone else with the weight of praying him into where you want him. I am too hurt.”

Wanna talk about the difference between conviction and condemnation? Cause what floods over me every time I want to say that is conviction!
I quickly rethink and say: “ok God, I’ll pray. But I don’t think I can ever get over all this hurt and broken trust. So, I’ll pray him to you. Not to me.”
Conviction again!!! It’s almost an audible voice, stern in tone, yet full of grace and mercy:
“Don’t you think I hurt? Don’t you think watching him put his selfish flesh before me hurts me? Don’t you think I am grieved by his arrogant attitude that his free-will is a rival to me? Don’t you think I want him too? Don’t you know I want that intimate relationship with him too? What do you think I did on the Cross? Blood, death, fighting the law set in place so that all can be saved <- don’t you think that hurt too?!?!”

By this point I am in tears. Yes, Lord. How does God tolerate me when I provoke him like this a bit lately?

Since Sunday I am still struggling. God has healed so much, but at this point the work in me must be done by me as well as by him. We have gotten deep enough that it is team work.  And as I struggle to persist and persevere – I realize it’s an obedience thing. And didn’t I write a whole post on being obedient in faith – by grace.  Awww that sweet grace to help me through this. That grace that strengthens faith!

Ephesians 2:8   “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”
Grace! And saving me from myself!!!
I know I have a long way to go until I can get into the Faith Hall of Fame, but by grace I shall persist, persevere.
Stirring myself up – Cause it’s not about my will being done. But God’s will being done.  As I said before: here I am, use me.
Apparently God is saying: Ok, in just a moment, I have to work on you a little bit first.

Thanks for reading; please pray for me while I battle my flesh and surrender more to God.  He will work all things for his glory and the good of those he cares for (like me and you).

Grace in Sickness

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV

Coronavirus – specifically Covid-19.  Let’s talk about this. I have remained silent, but enough is enough.  Yesterday was the highest death toll in one day since the beginning of this; most of them in Italy. I am located in the USA. 
Humans are always saddened by death and loss – I know this significantly. As a Christian, I know when I die, I get to go home to Heaven and hang out with Jesus, God, Angels and a bunch of Christians who got there before me. Glory!!!  I am also aware that those who may have lost someone to Covid-19 may not have the same assurances that their loved ones went to Heaven – and I grieve with you.  This is a terrible tragedy.  Let us therefore go boldly unto God for his grace during this time.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

Why is there panic and fear? Do we fear dying? Do we fear sickness? We are relatively healthy in the USA. Are we so healthy we forgot we are mortal? This spirit is not of God. And God gave us three to combat the spirit of fear!

He gave us the spirit of POWER:
” Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19 KJV
Let’s repeat that loudly for those in the back: nothing shall by any means hurt you! Maybe we forgot that our God is powerful and gave us his heavenly power?
“But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all,” Matthew 12:15 NAS
Yes, Jesus healed them ALL! And there is no reason he cannot do that here and now if we just laid hands on the sick and prayed in the name of Jesus.

He gave us the spirit of LOVE:
It is a spirit that can combat the spirit of fear! Love them who are over taken by the spirit of fear and love them up well!  Do not criticize them, just try to understand and be there for them. Encourage them in the Lord. Let me encourage you, if you know a Christian who is bound up in fear – send them a Bible verse on Love to encourage them and to them and anyone else in fear – just show God’s love.

He gave us a spirit of a SOUND MIND:
Fear not because… well because the Bible says so 365 times!
Most of us in the USA do not know anyone who has contracted it, let alone died of it. Calculating the statistical probability of dying from it, is such complex math that as of right now, no one is. This has too many variables to weigh in. But crude unweighted calculations based solely on the fact that we exist on earth is .00006118% and in the USA it is less at .00000947%.  There is a higher probability of being killed from a random lightning strike.

So, with a sound mind – does it make sense to panic?
Why are some people stocking up on supplies? Don’t they know we all need soap and cleaners in order to keep them safe as well?  Fear and selfishness!!!
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16
Oof! Every evil practice?!?! Oh Lord, let them know we are Christians by our love! Not by our fear induced selfishness!
“But there might be a shortage – I might not be able to get it in the future.” I heard a friend say.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

I am starting to realize we do not have a virus problem, we have a faith problem! We have a problem believing our God is powerful and in control.

Be encouraged, though, in the Lord. He will lift you up and strengthen you. Prayerfully ask to be more christlike and be obedient to God in all things. Thanks for reading this – be blessed in Christ Jesus.

Read and pray Psalm 91

Grace to help

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV

I went to an extra service this past week. The church I attend hosts a multi-church women’s group that meets once a quarter or so for fellowship, food, worship and to hear a guest speaker.  It’s always a lovely time.

Having yesterday’s verse tucked into my hat: to stand fast therefore in the liberty (other versions of the Bible use the word freedom instead of liberty) by which Christ has made us free.
The worship and praise portion of the service included so many songs about being free in Christ and God working out the rest.  I felt renewed and refreshed. 
God is good – it’s solid. I needed to just worship him and be renewed. I came home exhausted and fell right to sleep.

Then, I felt guilty for not spending time, before bed, praying and interceding on behalf of my friend. <- This guilt is not of God. It was not conviction to change and do better, it was condemnation.
Romans 8:1 NKJV “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
It is one thing to fall asleep after spending time with God, verses spending time skirting my responsibility to maintain my relationship God.  It’s not like I didn’t pray at all.

God gave me a time of refreshing, peace, and joy. Now I can recognize that guilty feeling as not of God and “come boldly” to him, “obtain mercy” and find more of that soul saving, life changing, inspirational “grace to help in time of need”.  And I am apparently needy. I need more of God in me! I need less of me, getting in the way of his plans. I need refreshing daily. I need his fires burning deep within.  I also have prayer requests – needs.
Philippians 4:19 grows in my heart as I depend on God – who will supply ALL my needs!!!
So, I was not interceding for my cherished friend one evening. As those whispers which brought in the guilt tried to convince me that because I did not pray specifically for my friend, God had forsaken him. I also did not hear from my friend as much as he usually messages. My flesh asks: is this a good sign or a bad sign? And if I ask God or not, he has answered me in His Word:
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8 NKJ
I praise the Lord that he will never leave of forsake me – I have prayed that God chase down my friend like the shepherd who left the 99 and went and brought back the one lost sheep (Luke 15: 3-7) and I have assurance he will not leave or forsake my friend.  My God goes before me – he made a way for me to be renewed so I can pick back up with intercession, renewed! God has started a good work in my friend and shall complete it!
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 NKJV
Why do I have this confidence? Because I prayed (and believe): Dear Heavenly Father, Please do a good work in my friend in the name of Jesus. – Amen
And another day I prayed and believe:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for beginning a good work in my friend. Although I cannot see it, I know you have begun it. I ask that according to your word, that you will complete it in the name of Jesus. – Amen

Therefore I need no guilt for spending time worshiping and not bringing prayer requests to him – he already has my requests in his hands and is doing a good work. All I need is that sweet grace, such sweet grace that saved my soul!

However, today is a new day. It’s time to go “boldly unto the throne of grace,” it’s time to intercede again.  That’s my friend and I am not leaving him behind!

Still thinking on Galatians Chapter 5 – the blessed freedom, the love, the instruction on walking with God (in the spirit), and the fruits of the spirit – I have studied and spoke of all these things here.  And I have saved the best for last. AND remember there is now NO condemnation in Christ Jesus – if you or I feel convicted, then we must ask for forgiveness and change through the grace of Christ.

Let us prayerfully read the 3 verses, below. Pray that God help us to turn from these things, so that the fruits of the spirit may grow in us (fruits are gifts that God grows in us).  Let us also, as we read these pray that God keeps us from temptation and delivers us from these evils (Matthew 6:13) including the evils of these things in our friends and family.  The following passage (we are about to pray while reading) says that people who practice those things shall not inherit heaven – and therefore if we are praying for a lost or back-slidden loved one or family member, then we should pray against these things in their lives so that they can be saved!

So let us pray as we read – against these things in our life and in other’s lives:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 19-21

Lord, keep us from these things and protect us from these things in the Name of Jesus – Amen

Thank you for reading. Have a blessed day in the freedom of Christ.  

Freedom and love through grace

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

Oh the grace of God, through Christ Jesus to help me!!

This has been a surprisingly difficult time. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it. So I struggled – I prayed – I read – I cried out to God.  And verse after verse of encouragement came my way and I’d hold it for a moment and then seemingly forgetting it – I would fall back into struggle. There are times like this in our relationship with Jesus. God is patient and will keep giving us what we need. He will not walk away or give up on us.

My physical eyes see some of my circumstances getting worse. How do I hold onto my faith and the promises God has for me? The verse above is the simple answer – stand fast and don’t revert to our old ways. Simple, but not easy so God provides that grace to endure (that grace again!!! That beautiful grace!)

My mother told me many times in rage (one of her struggles) that she didn’t love me. And no matter how many times she then said that she did, it did not matter because I was already broken. My father said he loved me, but then stopped speaking with me. Every relationship, ended. And it is all summed up with a solid logical conclusion: I am unlovable. Many have tried to love me and many have failed.  

I have been beat, covered with bruises. I have been sexually abused in many ways. I have been psychologically abused, living in fear, and additionally, I internalized to the point where I abused myself.  I am unlovable and this is the normal.  But then, in God – through Christ – I am broken free and I am loved by Abba Father!!!

I did not stand fast in my freedom these past few days. On my birthday many of those people I think I am closest to did not call, did not acknowledge, cancelled plans to see me, I ended up spending that evening alone with two gifts from my co-workers – none from my family and friends. And the gifts and acknowledgements from loved ones came rolling in later. (And it is not about the gift and acknowledgments, but the love it represents.) And at least 100 people said “happy birthday” on social media. But all the blessings and “I love you”s were again cancelled out by the feeling of being unlovable. (The old me. What I grew up with. What I spent a life time living.)  The enemy began an attack on my weakness. 
I fought it off – being determined and encouraging myself in the lord. But at some point yesterday I broke. I bawled. I declared myself unlovable and did not make time to read and pray. (I had a hiccup with the blog posting on Sunday and Sunday’s post was on Monday and no one would have noticed that I did not do my bible time yesterday).  I was weak – I was a mess

”That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV

God loves me so much that as this attack rages, he says: “this is a good moment to teach you to let this old way die. You are a new creature in Christ. I have great plans for you that are bathed in love!” (2 Cor. 5:17, Jer. 29:11 & 1 John 3:1)

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

Abide in love – Stand fast in the liberty and my liberty is love – anyone else making the connection?

The sweet grace that flows to me from Galatians chapter 5:

After declaring me free, starting in verse 7 God reminds me that love fulfills his calling and purpose.  This love the enemy robbed from me – God’s love for me and other shall through Jesus Christ, flow through me for His glory!!

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16

Walk? Like a ghost/spirit? No – walk like how we describe being a Christian as a “walk with the Lord”.  This verse is encouraging us to stay reading and praying. Stay focused on the Lord and his unseen promises as well as thanking him for the seen blessings.

If I had focused and did my next chapter of Bible reading when I was supposed to – Galatians chapter 5 was there for me during this time. I was distracted and held a pity party for myself – when God had planned this blessing.

I have been praising, thanking God for the gifts and acknowledgments I have received – focusing on the love God provided from me and not on fallible people.  God really in the answer to everything!

Love! It is my promise!

Walk in freedom my new friends and be love. You just don’t know how badly someone needs it. Thanks for reading.

His Grace makes me who I am

Believer” by Rhett Walker

“I walk a bit different now
Now that my heart’s been found
Nothing really feels the same
I hold my head a bit higher
I lift my voice a bit louder
Yeah, something inside has changed

“I am a mountain mover – Water walker
More than just an overcomer
Cause I’ve been set free
I am a gospel preacher – Heart on fire
Freedom singing – Testifier
Cause I’ve been redeemed
I am a believer
I am a believer

“I know this is not my home
I know I don’t walk alone
No matter what comes my way
I have peace through the trouble
I have joy though the struggle
And now my hope’s in a brighter day

“I am a child of the Father
An orphan, no longer
No doubt about who I am
I’m in the hands of the Healer
The arms of the Savior
His grace makes me who I am”

“His Grace makes me who I am” ~Amen!!
“So you are no longer a slave, but a [daughter], and if a [daughter], then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:7 ESV [Verse says ‘son’ not ‘daughter’ – I personalized it]
I am God’s daughter and my daddy is bigger and victorious over my struggle!

Today was an interesting day.  I normally eat low sugar and very healthy; and friend/co-worker all know I eat healthy – so my co-workers got fruit today (since I usually do not eat the food at our team gatherings).  I was thankful for their thoughtfulness and may have overindulged – Sugar rush!!! Then sugar crash!! Then the kick while I was down. Lemme tell you about it:

I am praying for so many big thing – I have mountains to move, I have water to walk on, I have to testify and bear witness of what God is doing! I’m on quite the mission over here. I keep myself encouraged in the Lord. I keep making myself focus on what I believe and not what I see.

And I (on my sugar crash and so tired) stumbled over a deep pain and learned it still hurts to the point where my heart raced and my tummy turned.
I am praying for a friend who has hurt me – a lot. Probably more than I can put into words. And so many times I don’t want to pray for him. I want to cut him off. I want my fleshly answer. But then… God reminds me I need to act Christ-like. I need to show love.

I got in my car at the end of my work day, still feeling the hurt. And… the above song is on the radio right at the beginning of the first chorus. I thanked God for encouraging me and reminding me I am his daughter!
“But by the grace of God I am what I am,” 1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV

“What the enemy meant for evil, you turn it for good!!” and as the next song came on God took that pain and used it remind me of a few things:

  1. By my faith, and because I know that my prayers are prayed according to His Word and in the name of Jesus, the prayers prayed for my friend who has hurt me are answered with God’s grace and mercy – as well as my continued healing. Cause the enemy meant to knock me down today, slow me down, and maybe even stop me; and at that point I dug in deep with prayer winning back my joy and making progress in the heart of my friend (by faith).
  2. God used it to remind me how bad my friend was, how far my friend has come (and of course I am focused on how far he has to go). But for the first time I see how far he has come. I have a praise report here – Thank you Jesus!! It may be slow, small changes but they are happening!!
  3. And I was reminded how God is close to the broken hearted (Psalms 34:18) and when I cry, he cries with me (John 11:35). And when we think about this in this particular situation – we see some parallels:
    I love my friend. I want him to get his life right and our friendship restored.
    God loves my friend and wants him to get his life right and their relationship restored.
    I hurt because of choices my friend makes.
    God hurts over choices my friend makes.
    I pray fervently for my friend, and Jesus intercedes diligently for my friend, and the Holy Spirit cries and prevails for my friend, and God is doing everything in His power to draw my friend.

This is a deeper grace, to truly share in the pain God has over a lost sheep. This graces strengthens and moves me. I hope everyone can experience this.

Knowing I would be knocked around a little today, God sent me a verses today. I saw this verse in different places and in different Bible versions throughout the day:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalms 40:1-2 NIV

The first time I saw it, I paused and thanks God for doing this for me and added a quick thanks for being in the process of doing this for my friend.

The second time I saw it, I paused and said – isn’t that funny.

The third time, was just before I sat down to do my bible study, and I thought I better pray it again: Lord I wait patiently, THANK YOU for hearing me and showing me your grace when I cry. Right now, Heavenly Father, please lift my friend out of the slimy pit, mud and mire as you have done for me!! Please set his feet on a rock with a firm place to stand – Lord, if you can do it for someone as sinful and stubborn as me, then please continue your work of doing it for my friend! Manifest your power for the glory of Christ and in his name – that more shall be saved. ~Amen!

Today got a little muddy for me. The pain was great and I cannot express how badly I wanted to hurt him back and to walk away. If not for the grace of God, I was able to hold my tongue and walk away. The pain kept me down and discouraged for a moment, but God pulled me out of it and placed me on a Rock with worship music to praise him and be comforted.

Be blessed knowing that the grace of God extends when you are sad and hurting – he is there to share in it with you. He hears you.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 NKJV
God will finish his work in you, me and in my friend.

Gracious Armor

Ephesians 6: 10-18 KJV “10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”

The armor of God. Don’t run headlong into battle without it on. Read it, reread it, and get it on you. It is time to pray – it is time to join the battle. All the various grace which our Heavenly Father provides for us include armor – protection. How he cares for us makes my heart swell.

I present to you a small handful of verses, below, to sharpen your sword. Study them, memorize them, be strengthened by them and mediate on them. I have no commentary with these. (Except to say Acts 26:18 makes a great prayer if you change a couple words and insert the name of your unsaved love ones.)

I often use many different versions of the bible in my posts (and I am not looking for a fight regarding which version is best). Today all the verses are in the King James Version. This is because I was in a Bible Quiz club as a youth and we had to memorize full books of the Bible in King James Version.  I use it for my studying and reading because I am most familiar with it.  Now that every version is available at our finger tips online – I often look up verses to see the different versions. When posting I copy one, usually without much rhyme or reason, other than many people feel the King James Version is difficult to understand. So if you find these difficult to understand or memorize, I have put the reference at the beginning so you can more easily copy the reference and look it up in any version you wish.
Thank you for reading ~ please enjoy these.

Mark 3:14-15 KJV “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils”

Matthew 10:1 KJV “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”

Luke 10:19-21 KJV “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

Matthew 10:8 KJV “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”

Acts 26:18 KJV “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

James 4:7 KJV “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Ephesians 4:27 KJV “Neither give place to the devil.”

Mark 16:17-20 KJV “17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”

Faith is diligently seeking Him

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

I returned to my relationship with God because I screwed things up. I needed God to fix what could be fixed – and sadly one thing could not be fixed.  Please understand that it isn’t self-condemnation or misplaced guilt when I say there is a direct correlation to my sinful life and the death of a family member (which I have only mentioned briefly in the past here).  It is a cold hard fact, but one that does not bring guilt or condemnation – it turned me to Christ for grace, faith and new life.  And I hear the whisper of my past say: “What’s next? When things are going well, will I walk away from God again?”

First of all, God forbid!
Second of all – I have not actually seen the things fixed yet that I came here to see fixed. Yes, a year later and my fleshly eyes do not have the prizes I came for. My loved one is still dead and I still grieve. I still struggle at work with the same issues – it is quiet (today) but every time I think it is finally going well, something happens. I still have a financial crisis and large dollar needs. Although my ex wants me back, he doesn’t want to give up his sins (which happen to be a huge turn-off and hard no for me anyway) and have the relationship with Christ that God has called him to have making it impossible right now for us to reconcile.  My adult child is still living at home and struggling.
AND, my prayer list of needs have increased as I have met other Christians who have prayer requests and I have been lead to intercede in prayer for things.

As God is growing me, all these things seem to naturally fade and I find myself hungry for God. The verse above – Faith is diligently seeking God.
Think about it – chew on it – eat this up! That is why faith is the only way to please him!

God’s love drew me. Grace sprinkled by faith carried me to God, faith sprinkled with grace propelled me to obedience (which really turns out to be the evidence of love). And then I learn that ‘more faith’ is the power to move – and I seek more faith, just to learn it is so simple and not that complicated – faith is diligently seeking God. Let it sink in.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

Simple and grace-full. Seeking God is the faith that moves mountains!

However, I also grow impatient.  Not in waiting for my promises, no. I am impatient with the enemy’s tired tactics. Granted his methods have worked since forever, but Jesus and the apostles had authority over it and so do we.

I sought God and found a relationship with him! A real relationship. Two way relationship. He talks to me and I talk to him. THIS IS REAL, PEOPLE!!! If I am blessed materially or with the answers to my prayers matters not! I have met an actual God – The Actual God! and He loves me and he gave me authority!

Why aren’t we all fired up about this? Why do I feel like the only one getting excited? Open eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to understand, dear Lord!!! And let me ask you again – why aren’t we all so excited we are just seeping Jesus out of our pores? At work we are not to share our political and religious views in case we offend – but my testimony and witness keep seeping out of my mouth. I cannot help it.

Today is the day of salvation – now is the time!!! Let’s light this thing up, people!!!

I had a friend tell me it’s different and easy for me – as if! I have been to the edge of hell and back, and had a year of the trying of my faith.  But…

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1Peter 1:7-9 KJV

PRAISE THE LORD!!! Who is real, and powerful and transformative!

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11

“and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b KJV

Thanks for reading – stick around because something tells me my story is about to get good! Be blessed!

Giving myself

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2 NKJV

I am a ride or die kind of person. So let’s ride, ride hard! It’s my birthday and that means gifts!!! Last few post have been about what gifts God can give and what gifts God wants from us. (Of course they aren’t all-inclusive lists in the posts; I do try to keep these short.) 

I talked about the verse above and making the offering to God, as He offered his son, and gifts we can give to him.  I did not talk about the sacrifice part though.

Sacrifice – according to a quick internet search it’s an act of slaughtering or surrendering. Merriam-Webster says “the act of giving up something that you want to keep”
In the bible however, Old Testament sacrifices were blood spilled to cover the sins of people.  The New Testament, Jesus’s death is the blood sacrifice which is so powerful, it doesn’t just cover sins – it washes them away. Clearly, life is the sacrifice.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV
Jesus foreshadowed his death when he said the above verse. However, didn’t every last apostle die for Christ?  I think you might get where I am going with this.
My brother signed up for the military and when he did he gave himself to them with everything up to and including his life.  Thankful my brother is still alive, and still enlisted.  He understand this sacrifice in a significant way.
I have to ask: Am I willing to die for Christ? I mean, he did die for me.

The good news is he wants us to die to sin, to our old ways, to the person we used to be and not your actual life. (however I pray that if it was asked of me, I would say “Thy will” and die with the same grace that has brought me here and sustained me)
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11 KJV
Read Romans 6 – all of Romans 6! Good stuff!! So Good!! So sacrifice my sin, become a new creature in Christ as my sacrifice. And what shall be my offering?
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Romans 6:13 NIV
Sweet and salty scriptures here. Life and death – how much am I giving? and how difficult it is!  It might be easier to die some bloody death than to figure out how to get my fleshly sinful nature to die and stay dead! Just an hour ago I stubbed my toe and curse words flew from my mouth! (I thought I had broken the habit of cursing.)  So many sins, so many are habits, so many just are.  I am a pretty bad person, I know, it’s hard to believe – I have done some pretty bad things.  How do I stop?!?!  And here comes that grace again! That grace all tangled up with faith that sustains as God helps to purify me, to “continue to work out [my] salvation with fear” (Philippians 2:12 NIV)

Therefore my gift today, it is me! As he makes me into who I am supposed to be in Him.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Not sure what God sees in me – but he thinks I’m a pretty good gift. And I can give ‘me’ to him over and over again every day and every minute of every day. 

Thank you for reading – may God bless you and keep you.