Sacrificing

praying woman

Philippians 1: 12-21

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12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Chained, empty, and trapped in prison.  Paul has given his sorrows, his hopes, and his own pain up to Christ.  He had rejoiced in this situation in which escape was not seen. Writing to other believers explaining that in his pain God’s word is being shared to the world.  He had found joy?  No matter if he continued to live or die, he lived in Christ.

Can I live this way?

Do I give up my dreams?  Do I give up my hopes?  Do I let go of the nagging feeling that tugs to fulfill a goal?

This pull at times is like an anchor that draws me deeper into the darkness of the sea where the light is splintered.  My selfish desires will often explain the pull as God’s call, yet the emptiness that follows causes unanswered questions.

Is this the call of the Lord and how will I know?

The litmus test comes when we release the clinging rope from our arms that draws us to the goal.  Clear our minds.  Sit still.  Read the Word.  Listen.

Answers will come.  Then we will know what path God wants us to take.  Unfortunately, our path may be to a prison, an unexpected purging, a cleansing of worldly things and people.   His whispers may be to bask in what He has already given us and remain in the moment, or to take care of the blessings by filling them with His love.

Sacrificing all the desires that haunt our hearts and laying them down at Christ’s feet is Paul’s example.  Honoring Him and proving our faithfulness. Giving and humbling with rejoicing.  Even through the pain, sorrow, confusion, or restlessness clings, joy will wash us clean if Christ is in us.

Psalm 51: 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

As I allow God to show me necessary sacrifices, I stay close to His words.  I slow down my life and hear His voice.  His words whisper, “Dear one, you are chasing something that will not lead you to me.  No matter what you rationalize as answer to your emptiness, you will not find me.”

Our true filling comes when we offer up each desire as a perfect sacrifice to our amazing Lord.  In turn, He will be pleased and say, “You are my beloved and faithful servant.  I will take care of you and never forsake you.”

Romans 12: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

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Greener Pastures

open-bible-man-walking1sm

Deuteronomy 4: 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

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Our lives as Christians are a room without a roof.  Open to the possibilities, blessings, and guidance from above.  Yet, this room has doors.  Each door leads to the outside world .  A door to obtain entertainment, people, places, and things.  Free will allows us to exit and enter at any time.  We can even chose to live outside or bring items into the room.

Luke 12:30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

I have sat in this roofless room many times and felt, let’s just say dissatisfied.  I have been impatient when I have had unanswered prayers.  Frustration has caused me to see the greener grass that peeks so slightly from the doors.  My insatiable need for adventure has made me open a door or two.  There has even been times when I am on my knees pleading for answers and all I have received is silence.

The walls seem confining.  The world seems inviting.  So, I go.

I have ventured out seeking to find what will fill the emptiness I have felt as I impatiently waited.

Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

At times I go fishing.  Throw out the hook and hope to real in something.  It haphazardly brings something back and I can stand a distance from the world so not to become sucked into the muck.  This approach keeps my morals and values intact.  I find this the safest way to seek but not the most fulfilling.

Other times I go out and set some traps.  This causes me to mix and mingle in the world a bit closer and lay something out and hope what I need and want walks into my trap.  Unfortunately, I have to set aside my morals and values during this passive aggressive process but can pick them up later when I get what I want.

In desperate moments I have resorted to force.  Aggressively tracking down the want and claiming it without its consent.  My want may be met, but  I will loose myself in this method.  It is harder to come back into the room since guilt settles in the place of values.

Bags are filled and I drag the items into my Christian quarters.  It piles up and soon the roofless room is closed up not allowing any light to penetrate.  Panic and suffocation fill my lungs and the only way to breathe comes from opening up a door.  It all becomes too much, too busy and desperation falls just to find that one thing that will shed light on the situation.

Darkness rolls in like a dense fog.  Oh, God where are you?

Nothing works.  Breathlessly grasping each item shaking it to produce light.  On my hands and knees out of the corner of my eye I spot a warm glow.  I move things aside and gently brush off the dust from a soft leather cover.  I open it hesitantly and rays of light fill parts of the room.  As I gaze upon the words of the Bible and decipher the ancient script,  a beam of light hits a specific item in the room yet allowing me to see all the clutter that fills my existence.

John 11:9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.

Our God and Lord wants to rid of us of our “stuff”.  Each thing that separates us will be brought to the forefront.  As we stay wholeheartedly in the word and His guidance, we will be able to stand tall and open the door to rid ourselves of these things.  The roof will open and God will supply all the necessities we need one by one.  If our heart is dedicated and pure to His ways, we shall be full and complete.  Our lives will be filled with joy and unending peace.  No more traps and hunting.  If we deny, he will provide.  Let go of the “I want” and embrace the “I release”.

John 6: 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

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Telling & Teaching

Healing

Matthew 9:35  Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

John 13: 19-20 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

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To tell is to reveal information.  To teach is the act, occupation, practice, or profession of a teacher.  Jesus accomplished both in His time.  His life perpetuated what God wanted so that His beloved could be redeemed.  Sin was being made in His name and Jesus was the only way towards a future salvation.  What can we take away from Jesus’s walk in faith, obedience, and dedication?

As I live out my life, I find that often I do a lot of telling.  I speak the words that boil down deep and need to bubble up to the surface.  The words I say are often wrought with emotion and determination.  At times, I rationalize that they are said in love.  Other times, I quietly retreat and realize that sin was encased in each syllable that was spewed.

In situations I guard my words and parcel them out carefully, the conversation feels halted and unnatural.  The reactions of those around me seem to look at me in a trance seemingly trying to figure out what I have just said.  It is also painful to continue this kind of dialogue, avoidance becomes the answer.  People are now a job which I don’t want to partake.

When my words are from God, I see a difference.  The conversation happens unknowingly and full of meaning.  The recipient is open and God seems to be present.  This only occurs when I remain tapped in to His ways, His words, and His grace.  Honestly, I have to admit that speaking in this manner is a rarity.  I don’t stay connected enough for the full benefit.

How do we live in this state?

Our lives are to be not just preaching words, they are to bring life to the gospel. It is our responsibility.  We are to read, pray, go, and give.  His words breathe life into ours.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Yet, in my moment of stillness, I often sit back and listen to words and try to internalize their meaning in my life.  A slow and thoughtful meditation which will often produce thoughts and things to right.  Then comes the fast and furious pace of busyness and those deep inner soul quenching ideas, drift slowly to the back of a cavern of to dos for another day.

Do what it says the Lord.  The teaching comes when I embrace the change.  I act upon the suggestions from God.  I then become the teacher to those around, watching to see my next move or speak words of peace.

Matthew 28: 18-22 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

All Christians need to be the change.  We need to rise up out of our comfy environments and act out His will.  Take steps into an unknown adventure.  Instructions will be provided, answers will be given, and authority granted in His name.

One day when I take my last breath, I want to know that I changed the hearts of people in our father’s great name.  This is our destined legacy where we are the teachers and the disciples.  Our lives have great purpose.  This is our mission, to rescue one soul at a time by pointing to heaven for all answers.

Colossians 2: 6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

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Division is our Demise

splitting wood

Mark 3: 24 NIV

24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.

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God will provide; not divide.  But, how often do we become ensnared by the enticing allure of daily bouts of division.  Our homes, jobs, and daily routines are fraught with division.  It tries to seem fair and just.  Yet buried beneath it’s deception, it was bred from fear, competition, selfishness, and evil desires.  I have argued with the idea and played around with making the division seem just what was needed in a situation.

Is this what we as Christians are suppose to be a part of?

The simple idea is taking one whole and separating it into equal parts.  One for you and one for me.  No one can deny the simple truth that this will create harmony if done with precision.

In the beginning when the church was just getting its feet wet and leaders were determining the coarse they would take in the new faith, division was afoot.  The bible gives us clear direction as to how to function.

1 Corinthians 12: 21-26 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Each person in our union of faith has a part to uphold.  No one is more needed or less worthy.  All necessary in how we function in unison.  If one is separated, the whole body dies.  Yes, it will die.  Our faith, our strength, our connection with our Lord will fall and become lost in the broken world.

Each of us must realize that when a separation happens, God’s power here on earth weakens.  He is still present, but we are not.

When this separation occurs, complacency, confusion, misunderstanding, and chaos begin to form.  It starts gently, but then the chasm is so large, isolation is the outcome.

I have been a part of this outcome.  Too many times I have been drawn away from fellow Christians by life.  In addition, I have watched as opinions, misunderstandings, and the lack of empathy can drive situations into a state of complete futility.

Who loses? Everyone.

Who wins? Satan.

Colossians 3:12-15 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful

Since we are his beloved, our state of being must be one that upholds His words.  These words call for unfairness.  If one person sins and takes another’s peace, it is to be repaid with grace, humility, and patience.  If this person repeats an offense or believes that your way is not the way it should be, you are to forgive and bind it up with love.

Our only recourse in all of this unfairness, is prayer.  Lifting our requests for understanding and peace.  Lifting our request for fairness and truth to prevail.  Lifting up our sinful decisions to repay what has occurred with righteousness and discord.

I yearn for this peace. The peace of the mountain-top.  The peace that transcends all understanding.  Yet, our great Lord wants us to live in the valley.  Live where shattered men, women and children slice the peace with jagged edges cutting its flesh.  It causes such pain at times, but our great father in heaven knows that it is only temporary.  As we take the hits, He takes his healing hand eliminating its presence.  We move on and show others that nothing can separate us from our God.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

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This is a Test

Air Cav infantry Soldiers compete in company challenge

Psalm 139: 23-24

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Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

One moment I am running freely basking in God’s love and the next I am knee deep in mud with obstacles surrounding every path.  Downtrodden and weak.  How can this be?  I pick up my cross daily and connect with the Lord as much as my day will allow.  This was suppose to be a joyous experience, full of unexplained peace.

Life happens to move in such a way that comfort follows disruption in a majestic dance without a lead.  

The barriers that enter my life are not ones I want to entertain.  Most of them are unresolved feelings that have been so nicely contained and covered by forced appeasement. They lie and wait, unexpectedly raw when they are provoked.

1 James 2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Find joy in the trial?  When a hurtful event occurs and it seems to have no justification, how can we find joy?

My first gut reaction in these situations, flight.  I curl into myself and replay the experience like a silent movie.  Analyzing every move of each of the actors in the scene.  What did I do to provoke the reaction?  How could I have handled myself to avoid this type of situation in the future? 

This behavior begins to settle in and my fear of people begins to take shape followed by the untamed emotions of hurt and embarrassment.  How do I find acceptance and appreciation in the people around me?

Where is the joy?

Matthew 10: 13-14  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Finding the joy and peace comes when we recognize how our trials lead to testimonies. When the trial shows up at our doorstep uninvited, we are to leave it and shake it off.  Turn our back and follow Jesus.  Listen for His righteousness and grace to soothe the pain.  Then, allow His words to fill our hearts so that we can begin to identify weaknesses in our faith.  

My weakness; an insatiable need for acceptance.  I have seen this undo many relationships, entice  isolation, and secure a lock to the openness I need to have with my Lord and Savior.  

The testimony is created when others see how we handle ourselves and don’t allow it to demean our faith.  

Lean.  Pray.  Listen.  Wait.  

They will see our Lord.  They will see grace.  They will see His mighty hand protect us and allow us to walk through the fire.  We just need to be still and know.

Exodus 14: 14  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

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Investments

Luke 12: 33-34

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Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Our world view of investing involves many facets of our day to day lives.  The driving force is behind investing in our future.  This determines the comfort in which we may live when our life slows down and our end draws near.  We spend time investing in our jobs, our status, our knowledge, our accomplishments to secure a spot in the hierarchy.  Unfortunately, this only fulfills a want and never a need.

Not only do we monetarily focus on our future, but we also hyper focus on our self image, our memories, our schedules, our feelings, and our possessions.  These all lead us to earthly slavery.  Slaves to an unending trail of bread crumbs to a deep pit of despair.

As Christians our worship of God becomes muddled as we grasp onto our ties to this theory.  Worshiping idols alongside our savior.

Luke 16: 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The one and only investment that pays with dividends is our savior.  We are called to invest in Him and invest in His people.  Why people?

Philippians 2: 3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

As we develop our faith in Christ, we need to know that our purpose here is not to maintain a comfortable existence.  Our purpose is to keep God’s people from falling into the wrong hands.  We need to bring all to Christ with a humble heart and forgiving way.

As we reconsider our investments, we need to remember that our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors, and those we yet to know are all His people.  The love for them is insurmountable. His sheep are not to go astray.

Luke 15: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

When I am loosing sight of my purpose, I hang onto His words.  I know that I am one of His sheep. He isn’t leaving me and I too should gently direct others to Him.

As we strive to get through the gates of heaven and invest in growing His kingdom, we will be greeted with opens arms knowing that our lives helped save.  Each life precious and important.  We should leave no one behind.

I can only pray that my life can bare witness to His unstoppable love that engulfs and transforms.  A love that will fill every need and create a greater want to knowing Him.

Psalm 63: 1  You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

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Hide and Seek

child-hiding-behind-tree

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

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13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Playing a simple game like hide and seek.  I’ll hide Lord and you can seek me.  Count to 10 and then call, “Ready or Not, here I come!”   

Simply find me since today I have to hide.  I will hide from others, hide from myself, hide from my path, and hide from you for just a bit.  I will be hiding from my sin just like Adam and Eve.  I’ll come out when you call.

As time goes on Lord, I don’t hear you. Are you still there?

Psalm 88:14 Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

There are days in which I just want to retreat into my own world.  I want the comfort of my home.  Stepping out into the world just seems exhausting and frustrating.  I need to keep myself safe.  This is where I can be me, all messy and content being alone.

Unfortunately, I want to hide but I have to chose to seek.  I need to recognize that even if I take cover, the Lord sees and knows all. I need to seek Him with an open heart for His merciful love.  His love is never-ending, yet mine is undependable to say the least. 

The outcome of my commitment to push through this need to escape is knowing that the close relationship with my good father outweighs the discomfort.  The discomfort I ultimately want to avoid is the thought of dealing with the world.  Oh, how painful it is being a Christian in a broken world. The pull, the heartache, the chaos, and the temptation. It takes its toll on us and disconnects us from hearing God’s whispers when we listen to its shouts.  

What do we do?  Do we find an out?

Luke 5:15-16

15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When Jesus felt the pressure of His duty, he sought refuge with His father.  He went and prayed. Our duty is to go into the world, heal the sick, bring food to the hungry, and offer the love we have received.  If it becomes overwhelming, the answer lies here.  Just pray.

My prayer life picks up when I see a need.  I often pray for answers.  Yet, do I pray before, after, and during my interactions in the world?  This is where my relationship needs some repair.  I hide, but He stands waiting for me to seek Him for everything.

Not only do I need to increase the prayers, but I also need to understand what His expectations are of me in this world.  

Matthew 25 31-40

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

In this we learn that our responsibility is to take care of the Lord’s people.  Not just the people who surround us and are like us. It is the hungry, thirsty, and the complete stranger.  It’s the person who makes us uncomfortable.  It’s the person who seems beyond redemption.  It’s the person who we may even fear.  But, the power of the spirit comes when we meet the needs of the “least of these”.  This is looking into the eyes of another and seeing your brother, sister, mother, father, and child.  You feel their pain and empathize towards their trial.  You love them as our Lord loves us.  When they see this type of grace, our father knows we are appreciative of His love.  He knows we are committed to the relationship.  This is when we feel a connection beyond words.  It is a feeling of complete joy wrapped in an understanding of how we can bring heaven to earth.

When the world says, “I am beyond restoration!  Leave me to my sin.”  We return it with, “I love you anyway.”

Luke 8:16

16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

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Worship & Commitment

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Romans 12: 1-2   

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Commitment is the foundation of faith.   It allows us to build a solid belief and it stabilizes our lives.  Yet, suddenly this foundation acquires a small fracture.  One so minuscule.  The world’s views cause these types of cracks which widen and chip away at our commitment.  

Our focus becomes centered on the fractures and how to stop them from growing, that our whole commitment to faith falters and our foundation collapses.  

The pieces of our committed faith lie scattered and fragile.  Seemingly incapable to be used to rebuild what we once possessed. 

Our gracious God and loving Lord, carpenter by trade, can pass us the tools to reconstruct this committed faith.  Our human hands need to get dirty and grab each piece, tenderly molding it, placing firmly on the ground, and layering it one on top of the other with patience and purpose.  

As we begin to rebuild, questions are often pondered. Why am I taking the time and energy to start again?  What will I receive as an outcome? Why do I worship a God who makes me work so hard for a heavenly reward?

My early walk in faith began with worship that consisted of many rules, traditions, and guilt ridden expectations.  I worshiped out of selfish gain.  But, today do I worship…

to get to heaven?  to please God?   to receive blessings?  to witness miracles?  to accumulate answered prayers?   to have peace and joy?  or to be protected?

My commitment to worship and building are often muddled by my questions and preconceived expectations of faith.  I push through only to find myself patching cracks. Over and over in a never-ending cycle.  

The reality of our dedication to faith and belief in God our King of Kings is that we should do it all for Him.

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

I repair to show others how to mend. I fracture to show others how to restore. I remodel to show others how to change.  I listen to show others how to avoid collapse.  I worship unconditionally because I am loved without stipulations or conditions.  

My commitment is what He wants.  I need to wholeheartedly worship and build to prove that I want the relationship.  In that beautiful relationship, I receive blessings as a byproduct.  

The time I spend in the morning and in the evening speaking with my dear Jesus, are a small way to maintain and keep my relationship fresh.  I know there is even more if I read His word and follow His guidance in all situations.  This gives Him the evidence He needs to see how dedicated I am to the future of His kingdom.  Risking, Growing, and Striving towards the love, for the one who loves my brokenness. I offer this to all of mankind because He is committed to my salvation. 

1 Chronicles 16: 23- 31 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
28 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”

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Love Is

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1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (NIV)

Biblegateway.com

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The never-ending love story.  The love of our lives.  The love that will see us through.  The love we feel for others.  The love of the game.

Our world strives to acquire this love and it often rests upon how we “feel”.  I know I have been there too many times to count, looking for it under every nook and cranny.  I sought after people, places, and things.  It came on strong and then withered away.  When the emptiness sank in my soul, and the darkness fell, I would try to feel my way through the darkness.  How often do we do this to survive?  

In this darkness feelings rule.  Hurt.  Offended.  Appreciated.  Justified.  

Each feeling leads to another.  An endless circle of chasing what feels right and good.  I have been caught in this unending cycle.  I have been hurt and then tried to seek out appreciation.  I have been taken advantage of and then sought after power.  I have been offended and then dedicated myself to being helpful and righteous.   

A constant wall would stop progress, and my tired weary hands feeling for a crack or gap to navigate around.  This is not how to find the love we all seek.

When light comes in to the darkness, the only love we need is God’s.  He shows us the paths and warms us through His spirit.

Love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment to walking in this light.  Taking His steps, doing things His way.

Loving when it’s hard… to stand.  Loving when it’s easy… to walk away.  

Loving when it hurts and refuses to reciprocate.  Loving when it’s dull and exhausted.  

1 John 3:16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We should love without strings attached.  Often times we want something before we give something.  Jesus gave it freely and so should we.  Love your spouse, Love your child, Love your neighbor, and Love yourself with this lens.  

His truth in His word cuts the strings and allows us to know this true love.  A love that endures All things and Never ends.  

1 Corinthians 13 4-7  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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Eye for an Eye

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Biblegateway.com

Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In 18th century B.C. a Babylonian King named Hammurabi created laws to assist Mesopotamia to justly deal with crime.  One law, now described as the “eye of an eye”, stated that if someone wronged you, then that person was also to be punished in the same manner.  Death for death, injury for injury, pain for pain.

In the Old Testament the early laws were established in Exodus 21:24-25 which stated; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

In the 20th century A.D a revolutionary leader in South Africa Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” He was concerned and determined to give rights to Indians in South Africa.

During the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.”

Before God sent his only son and our savior, we were to justly right the wrong by what the world would view as, you do me wrong and I will repay in same.  This was acceptable in God’s eyes in the beginning as the leaders told through God’s word.  Humans were under the law of pleasing God through their duty, honor, and sacrifice.  Many rabbis and pharisees  believed everything needed to be surrounded by laws.  

When Jesus came to save us from our sin, He preached a different message.  This message was one of love, peace, and redemption through allowing God into our hearts and minds.  No act would ever save us, and the only way was to trust His ways in faith.

Where does this leave us today?

It all begins with blind trust.  This trust is one in which occurs through the unseen.  Unfortunately, it has two paths.  One in which is crafted based on Satan’s lies, and the other which is given freely by the clarity of God’s love.  The lies we are told come from unseen fear.  When wrong occurs, fear develops, and then comes feelings of jealousy, hate, confusion, and greed.  Now when we take the path of clarity in truth and love, everything is seen as just and  God’s will.  

Our choice as Christians is to decide how this will play out in our lives.  Many times I have been blindsided in this walk.  Actually, too many times.  I make the right choice, and then comes the moment when a negative distraction or attack enters my life.  What first enters my mind, “That was unfair, uncalled for, and I need to fix this.”  Ready for combat and armed with what I think is truth.  Taking charge and allowing the world to win.  In this moment we are called to step back, pray, and lean on God’s words.

Matthew 5: 43-48“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Satan wants more than anything to draw us away during this time.  It is his goal to dismantle all the work in which Jesus has done in our lives.  But, if we as Christians choose to rise above the attack, Satan is now the one blindsided.  We are the victors.  

 Psalm 37: 1-6  Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

The time has come for us to choose;

Eye for an Eye or Love for Hate?  

The world answers, “Take and keep what is yours. Protect it. Give what has been given to you; pain for pain” Jesus answers, “Turn away from sin and embrace love. Give the love I have for you. Release it.”  

We are to embrace, accept, and allow ourselves to be His hands and feet in this broken world.  Our protection comes from above ,and our victory has already been won.  Celebrate!

1 John 5: 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

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