Separated

Isaiah 59:2 But your wrongs have separated you from your God, and your sins have made him hide his face so that he doesn’t hear you.

1 Corinthians 15:33  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”    

Sin not only separates us from God but it separates us from other brothers and sisters in Christ and our church or it should anyway.  Not forever, but until they decide to get back on track with their spiritual life.  Does that mean that we stop loving them, stop praying for them, stop being nice to them?  The answer to all these questions is no.  We can still associate with them but because they have chosen to live a life contrary to what God has asked to do we need to take a break from hanging with them every day.  These are not my words only but God’s words.

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2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of Godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

We should love them and encourage them, we should pray for them and we should not act like we are better than they are because we are all sinners.  Ask yourself, do they know what they are doing is wrong yet purposefully choose to do it. Remember that God never stops loving them and neither should we.

Romans 8:35-39  35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Surround yourself with others who love The Lord as you.  My mother always said, birds of a feather flock together.  It is time to find a flock that flies for Jesus.  Together you can soar to heights that you never thought possible.

We All Fall Down

Romans 3:23 Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.

I attended a class a few nights ago to hear about a healthy weight loss program. The room was full, mostly of women, who were there to hear that loosing weight was possible for them. The instructor ask the class how many had tried and failed to loose weight and finally given up all hopes that it was not possible. Hands went up across the room.

How many of you have tried to quit ______ sin so many times and so many ways and failed so now that now you have quit trying. Do you feel that you have failed so much that even God is tired of you trying to quit?

The Bible says that all we have all fail and we fail a lot, every day as a matter of fact. No one is perfect, no matter how perfect they appear. Every Christian struggles to be the best they can be for Christ, some just hide their struggles a little better than others. Some struggles can be hidden more than others while others are out front and everyone sees them.

At the end of the class, I saw smiles, including my own and women walking out with HOPE. Today I want to give you hope that no matter how you struggle with your sin that you are not alone, we all struggle. I want to encourage you to keep trying to overcome it, no matter what it is. There is a story in the bible about a young man who left his father, took his inheritance and left home. He failed to make it on his own and went back home, humbly, to his father to ask for help. When he arrived home, his father threw him a party and welcomed him home. If you have quit God because you have quit trying to stop your sin, go home. He is waiting to throw you welcome you home, no matter how long you have been gone.

Be encouraged! You can do it with God’s help. It may not easy, it may not be fast, BUT YOU CAN DO IT.

 

Word Twister

Isaiah 5:20 ESV Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
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Do you know a Christian that you are pretty sure has twisted the truth about a situation and then used God’s word to make their situation look right? I have! Sad but true. I have seen past church members, friends and family members do it.  I have seen it happen more times than I wish I had.
This morning, my grand daughter got in trouble.  She played a prank on her brother and he nor her parents found the prank  to be funny.
 Here is how it all went down…stay with me would you?
 1) She made a conscious decision to play the prank.
Adult version: We make a decision to do something that is against someone else. As an adult it is not a prank , however, it is not received well. It could be not following instructions from our boss, trying to get someone in trouble, take someone else’s job, talking bad about someone, under-minding another persons authority. You get what I am saying?
 2)When her brother told on her she made excuses about how it was not wrong.
Adult version: We justify why it is ok to do something wrong to someone else. We know that we are suppose to love others as we love ourselves. We know that the bible says if we have a problem with someone else we are to go to them but we don’t. We talk about them, we find fault about them at every turn, and after awhile, because we have not followed God’s instructions on how to handle our sin, it consume us without us even seeing it happen.
 3)She tried to get other to agree that what she did was really not that bad.
Adult version: I have seen this happen over and over again, at work, at church, and in families. I think it is our nature to want others to validate how we feel. We sin again by gossiping with one side of the story. Some friends will fall prey to this and sides are taken without ever hearing the rest of the story. Why aren’t the Christians hearing the story, telling the other Christians to go to their brother or sister and fix the issue instead of jumping on the bandwagon and taking sides???? SIN. We would rather be their friends instead of giving/following biblical advise.
 4)She became mad because she got in trouble. 
Adult version: The person has sinned against their brother/sister. They have made excuses why it was ok. (the other person started it) They have gotten others into their camp and now they are mad at those who have pointed out their wrongs and not jumped on their bandwagon.
 5)She refused to admit fault, refused to apologize and could not believe she was being punished. PRIDE.
Adult Version: Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. If you left a person or situation angry, you are at fault. Maybe you did not forgive, did not accept your part in the drama, maybe you have a jealous spirit or you envy that person and what they have or do, think more highly of yourself than you should (I can do it better etc).
 As I watched this all play out today I was reminded of many situations that I had experienced in my own life where the scenario was so familiar except it was adults. In the wake of these scenario’s there was damage, relationships destroyed, people led astray, sin embedded deep in peoples hearts, and churches and it’s members hurt from the actions of Christians who did not handle a situation God’s way.
 If a person uses scripture to get you to do something wrong they are deceiving you.  If they ask you to say anything against another Christian, cause you to hurt another Christian, ask you to follow them, to leave a church/family, hurt a church or pastor (God chooses his shepherds and He will take care of them, the good and the bad.), then you are being led astray. God wants you to, ask for forgiveness, forgive and restore your relationship with others believers.  He even tells us to stop praying and go make things right with another brother/sister. They should not be talking to you about their problem with someone else, they should be talking to the Lord and the person they have a problem with. I don’t care how much scripture they use to justify themselves these things are wrong.
 It is not too late. Go restore a broken relationship today. Stop following man and follow God. Follow His words on how to handle any and every situation you face and you will be blessed. Go be blessed.

Trust In The Lord

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I don’t know about you guys but I don’t always understand why God allows some of the things he allows to happen on this side of eternity. Being a Pastors wife for over 20 years I know all of the bible answers in my head BUT sometimes my heart still doesn’t understand some things.

I CAN tell you that although I do not always understand God, I do trust Him. I have been through a difficult year, not BECAUSE of God but because of man and his sin. It has been so hard to submit to how God’s word instructed me to handle the sin. I wanted to shout from the mountain top with the other side of the story, remember there are two sides. I wanted to call lost friends and tell them they lost their minds by believing lies and proving to them how they had been deceived. I wanted to tell secrets, that would support my side BUT that is not what God’s word said to do.

So…..I wish I could tell you that by not doing those things and handling the situation the complete opposite way that friendships were restored, problems resolved and troubles disappeared, That would be a happy ending wouldn’t it? The Lord brought a story to my mind as pondered this paragraph. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him but He didn’t make a big deal out of Judas, the betrayer, to everyone else. He and Judas knew what everyone else didn’t know. There were a lot of sin issues that brought Judas to that point of the story and the same was true in my story. Me, the sin and God, knew the truth that others didn’t and I did not have to make a big deal out of it.

This brings me back to where we began: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. God will make your paths straight when you submit to Him and His way. He will lead you through whatever you are going through right now. Dig into the word to find out how to deal with your situation HIS way. It may go against everything you want to do. It may go against what everyone is doing or even what you are being told to do. HOWEVER, Our God is a big God who can take a bad situation and make it good. Follow His instruction and then start looking for the good, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD!

The Old Oak Tree

Today’s Truth: Revelation 2:4-5, “4 However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. 5 Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first…..” (GW)

From My Heart To Yours:

If you were born after in the 90’s you will probably laugh as you watch the following video.  Now try to listen to the words of the song and not focus on the large mustache.  If you were born before or right after 1973, go ahead and sing along, you know you want to.  By the way, I immediately wanted to search for, watch and sing Knock Three Times, didn’t you?!?!  Oh no, I couldn’t help myself…found it, watched and sang it too.

This popular song, Tie A Yellow Ribbon by Tony Orlando and Dawn, was based on the true story of a convict returning from jail who requested a sign from his wife to indicate that she would welcome him home. First he writes her a letter and puts it in the mail, text messaging, emails or cell phones didn’t exist back then.  Ok so go ahead and laugh again those of you who laughed earlier.  He doesn’t wait for her to rejection him, instead he jumps on a bus to go to her. In his letter he ask her give him a visual sign that she will take him back, a yellow ribbon around a tree he remembers in the front yard of her home.

As the song goes on you can hear the anticipation, urgency and yes even fear in the lyrics as he gets closer to her house.  Rejection will be hard but easier to handle if he doesn’t have to see her face to face and hear the word NO.  That’s why he has ask for visual sign.

Almost there, tension building, all the feelings of rejection and discouragement overwhelm him to the point that he can’t even look, can’t look for the sign he asked for a simple yellow ribbon around big old oak tree that he remembers standing in the front yard.  He has pulled the other passengers on the bus into his story by telling them about his love and how he hopes she will take him back, about the simple sign of acceptance he hopes to see and his fear of not seeing it.

The passengers tell him he doesn’t even have to look, they will be his eyes.  They too are now hoping and looking for HIS yellow ribbon on the tree.  As they near the house I can see EVERYONE but the man standing on the same side of the bus stretching to see over the others to see if the simple yellow ribbon requested is on the tree.  I can imagine as the man hears the shouts and cheers is he excited and stands to see what they see. It turned out that he was very welcomed home: there were a hundred yellow ribbons on that old oak tree.  Whew, I almost want to cry and shout with joy myself as I am typing the description of this song.

This song really hits home with me not because I have lost an old love who was in prison or been separated from husband before, but because I know so many who have lost their love for Jesus.  Todays scripture talks about returning to your first love, God.  So many have strayed far away from God, almost forgotten that they were saved.  Fear somehow replaced the faith they once had, causing them to run away from God and go back into the sinful world of the flesh to satisfy their doubt and unbelief.  Have you or someone you know left God, been a prison of sin, and want to return but you have the same fears and anxiety about rejection as the man had in this song?

If you want to return to God you can do it.  First you have to decide that you are tired of doing it your own way and remember that doing things God way is more satisfying.  Proverbs 14:14 says: A heart that turns from God becomes bored with its own ways, but a good person is satisfied with God’s ways.(GW)  YOU and only you can decide that you are tired of living the way you are.

God wants you to come back home to him.  He knew that some of us would wonder so he has made a way for us to return home.  You are not the first nor only one to stray away from God.  He tells us in Jeremiah 6:22 “Come back, you rebellious people, and I will forgive you for being unfaithful….” (GW)

So how do you return to God? So change the way you think and act, and turn to God to have your sins removed Acts 3:19  (GW)   Ask God to forgive you, get back into the word, and let God blot out your sins. It’s that simple. Just pray and ask God to forgive you and clean you up and HE DOES.  How wonderful and amazing is that?  No rejection letter, no door slammed in your face, just yellow ribbons all over the oak tree for you.  Just like in the song not only will God say yes but He will say emphatically yes.

Now that you have been given the forgiveness to come home you should be careful so you do not stray away again. Jesus said, “Stay awake, and pray that you won’t be tempted. You want to do what’s right, but you’re weak.”, Matthew 26:41(GW).  Tell other Christians about your return home to let them rejoice with you, like the passengers on the bus rejoiced with the man in the song.  Ask them to pray for you and with you.  Welcome home my friend.

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, I am sorry for leaving You, my first love.   Sometimes the pull from the world is so strong that I can lose my way.  Help me to stay strong through the reading of your word, prayer and meeting together with other Christian brothers and sisters. Thank you for forgiving me, for loving me and for allowing me to come home.  Let my light burn brightly once more for you.  Hear my heart, Lord, and ignite my passion for you in a, fresh and dynamic way.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Can Christians Really Make A Difference In the World Or Is It Too Late?

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Today’s Truth: Micah 6:8 You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good.  This is what the Lord requires from you:  to do what is right,  to love mercy,  and to live humbly with your God

From My Heart To Yours:

Can Christians really make a difference in the world or is it too late?  This question is one that is discussed in many pulpits and small group bible studies across America.  I believe there are a couple of different answers to the question.  First I believe yes we can make a difference.  We can make a difference in our own families, in our churches, in our communities and in our circle of Christian friends.  If you are a Christian, you know the Bible describes how the world will end.  The Bible tells us that as we get closer to the end of this world that sin will not get better, it will get worse.  True, however to me, that does not mean that we just lay down and prepare for death.  We still a responsibility to God while we are here.

I find the book of Micah to be a very interesting book of the Bible and I believe that it and this scripture reference for today can be used to answer the question, can Christians really make a difference in the world today.

Micah was a modern-day prophet for his time.  He was telling the people who God was a God of love but he was also a God of wrath.  The people were told that judgement was certain to come upon them if they did not heed His warnings about their blatant sins.  A lot of preachers and television evangelist today talk about promises and blessings for Christians but choose not to talk to about the sins we are committing.  Discussing sin is not popular now and it was not popular in Micah’s day either.

Micah was not the deliver of gloom and doom by talking about the sins of that day.  He told the people God loved them and provided hope that their relationship with God could be restored as it once was before.  He didn’t stop there though.  He gave them clear instructions on how to do it.  Micah 6:8 says, You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good.  This is what the Lord requires from you:  to do what is right,  to love mercy,  and to live humbly with your God.

God still requires these three things from Christians today just as He did in Micah’s day.  If every Christian would decide to follow this simple verse we could make a difference in this world and with all those we come in contact with.

….This is what the Lord requires from you:

1.  TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT –  We are to do what is right in our relationship with God. God is deserving of our heart, mind, body, and soul.  Jesus tells us (Mk. 12:28-30) that the first commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Because He created us in His own image, God rightly and justly deserves all of our worship and adoration. “This is the first commandment.”

We are also to do what is right and fair to our neighbor (to other people).  Not what is right and fair based on what man tells us but what is right and fair based on what God tells us. The world tells us to sue our neighbor, hate our neighbor, ignore our neighbor and the list goes on.  Jesus tells us (MK12:31) The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

2.  TO LOVE MERCY – You must show love and kindness. Some people are weaker than you are and some are poorer than you are. You should be kind to them and help them.  For most Christians this means giving money to the poor person standing on the side of the road or giving money to the homeless.  But mercy comes in many forms such as kindness, benevolence, and charity. Sometimes mercy is just being willing to forgive the sins of others as God is willing to forgive our sins.

3.  TO LIVE HUMBLY WITH GOD – You must walk (live) humbly with God. The first two instructions tell us how to treat each other. But this one is about our actions towards God.  We should agree with what God tells us in His Word and show Him that He is important to us through our word, actions and lives. We should do what God wants us to, no matter how easy or how hard it may be.

You can not do the first two if you do not have a good relationship with God.  You must love him, trust him, depend on him and obey him.  With him all things are possible. Without him one and two will be impossible.

Can Christians really make a difference in the world?  Again I say yes.  Won’t you do your part?  Start today by deciding to focus on you and your family and then challenge and inspire other Christians to do the same.

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, we know that in the times we live in today it is hard to stand for right.  Sometimes we become discouraged, want to give up trying to do right.  Sometimes we are convinced  that we can not make a difference because we are just one person or one family.  But Lord we know you are still the same God today as you were in Micah’s day.  Thank you for your promise of forgiveness through salvation and for the mercy and grace you give to us each day.  Help us to do what is right, to love mercy and to live humbly with you.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Wash Cloth, Loofah, Sponge or Just Your Hands?

 

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Today’s Truth: Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. (GW)

From My Heart To Yours:

Have you ever really thought about the process to clean yourself? Every day,I hope, we take a bath or shower to clean ourselves from the days activities, rid ourselves of dead skin and to feel refreshed. There is something special about the way you feel from head to toe after a good shower. When we shower we don’t think about the cleaning process, it just comes naturally. For some of us the debate becomes what we clean ourselves with, wash cloth, loofa, sponge or just our soapy hands.

Each day we need to go through the same cleaning process of ridding ourselves of the daily sins we commit.  Jesus doesn’t care which method we prefer for the cleansing,  He just wants us to be cleansed. Listed below are 9 steps for how to clean yourself but put into a spiritual perspective:

1. Undress – Here is where you have to get naked. You have to become fully exposed for God to see ALL the sins you have committed for the day. Fold your dirty clothes and place them in the designated place and have your clean clothes in an area where you have easy access when you finish.  Also make sure to take anything out of your pockets (hidden sins).

2. Turn on the water to your preferred temperature. Begin the praying.  Check the position of the your head, to be sure that it is turned upwards towards the  Lord.  Decide how hot you want it to be.  Are you ready for one of those skin tingling HOT cleansing? Once you are sure that the temperature is perfect, start the praying.

3. Wet your entire body. Be sure that your entire head is completely wet and every inch of your body is covered in prayer. This is important for basic cleaning of your body

4.  Massage in small amount of shampoo and conditioner, The Word of God, and thoroughly rinse. Gently message each part of your mind, making sure all the areas are covered. If you have a dry or tangled mind, use God’s conditioner, His Word, to moisturize and get major knots out of your mind.  Make sure that there is none left so your mind won’t have soap in it when it is dry.

5.  Wet your washcloth, sponge, loofah or just your hands well and apply your soap. Gently clean your face. Rinse the washcloth and your face thoroughly.  Now, clean your entire body. Start at the top of your body and work you way down.  Remember to wash behind the ears, back of the neck, and in between each toe. Make to get each arm pit, and your private areas.

6.  Turn off the water and exit the shower. Dry yourself off, but God isn’t through with us just yet. Hang on for number 8.

7.  Now is a good time to put on moisturizer, deodorant, body powder, or anything else you may need to put on that can’t be put on when clothes cover your body. This is where God helps us to start to feel better and smell better.

8.  Put your clean clothes on. Have you ever heard the TV show called what not to wear.  Not a problem for the Christian as we dress in our military best, the Full Armor of God.

9.  Gather all your belongings and leave the shower.  Dirty clothes in hand, we exit the shower, clean, smelling good, dressed in our best and ready to go into the dirty world again knowing that another cleansing will be available to us tomorrow.

Ya know, I can’t wait for my shower tonight, the spiritual one as well as the regular one.  How about you??

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, we know that we stain our clothes and dirty our bodies with sin every day.  Sometimes, we get a little dirtier than normal and it appears that we have ruined our clothes from the deep stains we accumulated that day, but Lord we know you are best stain remover around.  Thank you for loving us enough to wash us each and every day.  Help us to strip, fully naked before you and step into the holy shower for your washing of our sins that we may be white as snow again.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.