Abandonment

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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I had the honor of visiting and sitting with someone at the hospital on Friday.  She was a young lady of 80 years old, turning 81 this month.  She told me she had surgery scheduled to fix two leaky heart valves.  Once I arrived and talked with a family member I discovered that what she thought was going to be surgery to fix the problem turned into two procedures to investigate the heart and valves to see what surgery would work best.  The family member said she was disappointed, however her smile and words were no indication of disappointment.

She was scheduled for the first procedure at 11:30 and had been bumped several times, getting in the operating room around 2.  She was in ICU from 2:30 to almost 5:00 waiting for an open operating room for the second procedure.  Smiles and kinds words continued to drip from her mouth to all of those who came in contact with her.  No frustration, fear or anger for being bumped and the long wait.

As I sat with this lady she talked about God non-stop.  All his blessings in her life.  She talked about her marriage of almost 60 years, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her spiritual journey.  She talked about the many times she could have died but didn’t because God choose to keep her around.  She talked about how she loves to go to church because she loves God and wants to be there every time she can to worship Him, to praise Him, to sing to Him and to be with other Christians. She said how hard it was to get up to go to church on Sundays and how she longed for the days when she could go Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights.  She spoke of week long revivals, events the church held throughout the year and how she used to volunteer to work at the church as often as the church would have her.  Most of all she talked about how people today don’t feel this way and how it made her sad.

As we sat waiting on the second procedure, I shared with her how I admired her, her faith and her love of God.  She called me close and whispered that in her lifetime she had voice God speak clearly and directly to her and today was one of those times.  She stated as they were putting her to sleep she heard God tell her that He did not want her to be afraid because He would be with to the very end.  She held my hand, looked me directly in the eyes and said “you know JoAnne, God will never abandon me. Never.  AND I KNOW that that was God talking to me.”

What faith.  What a witness.  What a great woman of God.  After the second procedure the doctors told the family that her heart was not strong enough to withstand the surgery.  They said they would prescribe medication that might help but at this point there was nothing they could do.  She was not disappointed, not angry not afraid.  She simply repeated God’s promise “to be with her to the end.”  That made everything alright with her. Sunday morning, she was in the church.  She was worshiping God, praising God and fellowshipping with other Christians with a smile and joy that only God can give.

I don’t know who on this post is struggling with abandonment issues.  Maybe you feel abandoned by a mother or father.  Maybe you feel abandoned by a friend, a boss, someone you were in a serious relationship with, your spouse or a child.  Who knows, maybe you feel abandoned by God.

I want to encourage you today.  Today’s scripture is a promise and God keeps his promises.  People may leave you but God never will.  If you are going through a trial it doesn’t mean God has left you. We are promised in this world we will have troubles.  God told us that so we could expect it, not like, but know it was coming.  He tells us we don’t have to worry about those trials because He will be with us and help us to overcome the trials.

I love what this wonderful woman of God said to me and I believe it with all that I am.  GOD WILL BE WITH YOU TO THE END!! My family used old southern saying which would be appropriate with her words, “Now you can put that in your pipe and smoke it”.  The phrase was used after stating something surprising or undesired, to emphasize its truth. This 80 year old woman spoke the word with TRUTH.

 

Agree to Disagree

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

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The Bible is the infallible word of God, right? To believe in God means believing everything in the Bible, doesn’t it? Then who can there be so much confusion on what people believe the Bible says?  Do we just agree to disagree or is there only one truth?

The phrase “agree to disagree” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. God’s word teaches that we are to agree. Paul wrote in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” To the Corinthians he wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Almost a year later he wrote to remind them, “be of one mind” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

Paul did not “agree to disagree” with those who taught a different gospel message. John did not “agree to disagree” with false prophets. Peter did not “agree to disagree” with false teachers. Jude did not “agree to disagree” with ungodly men.

Learn how to speak the truth in love. The obvious issue being what if my understanding of the truth is not your understanding of the truth?

Is that what Paul was getting at when he wrote, Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion. Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables. People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people. Romans 14:1-3

If you’ve read a lot of Paul’s writings you know that he was not encouraging us overlook important biblical issues just to get along or to avoid a quarrel.  We are to stand firm on topics like the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ or Jesus was not just a great man but He was God in the flesh to just get along. He was telling us to get along with those who thought differently than us regarding non-salvational issues such as holy days and food. In these cases, Paul, Jesus, and other New Testament writers were quite clear. Additionally, agreeing to disagree is not equivalent to passively overlooking injustice or obvious moral wrongs.

The key to religious unity and agreement is for all to stay true to the scriptures. Time and time again the Bible tells us not to “add to” or “take away” from God’s word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). The various opinions of men will not provide unity. The Bible must be the sole basis for achieving true agreement. We must allow the scriptures to have the final say and we must be ready to abandon anything we believe which does not agree with God’s word. We cannot simply “agree to disagree” when it comes to matters of faith. We must “agree to agree” with the Bible.

It is also possible to love God and love people even while disagreeing.

Walk This Way

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

I think everybody loves Winnie The Poo, so I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from him,  “I Always Get To Where I Am Going By Walking Away From Where I Have Been ~ Winnie The Poo.”  This fictional character is giving us good advise, sort of even biblical I would say.

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A lot of women I know are either walking in circles, standing still or pacing back and forth from the present to the past and from the past back to the present, just to keep repeating the process.  It could be a relationship, a death, a divorce, a hurt or a past decision that they keep going back to.  Day in and day out the past is impacting their present and their future.  I have always heard insanity is the doing same over and over expecting different results.

God tells us in the scripture today that we need to forget what lies behind us and strain forward to lies ahead.  Now I agree that saying it can be easier than actually doing it.  If we are Christians, trusting The Lord is the way to move forward. We can have confidence that God is faithful to His promises.  Today’s scripture says we are to press on for the prize.  Not just any prize but a prize that God has for us.

Here are a few ways to put one step in front of the other to get to the prize:

  1.  Focus on reading the word of God.  It is amazing how God’s word can be the best medicine for what ales you.  I encourage you to read a chapter in Psalm and a chapter in Proverbs every day.  These books of the Bible are encouraging and packed with much wisdom about life.
  2.   Seek out someone who has been a Christian for a long time.  Not one who just goes to church, but one who studies the word of God and can advise you on the what God says about what you are going through.
  3.   Understand and believe that when you are weak, God is strong for you.  How do you believe this?  Through prayer.  The more you pray, the more God will reveal His strength to you.  You will begin to see that you are stronger than you ever imagined.
  4.   Set baby goals and an action plan on how achieve them.  Maybe your goal is to stop talking about……  Your action plan could be to find a positive scripture that you can memorize and recite or read when you begin to talk about ……..  You could write it down in a journal instead of talking about it and end with writing something positive.  As you begin to focus on the future and you can check off items on your action plan you will begin to see the future more.
  5.   Lastly, seek counseling.  Too many people let pride or money stop them from seeking out help to move forward.  I do not understand why church people do not take advantage of the wise counsel in their churches.  The pastor and his wife are two free resources that are not often used.  I have actually heard people say they would never go to their pastor because they did not want him to know they had issues.  REALLY!?!  That is why he is there.  He wants to serve you and so does his wife.

What is holding you back from running straight toward the goal to win the prize that God has for you?  I am praying for you and believe in you.  With Jesus YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE!!

Are You Swiping God Right or Left?

John 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Have you heard of the mobile phone app Tinder?  Because I work for a pregnancy center I am very well versed on this and many other hook up apps.  These apps are used by Christians, non-christians, young people and middle aged people to find people who want to have a sexual encounter without commitments.  You know…hit it and quit it.

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I think some Christians are playing hit it and quit it with God.  He is popping up to us in our thoughts and circumstances and we are swiping Him left.  Not now God.  You are not what I am looking for.  I don’t have time for you right now. God is swiping you right while you are swiping Him left.

Some of you are swiping God right but with the intention of just hitting it and quitting it.  You want God, but only for that moment or that problem you are trying to fix.  Sometimes it is a swipe left for God and when things are going well it’s a swipe left.  However God is always swiping right for you because He is always there.

God does not want to be a hook up for us.  He wants to be our friend.  He wants to be there to hear the good things that are going on in our lives as well as our challenges.  He wants to know when we are just having a so so day, when we have bombed the day and especially when we have rocked it.  He is following us on every social media out there to keep up on what we are doing because with some of us that is the only way to know what is going on in our lives.

The scripture says: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus.  Colossians 3:16 tells us that we are to  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,”

Abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles! Then, of course, as Christ’s Word dwells in us and the Spirit fills us, we will begin to pray in a way consistent with the will of God and discover the truth of our Lord’s often misapplied promise: “You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7b).

How our culture dates and the values and morals used for sex has changed but one thing that is consistent and will always be consistent is God and His love for us.  Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Romans 8:39 (ESV) 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.

It is time to make a decision to stop the hit or quit app with God.  I challenge you to dwell Him every day.  To follow Him, read His post, to like his comments and even to retweet them.  God is so good and He loves us like no one else.  He promises us that by abiding in Him will bring us much fruit.  I don’t know about you but I read and see so much junk and depressing information on social media today that I could use some fruit in my life.  Today, make a decision to quit flirting with God and make a commitment for life long relationship.  Maybe you have been having an affair with the world.  Never fear, God doesn’t want He divorce.  Tell Him you are sorry and fall in love with Him again.  God is good and He is good all the time.

 

The Quick Change

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

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The Bible says that in this world we will have trouble.  Trials will come our way even though we are Christians.  So why is that when trials come our way we want to hide them, keep them to ourselves and pretend that all is well?  My husband is a pastor and he often talks about the “Sunday morning get ready trials”.  We stress, yell, argue all the way to church, then the moment we pull into the parking lot we turn on our smiles and pretend life is grand. In other words, Christians like to quick change from a life with burdens to a life that is full of rainbows and unicorns.  We want everyone to think our life is just grand.

If God gives us a command to share each others burdens then two things are for sure.  One is that we will have burdens and two is that we should share them.  I grew up in a good home with loving parents, however we grew up being told that “what happens in this house, stays in this house.”  In other words, keep your burdens to yourself.  Some of you reading this know what I mean.

Today families are dealing with burdens such as, a child cutting, a teenager trying to commit suicide, a family member addicted to porn, a loved one struggling with homosexuality, a couple considering divorce, a spouse is having an affair, a child is stealing, alcoholism or drugs or both are ruining a family members life, a child has to take care of a sick parent, and the list goes on.

The thing they all in common is that in some cases no one knows.  In other cases a friend may know but is sworn to secrecy.  WHY?  Pride.  The devil has convinced us that people will judge us, we will be deemed a failure, others will talk about us, feel sorry for us or worse yet will not have anything to do with us.  If God wanted us to bear our own burdens he would have never given us this command he gave us in todays scripture.

I do not know what burden you are bearing today but I challenge you to share it with other Christians, good strong mature ones, and ask them to help you bear your burdens.  They will help you by listening, praying for you and imparting wisdom.  Don’t hide your burdens anymore.  Stop your quick change routine and be real.  Be real with your burdens. Start by sharing them today and begin to heal.

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.

 

How God See’s You

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

See yourself as God See's you

Tomorrow when you look in the mirror try to see yourself as God sees you. Don’t look with your eyes or through the eyes of your friends, family, coworkers or your neighbors. Instead see yourself as God sees you.

Once you are saved, you become new and HE lives within. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person and now has power. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

You are no longer a weak person. You no longer have to walk in fear or be burdened with anxiety and worry. You have become a new creature. You have changed from a little meek and mild kitten to roaring lion. Queen of the jungle we roam.

Post a picture of a lion where you brush your teeth, put on your make up or fix your hair and remind yourself every day that you strong, brave and courageous. Now go out and conquer today!!