"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

One Way – the Only Way

Patrick was suddenly aware of the beautiful woman with crystal blue eyes and chestnut-brown hair.  She was stunning.  She was gracious and approachable.  People seemed to enjoy her presence.  He wanted to win her but had no idea how to do it.  He decided to go out and win the hearts of other women.  He felt that somehow, in this manner, he would learn to win the heart of his loved one.  He became a man of some reputation leaving a trail of broken hearts across the city.  Finally, he felt he was ready.

He had studied about her and knew where she would be.  He arranged to be there and to meet her.  He used all of the methods he had used in winning the affections of the other women.  She looked at him with tears brimming in those crystal-clear blue eyes and said, “Patrick, I saw you long ago and loved you.  I have watched as you have pursued other women and it broke my heart.  Now you come to me with all your experience and it means nothing to me.  All I ever wanted was you.  The way to my heart was clear.  You had only to come to me and I would have received you and loved you.”

Patrick’s face showed his dismay.  “Do you mean that you have wanted me all this time?”  “Yes, I have longed for you.”  Patrick asked, “Is it too late?”  “Dear Patrick, since you have found that there is only one way to my heart and that is to come to me and accept my love, I freely give it and forgive you all your previous efforts. ”

Today’s Lesson:

This is the way of our great God. He has provided one way – only one way – into His Presence.  He sees us pursuing false gods and his heart breaks. He knows that the enemy of our souls wants us to believe that there is more than one way to Him.

There is only one way and it is through the shed blood of Jesus.  He is the Doorway to Father God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to God, except through Jesus.

All we have to do is stop our self-effort and our self-focus and turn to Him.  He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin.  He made it possible for any one of us, regardless of our past choices or beliefs, to come to Him.  The only qualification is that we accept what Jesus has done for us.  As we turn to Jesus, He provides us everything we need for life and godliness.  He loves us and wants to spend time with us.  He wants us to fall in love with Him and fulfill our destiny.

He knew that we needed Him and so He didn’t make it complicated.  He didn’t give a different way to one group of people and another way to another group.  He knew it needed to be simple and so He provided only one way.

The enemy likes to bring doubt and confusion.  He wants us to question everything.  Satan’s desire is to keep us off-balance and away from the One Way, Jesus.  He wants you to think Jesus is just an enlightened teacher or a prophet, but He doesn’t want you to know Him and the power of His blood.  But Jesus is not enlightened – He is the Light!  Jesus is not just a prophet – He is King of Kings and the Lord of lords!  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  He is God!!!

Today, He is inviting you to come to Him.  He is waiting.  Just tell Him that you want to know Him and ask Him to make Himself real to you.  I assure you that He will.

Wounded by God’s People – Anne Graham Lotz (from Fox News)

Anne Graham Lotz new book, Wounded by God’s

We have all been wounded in church.  It is a proving ground to see if we can love with the love of God in spite of how we feel.  This post by Fox News about  Anne Graham Lotz is worth our time and consideration.  Can we love God and love His people no matter what our   emotions say?

Matthew 22:36-39 – 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Note by Joyous Bells

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Did you used to go to ?

  Why aren’t you going to church now?

Without implying you are a statistic, research indicates that 83% of all American adults    consider themselves to be Christian, but the majority of them are unchurched.

  Why?

The primary reason people avoid church, pollsters say, even though they consider    themselves Christian, is because of wounds they have received within the family of faith.

Has that been your experience? Is that why you are hanging out on the periphery of God’s people?

I understand. I, too, have been driven from church fellowship by wounds that were inflicted on me by other church members.

The primary reason people avoid church, pollsters say, even though they consider themselves Christian, is because of wounds they have received within the family of faith.

I have found myself living as a “believer in exile,” not running from God, but tired of putting up with those who call themselves by His name, yet behave in an ungodly manner.

Jesus understands, too. It never ceases to amaze me that the most vicious lies, the most violent attacks, the ultimate rejection of Jesus, came not from the Romans or the Greeks or the pagans or the secularists, but from Israelites who were considered, by themselves and others, the children of God. God’s people.

One primary reason I have not forsaken my own Christian faith is that I know Jesus “gets it.” He was literally wounded…crucified…by very religious people who considered themselves God’s representatives on earth, but were nothing of the sort. They were wicked, sinful pretenders.

So I refuse to let religious phonies destroy my heart for the One who loves me, who understands and feels my pain, and who draws close http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.5009066883744508&pid=1.7&w=129&h=186&c=7&rs=1to me when I am wounded. I refuse to be robbed of life’s greatest treasure—a personal, permanent, passionate relationship with God through faith in Jesus, and the healing of wounds that He offers.

As painful and devastating as wounds inflicted by God’s people can be, they have made me more determined to authentically live out what I believe.

I am deeply motivated to know God. I want to know Him as He truly is, not through the distorted reflection of those who call themselves by His name. And I want to make Him known to others as accurately, winsomely, clearly, and compellingly as I can.

And God is knowable. He has declared that He is light. (1 John 1:5) Since one of the primary characteristics of light is that it makes itself visible, God is saying He has made Himself visible.

He can be clearly seen in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He can be seen in the pages of the unique revelation of Himself, which we call the Bible.

If your focus in on the people of God, the Light can seem dim or even dark. So don’t look at them. Look at Him.

Try God…again.

Anne Graham Lotz, is author of ten books. Her latest is “Wounded by God’s People: Discovering How God’s Love Heals Our Hearts.” She is president and CEO of AnGel Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through his World. Lotz is the daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/08/are-believer-in-exile-invite-to-try-god-again/?fb_action_ids=641477249210106&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%22641477249210106%22%3A370866879709859%7D&action_type_map=%7B%22641477249210106%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D#ixzz2ePSOJCQY

Excellence – not Perfection

Perfection

Once again Abigail had blown it!  She had cleaned the house and thought she had covered every corner.  When her husband, Kyle, came home, he lost it!  Look at this drawer!  It is a mess.  I am so sick of you not doing things right!  She rushed over and began to straighten the offending drawer.  She sighed.  Nothing she ever did was good enough.

Yesterday he had run his finger over the top of the door and found dust.  He raved.  She felt again like nothing she ever did was good enough.  The day before, he told her he  had written a date on top of the refrigerator a week before and she hadn’t found it.  He ridiculed her.

She tried.  She really did, but it was impossible to please him.

Today’s Lesson:

Often we think God is as demanding as Kyle.  Even though we try, we can’t live up to the Law that we see in Scripture.  We may say a swear word or we get angry at our kids.  We don’t pray or read our Bible every day.  We are sure that we have disappointed the Lord and soon we give up trying to reach Him.

The Good News!

God knew we could never be perfect and that is why He gave us the Law so that we could see the futility of trying to do it on our own.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin and imperfection.  He did what we could not do.  He has released us from all condemnation.

He looks at us as little children.  If your toddler spills his milk, you don’t give him away or tell him that he is useless.  You clean it up and fill the glass again and use a cup that won’t spill.  You help him learn how to manage new challenges so that he can become a responsible adult.  It takes time to develop a child into a person of excellence.  It is done step-by-step and moment-by-moment.  You love them, encourage them, discipline them and give them room to make mistakes.

God is much nicer than you are.  He is Good and  His Loving-kindness endures forever!

It is  Satan who has made us think that God is our critic.  He is not.  He knew we couldn’t live the life we see in the Law – not even  the basic ten commandments.  Jesus had to become a man and dwell among us and pay the full price for all the things we have done and will do.  He covered everything including our thoughts, actions, attitudes, all kinds of sin and fears.  When we accept what Jesus has done, He begins to complete the good work He has begun in us.  He won’t stop or give up on us.

He might put us on hold if we get too rebellious but He waits patiently for us to turn back to HIm.

Excellence

When we yield to the Spirit of God, we begin to become who has intended us to be.  He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Everything!  He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  He has sent His own Holy Spirit to live in us to help us, lead us, guide us and comfort us.

He is nicer than the most loving parent and He brings us into people of excellence and not perfection.

Perfection!  “It ain’t ever gonna happen – so get over it and enjoy the patience and the love of God who restores us and loves us at all times.”

There is a process that happens over time as we yield to the leading of the Lord and it yields excellence.  When you mess up, confess it to the Lord, and walk free of the guilt and shame.

 Tell the devil to ‘shut up!’  He will want to continue to beat you with your failures.  He thinks he is so clever.  He tempts you to do wrong and then beats you for doing it.  

Freedom!

God sees that you have made a mistake and as soon as you confess it, you are released it and you are free.  I love the Scripture that says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Trust Him with all the circumstances of your life and live free!

Share a time that you when you knew you were free!

The Renegade Vine

Shelly was in a high rise building with thick darkness. The city was in a complete blackout.  She was on the twenty-fourth floor and knew there was no elevator service.  Walking the stairs wasn’t a good idea because she didn’t know what or who she would meet.  She was truly alone. The batteries in her flashlight were dead and she couldn’t find the matches to light her only candle.  She was completely alone and quiet for the first time in many years.

She sat on the couch and listened to the silence that was intermittently broken by a distant siren.  She put her head back and sighed.  This was just one more dark day that punctuated the depression she had been feeling.   Thomas had left her for his administrative assistant three months ago.  She had been reeling ever since from the emptiness of the apartment and of her life.  Now this darkness closed in around her.

It had been a long time since she considered that God was watching over her or that He even existed.  If He did exist, she believed that He had forgotten her.  Yet now, in her despair she cried out, “God, if you are out there, help me!” The cares of her life began to lift and inside she heard a still small voice saying, “I have always been here.  You have only to ask for My help.”   A peace that she had never known came upon her and caught her by surprise.  Over the next few hours, she sat in God’s Presence and He ministered His love and healing acceptance to her.  “There is no condemnation for you, my child,” He told her.  “You are loved and have always been loved by Me.  I never left you and I know your pain.  I have a better way.” Shelly gave her heart to Jesus during the long dark night and when the daylight began to come through her windows, she was new inside.  There was joy and it felt wonderful.

She had been trying to live her life without Jesus.  She remembered that she had loved Sunday School as a child and Mrs. Pearson had led her in a prayer when she was ten.  God let her know that all this time, she had been His and He was just waiting for her to seek Him.

Today’s Lesson:

Shelly was trying to live a fruitful life apart from God.  She had been self-sufficient or at least she had tried to be.  She had music playing or the television on when she was alone.  At work, she managed multiple tasks and had been promoted to a Regional Manager.  Her life was filled with noise and activity.  She was never quiet and seldom alone.

She had turned off her power source and was winging her way through life.  She knew it wasn’t working

When the blackout forced the quiet and the solitary hours, she slowed down long enough to hear the voice of her Lover, her Father, her Savior: her God.

In the Scripture, there is a story of the Vine and the Branches.  Shelly had become a renegade branch.  She was trying to make leaves, blossoms and fruit apart from the Vine.  It seemed to work as long as the life force was still remained in the branch, but soon, the branch had nothing to draw on and it withered.

Shelly had withered and was striving to live apart from God.  She was empty and alone.  When she finally became still on that dark night, she heard Him and she knew that apart from Him, life was empty and without purpose.

Today Shelly is a different person.  When the lights came on, she searched her storage unit and found her Bible which she devours each day.  She is looking for a place to worship. The lights are back on not only in her apartment, but in her life.

If the Door is Open, Why are You Still in the Cage?

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The eagle was restless.  He had been in this cage in the zoo for several years.  It was where they brought him after he broke his wing.  He moved back and forth within the confines of the space.  He knew somehow that he was made for more but all he knew was the four corners of his prison.  He really didn’t even have room to fly and it was something he no longer remembered.  His handler would open the door and he would hop out on his leather glove and he would feed him.  It worked, but something was different.

When his handler came today they moved him to a smaller cage after the feeding.  This was unacceptable and he cried out his distress.  They put the enclosure in a van and they began moving.  He was confused and frightened.  They drove for a long time and when the vehicle stopped, a new emotion hit the bird.  His heart was racing and he felt like it would explode in his proud breast as panic overwhelmed him.

The handler removed the cage and sat it on the ground a few feet away from the van.   Then a remarkable thing happened.  He opened the door to this small cage and stepped away.  The eagle sat there looking at the opening.  What did it mean?  Usually, he put his hand with the leather glove in the space and he would get on it, but today, he just opened the door.

The mountain air was refreshing him and he raised his head.  The man knelt to the side of the cage and the leathered hand offered him food to leave the enclosure.  He tentatively took it.  Stepping back, he offered more food and the eagle knew that to get it, he would have to step out of the cage.  Tentatively and with apprehension, he slowly inched forward in ‘un-eagle’ like fashion.  He took the food and turned to go back in to the cage, but the door was closed.

He was free!  Free to sit on the ground.  Free to fly, but to the frustration of his friend was that he just sat there, puzzling over his new situation.  He began to walk around on the soft mountain turf.  He walked over and climbed on a rock and looked out over his new domain.  He longed to see more.  He longed for  . . . something.

In the distance, he heard the cry of another eagle and something broke inside his heart.  Without fanfare or preamble, he spread his wings and lifted into the air over the canyon.  When he heard the call of one like him, everything came into focus.  He didn’t need a lesson on how to fly.  Flying was part of who he is.  He is an eagle.  Soaring higher and higher, moving toward the other eagle, he was truly free.

Years ago, I was with an early morning prayer group, when God gave me a vision as I sat on the steps that led up to the platform in the church.  I was looking out over the pews that would soon be occupied by the congregation.  In the vision, I could see them sitting there inside cages with the doors open.  They were free, but they had chosen to stay enclosed in the prison of their own beliefs and laws.  They didn’t understand the fullness of what Christ had done for them.  They were eagles who were sitting in parlor cages like chickens unable to take their freedom.  My heart broke.

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 in one translation reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  This troubled me greatly as I was saved and in the church, but I was not free.  I told a friend of mine, a pastor’s wife, that ‘I knew Christianity worked.”  She asked me to call her when I figured it out!

We can be blind guides leading others.  We have an open door.  Jesus Christ is the door.  We have stepped inside and we are free, but we are paralyzed because we don’t understand what the freedom means.  So, how do we fly?

What has made us prisoners and enslaves us when the promised freedom is readily available?  We are caught in church doctrine, rules and the judgement of others and as well as

ourselves.  We want to do right but it seems that we do just the opposite much like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7.  What ties us to the cage?  When we are tempted and fail, we beat ourselves with our failure and then we step away from the door.  We are still free but we have no knowledge of how to fly – how to delight in the freedom.

The enemy knows that we are free, but he hates us and uses the only tool in his tool box:  condemnation.  He knows our weaknesses and so he arranges temptations.  When we give in, he then unleashes a barrage of words into our minds that sounds like us, but is really from him.

To illustrate:  Sue decided to eat in a healthy way and to stop eating sweets.  She did well for two weeks and was invited to a party.  They had the most beautiful array of desserts and she succumbed to the molten chocolate cake.  She savored each bite.  When she got home later, the pain began.  ‘Why did I do that?  I had promised myself I wouldn’t eat sugar and now I ate a huge dose of it!  I am a failure.  I can’t do this.  I will never be able to eat healthy!”  At that, she goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door and begins to eat whatever she can find.

What Sue didn’t understand is that the molten chocolate cake wasn’t her enemy.  All she had to do was confess this to her God, forgive herself, and continue on the healthy eating path.  But when she listened to the lies of the enemy, she went back under bondage and entered the cage.  The door is still open, but she is in prison.

Listen, the voice of your Redeemer Who is calling to you.  Move toward it and begin to fly.  The truth is you are free!

 

Authorized Representative

I lived in Atlanta and worked in the Merchandise Mart where I was an authorized representative for several gift manufacturers.  It was an interesting job.  It gave me the right to ‘represent’ the companies and sell their products.  People came to the Showroom and I took that opportunity to present the features and benefits of the various lines.  They made the decision to ‘buy’ or not.  I let the manufacturer know what had been purchased and the products were delivered to the address provided.  

Authority is what is necessary to do any job.  If you are a policeman, you have no physical power to stop traffic, but you can stand in the middle of the street, hold up a hand and the traffic stops.  If you are the President of the United States, your authority is granted to you by the people you represent.  You have been given the work of acting in the interests of those who elected you.  Authority is the power behind the individual.  An unelected person could not even get into the White House without an escort and even if they were there in the President’s Oval Office, they would not have the authority to make national decisions.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are assigned to ‘do business’ as authorized representatives of our Lord until He returns.

Righteousness is given to us as a free gift and by the grace of God, this qualifies us to do the  greater works than Jesus did when He walked on the earth.  We can expect to cast out demons, heal the sick, raise the dead and lead others to the place where they encounter the Lord.  We represent the Kingdom of God.  It is our job to speak of the favor that is given to each of us, not because we have lived perfect, sinless lives, but because of the God’s grace.

When we finally begin to grasp the fullness of who we have become and to Whom we belong, we can take a great sigh of relief and begin to relax in His love.  Then we work for the ‘joy set before us’ just as Jesus did when He knew He was going to the Cross.  We can do the work of the ministry and even face persecution because we no longer belong to the earth.  We belong to the Kingdom and to our Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit AND we belong to our brothers and sisters who journey with us.

The main stay of our lives is God’s love and sharing it with our Kingdom family.  This is the foundation for our soul prosperity which includes physical health, emotional health, financial health and spiritual health.  The love of God and His gift of righteousness in our lives act as the fuel that empowers the authority given us to accomplish all that is set before us.

As God’s representative, I don’t judge the people He sends me to.  I don’t judge my brothers and sisters who are also in process.  I don’t judge the leaders that He has placed over me even though I can see they have flaws.  I don’t compare my work with the work of another – we are all essential.  I don’t compare my leader with another – we all have different assignments.  When I know someone is struggling in an area, I cover them with the love of God and His grace and present them before Him in the throne room.  My job is to spread the “Good News” that God loves them, He is not mad at them, and He longs for them to turn their hearts toward Him and spend time with Him.  I am to tell them, as His representative, that He has provided the remedy, for all the ways we have missed it, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ Who took our place and received our punishment.  We can step into His Presence without fear.  He loves us!

Today, I invite you to join me by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus and receiving His finished work into your life.  Become His representative.  It is a life of joy and wonder!  It is a life that throbs with adventure and purpose.  It is Good News!

Are You Religious? Take the test.

The Religion Test:

  1. If church promised a $10,000 door prize at the 11:00 service or Sunday, would you go?
  2. If you could work-out in the gym at church for free, would that make regular church attendance interesting.
  3. If your company offered you double time to work on Sunday, would you skip church?
  4. If church was a really fun place to go with golf tournaments, theater and musicals and a great social program, does that get you to attend?
  5. If you heard that the church was teaching about ways to draw near to God and become intimate with Him, would that attract you?
  6. Or perhaps there is nothing that could draw you away from the sports on TV or a day on the lake.
An affirmative answer to all but the fifth question proves that you are religious about something.  If you answered yes to five, you are interested in really getting to know God which is based on a relationship with Him and His love.

We quickly see what is the most important to us when we consider these questions.  Most of us would go for sure to get the money.  If we wanted to get fit, the gym has a certain appeal.  Turning down the overtime money would be difficult.  The social aspects of a big church serve to integrate you in the community and help to meet new friends.  But . . . how many of us really want to draw nearer to the God of the Universe.

Religion itself is bondage to something.  We think of the Pharisees and Saducees in the Bible.  They were the most religious of all as is some of the church leadership today.  What are you bound to?  Is the organized church the answer?  How do you escape religion and get to know the God that loves you?

How many of us want to really know Jesus Christ?  How many of us want to sit, face-to-face with the Father God and have a conversation?  How many of us want to “be the true church;” to be ‘the called out ones?’  Called out by the Father to hear His voice and walk in His ways?

But, you say . . . “I don’t know how to do that.”  Yes you do.  So do I.  Why is it so hard to start?  What is the fear?  Are we afraid that He will show us the areas we are avoiding in ourselves?  Is it because we think that we don’t need Him?  Are we doing just fine using our own resources?  Or has the demonic realm deceived us and convinced us that we don’t need to get too close to Him?

What keeps us from the joy of knowing the wonderful God that loves us, even before we give Him a thought.  Why are we so arrogant as to think that we don’t really need anyone or anything.  Has  American independence so infiltrated our thought process that we think that we can go it alone and be just fine?   Then, I remember exactly what I had when I was on my own before meeting Jesus Christ.  I was broken and filled with bravado.  I didn’t want anyone to know how wounded I was;  but, everyone knew.  I was the only one who was being fooled.  Are you fooling yourself?

In the Scripture, there is a story of five wise and five foolish virgins awaiting their bridegroom to come for them.  When the time came, the foolish ones wanted oil (a type of the Holy Spirit) for their lamps from the wise ladies who were wise enough to say no.  This is not something that you can do on the preparedness of another.  It is up to each of us to be filled with the Spirit and ready for the encounters that the God who loves us has for us.

My heart hungers for Him.  My flesh avoids Him.  It is up to me now to decide who is in charge, just as it is up to you.  Do I let my heart rule and fall in love with my Lord and live in His grace and glory OR do I let my flesh rule and continue to do my own thing.  Now is the day.  Tomorrow is too late.  He wants me to spend time with Him; to romance Him and to love Him.  He desires for me to walk out Spirit-life.

When I draw near, He will draw near to me.  Then I will wonder, whatever did I think was so important, that I didn’t stop and meet with this One I love.

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