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

Posts tagged ‘forgiveness of sin’

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.

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!

A True Merry Christmas Story

Today I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I want to bring to mind the real reason that we pause this time of year.  In a world that is trying to neutralize all of our beliefs and traditions, there is something wonderful and real.  He is Jesus and this is how He came to save us:

The Creator of the Universe, Father God had been betrayed by the created being closest to Him in Heaven.  His name was Lucifer and he led a revolt, with some of the angels; he lost of course.  He realized too late that He could never again be exalted alongside of Father God.

He was exiled to the earth and here he raged around and wrecked havoc everywhere destroying the beauty of the planet.  He became known as Satan and because He was a created being filled with life, he could not be destroyed – even by Father God.

It is hard to believe, but Father God longed for a family and He had only One Son.  They decided that they would multiply the family and make more beings in the god class to live on the earth and take it back from this rebellious fallen being.  Father Himself planted a garden in Eden and gave life to another son, Adam.  He formed him in the soil of the earth outside the garden.  He then brought him into the garden and told him to dominate the earth and expand the garden.

Adam got to name all the animals and loved the Garden and spending time with Father God.  But God knew that Adam was missing a companion made like he was.  So He separated his wife from Adam’s body so that they could share in this adventure together.  Father came down from heaven often and spent time with them.  He gave them only one rule – not to eat from a tree that was called the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Satan was listening and saw this as an opportunity.  He slithered into the garden and began creating doubt in these two amazing people.  Soon, they took the bait and took a bite out of the fruit of the forbidden tree.  Too late they found out the error they had made.  Suddenly they knew they were uncovered from the wonderful Light and Glory of God and made a feeble effort to cover themselves.

When Father came to them, he asked them what happened and they blamed each other and the serpent.  It was the first time that blame was used.  Father couldn’t cover them with Light and Glory anymore, so he killed some of the animals and made coverings for them.  When the animals shed their blood, Adam and Eve’s sins were forgiven and they were covered.

Father spoke over them the results of their actions. They had to leave the beautiful garden.   To Adam he said, “Man would labor to bring forth with great effort what had previously been available without toil.”  To Eve, he said  ” Woman would have pain in childbirth, but her kind would have a Son that would be bruised by Satan, but he would crush Satan’s head.”

Eve herself was not the one to physically give birth to the Christ Child. Many centuries would pass until a young woman who had never known a man would be chosen to bring forth Jesus, the Christ.  (Christ means the Anointed One.)

So here we are, over 2000 years since the birth of Jesus remembering that He came with a purpose.  It was to redeem us and to take the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan.  He did it all through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He shed His blood, just a God shed the blood of animals for us in the Garden, and out sins were forgiven.

In Heaven Jesus is now seated with Father praying for each of us every day.  When we accept what Jesus has done for us, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us .  He is our Guide, Teacher,  Comforter and much more.  Now Father has a family of people who believe in the finished work of His Son and He has given us meaningful work here on earth, to bring more of those who fell as a result of the disobedience of our first parents, back into His family.

He longs for each of us and waits for us.  No matter what we have done, He still wants us.  The Scripture says, “For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever (you and me) believes in Him should not perish (die) but have eternal life.  He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Isn’t it great that there is NO Condemnation when we choose Him.

Satan doesn’t want us to know about the amazing love of Father God and His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  He does everything in his power to damage the name of Jesus and God the Father.  He wants us to think that the Holy Spirit is powerless and that we have no power to be who Jesus made us to be.  He gets us to do his work and we steal, kill, and destroy others and then he blames it on God.  But God only gives life and He gives it fully.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we change our citizenship and our family.  In that moment, we are citizens of heaven and part of the royal family of God who is now our Father, and Jesus is our big brother.  So, if you accept the finished work of Jesus, I promise you a life of excitement and adventure.  Find a church that understands both the Word of God (Bible) and the Spirit of God.

To accept Jesus, use your own words and pray something like this, “Father, Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to earth to save me.  Jesus, come into may heart and forgive me of my sin and teach me to be all you have for me to be.  Lead me to people who know you so that I may learn your ways.  Thank you.  Amen

I promise that when you pray this pray, all the angels of heaven will rejoice with great joy.  This is my Christmas prayer for you.

Send me a note that I may rejoice with you. If you want to e-mail me with questions or to tell me of your decision, you can do so at joyinthejourney@gmx.com.

The Back Row Guest

Nick hadn’t planned to be in a men’s recovery center ever again.  He had been clean for five years until three days ago.  For absolutely no reason, he went on a three-day bender.  The hang-over was familiar yet he knew that he wasn’t that person anymore and he didn’t want to go back This is how he found himself as a guest at the shelter.  They were having a speaker that was seeing people set free.

Nick’s father and grandfather were both pastors and his religious upbringing had been oppressive.  He knew that God had called him when he was twelve years old to be in the ministry.  The commitment and price his family paid daily caused him to run.  He started drinking shortly after he heard from God and never looked back.  He was forty-five and until five years ago, he seldom been sober.

Now, here he found himself sitting on the back row of the center and the speaker was saying things that made sense – things he had longed believed but never heard in church.  The man was talking about an encounter with God, not rules and doctrines.  He felt a fresh wave of the Spirit wash over him.  He leaned forward.  Everyone and everything around him fell away and he was totally engrossed in the message.

The speaker called for people to come forward for prayer.  He didn’t remember getting up and found himself almost gliding down the aisle.  The man-of-God turned to him and told him the truth he had been running away from.  “You have a call on your life and you have known it since you were very young.  It’s not too late.”  Then he laid his hands on his shoulders and the Presence of God was so strong that he found himself on the floor.  He had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and he was being renewed and refreshed.  He got up changed.

The evening meal was served to them and the founder of the shelter and the speaker were sitting at a table at the far end of the room.  They were engaged in conversation.  He hesitantly approached them and ask the guest speaker a question.  He was invited to join them and felt unworthy of the honor.  He was encouraged to do so and sat.  Several hours later, they rose up.  He recognized that he had been holding unforgiveness toward his family and he now released them.  Life would never be the same.

That night, he stopped at home.  His live-in girl-friend shouted at him, “What have you been doing?”  He became defensive.  “Nothing.”  She angrily replied, “You have been up to something!  You look so different.”  He knew then that he was forever changed.  He told her of his encounter with the Most High God.  She was skeptical, but could see the change.

Nick has moved into the shelter and is no longer a guest.  He is engaged in becoming the man God intended.

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!

Is the Presence of God Absent?

We walked into the church hopeful.  We had looked for a long time and we were getting discouraged.  Within a short time we knew we had hit the ‘religion’ jackpot.  There was an active ‘amen’ corner.   The lady that sang the solo had no talent and was chosen for her hair style and lack of make-up.  The reverend was very loud and pointed an accusing finger at the congregation who seemed to be used to the berating.  He talked of the devil and condemned each of us to our own private corner of hell UNLESS we repented from our sin.  I could think of no reason to repent but only had a desire to flee.  If this was ‘church,’ we wanted no part in it!  We quickly delivered ourselves outside to the fresh air and blue sky.  It was not our first disappointment and would not be our last.

It must grieve God’s Father heart that we can be satisfied to sit under this oppression and call it Christian.  Being abused every Sunday morning by a leader who has never even have had an encounter with the Living God.  There is a good chance that s/he is not even a part of God’s family.  This person is what the Bible calls a ‘hireling,’ not a shepherd.  He found a career and used his public speaking skills to try to scare people out of hell, but I think he may just have succeeded in convincing them that if this was what church was about, they wanted no part of it.

Other leaders may not be so overt, but they are all about psychology, or they are a friendly social club that only teaches the easy parts of the Bible  There are so many ways that the church has been infiltrated by the devil and the world.

When we were first brought into the family of God, we were zealous and accepted everything we encountered as coming from Heaven.  After several woundings and our son walking away in disgust, we realized that there must be more to the church thing than what we had first thought.

So, we continued our search to find a place where the Spirit of God actually showed up when we came together.  We love the Lord and spent time with Him on a regular basis.  We really did come into His Presence from time-to-time, but it seemed that the more we hung around certain churches, the less we encountered Him.  Finally we gave up and stayed home.  This was really not a solution either.  At home, we began to drift.  I started reading Christian Fiction instead of the Bible – a voyeur into the lives of people who actually seemed to get it.  My husband just pulled in and his wounds isolated him.  Every so often, I would venture into another ‘church.’  If I could persuade him to come, he would give me a list of why everything was wrong, and he was right!

But I was starved for fellowship – the kind the Bible speaks of – koininea – a coming together in unity and oneness.  Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were One.  I wanted that and I wanted it with my husband.

I attended a small 7:00 AM fellowship in my small town.  There was a young man there that changed before my eyes.  He went from being a good denominational man to a radiant expression of the Presence of God.  He kept inviting me to come to a small church he attended.  He assurred me it was different.  I was intrigued.

When I went, it was definitely different – totally different from church as usual.  The leader claimed to walk and talk with God on a daily basis and taught the Word of God with authority.  Not completely convinced, I went several times before I asked hubby to come with me.  He came but not with a happy heart.  I could tell he was impressed but sitting for a long time is hard on him and the guy could talk!  After two and a half hours, the meeting broke up.  My dear man told me that I should go to this fellowship, but it wasn’t for him.

So with his blessing, I continued to go.  I changed so much that he knew something was up.  One day, he decided it was time to visit with the leader and he found a man-of-God who not only affirmed him but drew him into a friendship.

We began to attend as a couple.  God has done amazing things in our lives in the last six or seven months.  Now we sit through sermons that can last much longer than two hours and still be hungry for more.  We are learning to enter into and abide in the Presence of God.  He is not just Almighty God to us anymore; He is now our Papa – Abba – Father God.  He loves us and we know it.  We love Him because of it.

This fellowship has become our family.  We are now involved in going to the streets to invite people into His Presence.  It has changed our lives forever.

If your church doesn’t have the Presence of Father God in their services and if it doesn’t show in the lives of those who attend, find a place where God is present.  It makes all the difference.

Is your church abiding in His Presence.  Are you?

Religion or Encounter?? You choose!

My Mama didn’t believe in joining a church because of her Mama’s religion. They taught you would get ‘the Mark of the Beast’ if you did. (I didn’t know what that was.) Grandma’s religion had made atheists of all of her kids because it was, what was then called the “holiness” movement. She wore dark stockings, no make-up and did not believe in having much of anything. There was no radio, television, indoor plumbing and for many years, no refrigerator. She carried wood and coal and used an outhouse until she was 90 years old. Her belief colored all of our lives. Mom and Dad could never agree on what to do about church and so they slept in and sent me to a small church two blocks away.

At that little church, we had a series of pastors, at least two of which I believe loved the Lord. The others were merely religious and not true shepherds.

The one that negatively impacted me the most was a man who had been asked to leave his previous denomination – and pastorate (at least that is what I remember.) Reverend was very unhappy. He had five children who were unique in that they didn’t even fit in and I know that was painful for them.

His wife was the one that still causes me to shake my head. One thing I remembered vividly was that she wore silk stockings with a seam down the back and acres of unshaved hair beneath them. She taught Sunday School. Her favorite song was “Holy, Holy, Holy” and I always felt she was singing about herself as she closed her eyes and warbled in a high stringy soprano.

She didn’t like me much. I was a bit of a leader among our small fellowship. The kids voted for me to give the Youth Sunday sermon. When the news got to Mrs. Reverend, she took me aside and said, “Reverend and I don’t believe that we should have someone in the pul-pit (emphasis on pit) that isn’t a member of the chucha (no ‘r’ and strong last ‘ch’).”

I was very hurt and confused. I left and went to a church across town until they left. It was years before I could hear the song ‘Holy, Holy, Holy and focus on the one it was about.

At no time did anyone in that small church talk to me about the Gospel. There was no power and often little love. It was a place where some folks were thought of as pillars and others as necessary but not honored.

When I went through my rebellious years, I turned from traditional ‘religion’ and started looking at alternatives including the New Age. I found the focus on me and I liked it. I had a new religion and I was the ‘god’ of that religion. It was comfortable but it did not satisfy.  I did what felt right in my own eyes.

Many years later, as I drove down the street listening to R. W. Shambach on the radio, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and my life changed forever. I had an encounter with the Living God.  I learned that afternoon that God was real, He loved me and had a plan for me  the most amazing thing of all, I found out that I was forgiven. God Himself walked me through receiving His forgiveness and washing me clean. No one can ever convince me that God is not real. He is real! I am His and He is mine.

Religion is an ugly thing.  It is a practice of traditions not instituted by God. It is primarily cultural and doesn’t focus itself on the love and Presence of God.   It talks about God but doesn’t really know Him and can be a mere history lesson.

Religion is found in many different forms and even embraces Christianity that has explained away the power of God.  Because they do not experience it, they deny it.  I includes many different belief systems from all around the world. It incites people to have wars to protect their doctrines and beliefs.  There is form but no supernatural power.

Today’s Lesson:

What religion has is tradition, judgement, culture, doctrine, history, and social clubs as well as conflict with anyone who disagrees with them. What God has is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness is His gift to us at our acceptance of His Son’s finished work.

Peace is ‘shalom’ in Hebrew which means wholeness – complete in Him.

Joy comes from His Presence and has no opposite and is found only abiding in Him.

A relationship with the Living God is far better than religion.

Are you in religion? Or do you personally know and fellowship with the living God?

If you don’t know Him, I invite you to an encounter with the Living God by accepting the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is easy to do.  Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus and believe with you heart – NOT your head – and you will be saved and He will send the Holy Spirit to Guide you into all Truth.  Then ask Him to make Himself real to you and He will.

Let me know if you make this decision.

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