"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.

Who are the People God Throws Away?

Are there really people thatGod has created to throw away?  Is it His will that some of us are destined for hell?  Who would they be?  Why would God bother to create people for destruction? Let’s look at how “Christians” look at people who are ‘different’ from their idea of Christian life.

Recently I became aware that some good church folks think it is okay to look down on and even dismiss some people.  In fact, if one of these undesirables comes into their sanctuaries, they would be put on the back row in the balcony so as not to offend.

What does a candidate for salvation look like?  Are they well-groomed, middle class with a good income and not too many problems?  Are these the only ones God loves?

So who are we throwing away?

A young man gives his heart to the Lord and then tells his pastor that he is gay and loves his partner.  The Pastor tells him to go get his life straightened out and then come back.  He goes to another church and the Pastor preaches that all homosexuals are destined for hell and are an abomination.  He falls into despair and quits going to church.

A young woman is pregnant and the father of her child is her dad.  She turns to the church for help.  The board is shocked and suggest an abortion.  She has come to them for help and to find a way to keep the child in safety from her family.  They report her father and he spends jail time and is forever a registered sexual offender.

A young boy of seventeen comes to church alone and when the Sunday School teacher talks to him, she finds out that he is being molested by a family member.  She calls social services and he ends up in foster care and his family member is in jail.  Redemption?

A father of four confesses His love for Jesus but can’t get free from his addiction to alcohol.  He begs the pastor for help, but he either doesn’t know how to help him or doesn’t want to help him.  He comes to church faithfully; every week he goes down to the altar begging for help.  Within the year, he dies.  He is forty-five years old.

A mom has a new baby with an abusive husband.  Because of her victimization, she has lost her other four children by a previous husband.  Now this husband plays mind games with her and tortures her with losing she fears losing this baby.  She seeks for help but the pastor can’t get her free.  She lives in fear.

A couple has lost everything.  They are living in their car, washing up at McDonald’s and working for Image Detailhourly pay doing the most menial things.  They have nothing, clothes are threadbare and their teeth are decaying.  Are they invited to the front row?  No, they sit down and the people around them get up and move away.

A trembling Muslim woman in a hijab comes in and slinks off in a dark corner hoping not to be noticed.  Her husband has beaten her again and has left alone for a few days.  Having escaped from her prison, she is hungry for a religion of love and wants to hear about Jesus.  She overhears someone call her a terrorist and leaves in fear.

A  Charismatic  couple visit a mainline church. They are made to feel welcome.  One of the greeter ask them where they go to chruch and when they realize the denomination, they all turn a walk away and don’t speak to them again.  Their doctrine is more important than the people.

A rather plain woman with Down’s Syndrome is brought to the church.  She loves everyone and wants to touch them and kiss them but the church people are repulsed by her.

A beautiful young woman comes in to the church.  Her father died when she was sixteen and she is hungry for the counsel of a godly man.  It starts out well, but before long, the Pastor takes her to bed.  She is confused and her understanding of God as Father is corrupted.

A soldier coming back from the Middle East has Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and struggles with suicidal tendencies.  They counsel him and counsel him, but they have no power to set him free and one day, he is found in his car with the motor running.  At the funeral, the pastor wonders if he could have done anything differently.

All of this grieves the Father-Heart of God.  He loves each one of us.  It doesn’t matter to him if we are a murderer, alcoholic, homosexual, lesbian, pregnant with out marriage, suicidal, handicapped, vulnerable or a molester.  He wants us to come to Him.  He loves us.

As those who have given our hearts to God, we need to remember that when we judge another, we may be guilty of something worse.  It boomerangs on us.

Today, I invite you to quit judging people with soft hearts who want to know God.  They may look hard and scary, but they are looking for answers and they want to see the love of God in you.

We are all broken.  We just don’t always tell everyone what is wrong with us.

Read the testimonies at http://SwimTalks.wordpress.com.  Remember where you came from.  If you were a good person with no noticeable faults, remember ‘God resists the proud.”

God loves us.  Every one.  He created hell for the devil and the other fallen angels, not for us.  So the next time you think that someone isn’t good enough to join your fellowship, check your own heart.

I invite you to receive God’s forgiveness and ask Him to put His love in your heart for even the least of us.  They are in gangs, murdering and lost because those of us in the church are not sharing the love of God with them.  Purpose today to spend time with the God of Love and get filled up with Him.  Quit playing church and BE the Church!!

Righteousness verses Morality

I believe that there is a difference between righteousness and morality.  Righteousness is  a gift from God that puts us in right standing with God and morality is our attempt to be good without God.  When we are righteous, we are by extension moral.  When we are moral, we are not necessarily by extension righteous. We can improve our outward actions but apart from God, we are never truly free.

I would like to introduce you to John, a very moral man with a deep sense of moral outrage about people and actions.  He was big on judging and that is pride.  Scripture actually says to “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

He had attended church ever since he could remember.  John had served as a deacon and an elder on the church boards.  He didn’t like the new pastor and he was upset that he seemed to think that just anyone could come in to the place he considered his own place of worship.

John thought he knew the meaning of the Bible and taught classes.  He told them God hated several different groups of people.

He had marched against the abortion clinics while telling the young women that if they didn’t change their ways, they would be going to hell.  God’s heart aches.  People that hated religion were another of his enemies.  He would hand out tracks at the various festivals and celebrations held in his city.  When a recipient would take one look at the tract, scoff and drop it and then step on it, John would sneer at them and say, “God will treat you just that way some day.”

But the real enemy was anyone who appeared to be a homosexual.  He didn’t even bother handing them a track.  He just told them, right up front, that they were a disgusting abomination made for destruction and there was no hope for them.

Of course, we know that what John believed about these people is not God’s view.  God loves all of us.  Those of us who are in relationship with the Lord were once involved in these and other sins – some even worse.  We were labeled just you have been.  The only difference between any of us is our relationship with our heavenly Father.

The only sin that keeps you out of God’s heaven is rejecting His Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

The issue comes when we don’t understand who is real and who is false..  Just as there is a difference in people at a ball park; there are differences in the people who call themselves Christian.

At the ballgame, some people are extreme fanatics that paint their faces and go crazy.  The are all sound and fury, unable to affect the score but annoying everyone, while some sit on the sidelines and eat popcorn and peanuts just observing.  The true team mates get in and play the game.  Of the team that is on the field,  some of them take steroids, gamble and disgrace the team while others work hard and accomplish great things.  It is the same in the church.

In the church, there are people who know Jesus and the Heavenly Father who are filled with the Holy Spirit and there are others who are of their father the devil.  (I didn’t say it, Jesus did.)  Jesus addressed this when he spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were the religious leaders of the day.   “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.”  Matthew 23:15  The Message (MSG).  Yikes!  Jesus didn’t like phonies either!

Make no mistake, dear ones, the God of the Universe, our Creator, loves you and He loves me.  Satan is a defeated foe, but the church has let him run loose because so few in the church remember the Truth and they have lost their way.

I am sorry and beg for your forgiveness for I was such a one, but recently, I found a fellowship of the remnant of true believers  who KNOW the Father and Jesus and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As His children, we are not to be weak-willed and goofy.  We are to walk in the peace, power, and love of God.

Jesus Christ came to earth to destroy the works of the evil one – Satan.  He destroyed his work and took the keys of death, hell and the grave.  Then he left us to clean up the planet and enforce his defeat.  But the enemy had a few tricks left and decided that if he couldn’t beat us, he would join us.

So, many people hate what the church has become and the idea of a God who answers prayer sickens them. The Scriptures say that the enemy has blinded those who don’t believe.   I was right there with you but now I know better.  Will I obey what I know and cast out demons, heal the sick and lead lost people to the Light of God?  The Bible says that when we seek Him, we will find Him, when we seek for Him with our whole heart.  It is my prayer that you will reach out to Him today.  I do that every day and He meets me.

He has gifted me with righteousness and as a result my actions are wholesome and righteous.  Once I was blind but now I see.  It is a gift that is fully paid for by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Father God loves us with an everlasting love even when we are far away.  The people who call themselves His children are often the children of the devil.  But there is the real and you will know them by their love.  They will love you and they will love each other.  They will hate the works of the evil one just like Jesus did.  If you know your Bible, he took a whip into the temple and overturned the religious mess made by the priests and the money changers.  He was a man’s man – no ‘namby-pamby’ Jesus of the Easter Plays.  He was passionate and fully alive!

When we give our heart to Jesus and He takes us to the Father, we experience the life of God and we are passionate and powerful, just as He is.

Won’t you join me in this amazing adventure?  E-mail me.

I Am a Child of God

Very intelligent, Troy lived in his head.  He felt that if he couldn’t figure it out, then it wasn’t real.  Faith?  He scoffed at it.  He didn’t need it.  He had it all together.  He loved research and his job.  He worked with concepts and could take an idea from beginning to end.  His mind worked like a computer.  He could win any argument and found few people that could provide a challenge to his conclusions and even fewer who were able to get him to re-work a solution.

Troy’s wife, Vera, was exasperated with him.  Even in questions of raising the children, he knew better than anyone else.  Their boys were entering the teen years and she was seeing them struggling with never being heard.  Their own creativity was stifled by his “father knows best” attitude.

Because of his increasing narcissism, he was no longer tender with her.  She called an attorney.  “He talks and talks and feels he is unimpeachable,” she told the divorce attorney.  “I want to be able to have an opinion and I want the children to develop their own ideas.”

When she announced her intentions to Troy, he exploded.  “I don’t understand.  We have just recently gotten out of debt.  The kids are only going to be here for a few more years.  We have it all.”  But Vera was done and she made it clear.

After leaving, she felt like she was lower than low.  She had no sense of self-worth and began to look for a new love with purpose.  She signed up for several internet sites and had a few ‘dates’ with men who had failed in their own marriages and each had a different set of issues than Troy.  But she was not interested in multiplying her problems.  She became increasingly isolated.

Her close friend, Lizzie, had changed so much recently that at times, Vera was puzzled by her.  She talked about Jesus as her new best friend and big brother.  It puzzled her.  Lizzie kept inviting her to come to a meeting of people that she called her new family.  Vera demurred.  She didn’t need to get involved with a bunch of Jesus ‘freaks” anymore than she needed a man in her life with issues.

Some of Troy’s judgemental, opinionated ways had rubbed off on her especially as it concerned religion.  She didn’t want to be weak and felt that moving in this direction would only add to her problems.

Lizzie didn’t push, but she was so different, in a good way, that Vera was drawn to spend more time with her.  Lizzie talked about something that she called the power of God.  Vera didn’t believe in God but if there was one, it would sure be nice if He had some power.

Eventually, the kids began to get out of control and she had no one to turn to.  Lizzie convinced Vera to meet with her Pastor.  She was really scared but when she met Sam, she liked him.  He had an easy smile and an engaging manner.  He didn’t tell her what to do and listened to her in a way no man had ever done.  He had a way of speaking into her life that felt like healing to her soul.  She could feel the stress fall away.  In the meeting, she found herself calling on the name of Jesus with her whole heart and faith filled her with hope.

But as in all stories, when things get better, something happens that rocks you.  For Vera, the doctor found a lump in her breast and they diagnosed it as cancer.  She fell apart.  One Tuesday night at the Fellowship Meeting, she asked for prayer.  The power of God fell on her in a way that shocked her.  She was laying on the floor.  She didn’t remember going down.  When she got up, she touched her breast and found that the lump was gone.  The doc confirmed the healing at her next appointment.

Vera had never before had an experience of the power of God.  She wasn’t expecting it.  Such peace and joy.  Everything changed.   Even the ways she was speaking to her boys was different and they were responding.

There is so much more to this story and it will go on for years .  There will be many chapters and many changes.  Vera will grow in the Lord and she will make mistakes.  The righteous fall seven times, but they get up.  The progressions are steady and she will learn to move from her soul life to Spirit-life.  She will get to know the great Almighty God and be privileged to call Him, Abba – Papa.

Father isn’t mad at her because she is divorced, or because she thought she didn’t need Him.  His grace embraces her and as she receives it, she changes.  She is discovering that she is from another place.  This world is not her home.  She is an alien.  Her citizenship is now in heaven.  Her new job title is  ambassador of heaven.  Of course, she doesn’t find this out all at once.

Her dear friend, Lizzie, introduced her to a new family and a new home.  Her pastor, Sam, is her mentor and trusted friend.  She has a purpose and a future.

Confirming Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Jeremiah 29:11
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Malachi 2:10
[ Sin in the Family ] “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

Ephesians 3:16-19 – 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 1:19  19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

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