How Many times have we as children of God, questioned His very presence during a time of chaos and uncertainty in our lives? We ask, “Lord, where are you?” Why is this happening? Then we take a deep breath and remember the song that David sang in (Psalms 145:18) “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth.” All who are followers of God need to remember, He is near. He is present and He will never leave His people. This is an amazing truth that we as children of God must hold onto, especially in our troubled times.
The author of Hebrews reminds us of a resounding truth that all of God’s people should never forget in (Hebrews 13:5) “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” It is so easy to get caught up in worry and start losing trust that the Lord provides. However, God will never leave us hanging. He will always be there and is as close as the mention of His name.
Remember Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 6:33) “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Remember God will never forsake you. He may not do what you want when you want it, but He will never leave you. He will always be here, and He will always provide for your needs.
I’m sure we all remember from Sunday school the verse John 3:16, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
On December 25 each year we celebrate and remember that love that was given to us unconditionally. Can you imagine the love God has for us, He gave to us wrapped in flesh on this day which we celebrate every year. I know that this year has been tough, for some to the point where we feel we cannot handle it, however; God has always been there with us through it all and that is why we need to take time to reflect on what he did for us.
Jesus Christ is definitely the Reason for every Season in our lives!
While we take focused time and special care during the Christmas season, Jesus should be celebrated all year round. Remember to take time this Christmas, to not rush to the pretty presents under the tree or keeping your thoughts on all the yummy food through the holiday, but I ask that you spend some time to cherish what God sent his son to do for you and me.
I pray you and your family have a wonderful Merry Christmas! Be blessed and stay safe.
GOD BROKE INTO OUR REALM OF HUMANKIND – AS A BABY! He had to be part of us, part of the human experience, in order to conquer the enemy, to be without sin, without blemish, and pleasing to the Father, to defeat the enemy, pay our ransom, and give us the opportunity at freedom in Christ. All those things came in the form of a baby! Not quite what was expected by the disciples, nor the Jews that were waiting for the Messiah, but the way God chose. Are you waiting for a long-awaited answer to a prayer? Do you wonder how in the world you have arrived at a destination that you were not expecting? Maybe you are exactly where God has led you. The words to an old song “I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here, where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.” Don’t fret. Don’t be anxious. Don’t lose hope. Don’t fear. Don’t doubt. Keep on doing what you know to do and believe the Lord that He knows best for you – (believe = trust in, rely on, and adhere to). Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” You can imagine that the disciples thought ALL WAS LOST at the cross. Like them, we may have forgotten to trust and to relax when things don’t go as planned. Proverbs 3:5 “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” Soon, we get to celebrate Jesus coming as a baby (unexpected) and THANK HIM FOR BECOMING THE SAVIOR AND REDEEMER – Emanuel with us (as promised!)
Have you ever considered your “aftermath”? I know, that sounds crazy, right? Or does it? Aftermath is generally defined as the “results that follow.” So, what results typically follow you? I have heard it called your “wake” before also. It can be related that way as well as the impact your vessel is making in the waters that you are navigating. Either way, you make an impact. While there are varying degrees of such impact, we impact all the same. We are to be salt and light in this broken world. According to God’s Word, we are to live in a way that is cheerful always, praying and worshipping without ceasing and living in the frame of mind and reference that is thankful in the midst of it all. During 2020, it seems that one of the first things that were attacked in the church was our cheerfulness, which impacts relationships and makes us hypercritical. Sure, we have diminished in some senses due to all the restrictions and depressive feelings that COVID-19 and governmental restrictions and isolation has brought us, but the Word must be at our centermost core. I have read reports of church splits in various parts of the USA, pastors quitting, ministers leaving, believers quitting church, changing churches and so much more as the strain of things has overwhelmed so many. We must not allow the “stuff” and minutia of this life to get us to a place where our aftermath and our wake becomes a devastating one. Jesus warned us of the cares of life that would cause us to be weighed down, in Luke 21:34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down withcarousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” Our hearts being weighed down with cares is on par with the other things that Jesus in mentioning. Then he says, in Luke 21:36, the same passage that we are to “Watch therefore, and pray always.” We must heed the Words of our Lord in both the warning and the solution. So many are watching how we are in these times, my prayer is they see in real-time, social media, and in all aspects of our lives, the goodness, and reality of Jesus Christ our Lord. As we approach December 2020 – stay steadfast and firmly planted on Jesus, His Word, and be careful of what your aftermath and your wake leaves behind you. There is no such thing as not having an aftermath, we all have one. We choose the kind we leave.
We love you all!
I think we can all agree that prayer is an important part of our relationship with God. When you think of prayer, what comes to mind? When you pray, what is it that you want from God? What requests dominate your life of prayer?
True prayer happens at the intersection of surrender and celebration. Prayer is profoundly more than handing a wish list to God and letting him know that you’re thankful that he exists and has the power to deliver. This kind of prayer puts you at the center and, in a real way, reduces God down to the divine waiter. This reduction looks to God as the sugar daddy or genie in the sky, rather than a real divine relationship in one’s life. If your wish list is all you are accomplishing in your prayer time then it’s not him that you want during this time. It’s not his wisdom that you see yourself as needing. It’s not his grace that your heart craves. Wish-list prayer essentially says, “I know what’s best for my life and I’d appreciate it, God, if you would use your might to make it happen.”
You pray like this when you forget that God, as Creator and Savior, knows infinitely more than you do about what you really need. But even more than that, this kind of prayer makes life all about your wants, your needs, and your feelings. This is not really prayer after all. I must admit that I have found myself in this place on more than one occasion.
But do not fret if you find yourself here too. There is hope to turn your prayer life around. In true prayer, you surrender your claim on your life to the greater and wiser plans and purposes of God. You submit your will to his will. It’s not God signing your list, it’s you surrendering your life to him.
When we can accomplish this aspect of prayer, then prayer is a celebration. In prayer, you bask in the wonder of what it means that you actually do have a heavenly Father. You find joy in the reality that he has chosen to give you his kingdom. You are blown away by the fact that he unleashes his almighty power to meet your needs. You celebrate forgiving, rescuing, transforming, enabling, and delivering grace. You find joy in your inclusion in his work of redemption. You find hope in the glorious future that is to come. You are amazed by the fact that because Immanuel has invaded your life by his grace, you are never, ever alone. You find peace in the fact that grace means you are never left to the small resources of your own wisdom, righteousness, and strength. You meditate on God’s glory and goodness, then celebrate. You rejoice in the fact that you no longer have to look for life in the people, situations, and locations around you, but you’ve been given life—life that is eternal.
Does true prayer include making requests of God? Sure, it does. God encourages us to cast our cares on him because he really does care for us. But the requests of true prayer are always in the context of surrender and celebration. It is surrender and celebration that keep those requests from being selfish demands or bitter complaints. This kind of prayer is a tool of God’s grace in your life. As you put God in his proper place and celebrate your place as his child, prayer becomes a tool God uses to free you from your bondage to you and to the temporary of this world. I want to encourage you in this upcoming season to make prayer a journey more about celebration and surrender. I invite you to take the space that you use for your want list and reflect on how wonderful our Heavenly Father is and see if your total life doesn’t change as a result. My prayer for you is that you would discover and be able to understand “how long, how wide, how deep, and how high God’s love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves” (Ephesians 3:19).
Prayers & Blessings,
Fear is a strange and wonderful thing. Fear of being run over by a car that reminds you to look both ways before you cross a busy street is a good thing. Fear of being run over by a car that keeps you from walking out of your front door is a bad thing. I get very nervous when I hear someone say “I’m not afraid of anything.” In my mind that is just as unhealthy as someone who is afraid of everything. I don’t always acknowledge my fears, but believe me, they exist. And at the risk of losing a little of my manly facade, I will share a few with you. I am afraid of losing my family, my job, of getting hit by a car on a bike ride (already happened once), I am afraid of making a fool of myself every time I speak in front of a group of people, I am afraid of losing my temper and saying the wrong thing, I am afraid of disappointing the people that rely on me, and the list goes on and on. I don’t know if your list of fears is bigger or smaller than mine but I’m pretty sure that you have one. So what do we do to keep our fears from overtaking us? How do we keep our fears controlled so they help us prepare or warn us of situations that could be harmful to us?
It is through the perspective of controlling fear, not removing it, that I like to think of II Timothy 1:7. God recognizes that we live with fears and to keep our fears from overwhelming us He has put in our hands the spirit of power, the spirit of love, and the spirit of a sound mind. Power so that when we aren’t strong enough to overcome our fears we can rely on someone who is. Love because nothing makes you feel more alone than being afraid. And in those moments it is His love that brings us hope. A sound mind because fear can take away our ability to make good choices, and when fear grips us we can turn to God and His word for guidance.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Today may be hard, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Cliché, I know, but it’s oh so true. In today’s world, it is hard to go out somewhere without having to remember so much stuff. Do not forget your mask, do not forget to watch what you say, and the list could go on and on.
But John 16:33 (AMP) says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy; I have overcome the world, My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding. ” While we are struggling today, and we may not know what our tomorrow holds – God already has a perfect plan for us.
Our prayer each day should not be “Lord help me get through this,” but it should be “Lord thank you for giving me another day to serve you and make an impact in this world during these tough times.” Yes – life gets us down, and during this pandemic, it is a little worse. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and God is the one in control of every situation.
I pray that during these hard times that God uses what is going on around us to bring us back to the center and to teach us two things. One, we as a church need to get ourselves right with God before we go to correct others. Two, let us come together and pray for everything we are bombarded with daily.
We can get so distracted in our lives due to all that we are seeing and experiencing every day. Yes, we face different trials every day but the creator of this universe desires that we lean upon Him, grow stronger in His Word and trust Him. John 16:33 “ In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Lord wants us to be focused on Him First, seek His face, and be willing to live a fruitful life. It is the will and command of the Lord that we bear fruit daily. What does it mean to bear fruit? It means letting the world see Jesus in us, and being an example that starts by planting a seed in others. Some fruit bearers may be the one who waters the seed. another could be fertilizer to the seed. Then prayerfully it grows into a plant and bears its own fruit. John 15: 1-4 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.”
Pruning is vitally important for us to grow in our walk with God. The dictionary defines pruning as “to trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems”, especially to encourage growth,” and this definition works when thinking about pruning in a Christian sense. For us to grow spiritually, become purposeful, and remain in a healthy relationship with Jesus our Lord, we have to cut the bad influences and distractions out of our lives by not letting them rule over us.
Through His Word, God shows us where we have missed it so that we can begin to live in a way that truly pleases Him. Also as we read and think on His Word, His Word contains a cleansing power that works in us, causing us to be the person He has destined us to be. His Word lights our paths and gives us the right direction for all aspects of our lives. His Word gives us the power to live a life that produces fruit. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” 2 Tim. 3:16.
Father, help us all to be fruit bearers for your Kingdom, Amen.
My favorite time of year. The colors, the crispness in the air, the fall activities, chili cook-offs, bonfires, it all brings out the smiles. I think “harvest time” is God’s favorite time too – but he is a different, more important harvest. He uses the farm analogy as something that we can understand, “seedtime and harvest” and we laborers/servants in his vineyard need to remember that we have to bring in the harvest. I think we are so often focused on ourselves that we have forgotten our job, the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20, and who we serve! We need to change our focus to His purposes and not ours. Some practical ways to go about our duties is showing love and care to those around us – being the hands and feet of Jesus, or Jesus with skin on. His goal is to use us and work through us to bring His GOOD NEWS to lost humanity – those in our sphere of influence. Ephesians 5:16 talks about “redeeming the time (buying up each opportunity!) Who is in your sphere of influence? When I came to know the Lord as my Savior and Redeemer, I was in someone’s sphere of influence – my next-door neighbor. Because she reached out and cared about me and my family, I was in a position to learn about Jesus’ love for me!!!! She was never shy in her conversations around me just because I was not a believer, she spoke about Jesus, her church, how she lived her life for Him….Jesus was always a part of her conversation, and I became interested, and ultimately accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. She knew I needed to be harvested, and did practical things to bring it about. Who can you show love to, in practical ways, that will influence them for the Kingdom?? IT’S HARVEST TIME!
So, I have this shirt in my closet that has a simple saying on it “Choose Joy”. I wear it around this time of year because it has long sleeves and it goes great with some of my fall and winter vests. But joy is not just something we choose; it is something that the bible truly wants us to have and live in. You might be asking yourself right about now how can I have joy when my world seems upside down? How can I have joy in my life when there is a pandemic going on and some of my friends and family members are getting sick? How can I have joy when my kids are home from school or doing virtual or home school? How can I have joy when there seems to be more bills than there is money coming into the bank?
Joy seems the farthest thing away from me right now when I am having difficulty at my job and my relationships are not working right. You want me to choose joy when I got a bad diagnosis from my doctor? I am stressed to the max and you want me to be joyful about that. In the midst of this growing stress, culture tells us the best we can do is push on and chase the next happy moment. These happy moments are temporary reliefs from our mounting stress, and if we’re fortunate enough, they can make us forget about our stress (momentarily). We live in a culture that loves feeling pleasant. We believe stress isn’t something we should feel, and that happiness is God’s plan for us. Right? But happiness is not the joy I am talking about. Joy is the internal satisfaction we feel when we pursue well-being and success, even through great difficulty. It makes us feel better and more positive, but it differs from happiness in that it can be present during difficult times. When you’re going through trials, it’s impossible to be happy. Your external circumstances won’t allow for it. But when you’re going through trials, it’s very possible to have joy. Your internal hope in God can give you the satisfaction to grow through the greatest of trials. Joy then becomes a choice that we make to hope in God and not in our circumstances. Joy becomes an action that then cultivates in our lives and makes us not just feel better but be better people in the long run. Choosing joy and putting our trust in God is not easy but nothing worth having in God’s Kingdom is effortless. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 NKJV