To Dance with the Lord

All of life is a dance and my partner is Jesus. I must learn to be sensitive to His guidance, to be aware of His moving. If I remember during our time together each morning to lean in close, to inhale deeply the fragrance of His love and Mercy, then His fragrance will linger on me. It will refresh the souls of those around me as they catch the scent. Like a familiar cologne they may not fully recognize for what it is, it should be reminiscent of a home they have not yet known.

Through out the day my mind goes back to our moments shared in the morning and my heart is refreshed as I whisper to myself a reminder that he is closer than the air I breathe, that His throne room is in my heart. Like one of those automated air fresheners, he restores my soul again. Something that I often need, and often before i even realize I need it, as the cares of this world begin to over shadow my ability to see with His eyes and to recognize the opportunities to reach out and be water to the thirsty souls of another.

My dim human eyes often miss the hurting soul next to me, but my Saviour sees. He opens my eyes to all the opportunity to be His hands and feet. If I am not paying close attention throughout my day to my partner I may miss a step. I need Him every hour, no every minute… There are so many hurting hearts! I don’t want to miss even one chance to do His work, to love the lost.

Church, we need to wake up from our slumber!! Some of us are guilty of allowing our legalism, our religiosity, our rule following to blind us to the truth of the gospel. That we were all lost and blind and that is by the grace of God alone that we were saved and not the work of our own hands. We allow ourselves to become judgemental and press our rules onto others. No one is ever going to care about how much we know, until we are willing to show them how much we care first. Bringing them into accordance with God’s will is NOT our job. Our job is to pray for them, love them, and when God leads teach them the Word of God.

Others are so caught up in their own relationship with God, with their own reading and studying that they are no real earthly good the to world around them. We must remove our stained glass eyewear and see the hurting the world around us. Leave our comfort zone and go to the people who are hurting. We are blessed, so that we can be a blessing!

This thanksgiving season, let us reach out to those who are in need and just love on them.

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And it was Good

Key word here would be was. At the time that God created everything, He declared that it was good. Webster’s dictionary has several definitions of the word good, but I like the one that says conforming to a standard. God’s standard is clearly set forth through out the Bible as being Holy, set apart, perfect. We all know that the world is a fallen place. That each one of us is a sinner by nature and by choice. God is a holy and perfect God, but He is also a God of mercy. Adam and Eve enjoyed an amazing opportunity to commune with the Lord. After the fall, this was no longer an option.

During the old testament times the average person was not allowed into the Holy area of the temple, nor were they allowed to eat holy food of priests, or even to touch certain implements. The sacrifices that were made to God were enough to keep the wrath of God at bay, this is such a beautiful foreshadow of the restoration that we can now know. These offerings were offered by those who has sinned unknowingly. This is a clear statement that having good intentions is insufficient, that being sinful did not require willfully disobeying God. Simply put, we are sinners by nature and just trying to be good is not enough.

Under the new covenant, because Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice we have become the temple of God.
He can make our hearts good, if he will let Him. He can give us the mind of God, but we must first be willing to lay down our lives and be sanctified. We must be holy as he holy. There certain things the as Christians we simply ought not be doing.

1 Corinthians 2:14-17 14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

As I again read through the old testament one thing is increasingly clear – God does not play games with individuals and nations who know what is right and rebel against Him. God is in control of everything and he has destroyed nations whose hearts were against him. Reading the scripture below, the question of whether or not America has reached this point? The Attitudes of America toward God is very disheartening. We were once a nation of people who put our trust in Him and we have become a nation where His name can barely be mentioned. WE must pray. Pray for our leaders. Pray for our people. Pray for our churches. Then we must serve, each person that calls themselves a child of God needs to commit to living fully for Him. As Israel wandered away and returned begging forgiveness we can as well. We have by spiritual adoption become the descendants of Abraham.

Leviticus 1824-30 24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its [a]punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominations, [b]those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’”

Taught of Him

In the wake of countless disasters, the most recent of course in Oklahoma, I can’t help but to wonder how many of those people suffered ultimate disaster without ever having heard the gospel of Christ. Christianity has universality, by this I mean that those who will believe without regard to who they are, there is no one the wrong age, gender, ethnicity and so on. The people that God will call come from all areas of the world, they speak all languages, and they are of all ages. The people called by God come from all backgrounds, they have committed all manner of sins. There is no sin too great to prevent you from coming to God. He will clean you up and change you no matter what. The price of being able to be called sons of God was the life of Jesus, a cost far too high for the finite minds of imperfect people to decide that a person will not respond to the gospel of Jesus. We should be following the great commission and telling every man, women, and child about the grace that can be found in Jesus. That though we were once blind, we can see, that all can be forgiven and we can know God personally. In our sin we can’t, but in HIS grace we can.

John 3:15 – 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Our part is to share the gospel. God’s part is to awaken the souls of dead men and to teach them the real meaning and purpose of life.

John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself

John 6:44-47 “No one can come to Me unless * the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.

In both of these instances, the word draw is original Greek word meaning to drag. This is not an act that the individual has any real part in. The are dragged to God, by God. It is His spirit that teaches us, not ours that learns. This is the case so that no man can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

This point of view of course always begs the question, Why would God choose one man over another man, (or women, or child). To that, I have no answer. I just know that my redeemer lives. I am humbled that he has chosen me and pray for those who do not know him yet. God is God, in His infinite wisdom he is far more qualified than I to make these decisions. If God could be fully understood in my finite mind, would he be God?

This is why, I will draw near to Him and share the gospel to a world that is lost and dying. I will remember that Hell is also universal, we all deserve it and many will find this their home after they pass on from this life. I will be His light to all who will be around me and trust that God will do the rest.

Handing financial difficulty God’s way

As we press into the new year, it seems a good time to look at our financial planning again. There are a few different points of view we need to keep in mind as we plan our finances. We need to make practical decisions and do our best to stick to them, but above all we need to put our trust in our heavenly father to bless our efforts and meet our needs.

On the practical end, we should be paying ourselves first. This means to take ten percent off the top of our income and set that aside. It also means having appropriate food stores and clean water for the unexpected calamity. Personally, I keep meat in the freezer, dry and canned goods in the cupboard, and make sure to rotate stock for freshness. One thing that most experts recommend that I am just learning to do is to have a garden of fresh vegetables and can the excess. If God has blessed us with the ability to work and to earn, we should do so and out of those earnings we should be charitable over and above our tithes and offerings. Remembering that all things come from Him.

As I was reading through the Gospels this month I came across and old familiar story. A large crowd had come to Jesus, to hear his teaching and the disciples were concerned about giving them food. Jesus took a small offering of fish and bread, certainly not enough to feed a crowd and fed them all. I think this principle still applies today. If we will give Jesus our all, He will take care of us. This can be taught in such a way as to take advantage of people, so I can understand if some of you are wary. I am not talking about giving to get. I am talking about trusting Him with everything, wanting Him first, and knowing that he will provide our needs

We must understand that God is all powerful and all knowing. If we have need we must ask Him, not because He is unaware, but as part of our relationship with Him. Now, this is the tricky part to explain. When making our requests for that which we need, our goal should always be first and foremost to have Him and His will. Mathew tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and all other things will be added to us. Reflecting Him at the office is a big part of this for me. I ask Him daily as I enter my office to please bless my efforts, to help me to do my job with utmost integrity, and trust Him for the rest. Many at my office know that I serve Him, so it is important that I do not represent Him poorly.

As we earn and spend our money today let us ask the question – what would my financial and work life look like if I lived as though all the promises of God were true? Turn your eyes to Jesus my friends.

Understanding who God is

When we are seeking to reflect the light of God, we must understand who he is. As God, He is first and foremost master and creator of everything. He is the king of kings, who chooses to be our friend. When Jesus became flesh, it was because we had sinned and separated ourselves from a perfect and just God. He came that he might pay the price for sin – death. He came as one of us to become our kinsmen redeemer, a Jewish tradition that allowed a family member to pay the debt of slavery that a man had sold himself into and sold ourselves we have. We have chosen sin, and Romans 6:23 is clear that the wages for sin is death.

His death provided for us a righteousness that we could not have on our own. This righteousness gives us entry into the thrown room of God. The greatest gift of the gospel, the “good news” is that we can have God himself. Relate to him, know him in a way that as slaves to sin we have no right to. This is important, because Jesus did not suffer and die to give us this gift so that we can go on living in our sin. God accepts us how we are, we can come to him “just as I am”, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. We should respect him too much to want to stay that way. We must honor him as God almighty who gave us an amazing gift that we could never earn, the gift of himself! Ever had a friend who clearly loved you for what you had to offer? As people, we don’t want friends like that. Why would God want us to come to him only for what He can do for us?

Would you draw near to God today and have him for him? Because of the gift of Christ we can!

Reflecting Him in our love for others…

What are the things that you value most highly?  For me and many others I am sure, it is the things I love most. One example of this would be a bracelet that I wear all the time.  I have no idea what the monetary value is, probably in the $100 range, but to me it is immeasurable value. It was given to me by someone I loved dearly a few months before she passed away. Wearing it lets me feel like I have a piece of her with me. This idea applies to across the board. we see value in the things we love, and toss away things we don’t.  Sadly, it often applies to people.

I have seen people treated poorly, because they didn’t live up to some unwritten standard of what society calls valuable, but each one of those people have someone who loves them and calls them priceless. They are loved by those who know them well, the cute way they wrinkle there nose when they think, the way the root for the underdog, or any of the little things that only the people who know you best know about you. It is hear in the train of thought that I realized the best news ever. God knows all this and more about each one of us!  The Bible tells us He knows even the smallest, most negligible details about us, down to how many hairs we have on our head. The God of the universe loves us with a great and powerful love that exceeds even my ability to imagine. We don’t need to meet some worldly standard of what is lovable; we need only to be His creation. “Behold what manner of the love the father has given unto us. That we should be called the sons of God”

The problem is that as people, we have a hard time loving what we can not understand and often we don’t understand things, or people, that are new or different. There are some things that we all have in common, as I have mentioned before. We can understand that we are all sinners; we all have similar basic needs (despite choosing different means to fulfill them), and in the end – we are all family.

We must begin to invest our time and money around in the people in our circle of influence.  We must ask God to help us see past what is different to what is the same. Most of all we need to see them as people who are held captive by the enemy who need Jesus. All life is valuable and loved dearly by God, as the children of God we should love people too.  It can be hard, I know, being an imperfect person myself.  I can be very hard to love at times and I am thankful to be blessed with people who love me. I am beyond grateful to have a savior who loves me enough to die for me.  Are you willing to die for your fellow man? at least metaphorically…

Reflecting Him in our attitudes toward others

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Declaration of independence

In this great country, our forefathers realized an amazing truth, that we are all created equal. They viewed this truth to be “self evident”, or simply stated, inherently true.  This statement offers many implications, including that we were created, not evolved on accident. The Bible tells us that we were created in the image of God. This is why understanding who He is will assist us in better understanding who we should be. This is where my title name comes from, to reflect Him means that we are to be a reflection of Him; this is what we were created to be. Now, when you look in the mirror your reflection is not you, it is only an image of you, how clear the image is will be is  highly dependant on the quality of a mirror you are looking into.  When God looks into you how much of himself does He see?

God is dignified.  This fact is evidenced in a few places in scripture.  First and foremost, He has told us both in the old and new testament that we are to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, that we are not to have other Gods before Him, and Jesus told us to sell all that we have to come follow Him.  This means that God wants all that we are; He will not lower His standards to come and beg us to accept the amazing gift he has given us. I say this not to diminish God’s incredible love for us, but to prevent us from diminishing who He is.  Also, we need to understand this fact in our own lives.  God is dignified, and we need to be as well.  Too many people will lower their standards to fit in with people who would ask them to compromise who they are and what they believe.

This would mean that understanding the dignity that God has and reflects in us has a twofold implication. First, that we must be wise about who our closest relationships are with, never allow someone close to you who asks you to compromise your morals; however,  we must remember that all men are created in God’s image and treat all mankind with respect and dignity. The basis for this dignity is inherent in being equally created in the image of God. As far as the people not within the guidelines of the church, they can not be judged by us in the same way.  We can not hold them to our standards.  This can be difficult, because first we can not compromise; however, we can not expect people of the world to have the same standards.  When they practice the use of foul language, sexual immorality, and the like we can not expect any different, but we can stand in contrast in that environment and be the light God called us to be. Jesus Himself said that a physician is needed for those who are sick, not those who are well. While our closest relationships are reserved for those who are like minded and born again of the spirit we can not pull ourselves out of the world. How can we shine our light to a world we do not participate in.

These are the cases where we need to love them where they are, we are not to judge them as we are no better except by the grace of God. Romans 3;23 tells us that we ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This sin which as both by choice and through being born in the line of Adam creates equality for us that shows where the terrible things that we as mankind are capable of come from. This means, that both the greatness and wickedness in man can be explained by our creation and fall. 2 Cor 4:4 tells us that the God of this world, the devil, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe.  They are captives. They do not see, because they can not see and when we treat them with the love of God and respect while we pray for them, God can open their eyes.  We are the workers but God gives harvest.  The price the Jesus paid on the cross is far too high, for us to have any say in who is welcome to the cross. We need to love world, not condemn them.

What else can we expect that sinners will sin?  Despite the fact that I am born of the spirit, I too will fall short of His glory, but if you see me behaving in an unholy manner, you should call me out on it, if you are my brother or sister in Christ.  We are called in 1 cor. 5 to separate from those who call themselves born again who commit atrocities, but we admonish them in love and not in judgment with the goal being that the relationship between them and Christ be restored. Having the discernment to know what to say when is no easy task. We must remain in the spirit and view all of our relationships prayerfully.

The bottom line is this: We are all equal; we are all deserving of love and respect. Pray for those around you and give them space to grow into what God would have them be. Be poor in spirit knowing that what is in you is of the Lord and with out his great grace each one of us would be lost and captives to the lies of our enemy.