Monday, April 27, 2009

Be Happy!!!

We've been going over several things dealing with struggles the past week or so and thought I would bring a post with more of something we should be happy with. I've been browsing through some sites of friends the past couple days and found my inspiration at Russ Hutto's site. He has some free wallpaper that hit me. The March free paper was a canvas with Romans 5:8 on it, beautifully done, I might add.

So, today I want to look at Romans 5:8-11..."But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so , but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

What hope that brings!!! First off, though we were sinners...can anyone argue that fact for themselves? I think not and would also make sure we realize we are STILL sinners, but sinners saved by grace. Yet Christ died for the whole lot of us, right? Verse 9 continues telling us that through being justified by his blood, we are saved from wrath through him. This isn't saying we are freed from any negative ever occurring in our lives, but rather from an eternal wrath. Continuing on, we are reminded that if we were reconciled while yet enemies, how much more we shall glory in him being atoned by his blood.

I am reminded of the song "Friend of God" in which the lyrics speak so plainly about how amazing it is that God would be mindful of me and is thinking of me, and wants to be my friend. Am I the only one who can't sing that song without a huge smile coming across my face???

For some strange reason, the chorus of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin came to mind when I was reading the passage in Romans. (Yes, I am definitely a child of the 80's) We don't have to live in worry and fear, be happy knowing that we have the Hope that so many are searching for!!!

What verse, passage, or maybe even song do you draw strength from? I'd like to see some of you share a bit of encouragement today!!! Jump into the conversation...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Say a Prayer...

I have spent quite a bit of time in prayer today as I review through the Twitterverse (universe of Twitter, that is). I have been praying for several requests, including a family who lost 4 members of their family this morning locally, the upcoming Compassion Bloggers trip to India, praise and worship services this coming weekend, and the many friends who are learning at Catalyst West Coast.

I am amazed at how folks are willing to share prayer concerns with "complete strangers" through Twitter. I have recently become involved in the @worldprayr group and have been helping in moderation and posting on the home site found here.

We need to be mindful that prayer that moves the heart of God can move the hand of God. I know I have heard Bro. Boyd say that many times, though I can't remember who he references with learning it from. The verse that comes to mind is found in James 5:16..."Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." If we will but take our petitions before the Lord we could see miraculous works done in Jesus' name!!!

Today, I wanted to open the gates for everyone to share a request (public or unspoken) that we could all lift before the Lord on each other's behalf.

I want to lift up a couple of requests myself...first for the Dale Welch family, as Dale's cancer has progressed and he is in his last days with us. May God comfort the family and allow us to open our arms in Christ's love to them. Also, The Howard family, as sister Howard is nearing life's end.

Finally, I would like to lift the Flood family up. The father and 3 children were killd this morning when their vehicle ran a stop sign and were hit by a semi. The mother was airlifted to OKC this morning.

I would ask that you pray for these and pray for me as I pray for you...

Please drop a request and take a moment to word a prayer for those who have posted before you...thanks!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Am I Carrying the Cross???

I was looking at some illustration videos and came across this one at tangle. I loved the music by Switchfoot and had seen the illustration before, but thought it was a good reminder...

Think on theses words from Luke 9:23..."And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Do we REALLY carry the cross daily? Or do we only carry what fits into OUR plan?

Share your thoughts, what does this video bring to your mind?

Let me know if you have any prayer requests that I can word on your behalf today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There Is A Hope!!!

After the passage we covered yesterday, I got thinking about the hope we have for our lives. We don't have to be in the low points of life to realize it, though. I was searching for a passage of hope to share and the chapters we have been studying on Wednesday nights came to mind.

Let's look at Romans 8:31-39..."What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Right off the bat, we are given one of the greatest lines ever..."If God be for us, who can be against us?". How many times has that line been used in church fellowships or gatherings as a "battle cry", if you will, to offset the thought of insecurity? And, rightfully so...with Him on our side, why should we be insecure in anything?

As we continue, we are reminded that if God were willing to give His Son on the cross, why would He withhold good from us? Through the blood of Christ, we have a freedom that many will never know. Is this a freedom to live a life of sin? Look at Romans 6:15..."What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." It is a freedom FROM a life of sin, right?

Verse 33 gives us a peace in that when others are hurling their insults and accusations at us for the lives we live, remember..."It is God that justifieth".

Skip down to the last couple there anything that we can do that will separate us from the love of Christ? Can you name something? Anything? Right...that's assurance!!!

How can you apply these verses to your life today? How have they been an encouragement to you? Share your thoughts...

And, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Your Faith Being Tried???

Last night in our services, we read through several passages of Scripture, but one stuck out that I wanted to share with you today.

It is found in James 1:2-7..."My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this , that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

I know it seems like an odd thing to find pleasure in, but when we are tried and tested, we are doing so much of the time because of the stand we have in Christ. If we are living on "Easy Street", so to speak, maybe we should look at our lives a bit closer. We are promised that life will be tough and people will not accept us because of our walk with Christ.

However, we can glory that the trials we face will grow our faith, strength and patience. And notice what verse 4 states..."that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." When we rely on Christ to see us through these times, we realize that with Him we are complete. Like Psalm 23 states..."The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." or the Amplified states it like this..."THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack." We shall lack nothing!!! It doesn't get much better, does it?

Continuing on in verse 5, we see that if we lack in wisdom we can ask God and will receive. Verses 6 and 7 does put forth the stipulation in receiving that wisdom, that we ask in an unwavering faith. For if we ask in unbelief, we shall not receive!

I found this passage comforting and eye-opening...because if I am lacking, all I have to do is ask the Lord for the guidance and HE WILL PROVIDE!!! The key to all of this is to ask in faith. May we allow the struggles we are facing today to make us stronger, more complete, and more perfect in our walk with Christ!

Take the time to share what God is doing in your life with someone else! And, as always, please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Worship Wednesday

A couple weeks ago, my friend and fellow Worship Leader, Jeff Miller asked me to write a guest post entitled "What Worship Means to Me" for his Worship Wednesday feature at his personal blog, Consuming Worship. You can find the post here. While at this site, take some time and check things out and feel free to subscribe. I've known Jeff for over 16 years (don't hold that against him) and really appreciate his stand for the Lord!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Love of Jesus...

As we come upon Easter, I find myself thinking about the love of Jesus upon a cruel world who wanted nothing to do with Him. Not only did He give His life as a ransom for our eternal souls, but became a vital part of the lives He encountered. I am reminded of the occasion when his friend, Lazarus died.

Look at the passage found in John 11:33-36..."When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, (34) And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. (35) Jesus wept. (36) Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"

The thing that sticks out is in verse 36..."Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"

What do people say when they see our encounters with friends? Do they see the love we have or maybe what we can gain from the other? What about those who aren't our "friends or inner circle"? Shouldn't people see the love of Jesus in us when we deal with them as well?

I want us to look at Matthew 5:44-46..."But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" So, if we only show love to those we are friends with, then we are showing nothing but human nature. It takes a true love to show love to even the "unloveable"!!!

We haven't been called to reach only those who can help us, but rather to preach the gospel to all nations... My prayer is that I will reach beyond my comfort zone to those who are in need. I was deeply touched by the pictures Mark Hall of Casting Crowns sent on TwitPic of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Some folks with the big names wouldn't get their hands "dirty" by visiting a reservation with such poverty. They would say it's a missionary's job to reach them. I have a much greater respect for them because of their willingness to go and teach and reach souls for Christ. Hats off, Casting Crowns!!!

What ways can you show the love of Christ to others? Maybe a note to someone who's hurting...a kind word to that teller who's struggling...a meal for the family who just experienced tragedy...whatever it is, find a way to reach out!!!

Please let me know if there is a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter: Just Invite

Easter is known as one of the best times of year to invite folks to join us in worship. People are more receptive to coming into our fellowships than at almost any other time of year. Are we asking people to come, though? Or, do we just sit idly by and hope they will find our church? I found this video at Beamer Films that puts it simply...Just Invite!

I challenge each of us to be inviting folks "like there's no tomorrow"...because we don't have the promise of tomorrow. If the statistics say that the unchurched are more receptive to visit on Easter, then let's be inviting them NOW!!! Will you invite someone today? Join me and JUST INVITE!!!

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Do We Adapt to our Environment???

Many times I sit and think about how things are being done and why it is we do them the way we do. I realize that our traditions, comforts and just "that's the way we've always done it" play a great part in it, but are those reasons to continue down the paths we are on?

Has there been a time when you were doing something "the way it's always been done" when you realized maybe there could be a different way of doing it? Do you feel like you have been led by the Spirit to maybe go that direction? Or is it something that you have a tendency or personal affection towards?

I'm not asking you to question everything you do or don't, but rather think if we are doing things for the right reasons. While I was reading a bit ago, I came across the verse found in Psalms 90:17..."Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" This made me stop and ask the Lord to be upon the work I am doing for His glory and also started my mind racing with past ideas that I was afraid to speak out, because it was different than the way it's always been done or uncomfortable to some. I am starting to realize that through my Bible reading, praying and just getting to know "non-Christians" that those things we've always done can be a turn off to outsiders.

I am reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23..."For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (20)To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. (21)To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (22) To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (23)I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."

This doesn't ask us to change the message of Christ we share, but I think it might allow us to make changes in presentations that would be a more comfortable environment for "outsiders", right? It says that Paul would make himself like those he was ministering to, so that "I might save some"...isn't that the key of what we are striving towards? If it was okay in the days of Paul to adapt, then who's to say it won't work for this generation?

What are your thoughts on this? Please share with me...

Please let me know if you have a special prayer request I can word on your behalf today!!!