Everywhere we turn there's another idea, another show, or movie to entertain ourselves with, or a new dress put on the same old thing. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
Haven't you noticed that the style of clothing from the 70's are back in the stores today with a fresh color palette, made from much cheaper fabrics, yet the same thing that was worn over 30 years ago? Nothing ever goes out of style!
Man has reached his ceiling of creating something entirely new. Technology is becoming more and more advanced, but that too has a ceiling. We will see new gadgets and technological toys offering a service like never before, but in all actuality, it's recycling the same stuff as before just packaged differently with new bait that entices us to spend more money for it. God has placed limitations on man's intelligence. We see that clearly in the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). God confused the language to keep man from thinking he could do anything!
The Bible tells us that "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). While the 'World' keeps presenting new things for people to try, they never seem to find peace and joy in the midst of it. People are constantly searching for a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and a sense of real contentment. Why is that? Why can't they dig their heels in and settle down with contentment in life? It's because this world is filled with emptiness. Nothing it offers will ever satisfy the deep longing of a person's soul.
There is a place within man's soul that has been designed solely for God. No matter how much we try to fill it with everything the world has to offer, we will never be fulfilled.
So, have you found what you've been looking for yet? Are you content with your life up to this point? Is life working out the way you need it to?
Jesus has everything you and I will ever need. Afterall, God created us, who better to know what it takes to make us complete and whole with happiness? He's the only one that knows exactly what you need for a purposeful life. It's yours for the asking. There's nothing you need to do in order to receive this blest life. God simply wants you to believe that His son, Jesus, is the Savior of the world, who died on that cross of Calvary for your sins, where he shed his own precious blood. He died that you might live and not be punished for your sins. He died in your place so that you would have a life filled with peace and joy with purpose and belonging because he loves you. He died that you might have a life that goes beyond this world, that reaches into heaven for all eternity. This eternal life can be yours by simply accepting the Lord Jesus into your heart because you recognize and acknowledge that you are a sinner and are in need of His salvation. Open your heart and ask him to forgive you of all your sins and to lead you into a better life.
You will find exactly what you're looking for in Christ Jesus. He keeps all of his promises, and the best is yet to come! May God help you to believe that.
Diamonds in the rough
Have you ever watched the process of diamond making? It's very interesting. There's a lot of excavation that is necessary to retrieve the rocks that have diamonds within them. In its pure state, it is a rough stone, yet a potentially precious stone. There is a process that it must go through in order to take it from the 'rough' stage to the 'precious' stage. Hence the term, 'Diamonds in The Rough'.
There is a lot of chiseling to be done and after the stone is separated from the surrounding rock that covers it, it is sent to the diamond expert who then examines it and takes in consideration the weight of the rough diamond. He also decides the final cut for the diamond.
The diamond then goes through a process called, 'Brooding'. This process is expressly for the shaping and rounding of the diamond which is the basis of the finished stone. The final stage for the diamond is the 'Polish' stage. Polish produces brilliance.
We are all diamonds in the rough! Many can appreciate a beautiful diamond. A man who is ready to get married searches for the perfect engagement ring for his fiancé. He looks for the right size and the right shape that will suit the lovely finger of his bride-to-be. Most women desire large diamonds. However, all are pleased with the one they receive from the one they love.
A diamond is multi-dimensional with prisms of shades and color that glistens. No two diamonds are the same! They are unique and special! There is a lot of excavation in the diamond mines that are labor intensive. The diamonds have to go through a process to become what we see.
This process requires:
*Very high pressure because pressure makes diamonds!
*Very high temperature
This process produces a 'Flawless Diamond'.
The Lord puts His people through a similar process. He is the 'Diamond Expert'! He knows just how much pressure to put us under and how hot the temperature needs to be in order to melt away the dross and all the impurities in our lives. His tools cut sharp and deep, yet every stroke is guided by His loving hand.
We, on the other hand, abhor this process, I know I do, yet I understand it.
What is God using to shape you and to mold you? How are you standing up to the pressure and heat of God's hand upon you?
God, our diamond expert is gentle, merciful and kind. He handles us with care. He weeps with us when He sees our tears. He understands that we are human and frail. He feels our pain. Psalm 56:8 says, "Put thou my tears into thy bottle, are they not in thy book?"
Excerpt from the book: Rich Beyond Measure
by Patricia Stuart and is Part 2 to Called To Suffer (memoir)
Sitting on a church pew won't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. You can attend church for years and still not be a Christian. It's true. Don't take my word for it, examine your own heart.
There is an understanding among some that if they go to church, pay tithes, and by the way, tithes are not for us today (New Testament Believers) (we bring an offering), that they are in the will of God and doing as a Christian should.
The real acid test to knowing if you are in the faith or not is simply looking at what governs your lifestyle beliefs and behavior. For instance, a true follower of Christ believes that He is the Son of the Living God, the God the Bible refers to. A true follower of Christ no longer lives a lifestyle that is dictated by the world. As a Christian you are living a dependent life that is based on the Word of God. You've stopped participating in sin and you have placed your life, faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Does this picture resemble you?
People go to church for many reasons, and some are seeking something but not necessarily are they seeking to know God. Not everyone who attends church are even reading and studying the Bible on their own. Maybe the only time they open one is in church provided they are in a gathering that uses one when the Leader, Elder or Pastor speaks. Some churches are more like come and get your Sunday morning pep talk. Some preachers sound more like motivational speakers than one who is bringing God's message to the people, while others say what the people would rather hear.
Salvation occurs when there is a real change within the heart, and this occurs when the truth of God's Word is spoken, and a conviction rises within one's heart because they know they have sinned against God and are not living right.
It is not enough to attend a church, put money in the plate or basket, sing nice songs, hear a riveting message and go home thinking that you are pleasing God. You want to know for a fact that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ (saved) with forgiveness of sins by Jesus Himself. Your destiny depends on you being sure if you are a Christian or not!
Many churches have the crem de la crem talent on display and the musicianship is top notch, but again, this does not speak for the authenticity of one's Christianity. A personal relationship with the Lord God is the determining factor where relationship is concerned. What does that look like you might ask? When we spend time reading God's Word, meditating on it by thinking about what He just said to us and spending time communicating with Him through prayer, we are in a relationship. That's what it looks like. This relationship continues daily and regularly. We may even pray and read our Bibles more than once a day depending on how tight we become with the Lord. We then become true worshippers and out of worship comes service by way of talents and spiritual gifts.
It's important to be clear on why you attend church and where you stand on these matters. If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, continue to serve Him and serve Him well. Continue to keep your motives pure and your heart right. Be a light and a guide to others who need to know the Truth of God's Word.
The peril of hopelessness
The disturbing news report of the CFO of Bed Bath and Beyond, who committed suicide, raised a question. If the rich are without hope, what does that say to the rest of us?
It takes a certain level of umph to kill yourself and it is called 'Despair'! It's the complete absence of hope. Absence of hope? No hope? Nowhere to be found? That saddened me as I sat and pondered the news report. Despite the particulars to the 'why ' he did it, I felt terrible for his wife and daughters.
This tells me that this man who had what most wished and longed for really had nothing that was important. In the final analysis of it all, his wealth was powerless to save him. There he was in serious trouble, a situation that may end up in the court of law for fraud, and his escape plan was to jump 18 stories down. I could not even imagine what was going through his head that morning. The horror in his wife awakening to a brand-new day that began with the death and suicide of her husband.
This ought to be a wakeup call for us all. You cannot walk around the planet without an assurance policy. You cannot afford to live each day without hope, a hope that won't disappoint. A hope that comes with promises attached. A hope that is given from the very one who created you. A hope that shows up when you are in despair. A hope that has the cure for what ails you.
God is our hope! He's the only one that never offers life insurance. He offers assurance of Eternal Life. You can't buy into this policy for it was purchased for you on the cross of Calvary when Jesus died for your sins. Do not do what this CFO of Bed Bath and Beyond did. He rejected God's offer and he perished for lack of hope.
Jesus is still standing there with His arms wide open as He calls to you today to rest your heavy burdens, come confessing your sins, requesting forgiveness, because you now believe that His son, Jesus Christ died for you. Tomorrow is not promised. Now is the time to accept the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Filled With The Spirit
"And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit." Acts 6:5
Stephen lived and died full of the Holy Spirit. This characterized how he moved throughout his life as a believer. This was his lifestyle choice and God used him!
Walking In the Spirit
What is it and what does it look like? It is simply living in obedience to God every day. Whatever God says in His Word that we should do, that's what we do each and every day of our lives.
Be Filled with the Spirit
The Holy Spirit has complete control over my thoughts, words and deeds (things I do). This happens simultaneously when we are walking in obedience to God.
We are commanded in scripture to walk in the Spirit and to be filled with the Spirit. This is something that we are to do. This is a direct command from God to every believer.
When we are obedient to what God asks of us, the Holy Spirit will be in control of all we say and do. The results will be seen and felt by all around us. Everyone who crosses our path will get a glimpse of God, learn something about Him and be either brought under the Spirit's conviction (unbeliever or believer), or encouraged to draw closer to God. The people we interact with will be influenced by our reactions and responses to situations (at work, school, at home and in the church).
The spiritual gift we've been given will be effective and God will see to it that more and more doors are opened to us where we can be used. we will bear fruit, more fruit and much fruit. Our life will be fruitful with fruit that is not only seen but identified for what it is.
We will be contented and fulfilled as a Christian because we'll be living out our God given purpose.
How will we know if we are walking in the Spirit and under the influence and complete control of the Holy Spirit? The evidence will show that there's no presence of the flesh. Our conversation will reflect what is pleasing to God. Our reaction and responses to everyday situations will be godly. What we spend time engaged in or listening to will be what God can honor and get glory from. These are the signs of one who is obedient to God (walking in the Spirit) and filled with the Spirit (under the Holy Spirit's control). When tempted to sin or to do the wrong thing, we will resist the urge to do what pleases us (our flesh) and do what is right instead.
With everything that God has done for us, this is our reasonable service (within reason seeing that Christ suffered and died for us). It's the least that we can do in return.
"Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16
"And do not be drunk with wine for this leads to debauchery (a gratifying of sensual pleasures that are physical, especially sexual), but instead be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18
We should strive to be like Stephen who lived and died being full of the Holy Spirit.
Are you what you do?
Who were you created to be? Who have you become?
Usually, when those questions are posed, our response goes right to what we do for a living. We talk about all we've accomplished, the money we make and the accolades etc.
Does your career determine who you are? Has your education defined you? Although you may have accomplished much in life and paid your dues with years of study, it only speaks to what you do, not who you are or have become.
Let me give a scenario that could be true to life. A nurse or a doctor received training in order to help to heal others physically. That same nurse or doctor goes home in the evening after a hard day's work and is verbally abusive to their family or disrespects their significant other. Who are they? A highly educated engineer who is highly recognized and written about cheats on his wife and takes trips with everyone but his wife. Who is he? These are examples of what people do for a living, but their behavior speaks to their character. Character is everything! Character speaks to who we really are.
Who are you when no one is looking? How we behave, the things we say, the things we talk about and the way we handle people is more of the truth to who we are. Our career or profession has nothing to do with our character or behavior.
When someone disrespects you, do you get revenge? Do you go and lie on them to others or try to ruin their reputation?
People rarely deal with their flaws or their negative behavior. If we won't accept responsibility for our actions, those same problems will always resurface over and over again and spill out into our relationships with others. It behooves us to stop and take inventory and give a long hard look at who we are or who we've become. Are you in relationships that last the test of time, or do they bite the dust one after the other?
Is it easier for you to gossip about others be it family members, colleagues, or friends? Have you tried to sit down with the person you are having a conflict with to hear things from their perspective as well as have them hear yours? Do you spend time taking into consideration that there may be factors other than your opinion as to why an individual has chosen to deal with you the way they have?
Life doesn't and will not get easier. As we become older, bad habits are harder to get rid of. These bad habits become engrained within us and almost never go away. Whatever we fail to correct and take responsibility for by age 40, will stay with us into older age. We lose out on valuable friendships, relationships, and healthy growth emotionally and psychologically. Let me give a disclaimer, I am not a psychologist or mental health professional. I only speak from what I consistently observed over many years now.
I have put in the hard work on myself, seeing that I was raised in a dysfunctional situation. I knew that I could not become like my parents with behavior that mirrored theirs. I had to make some hard decisions and choices in order to do better and to be the role model my children needed. By God's grace, I have been able to achieve that and more. No perfection is possible, just honest hard work on oneself does the trick. Taking into great consideration the Word of God and His standard for living has afforded me great blessings in my life.
So, I ask the question again. Who were you created to be? Who have you become?
Human Nature Demands that someone will, in your lifetime:
1. Betray You
2. Deny your friendship/relationship when the heat is on
3. Abandon you in your time of need for selfish reasons
"Then they all forsook Him and fled." Matthew 26:56
The Lord Jesus invested so much in His relationship with 12 men (His disciples/Apostles) and look at what He went through with them in the end. The Lord more than understands the hurtful, painful things we experience in friendships and family relationships. Even among believers we can and will go through much of the same. The Lord understands the things people will sacrifice where a relationship with you is concerned.
Not everyone hangs around you for pure reasons. This was true of Judas Iscariot. We see that the love of money caused him to betray his relationship with Christ.
The Lord foretold for Peter what his reaction would be when the heat was on. Peter really thought that he was capable of a faithful, dedicated relationship with the Lord. He meant it at the time, but when the challenge came, he denied Jesus. The disciple who laid his head on the breast of the Lord (John), he too fled and forsook the Lord.
In Luke 22 we read the account of what took place with Peter's denial (vs. 31-34; 54-62).
It is true that whatever the Lord Jesus suffered on earth, His followers will suffer much of the same. He tells us to prepare to suffer many things as a Christian. We must not be surprised when we are hated, rejected, scorned, disowned, cursed, and lied on by those who know not Christ as personal Savior. It will hurt, especially when it comes from those of our own family or those, we were close with. As a Christian we will have to make certain decisions and choices that won't go over easy with people. They will almost always label us as thinking that we're:
1. Better than others
2. Full of ourselves (prideful)
3. Looking down on others
These are the comments we may receive from those in the world who don't understand our need to separate from anything or anyone that goes against the lifestyle we have chosen to live.
As for the Disciples, they were afraid and reacted based on fear. Peter had great remorse and regret for having done so. He wept bitterly. Judas on the other hand, was riddled with guilt and tried to undo what he'd done and when that failed, he committed suicide. There's a difference between guilt and remorse. They are not one in the same. Remorse leads to repentance while guilt terrorizes the individual to no end. Remorse is being sorrowful for what you did. A guilty conscience just leaves you in turmoil and you aren't saying you are sorry for anything because you don't acknowledge any wrongdoing.
Are you willing and ready to take a bold stand for what is right as a Christian? Are you able to lose relationships to follow the Lord God? Can you take the ridicule, rejection and the ostracizing from unbelievers as well as believers? Why have I thrown 'believers' into the equation? I added them there because not every Christian is an obedient child of God. Some are worldly and saved by profession of faith only. Some may not be really saved and have a resemblance of a Christian by way of attending church, serving and talking the talk. Some believers hate their brother. We read of that in 1 John 3:9-11.
Let us draw near to God and He promises to draw near to us. Let's keep a strong and steady prayer life in order to receive the strength and help we need in times of challenge. Ask God to help you to be bold and courageous no matter what. He is faithful, He will help us to do just that.
Breaking The Cycle
"The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people."
"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established, by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Proverbs 21:3-4
Nations are comprised of families and families are comprised of individual people. When we look at the nations around us, what do we see? When we look at the particular State we live in, what do we see? When we look at the city we dwell in, what do we see? When we look at the community we live in, what have we learned? Each is a characteristic of the families within them.
Things have degenerated to the point where we can only speak to a portion of individuals or families around us that mirror morality, respect with character.
We cannot change what is, but we can make sure that we make a profitable, healthy contribution to society. We are responsible for ourselves.
You can grow up in the worst of situations, but cannot blame ill behavior, disrespect and lawlessness on the individuals who raised you. Each person knows wrong from right. Life is about choices and we each are free to make them. The challenge is in making the right choices in every area of our lives.
Parents have the awesome responsibility to raise their children in an environment that will breed
love, respect, and morality. Children, more than not, will do as their parents. Even if they hated their upbringing, many still end up repeating the cycle of abuse, dysfunction and broken homes. It takes a strong person to do better than their parents, to prosper better than their parents, and to make better choices than their parents made with them.
The bible says it takes wisdom, understanding and knowledge in order to build one's house. There are so many ingredients that are necessary to have a happy home, a peaceful home with everyone intact. It takes hard work to not give in to the negative environment around us and it takes saying 'No' to many things and even saying 'No' to people to achieve this. Sometimes separation is needful for your own sanity and survival.
Our society, our nation and our world are broken and wrought with so much pain. Jesus is the answer for what ails the world. Again, life is about choices. It's up to people to decide what kind of life they want. But let us not be fooled, for what a man sows, he will surely reap, more than he's sown and longer than he's sown it. That's the danger that faces wrong decisions. Take a look at what your life has become. Is it what you want it to be? Why not? What could you have changed to make life better for yourself? Perhaps you're reaping the consequences of good choices and are enjoying the fruits of it. That's the way to live out life.
By the time we are 40 years old, all the bad habits we've nurtured up until then will undoubtedly plague us for the rest of our lives. Bad habits are hard to break, and good habits are hard to break as well. By the time we reach middle age, our behavior, speech, and attitude are engrained in us and we're hard press to stop doing certain things and behaving in certain ways. If we're raising children, they too will follow our lead in the same way, more than not. If we are known for lying, they too will practice lying, and it goes on and on. All of these things impact a city, a state, a nation, and all of the world.
We as humans can break the cycle of dysfunction and a bad upbringing. It will take work, discipline, and a hate for all that is bad to accomplish that. I advise that you be strong and do it!
Your testimony has power!
John 4:39-42 The Samaritan Woman's Testimony
"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified." (vs. 39)
What is your testimony? When last did you share it? Do you know the power it holds?
It's a privilege to be called upon to share your testimony with others. Whether you're sharing it one on one in a conversation, or a group, or larger audience, it is a privilege to do so.
God doesn't save the soul of a person and leave the past events of their lives without purpose. He uses everything for His honor and His glory. If we have truly been delivered from darkness, we will share our story of what we were saved from. The past has much to do with the present. Before we were saved, each of us represented many in the world who are in darkness with a death sentence over them. We must be willing to share the manifold grace of God upon our lives.
Ask the Lord to open doors where you can share your testimony with others. You can also carve out opportunities for yourself. Write your testimony in Track form, or in a memoir, or go on You Tube and record it there. Technology is wonderful in that regard. We can get the word out and never have to leave our home.
The woman at the well had no reservations about sharing her personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. She was beyond impressed with His words and knowledge, He looked right into her soul, and He told her who she was. She could not get over that. She had to run and tell others of the one who told her everything she ever did.
Are you going to go and tell likewise? You may have been saved for a day or for many years; will you run and tell others of the deliverance and salvation that was given to you?
Our testimony is ongoing. It picks up more paragraphs and chapters the longer we walk with God. My testimony ended up encompassing two books on Amazon. Since the last record of it, more experiences of God's power and love has occurred. We are continually writing our testimony. It would be a shame to keep it to oneself and not share it with others.
Do you know the power your testimony has?
"But He answered and said, it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
In these troubled times God's Word never changes. Everything else around us is changing and not for the better. Nevertheless, God's Word to us remains the same. Churches have emptied out, some are trying to reopen, millennials continue to leave the churches they once attended, some older believers are remaining at home due to health conditions and feel the need to not expose themselves to the strains of viruses that are plaquing us. Yet, there are others who are done with going to church period.
Not long ago our churches had a full-on schedule of programs and events, but much of that has ceased. Even before Covid-19 hit, there was a big shift and exodus from local gatherings for various reasons. Our churches have become smaller in number, and some are greatly discouraged by this. We mourn the loss and physical presence of many, and we don't understand what's happening.
What is the main draw for attending church? Why do we go? What does it do for us when we are there? Is it the activities that we live for? Is it the overall environment of bodies in the building that make it worth the while? Is it the social circle we've developed over the years? What is it?
While Jesus was being tempted by Satan during His fast, He quoted the above verse. Man shall not live by...... it made me think of the things that spell substance to us. What is our 'Bread' so to speak? Sometimes what we fill up on is the churches itinerary with events and activities, music, and relationships. When that's gone, one could feel like there's nothing left to attend church for.
The Lord specifically states to Satan where true life and sustenance comes from. It comes from feeding on the Word of God! When all else fails that will suffice and be enough for us. I get it, that is not what we want to hear. We want to hear things are going to change and return to what they once were. We want the church to be filled with people again and a resuming of all activities.
How much time are we investing in our spiritual lives? Are we feeding daily on the Bible or are we walking around without a spiritual meal? That's where the rubber meets the road. We can have as much of God as we want. The choice is ours. It is reading and meditating on the Word of God that will sustain us through hard times, economically challenging times, times of dearth in the church and times when the world is in chaos. There's no other way to be sustained as a Christian. After we've read God's Word, we have to set out to obey it. If we're not ready to obey God, we put ourselves in real jeopardy. God will force Himself on no man.
Things may never go back to what they were, and we do know that things will get much worse as we move forward. To be encouraged, to have joy despite what's going on around us, requires that we stay in the Word, prayed up and walking in the Spirit so that we will hear what the Lord God wants to say to us. In order for God to use you and I, we must sit in His presence each and every day. That makes all the difference. The things going on around us and in the world should not shape our lives as Christians.