Posts tagged ‘United States’

Quick Reflection

I’m proud to say that I have friends. Friendship is important, and I’ve not been good about having friends over the totality of my life thus far. I can say with great pride and sincerity that I have friends who have faith in God, friends who inspire me with their faith and willingness to be the church instead of merely going to church.  The Bible talks often about how important it is to have those in your life who sharpen you and push you to be a better Christian in your personal life and also out in the world. I’m blessed to say that I now have this. I often laugh about how my social circle consists only of those whom I go to church with. That’s not such a bad thing.

Since we have moved to Missouri, the friends that we have made have cared for us continually. I’ve made no pretense about our financial struggles, but we have friends who have helped us along the way. And for that, I thank God. Right now, I’m thinking about a particular family of friends, and I will tell you about what God is doing in their lives. I hope they don’t mind reading this blog about themselves. Lol.

This family has blessed us this school year. Tremendously. When we were looking for childcare, they stepped in and agreed to keep our youngest in our home. When we lost our car, rather than have me quit my job right away, they have allowed us to use their vehicle for me to get back and forth to work. As we have not been able to pay often for the childcare, they have been gracious over and over again. They have given to us more than anyone can reasonably expect in a lifetime. They have been our angels.

On Monday, I was posting in my life group Face Book page about trusting God; about how easy we find it to trust imperfect human beings rather than completely trust a God with a proven track record over the history of the world.  When I got home that afternoon, this family told me that God was leading them away from watching our boys.  Now, for a little back- story, then I will tell you why I even mention this.

This family has been called by God to move to Brazil at the end of this year. Not for a mission trip, but for a missional life. They will be selling all of their materials and moving, relocating internationally, to do the work of God. How tremendous is this? I am continually in awe of them. My wife and I pray for them often, because sometimes I can see glimpses of what God is preparing them for.  They are going there to do the will of God in that area, whatever that may be. They have abandoned themselves to God, and as a result, God is shaking up the foundations of their lives in such a perfect way. I can see how God has been preparing them for this over the last few years, probably even longer. I can’t put into words how excited I am for them; how their complete trust in God is spurring them to such a radical, faith-based move. It is inspiring to say the least. All I know is that God will be speaking to them, giving them more specific instructions, but He will also be testing their dedication. Please join me in praying for them. No names are needed. God knows who they are.

Now, back to Monday. When I was told that they could no longer watch our children, my heart didn’t sink. Sure, I thought about what we were going to do about childcare, not being able to really pay anyone. But moreover, my thoughts were on the fact of how cool it is to hear God, and then be obedient. As they told me, I began to thank God for them, and pray in my heart that God would have His way to such an extent in their lives that people around them would be altered even before they depart from the States. Sure, my own worry did come later as I pondered possible solutions to everything, but if they can trust God with a life-altering move, surely God can handle our little things. I’m so proud of them, and so happy that God has put them in our lives. They are our family in every sense of the word. So see, this is not about what we lose. It’s about what Brazil will be gaining. The answer in short, is that God is blessing the people of Brazil.

So, in case you all happen to read this, we love you in the most sincere way that we can manage. It is our prayer that you see God in even the most minute, remote ways. I pray that God’s voice will fill your hearts and your entire beings. I pray that His methods astound you and leave you continually in awe of His greatness. Your destinies in Brazil have already been written, and as much as you desire to go there to serve, be prepared to be ministered to in ways that you have not even considered yet. Be strong in the Lord and in His power. Though your faith will be tested, I pray that your resolve will be made even stronger. I know that God is with you, and you know this as well. Finally, I pray that God will prosper you even as He has prospered, and continues to prosper, your souls. In this way, you will forever be rich in grace, mercy, and love, never lacking in anything that you need to accomplish the will of God.

Until next time, be blessed peeps.

Psalm 37

Don’t worry about the wicked

or envy those who do wrong.
2 For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
5 Commit everything you do to the LORD.
Trust him, and he will help you.
6 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
7 Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
8 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
9 For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.
10 Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
11 The lowly will possess the land
and will live in peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.
14 The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
15 But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the LORD takes care of the godly.
18 Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
19 They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.
20 But the wicked will die.
The LORD’s enemies are like flowers in a field—
they will disappear like smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and never repay,
but the godly are generous givers.
22 Those the LORD blesses will possess the land,
but those he curses will die.
23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the LORD holds them by the hand.
25 Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
26 The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
and he will never abandon the godly.
He will keep them safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will die.
29 The godly will possess the land
and will live there forever.
30 The godly offer good counsel;
they teach right from wrong.
31 They have made God’s law their own,
so they will never slip from his path.
32 The wicked wait in ambush for the godly,
looking for an excuse to kill them.
33 But the LORD will not let the wicked succeed
or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.
34 Put your hope in the LORD.
Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
You will see the wicked destroyed.
35 I have seen wicked and ruthless people
flourishing like a tree in its native soil.
36 But when I looked again, they were gone!
Though I searched for them, I could not find them!
37 Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
38 But the rebellious will be destroyed;
they have no future.
39 The LORD rescues the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them,
rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them,
and they find shelter in him.
You may be asking yourself why I posted this entire psalm here this evening. It’s rich with God’s promises, promises that we need to continually remind ourselves about. So, I would challenge you to find a few in here, write them down, and keep them close enough to you this week that you can read them whenever you feel discouragement begin to creep up on you. We serve a faithful God, and it’s our responsibility to remember that. ALWAYS!
Until next time, be blessed.

Quick Notes on Seasons

Ok, I so rarely ever do this anymore, but bear with me. Sometimes I feel God speaking directly to me, but I don’t share what He says; sometimes it’s just for fear that I’m really hearing from Him. This morning, I believe that I have, and I want to share it since I can’t seem to go back to sleep. Perhaps this is just for me, then again, maybe it’s for someone else out there as well.

So, we know what Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (MSG)

Seasons. There is a season for everything that happens on the earth. And just as there are natural seasons,(in America we are shifting from summer into fall, thank God!!), in the spiritual realm, there are seasons as well. This is what God showed me about 20 minutes ago as I was trying to get back to sleep after a brief sick spell:

I began to see a rundown of so many people that I had known in the past, and know presently. I saw all of the circumstances around our friendships and associations, I felt regret at the relationships that had fallen away, and I enjoyed the memories of the good old days as they surfaced in my mind. The thing is, God didn’t present these people to me on a reel, it was more along the lines of the people being unpacked and packed from storage bins- like clothing. I thought it was odd, but after a few moments, the image would fade and be packed and folded tightly away. This was my vision/dream.

Here is the meaning. Just as we change our clothing as the seasons shift, so do many things shift in our lives based on seasons. People whom we were once family with can become as a distant memory. Jobs that we feel are the right thing for us suddenly become cramped and unfulfilling. A path that we just knew was our destiny becomes more of a joke. i think what God was showing me is that it’s ok. In certain seasons, it’s okay to be friends with someone, while in another season, it’s not. God does different things in variable levels of visibility in varying seasons. Just because you saw God clearly during summer doesn’t mean that you will see Him as clearly or constantly in the fall. Do not mistake this to mean that God is still not active. Remember, in our last post I talked about God being a constant gardener. He is always busy in our lives, but at certain junctures, and certain seasons, He steps back a bit in order to stretch us for the next season to come. Every season won’t feel exciting and fresh. Some will feel downright depressing, but faith in God tells us that we have seasons of joy to sustain us through the seasons of winter in our lives. We experience the great joys and peaces in summer so that when fall comes, and things in our lives fall away during the pruning process, that our faith is still unwavering in the plan of God.

So, it’s alright when God packs up our comfort and places it in a box. It’s ok when God packs away friendships and relationships, because He is also unpacking new ones for you. It’s ok when God packs away your old hopes and dreams, because He is unpacking newer and more exciting ones than you can ever imagine. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s because God loves you so fervently that He sends you through seasons, because if we are not growing, we are declining. Don’t fret. Let this word encourage you, whomever you are out there.

Now, I’m gonna try and go back to sleep. Until next time, be blessed….and get some sleep for me. lol.

Being “In Christ” by John Piper

Happy Saturday, peeps. I was reading my devotional for today from a John Piper reading plan that I use on my YouVersion Bible app. It is some pretty hardcore, in your face truth, so I wanted to share it with you all. I  hope you all are blessed by it.

THE STUPENDOUS REALITY OF BEING “IN CHRIST JESUS

Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ. If you are “in Christ”, listen to what it means.

1. In Christ Jesus, you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Tim 1:9- “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

2. In Christ Jesus, you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4- “God chose us before the foundation of the world.”

3. In Christ Jesus, you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38-39- “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

4. In Christ Jesus, you were redeemed and forgiven for all your skins. Ephesians 1:7-” In Christ, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

5. In Christ Jesus, you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Cor.5:21- “For our sake, God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

6. In Christ Jesus, you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Cor. 5:17- “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Gal. 3:26-“In Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith.”

7. In Christ Jesus, you have been seated in the heavenly places even while He lived on earth. Ephesians 2:6-“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

8. In Christ Jesus, all the promises of God are YES for you. 2 Cor. 1:20-” All the promises of God find their YES in Christ.”

9. In Christ Jesus, you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Cor. 1:2-“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

10. In Christ Jesus, everything you really needed will be supplied. Philippians 4:19-” My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

11. In Christ Jesus, the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Phil. 4:7-“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

12. In Christ Jesus, you have eternal life. Romans 6:23-“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

13. And in Christ Jesus, you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:22-” For as in Adam all dies, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity shall die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.

How do we get into Christ?

At the unconscious and decisive level, it is God’s sovereign work: “From God you are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Cor. 1:30.

But at the conscious level of our own action, it is through faith. “Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith.”‘ Eph. 3:17. “The life we live in union with His death and life ‘we live by faith in the Son of God‘” Gal 2:20.

This is a wonderful truth. Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free!
Take some time, read these verses and let it all soak in! These are wonderful truths to store away in our hearts! Until next time, be blessed!

There’s No Place Like Home

It never ceases to amaze me at how so much of what we encounter here in earth is really only an imitation of heavenly ideas and mindsets. It makes perfect sense since in Hebrews we see that what is tangible was made from things that were intangible, or that which is seen was made from that which is unseen. To me, this has always meant that the spiritual world is more real than this one in which we inhabit. And yet, while I know this intrinsically, whenever I encounter an idea that has Kingdom ramifications, I still have to stop and marvel at how intelligent and great God is.
For instance, consider this. In a recent bible study, we were talking about how the Gospel of the Kingdom pushes us out. The premise was simply that when we read the Bible, many times in pulls us in. The words and life behind the words does internal sifting, cutting, and pruning. The fantastic thing about this is that through all of this internal editing, the result should be a life that is lived outside of itself. We are to be heralds of God and ambassadors of His Kingdom. Now, think about this with me for just a few moments. Let’s dwell on the word ambassador.
What do you think about when you think of an Ambassador? Me, I tend to think of someone who is a direct representative of a home country. I think of someone who travels to a foreign land to advance the interests of his or her home country. Ambassadors have the full backing of their home country as long as they are rightly promoting those interests and other things that are important.They have financial resources, military resources, and authority that goes beyond that of a mere tourist. They are often strangers in that land, but get to know the people and find ways to get the job done. Though, if they fail,they are pulled and someone new is put in their place.
Now, think about these verses in the Bible:
2 Corinthians 5:16-20- We are Christ’s Ambassadors. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them (reconciliation). We’re speaking for Christ himself now.
1 Peter 2:11-12- Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.
So, Paul says that we are Christ’s Ambassadors; that God uses US to persuade men and women. Then Peter adds further to this thought. He says that this world is not our home, so we shouldn’t get too comfy in it. So,if this world is not our home, and we are merely visiting, why are we investing so much time in being comfortable here? Sure, Ambassadors usually live in posh estates in real life, but that is an area that doesn’t line up with what God requires from us. We see right here in print that our job is not to be comfortable. Solomon calls such pursuits worthless in Ecclesiastes.
We are Ambassadors, but not the posh, comfy kind. Then what kind are we to be? We should be the kind who seek to imitate Christ in all that we say and do. We should be the kind who recognize every day of our lives as one appointment after another, being on the lookout for those whom the Holy Spirit would share His interests with. The fact is that everywhere we go, we are ambassadors walking in a foreign land that is not our own. For this reason,we should always be prepared to share the Gospel, no matter how it is received.I read an interesting statistic the other day. It said that out of 10 people. 3 would listen with only fleeting interest to someone sharing the Gospel, 4 will listen for the pitch, whether they actually believe it or not, and only 3 will be vehemently opposed to even listening. So the odds actually show that we have a great opportunity to share with people and have them at least listen to what we have to say.  This is what Ambassadors do. They represent. Tirelessly. Excitedly. They herald the great things about their country, telling everyone they meet how glorious their homeland is.
Isn’t our homeland more glorious than anything here on this earth? Is not our God greater and more powerful than any government? Does He not love us and only have our best interests at heart? In Christ, we have no need to argue over bipartisan inaccuracies and place blame on anyone, because He has provided everything that we need in His person. For this reason and more, our lives should be lived out heralding His coming, testifying to His greatness,and inviting others to partake in His glory.
So back to the original point. The Gospel pushes us out. Our faith in God and the accuracy and inspiration of His word, causes works in us and outside of us that advance His Kingdom. In doing this, God is glorified and lauded. In doing this, people are drawn into the light and majesty of the One who loves us and desires more for us than we could ever hope or begin to think of. When we go forth, we have the backing and the power of God fully behind us and around us. We have nothing to fear! I pray that this would become a reality for us, that as we ingest more and more of the Word, it would become fire in our bones, compelling us to represent for our God and His Kingdom. Thy will be done.
This begs the question though. Why aren’t we representing?That, my friends, is a question for another blogging.
Until next time, my friends, be blessed.