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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Faith in the One who rewards

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Today I had the privilege of guest posting at one of my favorite places. It is a group that I started on Facebook about three years ago when I only had two kids and the energy to rise with the sun!  From a humble beginning of a handful of ladies eager to study the Word each day the group has grown to around 50 with more on the waiting list.  I haven't been a part of the study for awhile and a good friend of mine who is now running the show invited me to be a part of their study on Galatians.

The passage for today comes from Galatians 3:6-9  
6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
For the Jews, sharing their inheritance in Abraham was a new and radical idea.  They were the children of the Promise, but in this passage Paul reminds them that the promise made to Abraham was to bless all nations.  Why include "all nations" in the blessing if it was only for the Jews?  God said it this way because God knows everything - past, present and future!

Paul explains in v. 6 that Abraham's righteous was declared because of his belief in God. God knew beforehand that He would justify the Gentiles (us) also by faith.  According to Hebrews 11:6 faith isn't just believing that God exists.

Faith is believing that God exists and that He will compensate (reward) that belief.

Abraham believed the promise that God had given him, and we believe the promise that God has given us, the promise of salvation.  In v. 7 by faith we are children of Abraham, v. 8 through faith we are justified by God, and v.9 because of faith we are blessed with Abraham!

Paul used what the Jews already understood about Abraham to explain the justification we have in Christ. Not only are we blessed in the lineage of Abraham (speaking of Christ) but we are also blessed like Abraham (speaking of our justification).  The law was our "schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ, the only One who can grant us our eternal compensation for putting our faith in Him. 

Believe!  Take God at His Word today and be blessed!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Don't give up!

Pin It In reading through Acts 6-10 this week I was challenged once again by the life (and death) of Stephen.

When you are dead and gone what will people remember about you?

The bible speaks of Stephen as being...
Honest, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, full of faith and power...
He did great wonders and miracles and the spirit that he spoke with was irresistible!
He knew his Bible enough to recount the history of Israel to a captive audience and point them to Christ.
And in the end, when it came down to laying down his life for The Lord he loved, with his dying breath he asked for forgiveness for those who so wrongfully sought his death.

In comparison in Acts 8 we see Simon the Sorcerer. A man who hears the gospel, makes a confession of faith and then seeks to gain God's gifts through manipulation! Can you imagine the audacity of someone trying to buy a piece of the Holy Spirit's power?

But sadly enough, it happens every day. Instead of living spirit-filled lives we try to falsify the working of the Spirit in our lives so that the praise goes to us for our good efforts instead of glorifying God for what He has done in us and through us.

This week has been a rough mix of chasing kids and chasing my quiet time...visitor's leaving, a baby shower that caught me by surprise because I forgot to write it down, a fine arts contest, a crying baby on a growth spurt. I can feel the Spirit calling and more often than not this week I found myself saying, "In a few minutes...right after I finish _____...tomorrow I'll get up earlier." Whatever the excuse, it just kept getting put off and my walk with the Lord and relationship with my family suffered because of  it.

Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. It did not come by accident but by fully giving himself to God.

Today is a new day, and my timer just popped up to say, "It's time for your daily Bible reading!"

And my answer? I already beat you to it!

Don't let anything keep you from walking with Him today!

Be blessed,

Saturday, September 12, 2015

You cannot lie to God

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If you know anything about the book of Acts, when you hear the names Ananias and Sapphira you automatically think about lying and the consequences that it brings.
In Acts chapter 5 the church was just beginning and already sin was creeping in.  In case you don't remember, in Exodus 20 God expressed his opinion about lying. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (v.16) In other words, don't lie!

Lying for some people is not just an occasional sin, it's a way of life.  One lie leads to another, which leads to another, until you cannot distinguish between what is true and what you have invented to cover up all of the untruths that you have previously told!

Proverbs 6:17, 19, lists lying as one 
of the six things that the Lord hates!

In v. 5 and 11 we see the affect that one lie had upon the other new believers.  The Bible says that "great fear" came upon them all.  They had lied to God and since the days of Adam and Eve we know that you can't lie to God.  Many have tried, but God is omniscient!  He knows everything, so while you may be able to pull the wool over the eyes of your fellow man, God is not fooled by your double-tongue.

Okay, okay, so maybe you are not the bold-faced liar that you accuse others of being.  That's fine. But let's hold off on the self-righteous patting ourselves on the back for just a moment.  What about the inner man?  Have I been lying to myself about my walk with the Lord?  Have I been feeding myself the age old lie that it doesn't matter what I do if the end result brings happiness?  Have I been deceived into believing that I am walking with God when I never read His Word, or meditate on it, and my prayer life can be described as emergency only?

Take a moment to reflect.

In the rest of chapter 5 we see the apostles filled with boldness for Christ.  Boldness to return to the temple and continue preaching salvation through Jesus' name. They had the religious leaders scrambling because they feared that this new teaching would conquer the world. The apostles were spending time in prayer, they were sharing what they had learned of Christ, they were obeying God's commands. They "ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

Does this describe your heart attitude and your life?  
When you are spoken of does it reflect Christ in you?  

God sees our hearts and men see our actions.  So often Christians are accused of being hypocrites because we say one thing and our lives say another.  You can lie to man, but you cannot lie to God.

Get honest today!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Praying to the God of the impossible

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Okay, so today I was not up at 4 a.m. (Praise the Lord!), but I didn't let that stop me. When the "baby alarm" went off I hopped up and started Acts chapter 4.

The tension is building between the apostles and the religious leaders.  Peter and John are not quietly converting people in a dark corner somewhere.  They are in the temple, and about 5,000 men have believed after witnessing the miracle of the lame man made whole!  Talk about fruitful witnessing!

The religious leaders confront them with the question, "Where is your authority to do this coming from?", which was well within their rights to question anyone rising up and claiming to be a prophet.  But they take no glory for themselves.  Peter uses it as another opportunity, being led by the Holy Ghost, to preach Christ.  Who is their authority? Jesus of Nazareth, the same one who you crucified and God raised from the dead.  In His name only is there salvation.  Peter knew it, and he boldly shared what he knew with those around him.

It's all about Jesus!

The miracle couldn't be denied so the religious leaders try to silence the voice proclaiming Christ.  Christ cannot be silenced and Peter tells them just that.
"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
The crowd gives glory to God. The believers give glory to God and pray for His help, His boldness to continue preaching and the power to continue healing even though they are facing persecution from the very ones who claim to believe in God.  And what happened?

When they prayed, God answered. 

Ah...herein lies the key that so many of us are missing today. We want God's help but we don't ask for it.  We ask for it, but we don't truly believe that God can answer our prayers.  Or we only pray for what we believe is in the realm of God's possibilities.  The apostles prayed and God gave them "great power" and "great grace" (v. 33).

This past Sunday my husband challenged our Sunday School class to take a piece of paper and write down three prayer requests that we believed were impossible.  I'm sure many thought that he would collect them and pray for us, but his response was, "Now that you have written them down...start praying for them!  

Our God can do the impossible! 

As I spoke to a friend last night I challenged her to take the prayer challenge as well.  

 We need God!  We all have things in our lives that seem or are humanly impossible.   It's as simple as that.  We can't do it without His help.  

We need Jesus!  Yesterday we were challenged to stop begging from this world.  The government can't do it, our self-motivation is not enough, sometimes even our well-meaning families cannot provide what we need to make it through.    

We need the Holy Spirit!  When you are feeling down and all alone, do not fall prey to the Devil's lies.  As believers, we have the Source of all comfort!   

Start believing, start praying, and be bold in praising God for what He, and only He can do, is doing, and will do in your life!

Be blessed!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stop begging from this world!

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Once upon a time...I had free time.  Life with two children was easy and I could actually choose what I was going to do next.  Now with four kids under the age of six life is sometimes a roller coaster ride of racing to prevent the next major disaster from crashing the house down around my weary shoulders.  Those leisurely times for in depth study of the Word seemed like a thing of the children decided to change the definition of "the crack of dawn" from sunrise to about 3 or 4 a.m.

Bright red clouds at sun rise
My first response was, of course, frustration. After attending to the needs of three out of the four I was wide awake and desperately craving, begging for my much needed sleep.  As I blearily watched my two month old coo and smile at me I thought, "What if this is Jesus calling?" I'm always crying out for His help, desiring to spend time with Him, "Why not now?"  So here I am, meeting "the crack of dawn" with a smile instead of a grimace, because I asked God for help, expecting to receive something more sleep...and I received something so much better!

Today I joined in with in their study in the book of Acts.  Since there is no way that I would trust myself to write in my precious Bible with one eye open I printed out the chapters from and then used a template from to print lined paper on the back side of the chapters.  With my first grader's stash of colored pencils I was all set, and this is what the Lord showed me today in Acts chapter 3...

The blind man was sitting by the gate begging daily, "expecting to receive something" from the world around him.  On this particular day, he cried out to Peter and John and was commanded to stop begging from this world and to "look on them".  He had expected to receive "something" but what he received was far better than what he expected!  His life was touched by Jesus and he was never the same again!

In v.7 we see his physical need taken care of as his feet and ankle bones are strengthened. Then in v. 8 and 16 we see that his spiritual need was also met.  And as a public testimony of the effect that Jesus had on his life he "just had to praise Him"!  His changed life was obvious. Do others marvel at the change in you since you met Jesus?

O Praise HimWhen the crowds turned to wonder at Peter and John Peter takes advantage of the moment to point them to Christ.  First he gives it to them straight - you delivered Him to Pilate, you denied Him, you desired His death, and then you killed Him.  These are not words of one trying to win the favor of this world.  But Peter doesn't stop there. He acknowledges that they may have acted through ignorance in the past, but he informs them that the prophecies that they have been waiting for have been fulfilled - the promise to Abraham has been fulfilled - in Jesus Christ!  Stop begging from this world!  Repent and be converted from unbelief to belief, because only in Jesus will you find perfect healing through faith in His name.

Hallelujah!  What a way to start the day.  When I call on Jesus, all things are possible!