Everlasting

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We have an beautiful old oak tree in our backyard.  We adore it’s shelter from the shade in the summer, but in the fall there is, what seems to be, a never ending supply of leaves that fall. We clean them up and everything looks great for a while and then the process starts again. That is, until all the leaves have fallen and the tree remains barren until spring.

I was thinking about the seasons of sin we go through in our lives. Everything in our life can seem healthy and strong, but in an instant we can become the victim of Satan’s schemes. It is usually when we least expect it. It may be a season of pride, self-interest, lust, anger or deception. Once the start down a sinful path it gets easier – the leaves fall faster and faster.

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power –  2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

We need God to help us clean us the mess and start over. We must believe Him, trust Him and ask Him to impart His strength upon us so that we can overcome the sin. I don’t know about you, but I prefer “everlasting joy” over “everlasting destruction”.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. Isaiah 61:7

Are you in a season of sin? Has it led to shame, guilt, addiction and feeling of being unworthy? God has promised us forgiveness, joy and eternal life if we only accept and believe in Him. Take advantage of His priceless and everlasting offer. He is waiting for you.

Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits. Say, “Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, So we can give thanks to your holy Name, and bask in your life of praise.” Blessed be God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!” 1 Chronicles 16:34 (The Message)

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Joy

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I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 1 Chronicles 29:17-18

Which would be better? Having every prayer answered or always being full of joy? This is a question I was recently asked. An internal conflict began in my mind – worldly desires vs. Godly desires, but I quickly answered “full of joy” because I have lived long enough to be thankful for unanswered prayers. I wasn’t thankful right away, but after time it was very clear that what seemed like a good request at the time would have turned into a disaster if it had been answered.  Can you think of any prayers you are thankful remained unanswered?

Don’t get me wrong. If I knew when I prayed friends would be healed from cancer, that all my unemployed friends would find jobs or that my house would sell this week it would be VERY tempting to take the answered prayer over joy.  I think the heart of this question is this: Do you choose God or yourself? God is pure joy that we can have dwell within us. If we choose Him, we can pull from His strength, bask in His peace and find security and joy in His promises. If we choose self (answered prayers) we choose a life that may seem perfect, but leaves no room for growing closer to God and experiencing His grace, mercy and miracles.

Yes, I would like for everyone to have food, shelter, be free of illness, experience safety, freedom, employment and that  isn’t even my personal list of petitions.  But, if trading in all of that suffering and imperfection meant I wouldn’t know God and experience Him the way that I do now – I would have to pass. Besides, it’s only the world we’re living in!

My life theme song is by Mandisa, called Only the World.  Here are the lyrics or you can listen to it by clicking Only the World, Mandisa

Been a hard one, Been a bad one
Been a tough one, Been a sad one
It’s been one of those days that keeps chipping away at my heart
Nothing new here, so what I do here
its a stereo-typical day, in the life
i’m surrounded by all of the pain and the strife
but I know it’s alright, woah oh

Chorus:
Cause it’s only the world I’m living in
It’s only the day I’ve been given
There ain’t a way I’m giving in
Cause it’s only the world (only the world)
I know the best is still yet to come
cause even when my deeds in the world are done
It’s gonna be so much more than only the world to me , yeah its only the world

Anybody, can you hear me?
Do you feel me? Me, can you feel me?
I know I’m not the only one wearing the weight of this world
We got problems (said it’s alright)
Just remember (yeah, it’s alright)
Take a good around we’re just stuck on the ground for a little while
Don’t it make ya smile.


Multiplication

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Recently, a very dear friend told me about a gift she had given several friends. When she gave it to them, she told them it was a gift of multiplication. She explained that she was giving them the gift with the hope they would pass it along to others.  What a wonderful idea. Maybe you have given gifts of multiplication so that not just your friends are blessed, but theirs and so on.

There are so many things I believe we need to multiply and “self” is not included.  He [God] must become greater; I must become less. John 3:3o

Allowing God to become greater than self can be challenging, but worth the effort.  A great place to start is by multiplying your knowledge of God.  In order to accomplish this, we must multiply the time we spend with Him.  We need to invest in God’s Kingdom – not just with monetary resources, but with time and service too.

Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. Proverbs 10:14

As you learn more about God your faith in Him will multiply. As your knowledge and faith increase, you will become more comfortable sharing God’s Word and that will multiply the number of believers in this world. Don’t sit idle with the knowledge and love of Christ, share it with others.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

The gift of multiplication can start with you – today! More time with God = more knowledge of God = increase of faith in God = more followers of Christ.  I have never been one to love math – especially multiplication.  In fact, every night in the third grade I would come home and my Dad would sit with me (tears, tantrums and all) and help me learn my multiplication tables.  I would argue, “I will never need to know these when I grow up.  Why do I have to learn them?”  However, as I grew older I understood and saw the purpose of learning and understanding multiplication.

I believe that as you start the process of multiplying your time, knowledge and faith in God you will also began to see the big picture and God will reveal His awesome plan for you. I challenge you to take on a little more time with God this week and see what happens around you.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 2 Peter 1:5-9

Washed

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Everything was dull, faded, covered in dust and dreary, but after a week of the worst pollen count in years, it finally rained. How glorious to walk my daughter to school the next morning. Everything that had been covered, dull and dusty had been washed clean. It was easier to breathe, see clearly and the colors of the flowers and grass were vibrant again.

And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:18-25

I hope you have experienced this type of  renewal.  If you haven’t – you can!  After a period of sin in my life and years of guilt that followed, my Father in Heaven gave me a new beginning.  I was given another chance and God has used it for His glory. He can do the same for you. There is no better feeling than washing off the old and starting over.  That isn’t to say we won’t get dirty again, but God is always there waiting for us to seek Him.  He wants us to seek Him in the dust and faded faith.  The renewal or rebuilding of your life can happen right now!  You don’t have to wait on the weather, a certain day and you don’t even have to say a special prayer.  Just ask with a sincere heart and God will wash your sins away and you can start over.

Stop and think about that for just a few minutes. Let it soak in. It is difficult to comprehend such love, forgiveness and glory, but if you can trust in Him your life will be changed forever.  I pray you seek it, find it and accept it.  No matter what, tomorrow is a new day.  There is hope in the morning – given freely if we only ask.

he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:5-7

Just a Penny

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“Mommy, I don’t want to give away all the pennies in my allowance!” my six year old daughter exclaimed. Her school was collecting pennies for a charity and we were discussing how we would participate. I was hurt, shocked and disappointed in my daughter’s attitude.  “It’s just a few pennies.”, I declared.

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. Proverbs 11:24

Just a penny. Something that most of us consider trash in our purse, worthless and leave sitting around in pretty bowls to collect dust. But one penny combined with all the others in your home can turn into several dollars.  Your dollars combined with others in your community can turn into thousands of dollars.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

We are all just pennies in this world.  We can choose to sit around and waste our worth or we can choose to claim God’s power, go out and make a difference in the lives of others. I’m not just talking about volunteering and service projects (although those are great too).  I am talking about daily choices you can make that could have just as big of an impact.  If you smile and speak to the person behind you in line to get coffee today, then someone else opens a door for them when they have their hands full of packages and then someone lets them merge in front of them in traffic – can you imagine the impact? You didn’t change the world by saying hello.  It is just one action (penny), but combined with all of the other thoughtful actions you have created a grand effect in someone’s life. Many great things have come from one small action.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20