There is Only One Way


“The Lord is merciful and gracious,Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.” Psalm 103:8-9

Friends, I feel the need to share something that has been on my heart. There is a trend going on among God’s people which disturbs me, and I feel the need to speak out about it.

First, let me say that I very much enjoy sharing words of encouragement with you. I feel this is what I am called to do. I try to share Scriptures that will cheer you on along your Christian journey. I share words of wisdom and stories from our lives that will encourage you and your family. I do my best to take Scripture and use it as a guide for your everyday life.

Next, I want to share my belief on what God wants for His children. I believe that God wants His children to be happy. He wants good things for us. I believe that God rejoices with us when we rejoice, and He hurts with us when we hurt. I believe that God wants to see His children enjoy life.

Here is the problem I am having. There are people out there right now who want to tell you things that simply are not true. While I do enjoy bringing you words of encouragement, I never want to lead you to believe that your life is always going to be easy and worry free. I do not want to fool you into thinking that if you have positive thoughts, your life will always go as planned. Friends, sadly this is not true.

Please do not think I am here to spread gloom and doom. That is not my intention. I do, however, feel that God has placed this on my heart today. I feel that just as I share encouraging words with you I must also share the serious words with you.

In the verse that I shared today, we read that God is merciful and gracious. He is slow to anger and full of mercy. God sent His Son to live on this earth for a season and then to die on the cross so that we might be saved. Yes, He loves us. He is merciful. Yes, He wants good for us.

There is something I want us to understand. Even thought we serve a God who is mighty and gracious and merciful, we are told in John 16:33, that we will face trials and tribulations on this earth. Friends, please do not believe the lie that if you will just think positively, then your life is going to be easy and trouble free. This is not true. We are told right here that we will face trouble. We do, however, find hope if we will continue on to the end of this verse. After we are warned that life is going to be difficult, we are then encouraged by these words, ” But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Within this statement we find the truth. It is not in our own positive thinking that we find hope, but in the assurance that we have a Savior who gave His life for us. In doing so He has conquered the world. This is where we find true, lasting hope.

There is one more misconception that I would like to discuss. This one, in my opinion, is not so obvious. The trouble I have in this matter is not so much that it has been twisted and misused, as it is that it simply has been left out altogether. I am talking about the judgement and the wrath of God.

Now, you may be saying, “But, I thought you were just talking about a loving God.” You would be correct. We do serve a loving God, but if you will continue reading today’s verse you will see that this day of mercy and grace will, at some point, come to an end.

We read in Psalm 103:9He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.” Friends, there is coming a day when God will say enough is enough. Please do not miss this very important part of the puzzle. Somehow we have gotten so caught up in the power of positive thinking and the blessings of God that we have forgotten about punishment for sin. Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” There is only one way to Heaven and it is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

You can be as positive as you want to be. You can think all the good thoughts that one mind can manage. You can be as good a person as you want to be. What I want you to understand today is that none of these things are going to keep you out of Hell.

I believe in having a positive attitude. I believe in being a good person. I believe that as Christians our lives should reflect Jesus and the love that He has for us. I encourage my kids every day to be positive. I encourage them to work hard and to be good people. What I make sure they understand though is that none of these things are going to save them from the punishment that sin brings, and none of them are going to get them into Heaven.

I understand that I may appear to be on my soapbox today, but I truly believe in my heart that these words need to be shared. I feel that I have been given the responsibility to share the truth with you. If that comes through encouragement, then that is what I want to share. If, like this morning, it comes as cold, hard facts, then I want to be faithful in sharing that as well.

I do have some encouragement for you this morning. God loves you. He does want good for your life. He sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross for your sins. He is, at this very moment, preparing a place for you when this life is over. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He did so as a gift to all of us. It is up to us to accept that gift and give our lives to Him. This gift is our only hope.

Friends, I want to see happiness and health in our lives. I do want us to be good people. I believe in being positive. But, I do not want us to believe the lie that these things are enough to keep us out of Hell. There is only one way to Heaven. I pray that you have chosen that way today.

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Looking for Direction


paths

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Are you restless? Are you looking for direction from the Lord? Do you feel like you should be making a move but are unsure of which way to go? I want to encourage you today with a few verses that always bring comfort to my heart.

I know it is difficult when you feel like you should be moving but God’s will is not clear. Sometimes God wants us to step out in faith yet other times He tells us to wait. How can we know what we are supposed to do? We need to pray. We need to seek direction from God and allow Him to lead us. There are many promises in the Bible on which we can stand.

Here are a few of my favorite verses about seeking God’s will and direction. I pray they are an encouragement to you as you seek God’s direction for your life:

  • James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

I believe that the first things we should ask of the Lord when we are seeking direction is wisdom. So many times we simply do not know what we should do. We feel in our hearts that we should be moving yet we do not know where to go. I encourage you to take time to seek wisdom that can only come from God.

  • Psalm 25:4-5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalms is full of great verses on seeking God’s will for our lives. After we have asked God for wisdom let us ask Him for direction.

  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

In this verse we are given instructions on how to find God’s will for our lives. We are told to search for it. We can rest in the assurance that if we seek then God will be faithful to open the door and show us where we should go.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

What comfort my heart feels when I realize that I serve the One who will direct my paths. I do not have to wander around, hoping that I am going the right way. I am told to trust the Lord, even when I do not understand where I am going.

  • Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”

As humans we often want to figure it out ourselves. God gives us this freedom, however, if we are wise we will seek His direction. Many times God allows us the room to “make our own way.” What I mean by this is that He gives us room to choose what we will do inside His guidelines. We must be careful to earnestly seek God’s will before we make any decisions concerning our lives. You see, God has a perfect will for us. If we are careful to stay within His will, we are sure to find true peace and happiness.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is one of my favorite Bible verses to think upon when I am facing a decision. My heart feels such peace when I remember that God has a plan for my life. He has not left me to wander around this world trying to find my way. No! He has a plan for my life.

Friends, I know that there are times when we feel like we should move. I also understand that these times can be full of doubt and worry. I pray these verses I have shared with you today will bring some comfort in uncertain times. Remember, God loves you and He has a plan for your life. Seek wisdom, seek direction, and allow God to guide you. He will show you the way He wants you to go.

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength


joyofthelord

“Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 

Has life knocked you down?

Have you lost your joy?

Friend, all throughout our lives we are going to face trials. These trials will try to steal our joy. They will take the wind out of our sails.

When we find ourselves in these situations, we often wonder how we will ever get back up, how we will ever survive.

I want to encourage your heart this morning. You are not defeated. You are not alone.

Today’s verse tells us that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

You see, life is more than we can handle. The day to day struggles that we face are too much for us. The sudden blows that come from the devil will surely knock us to the ground.

The good news is that we do not have to stay there. We have a source of strength, and His name is Jesus.

When life hands you a situation that you can not bear alone, Jesus is there. The joy that can be found in knowing Him and serving Him is enough to pick us back up and dust us off.

Having Jesus in our hearts does not guarantee us a life free from struggles. However, knowing Jesus and having a relationship with Him brings a peace and a joy that can get us through these difficult times.

Do you know Jesus?

Do you have the joy of the Lord in your heart?

I want you to know, today, that Jesus loves you. He is standing, with arms stretched wide, waiting for you to run to Him.

Will you choose Jesus today? Will you let the joy of the Lord be your strength?

Warning: Danger Ahead


Warning

“For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2

 If you and I were walking in the woods and I said, “You need to be careful because I have spotted a bear here in the woods before,” what would you think?

What would happen as we walked along if, on the ground, you saw signs that indeed a bear had been in this area?

If I suddenly yelled, “RUN! There is a bear,” what would you do?

Would you run, or would you tell me I was crazy? Would you wait around to see just how close that bear would get to you before you would begin to run away?

 It is absurd to think that you would stand and wait for that bear to reach you before you ran. It is crazy to think that you would turn around and face it head on as if you could battle it alone.

Hopefully you would heed my warning. Hopefully you would trust me enough to run when I told you that you were in danger.

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Friends, I am here this morning to warn you. I pray that you will heed my warning. I pray that you will trust me when I tell you that something is coming.

I am here to tell you that if you are not a Christian, if you are not covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, then you are in grave danger.

I firmly believe that Jesus is coming back very soon. Too many things are happening and too many signs are being seen to believe differently.

Just as you would never chance being chased by a bear, or just as you would never try to fight it alone, please do not think that you can handle being left behind. Please do not think that you still have plenty of time to get it together.

Today’s verse reminds us that we do not know when Jesus is coming back. His coming will be instantaneous. It will take everyone by surprise.

My question for you is this: Will you be ready? Have you made preparations to leave this world behind and be taken up in the clouds?

There will be no time to make this choice when Jesus does come back. It will be too late when you realize that friends and family are missing and you have been left.

The time to prepare is now. The time to get it together is this very second. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not even promised our next breath.

Will you heed my warning today? Will you trust me when I tell you that something is coming? Will you take the time right now to seek out God’s forgiveness and gain the assurance that you have a home in Heaven when that time comes? Only you can make that choice. No one can do it for you.

The good news is, it is simple to do. Let me tell you how:

1. Realize that you are a sinner. ( Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)

2. Confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. (1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”)

3. Believe that you have been saved. ( Romans 10:9-10 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”)

Once you have done these things, Jesus will begin to work in your heart and in your life. He will begin to grow you into the person He wants you to be.

If you follow God’s word and listen to His commandments, you can be assured that when the Lord comes back for His children, you will not be left behind. You will not have to face the many terrible things that are to come. You will have a home waiting for you in Heaven.

I pray, today, that you have taken these steps to prepare for what is to come. I want to know that I have done everything I can to warn and prepare those I love.  It breaks my heart to think of friends and family left behind.

Remember: The Lord is coming back as a thief in the night. I pray you will be ready.

Loving “Prickly” People


Cactusville_USA                           ” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. ”  Matthew 5:44

I have many fond memories from my childhood as an MK (a missionary’s kid).

One memory that sticks out in my mind is the many trips we would take to Arizona from our home in New Mexico. A few times a year my parents would have to travel there for a series of meetings. Most of my trip was spent listening to my Walkman, ( do kids even know what those are anymore?). I would also color or draw, anything to pass the time. My favorite part of the trip, however, was when we would cross over into Arizona. As a child I can remember watching intently for one specific indication that we were almost to our destination: cacti.

As we would travel I could see the landscape change and I would impatiently wait until I could see the cacti begin to appear. One here, another a few miles down the road, then suddenly they seemed to be everywhere. With my childlike imagination I pictured them as men, soldiers, standing at attention, waiting for marching orders. Sometimes they would even come alive, as their “arms” stretched up to the sky. I would imagine them as dear friends just waiting for my embrace.

It is funny to me the things that kids think and remember. Now, even as I write about these memories, I shake my head at my innocence. Cacti as men? Can you really imagine HUGGING a cactus?

As I pondered this memory in my mind, I thought to myself, “We encounter prickly people daily.” Think about that for a moment.

I am sure that as you take time for this thought to sink in, someone, maybe even more than one person, comes to your mind. Sadly, we all know prickly people. These people are the ones who bite at us with their words or actions. These are the people who no matter how hard we try to love them, it never seems quite enough to shield against the barbs that prick our hearts. No matter the reason behind the prickly cover ( and I assure you, there is always a reason) it is still very painful to love people with this kind of personality. The barbs that we encounter from these people often come from insecurity, pain, or abuse. Nonetheless, they are quite painful if we are not equipped to handle them.

You may be asking the question, “What then do we do?”

You have to make a choice. Do you walk away saying, “You are too difficult to love,” or do you love them in spite of the barbs.

I will offer you this piece of advice: It takes a true “God love” to love prickly people.

It is not a love that you possess in yourself. The only hope you have of loving a prickly person is to let God fill you with His love. When you do this, you will find that God shields your heart from the painful barbs. You may even find  in loving prickly people that God uses you to minister to them. You can show them what God’s love can do in even the prickliest heart.

The next thing you can do is to pray for them. God is the only hope for prickly people. He alone can heal the hurt that such people have experienced. They, however, have to want it and ask for that healing. Pray that God will show them the error of their ways and begin to sooth the hurts they feel.

If you are dealing with a prickly person let me encourage you today. Do not give up on them. Do not walk away. Pray for them daily and allow God, through you, to give them the love they need. God may have brought you into their lives to minister to them. You may even learn something new about yourself in the process. Pray and ask God to show you what you can learn from this situation. Sometimes God uses difficult situations to grow us.

Are you a prickly person? Do you ever find yourself meeting people with painful barbs rather than kindness? Do your words sometimes bite or tear?  I want to encourage you to search your heart and find out why. You do not have to stay this way; there is hope. His name is Jesus Christ and He can heal even the deepest hurt. You see, when we have been hurt, abused, or made to feel insecure, we learn to protect ourselves. Unfortunately we often do this by becoming hard, and prickly. God wants to heal that hurt and to make you the person He wants you to be.