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Archive for October, 2014

Why should I share my belief in Christ with people I meet?

I recently read Simon Sinek’s, Start with the Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Reading for business resulted in a challenge in my spiritual life as well. I found myself asking, why should I share my belief and personal relationship with Jesus Christ with others? Of course, introducing those I care about with the opportunity to live for eternity is a given, but is there more immediate or tangible reasons for sharing my personal friendship with Jesus Christ?

Why do I long for those I love to know my Lord Jesus Christ?

For the peace He fills me with from His words of comfort—“I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

For the security I sense knowing I am never alone—“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shake, for He is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8)

For the guidance I receive for decisions I need to make for today and my future—“Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain to the place where you live.” (Psalm 43: 3) “I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7)

For the joy that strengthens my heart—“…don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10) “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.” (Psalm 90:14)

Yes, there are many reasons “why” to share our faith.  May you find your “why” and celebrate by encouraging another with the blessings that flow from knowing Christ’s love personally.

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Lord, Do You Care About Me? My Challenges? My Life?

This morning when you woke, did you say, “Thank you, Lord, that you kept Planet Earth rotating the past 24 hours?” Or, perhaps you prayed, “Thank you, Lord, that you kept the earth moving around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. You did it again!”

Like clockwork the planet earth rotates on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour every 24 hours. And, yes, the earth rotates around the sun at the speed of 67,000 miles per hour. Yet, we just accept that the earth will keep rotating and moving around the sun without any difficulty believing it will do so again tomorrow. We don’t doubt God’s ability to keep the earth on course and the planets aligned in the solar system. We accept that God can handle the big things, but question and doubt that He cares about handling the “little” things—those things that are big in our lives but small in comparison to moving the whole world at 67,000 miles per hour.

Recently, a friend reminded me that God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him, but that He is also great and worthy of our trust because nothing is too small for Him. God cares about every aspect of our lives. He even knows the numbers of hairs on our head! Why? Because we matter to our Heavenly Father and what is going on in our hearts and lives matter to Him too.

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will exult over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Is there any limit to my power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!’”

“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jer 32:27

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and rescued me. The Lord is for me, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118:15-16

“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes….And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t He more surely care for you? You have so little faith!…Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs an He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matt 6:25-33

Reflecting back on my life, Heavenly Father, I see many times when you were there to meet me at the point of my need. I see you brought goodness and abundance into my life beyond what I could have asked or imagined just as you promise in Ephesians 3:20. Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for losing faith and doubting you care about little me. The mountains before me seem huge today, but You promise if I have the faith of a mustard seed, these mountains can move. Just as the man cried out to you so long ago, Jesus, help my unbelief. Strengthen my courage and confidence. Nothing is too big for You to handle and nothing is too small. Thank you Lord God for the prompting to seek Your face in those questioning moments and I will find Your peace and joy. Amen

 

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I was becoming increasingly aware of an empty space in my life; it wasn’t so full of responsibilities and activities as it once was. This space didn’t appear all at once, but rather grew more pronounced over time. My kids grew up and left home, my mother who had lived with us for many years, passed on, and I was recently retired.

“What do you want me to do, Lord?”

There were things that I loved to spend time doing that satisfied me, and kept me occupied. But my heart asked, “God, what do You want me to do?  I’m looking for purpose and meaning outside of my own satisfaction in this season of my life.”

One day I had a short list of errands to do in town. On the list, was the name of someone I had promised to visit, but just never seemed to get around to it. In my mind of my intended tasks, her name was at the bottom of the list, something to do if I had the time. While driving, I was praying about my day and I asked God to order my steps and make me a blessing to others. This simple prayer had been a lifetime companion. My mother spoke a blessing over me nearly every day of my life with her: “God bless you, dear, and make you a blessing to others.” It was never far from me, this desire to pay forward the many blessings in my life. Now, in this new time in my life, I was looking for opportunities to serve others. Stopped at a traffic light, I was momentarily distracted from my thoughts. As I put on my blinker and made my left turn, suddenly a new thought entered my brain inspiring me to ask my usual question a bit differently. “God, what do you want to do, today?  Can I do it with you?” Immediately, that person’s name moved to the top of my list, and I turned the car in a different direction heading to the nursing home.

I can find a lot of reasons to avoid going to a nursing home. When there is something I don‘t want to do, I can procrastinate forever. But even when we build up a big wall of resistance, it only takes a moment for God to intervene and bring it crashing down. On that day, I was challenged to walk with my Lord, and to see with his heart and his eyes. With a new perspective, I walked in the hallways of the nursing home, aware that God wanted to be present in this place. I had a wonderful visit with the young woman I was there to see, and on my way out I stopped to talk with the social worker on staff. I asked if there was an opportunity for me to visit other patients and spend time with them. The social worker acquainted me with the opportunities as a volunteer to visit patients through the entire building. I also had many opportunities to get to know family members of the patients as well as some of the staff. There were many opportunities to speak words of encouragement, or comfort and to pray with individuals who expressed the need and desire. The nursing home became for me a place where God wanted to spread some light and love, and I could participate with him. What an honor and blessing in my life! Sometimes when we feel like God isn’t answering our questions, we need to try a new question. Try asking God,

“What do you want to do, and can I be part of it?”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.“  Proverbs 3:5-6

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Am I really saved and in relationship with Jesus Christ?  This is one of the most common questions asked by people who claim to believe in God. So why the doubt?  Perhaps at its most basic, the answer lies in the fact that even as a relationship with God engages our spiritual nature, our physical human nature demands we “see it to believe it.” We want touch, we want visual, we want audible, we want the obvious.

If this is what you are feeling, it is a real struggle and you are not alone in this!  Searching for my own answer to this question, I found four additional reasons that commonly cause a person who identifies themselves as a Christian to question their salvation:

1. She does not fully understand how the security of her salvation relies on the character of God.

2. She is in continual sin without repentance and so she is feeling an uncomfortable distance from God.

3. She is saved, but Satan is messing with her and distracting her.

4.  She isn’t saved; God is convicting her heart to trust in Christ alone for salvation.

First, our security of salvation doesn’t rely on us with our human frailties, but on God’s Perfection and Power and Character. He gives eternal life to those who believe! (from John 3:16) His grasp on us is complete and He will never drive us away! (from John 6:37) Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (from Romans 8:35-39)

Secondly, sin often causes us to feel uncomfortable with God.  Our wrong choices create a feeling of distance between our pure God and us.  But when we confess our wrongs to the Lord, Jesus Christ Himself is an advocate for us:  He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9; 2:1)

A third reason we have doubts may be due to spiritual warfare.   Satan wants to distract and render Christians ineffective through doubts and fear. I have a friend who experienced this for several months, and after much prayer, my friend felt led to pray a “once and for all” prayer of trust in Jesus for salvation, proclaiming their personal decision of trust in Christ alone! If he was already a believer, this reaffirmed that choice and freed him from Satan’s arrows of fear. If not, this was the blessed point of receiving the gift of salvation, freeing him from arrows of doubt. Either way, my friend gained a fresh confidence and was freed to move forward because Satan’s attacks were silenced by proactive movement toward the Lord and leaning in to His promises and power.

And lastly, there are also times a person questions their faith because they truly are not saved.  The Lord is convicting their heart!

  • Who or What are you trusting in right now for your salvation? If you are relying on anything but faith in Jesus and His death on the cross for your sins, than now is the time to place your trust in Christ alone. (“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8)
  • Do you have spiritual fruit in your life?  Spiritual fruit is more than being nice or doing good works.  It is initiated by relationship with God and motivated by His love for you and your love for Him.  It can be an increasing personal recognition of sin to greater levels of peace in ones own life. Fruit isn’t always visible to others, but spiritual fruit will eventually give external evidence, such as good works motivated by His love and done in the Name of Christ.  (“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:8)  If a person doesn’t see any spiritual fruit/spiritual growth, this may be the time to acknowledge that you actually never trusted in Christ and you need to rest alone in God for your salvation.

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If the Lord is my Savior, why doesn’t He rescue me?

This or a similar question might be one you have asked of God. Maybe in the past, maybe now, or maybe not at all. There have been moments in my life where I have felt stuck, trapped, and captive…weighed down by thoughts of hopelessness and despair. I called upon God to help me out of it, and then got discouraged when I found myself in the same place.

So where is our Savior in those days where we are desperate to be rescued? At times I believe my response to suffering has been to seek my own way out of it. I would choose one of two main avenues that consequently led me down countless rabbit trails (pretty much getting me nowhere). Path one, find distractions so as to not face my pain, or path two, seize control of whomever and/or whatever so as to feel capable of making my desired outcome a reality. The trouble with these roads is that I wouldn’t keep close ties with God.

While I was sometimes successful in constructing a sense of order, without the rock of Jesus to support me, that false sense of security fell to pieces under the “light-weight” demands of everyday life. No way could I stand on my own if another heavy-weight crisis swept over me. I could barely get back up after being knocked down by the light-weight stuff. So guess where that put me? Face to face with the reality of my own weakness, brought to the ultimatum to admit it and call out to my Savior. He answered me, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus is my Savior, and He has rescued me. Reading 1 Peter 1 tell us: He has given those who call on Him a new birth into the living hope…the gift of salvation…in all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

So that trouble will come, the suffering will be, but we are saved from it all because His promises to rescue us are true: “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you’, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:19).

 

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