Posts Tagged Christianity
“. . . For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
One dark fall morning, running late and with very little gas, I headed out on my way to a school assignment. It was not a new assignment, I had been there before, just not recently. I forgot my cell phone, GPS, and was relying on map directions. I could hardly see the directions because of the darkness. I was so lost. On these country roads, there are no shoulders or stopping places, you just have to keep driving until you get to a safe place which could be a matter of many miles.
The road is extremely dark. I do not even have the benefit of the headlights of other cars, and am trying to read directions while driving (something very dangerous, by the way). I finally give up on the directions and continue to drive through the blackness when I see a school sign, but it is on the other side of the highway. So I drive on searching for the nearest exit, or at least a place to make a left turn, when the opportunity finally comes 20 miles and 30 minutes later. I get to the sign and it is the wrong school! Frustrated, still running late and worried whether I have enough gas, I pull off to the side of the road, sit in the car, and pray this prayer: “Father, I’m so tired. Please help me.”
I start out again and must have driven 10 miles when I see the school at the top of the hill and there is a gas station a short distance before the school. I gas up at the station and head to the school. I arrive on time and to my surprise, my first period class is a 90-minute planning period. Look at God!! The day turned out to be bright and beautiful–the kids were great. Yes, God is a very present help in the time of trouble!!! I was on the right road, I simply needed to ask to find my way. Once I acknowledged I could not do it alone, I was led by THE TRUE WAY!!
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) (KJV)
One of my favorite commercials shows a man in the kitchen preparing a spaghetti dinner for his family. His wife is questioning him about each ingredient for the sauce to make sure he has not left anything out, and he replies each time, “It’s in there.” Honey, all the ingredients are in there! God’s Word is like that — everything we will ever need is already in there.
If you are in sorrow, read (John 14)
If men fail you, read (Psalm 27)
When you sin, read (Psalm 51)
When you worry, read (Matthew 6:19-34)
When you are in danger, read (Psalm 91)
If you have the blues, read (Psalm 34)
When God seems far away, read (Psalm 139)
If you are discouraged, read (Isaiah 40)
If you are lonely or afraid, read (Psalm 23)
If you feel down and out, read (Romans 8:39)
When want courage for a task, read (Joshua 1)
When the world seems bigger than God, read (Read Psalm 90)
When you want rest and peace, read (Matthew 11:25-30)
When leaving home for work or travel, read (Psalm 121; 107:23-31)
If you get become bitter or critical, read (I Corinthians 13)
If thinking of investment and returns, read (Mark 10:17-31)
For a great invitation and opportunity, read (Isaiah 55)
Whether we need strength for today or hope for tomorrow — “The Living Word” promises — It’s all in there!!!
“And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said to one another, Why sit we here until we die?” (2 Kings 7:3)(King James Version)
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke
When I moved south after 25 years of ministry, it was to rest, recuperate, and yes, even to retire. At least that’s what I thought, but none of that was an option. In a few short years, I nearly lost everything including my mind. And even though I consider myself a “serious woman of God,” who had comforted many others, I could not understand why certain things were happening to me, but there is always a “Word from the Lord” to make things clear. I believe that’s why Jesus reminded His Disciples, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20). I forgot, I am merely a steward and not an owner of all I have been allowed. In fact, I was never rich nor may I ever be, in terms of “worldly” capital. The truth is: I am Blessed and Highly favored with health, strength, a pure heart, and a sound mind. Anything beyond that is a gift.
I now see the benefit of taking the “road less traveled.” Even with all of its detours — it led me straight to the door of God’s will for my life. I understand what the Apostle Paul meant by “being content no matter the circumstances.” I know what it is to “lose in order to gain.” The true rewards of serving the kingdom of God are Love, Peace, and Joy. What better rest, respite, and relief in a chaotic, storm-tossed world? Since my arrival, I have slowed my pace, but I have never grown “weary in my well-doing.” Many times, I grew tired in the work, but I never tired of the work. God has promised, if I don’t give up, I will reap every seed I have sown. God cannot lie and all God’s promises are consistently “Yes” and “Amen.” So, I thank God for every mountain. I treasure every valley, and relish every step that draws me closer to hearing “Well done.” But most of all, I am eternally grateful to those “four brave men,” who (even in their pain), decided to live victoriously.
One day, Jesus told Peter, “If you love me feed my sheep.” I love the Lord, and have renewed my vow to share the “Bread and Water of Life” with all who hunger and thirst for righteousness. One day, the Lord will not ask me how well-rested, happy, or content I was, but will ask, “What did you do for the least of these?” “How many lost lambs did you help find THE WAY?” “How many hurting hearts did you soothe with my Word?” “How much time did you devote to the cause of My Kingdom?” Retire? I don’t think so. Retire? Are you kidding? Retire? No never — the Lord’s Harvest is too plentiful, the laborers too few, time too short, and there’s too much to be done. Retire? Nay. Rather, I say to my fellow laborers in the Vineyard: WAKE UP — GET UP — GET BUSY because in the economy of GRACE — there is absolutely no such thing as RETIREMENT!!
“Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14 (KJV)
I have been re-reading some of the books that have greatly affected my life. One of my favorite reads is Alan D. Wright’s, God Moments. According to Wright, God moments are moments that sculpt the shape of our destiny. They are moments that transform every other moment in our lives. They can involve matters of life or death, or simply be pivotal moments that move us in a particular direction. Wright urges us to recognize, remember, and record these times because they assure us of the very presence of God in our lives. He prompts us to apprehend these times for what they really are and to harness them for what they really mean, because they are unique moments when we acknowledge that God has spoken and that we have heard.
One day, as I was sitting at my desk trying to figure ways to magically make funds appear in my empty bank account, my daughter stopped by to present me with a beautiful new checkbook cover. At the time, I thought it really a strange gift and found it even more strange that she simply stopped by in the middle of the day. But what really got my attention were the words imprinted on the cover: Proverbs 3:5,6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He will direct thy path.” Internalizing that message was life-changing and it empowered me to trust in the Lord as never before.
Whenever I come to a crossroad or stand on the brink of making a major decision in my life — direction always comes to assure me of God’s presence. As Wright puts it,“Heaven intercepts humanity.” Yes, there are times of great uncertainty and sometimes even pain, but always the greater gain is well worth the momentary strain. When I reflect on my life, I see clearly that God graciously “made each moment and every moment made me” — stronger, wiser and better. God is truly awesome and so worthy to be praised. O Lord, my God when I in awesome wonder!!” Like Abraham’s Sarah I laughed to think that the impossible could be possible, until I recalled all the truly amazing “God Moments” that brought me to this place in my life and reminded me — there is absolutely nothing too hard for the Lord!!!
“But by the grace of God I am what I am . . . .” 1 Corinthians 15:10
I was a plain Jane, living on a street the length of one block that was only large enough to be called an “alley.”I am the eldest of four siblings who at the age of 5 was the only one of the children to be rescued by my grandmother from the threat of foster care. I have no delusions about who I am today or about how I got to this place in my life. God has indeed been good to me. I have been “allowed” many amazing accomplishments that can only be credited to what I respectfully call the “G” word the (“Grace” of God)!!
I call it the “G” word because preachers don’t preach about “Grace” anymore. No one speaks about God’s gift of love. No one boasts of God’s unmerited favor towards fallen human beings. That is why I echo and re-echo it throughout my Blog and have included it in my pseudonym. It is because whenever I revisit those places of growth and pain in my life I am reminded of who and whose I am. And that I am what I am because of Christ. I give honor and credit where they are due. I readily admit that what I have accomplished is not because of how I look, what I have, or my intellect, but because God willed and allowed it to be so. Were it not for the hand of God, I could have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or simply lost everything, at any time. I know whatever I am is not because of any goodness of my own it is all because of God’s Grace.
The thief of our souls came to steal, kill, and destroy, but God’s love and “mercy said no, I will not let them go.”We can never pay for the gift of life, but we can continually praise the Giver throughout our lives. Thank you Father for the Gift of your Son. Thank you for your amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me. I will continue to write, boast, teach and preach about Grace to let the world know that I know I never could have made it without you.
Nothing in this life is by happenstance. Everything is intentional, on purpose, and because of the Grace of almighty God. Were it not for that “G” word — Grace — God’s unmerited favor in the sacrifice of His beloved only Son, where would any of us be? From my grandmother’s knee and all the places in between, I am certain there was an unseen hand that kept me. I know, without a doubt, I am what I am by the THE GRACE OF GOD!!
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
These are indeed testing times in and out of school settings. During this season, the young people are stressed–everything they have learned since the beginning of the school year will decide their next move. Even the brightest students seem concerned. On this day, the building is eerily quiet as the students complete their examinations. Shortly after, they learn their grades. One group of students asks a young man his grade. He replies, “a 70” and they laugh. He immediately responds, “at least I passed.” Isn’t that really what’s important? That you make the grade. That you recall everything you have learned and have done your best?
Admittedly, these are difficult times for everyone everywhere, but why are we surprised? Jesus warned His Disciples that times would be hard and that their faith would be tested. Tests, even for Christian believers are hard, but they are necessary to check and assess our spiritual growth and to measure our faith. In essence, to prove whether we truly believe what we profess or simply profess that we believe.
Through the years, I have discovered that God works best in difficult times. I have found too, that no matter what I am going through, God has already made a way for me. I have no doubt that I have been anointed to finish my course and I will never quit. In fact, I have been through too much to give up now. Friends, storms will come, so you might as well prepare. I am sure we would prefer they didn’t, but it is not our destiny for God to remove obstacles from our lives. That’s our desire. Grace is our destiny. The One who allows our tests also proctors and grades them. And one thing I can tell you with assurance is that not only is our God fair but is faithful!
Tests, trials, and especially storms, are to strengthen our faith in the One who controls all things. Strangely enough, there are lessons in every painful circumstance, situation, and trying moment. Life is a grand classroom of learning experiences. We must be attentive and study, study, study because there will be no makeup exams or “do overs.”
Once we know something, we become accountable for what we know and at various points in life we will be tested on that knowledge. The grade will not matter. What will matter is that we have done our best on the test. “Testing times” are times to realize that the God who brought us through one test, if God wills, can bring us through the next and the next. And if we have faithfully done our very best, then we can look for the greatest passing grade — Well done!!
The “enemy of our souls” told Job (one of God’s great men of faith), “I am going to break you with your test,” but God said, “No, I’m going to make you with it.” Job excelled to the end, graduated with Honors, and assures us with his enduring testimony, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NIV)
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For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (RSV)
WHY ME? is a question I’m sure Job (a perfect man) asked as he was losing everything. Surely, the Apostle Paul asked it many times during his perilous missionary journeys. No doubt, even Christ’s own Disciples asked it as they took up their own crosses and followed the Savior. And, I am certain it is the question that each of us whether rich, poor, Christian, or not, asks ourselves when we experience sickness, suffering, or loss. I have asked it many times, but strangely, never while being Blessed. Nor, have I asked it while happy, healthy, and whole. Not once did I question my privilege, but I always questioned my pain.
Why does it take sickness, disaster, and tragedy, before we look beyond our own concerns and truly see the suffering of others? And why is it when we witness or even hear about others’ needs, we automatically want to do something. Without a second thought, we want to give something. We want to lend a hand, many times, to the very person(s) we would ordinarily pass on the street without even a smile. How strange human nature is. It needs the “ugliness”of life in order to see the “beauty” in life. And before we decide to help we must see hurt. Why does it always take the suffering of others to see how Blessed we are? Is it because when we look on it we suddenly realize: it could have been . . . it should have been . . . and, but for the grace of God, it would have been you or me?
In the midst of all I have witnessed and in taking a personal inventory, I admit to many times feeling sorry for myself and asking why me, only to be reminded that “I am not my own — I was bought with a price.” I am God’s creation, made for His glory. It has never been about me — it was always about GOD. In my moments of reflection, I understand how truly Blessed I am just to be alive. And, with gratitude, I smile and humbly submit that I belong to the one who KNOWS ALL things and CONTROLS ALL things, and gives me the courage through every challenge to sincerely ask myself the real question — WHY NOT ME?”