God is NOT dead!


exploding heart
I love the song GOD’S NOT DEAD by the Newsboys and boy o boy my kids love it too.  It’s one of our favorites.  When it plays on the radio it’s usually cranked up to heart pounding capacity. One of the reasons I love this song is because I can SO relate to the words:

Let love explode
And bring the dead to life
A love so bold
To bring a revolution somehow

Now I’m lost in your freedom
And this world I’ll overcome

My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive

He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion
My God’s not dead
He’s surely alive
He’s living on the inside
Roaring like a lion

He’s roaring
He’s roaring
He’s roaring like a lion

Quite honestly though, there was a time in my life that it felt like God was far far away.  Kind of  like someone living up beyond the clouds looking down as a judge.  I felt like he was a spectator in this so called game of my life.  Have you ever experienced the same feelings?

This happens when we have an incorrect view of who God really is.  It was MY unbelief and MY fears that kept God at a distance. In Jeremiah 29:12-13 it says . . . Then you will call upon me and come, and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

Belief requires faith and faith is an action.  We are told in Galatians 3:6 . . .Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  And like Abraham, when we have faith, we inherit God’s promises. The bible says in Hebrews 11:1 . . . Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

It wasn’t until I came to a point in my life that I began diligently searching for God and crying out for him that he showed up on the scene. You could say that prior to this experience, my faith was dead.  But now I can testify like the song says, “My God is not dead, He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside, and roaring like a Lion.”  It is at this point in my life when God poured out his Holy Spirit in my life and filled me with His presence. God became real to me in a whole new way, through experiencing Him in my life.

Do you long to feel God’s presence and to hear from him? If you would have asked me this question a few years back I would have told you (nicely) that I think you’re crazy and that God doesn’t still speak to people like he did back in bible times.  Friend if you feel the same as I did back then, then you are believing the lie too.  Satan is a liar and a deceiver and he loves nothing more that to convince us of his lies.  When Jesus died for us to pay the penalty of our sin, the good news is that “He arose from the dead and is ALIVE.”  The risen Christ ascended into heaven but he promised not to leave us or forsake us and he gives us his helper and comforter, the Holy Spirit who is with us.

In Hebrews 13:8 it says . . . Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the same God, bible times, our time. He is changeless and He is fully alive and he continues to pour out his spirit on his believers. God is not dead.  He is our creator and he knows us and desires us.  He is not a spectator that looks down from heaven but desires to be fully engaged in our hearts and lives and the good news is that he is our “Emmanuel” meaning God with us.

In Revelations 3:20 it says . . . Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  God longs for us to let him in and for us to feast at the table WITH him. He is not a spectator but becomes actively involved in our lives when we invite him in.  He’s in this with us and desires to guide us unto a full and abundant life with him and all he has for us.  Is the door of your heart open to him?

Father God I pray that the eyes of our hearts my be enlightened that we may know YOU and the hope to which you have called us. Fill us with your Spirit so that we may Glorify you.  Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.  To you be all Glory and Power both now and forever. AMEN

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. John 15:26

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16

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At the HEART of THANKSGIVING


I love thanksgiving because it is a time when we all start to think of all the things we’re grateful for. Another reason we all love thanksgiving is because we celebrate the remembrance of the first thanksgiving feast in Plymouth. Some of us will get join with family and friends and feast till we feel “stuffed as a turkey” by the day’s end.

All kidding aside, wouldn’t it be great if we could start to cultivate a attitude of thanksgiving year round? The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 . . .that we are to give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. When we are grateful, it opens up the door of our hearts to be in alignment with God.

We were created to give God glory and the best way we do that is through a heart of thanksgiving and praise. The two together put our soul focus on God and give us a right heart attitude in the presence of our Savior. Have you ever tried to be negative and thankful at the same time. It just doesn’t work that way.

Being thankful takes our eyes off ourselves and helps us to re-focus on Jesus, the source of true “joy.” By focusing on God and being thankful, we start to see things through God’s perspective and he opens the windows of our eyes, to see the many blessings we have “In Him” and all around us. Being continually thankful doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a choice we must make everyday and in all circumstances.

When I sit and contemplate how “rich” we are in Christ, it overwhelms me. I can’t help but be thankful. To think that God, the creator of the universe chose to create us. He didn’t need us, yet the bible says in Ephesians 4:1 . . .that he chose us in him, before the foundations of the world, that we would be holy and blameless in his sight. He “CHOSE” us, and he LOVES us! He desires each one of us to know him and be known by him.

God made a way for us “sinful man” to be made right with him by sending his son Jesus, into the world, to die for our sins. This ultimate sacrifice provided the way for us to be made right with God. The bible says in Hebrews 9:22 . . . without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. His blood sacrifice bridged the gap between a Holy God and a sinful man.

Thank you Father God for your ultimate sacrifice. Thank you that you are our risen Savior and that you have gone to prepare a place, for all of us who have accepted your free gift of salvation, through faith in you ~ We have SO MUCH to be thankful for. And this makes my heart want to sing . . .“Give Thanks” with a grateful heart . . . “Give thanks” unto the Holy One. . . “Give Thanks” because He’s given . . .JESUS CHRIST his Son. . .and now, let the weak say, I am strong. . . let the poor say, I am rich. . . because of what . . The Lord has done. . . For us. . .GIVE THANKS!

 

Are you the “conditional” type?


So this morning I dropped my kiddo’s off at school and then I went over to a friends for a massage.  After the massage I returned home and decided that with the thanksgiving holiday coming up and visions of pumpkin pie dancing in my head, it was probably a good idea to try and get a run before I headed off to work. Not a very easy decision to make after just receiving a relaxing fully body massage.

It had been a rather stormy night and the wind was still blowing rather briskly but at least it wasn’t raining.  So I proceeded out the door with my trusty running partner Sadie (my dog) into the elements for an exhilarating run.

As I was about a fourth of the way into my run I felt the first drop.  I couldn’t help but smile and think, “How did I plan on doing this anyways without thinking I just “might” get wet?”  Well there I was and the rain started coming down, and not just a little mist,  it turned into a nice steady pour.

Now I’ve been running for some time now but my no means consider myself a die-hard runner.  The fall and winters here can be unusually wet and my outdoor running will usually slow down to only once or twice a week.  So I guess you can call me a “fair weather” runner.

The reason I share this story is because It makes me think that sometimes this is how we can be in our walk with God and our love for others.  Do we only love others when the “conditions” are right?  In my journey with God this is something I so oftentimes struggle with myself.

We are told the first and greatest commandment is this . . . To love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

Now its pretty easy to love those who love us.  But how about those we find that are not quite as easy to love.  Those who treat us wrong or don’t act the way we think they should in any given circumstance.  How about those who intentionally do things to hurt or spite us? How does our “loving” measure up then?  Do we love them unconditionally?  Or does our love suddenly run cold?

To me “conditional love” is not quite God’s standard is for “loving” others.  He is our perfect example.  You might say, “How can God expect me to love as he loves when I’m not perfect like he is?”  Well truth being, we can’t.  It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us that we can  even come close to loving as God loves.

One way God has shown me that we can begin to love as he does is to pray and ask him to change the way we view people and to see them as he does.  We are all sinners in need of forgiveness and grace.  I know for myself that I do not deserve God’s unmerited forgiveness and grace, but he gives it to me just the same.  I have done nothing to earn or deserve it, it’s free.  And I know by the same measure that I’ve been forgiven, God wants me to forgive others and to show this same love towards them that he has given me (unconditional).

I’m not writing this saying I’ve got this mastered at all, because I haven’t.  But I continually pray for God to help me in this area and he faithfully presents me with plenty of people to practice loving on, lol. It says in 1 John 3:18 . . . Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our action.  Love is a verb and we must act lovingly towards others even when they act unloving towards us. This is how we demonstrate Christ’s love  in us. Easy no, possible yes.

This is an amazing challenge and I know that’s what God desires for me and for you.  It says in John 13:35 . . . By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  We are to be salt and light to a watching world and how can we do that if we who call ourselves Christians are continually being unloving towards those who we are called to love.

Here is God’s standard for loving.  In Romans 5:8 is says . . . But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  It didn’t say that we were good, or acted right, or were totally lovable. No we were quite the opposite of all these and God still chose to die for us in all our “ugliness” so that we could be made right in him.

God acted loving towards us and didn’t place conditions on his love towards us.  You know the saying, “Hurt people, hurt people?” It’s true, we are all broken and hurting and in need of a Savior.  God wants to use us to share his love to a broken and dying people and that is only possible when we submit fully to him and willingly choose to die to self.  Because it is in dying to self that Christ is made alive in us and he then gives us the power to accomplish his will for us.

I believe loving as God does will never be easy.  It don’t think it’s meant to be.  Jesus came to earth and was despised and rejected by man. And yet in his great love and mercy towards us, He willingly choose to die for us in our sinful state.  And by this was the most beautiful and pure act of love demonstrated. By one man sin came upon us and by one man we were made the righteousness of God.  This is pure Love demonstrated and God commands us to the same.

Father God thank you for your amazing love towards us.  Help us in turn to love others as you have love us.  Help us to see with your eyes and to love others as you do.  We know we are undeserving of your great love, so help us to extend that same kind of unconditional love towards others.  We cannot do this in and of ourselves but only though your spirit working in and through us.  Help us to yield to you and to be the people who help carry out your mission here on earth.  You are an amazing God. All glory be to you, King Jesus! AMEN

If speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:1-8

What is the condition of your heart?


I took a nice run along the ocean yesterday morning and I was trying to push my pace a bit by increasing my usual speed.  Therefore by the time I finished with my run I was pretty tired and my heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was going to leap right out of my chest.  I do this every once in a while because I think it’s good for my heart, (what do I know?) lol.

Now if I told you of my families medical history, you would probably agree that according to statistics, I have a very good chance of having a bad heart.  Meaning that my family has a high rate of heart disease. Both sets of my parents parents had heart disease and have either had a bypass surgery or passed away from a sudden heart attack. The same is true for my dad and his two siblings.

Now if you just looked at the cold hard facts and how genetics played into that, the statistics wouldn’t look very promising. But with all the advances in modern medicine, there are so many preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the chances of heart attacks and heart related diseases.

I liken my family’s medical history and my propensity toward heart disease similar to that of our spiritual lives.  Because of Adam and Eves sin, we are all given this “genetic” bad heart, it is a sickly heart that is bent towards sin.

But thankfully when we become a believer in Christ Jesus we are given the spirit of Christ, which creates in us a “new heart.”  The bible states that he removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). The heart of flesh is the Holy Spirit that Christ places within us.  He is the one who gives us the renewed heart and mind of Christ and the will and the desire to do what pleases God.

The picture here is a beautiful one.  The heart of stone is a bad heart.  It’s cold and rocky, it’s unfeeling  towards the things of God. But when God gives us a new heart (through the power of the Holy Spirit) our heart becomes a heart of flesh.  It is now a good heart, a vital beating organ.  A organ to which it’s truest desire is to beat with the heart of God.

It is only through Christ’s spirit working within us that we are able to submit to God through obedience and transformation of our old heart takes place.  The new heart is there, but we have to work to keep it in order and functioning properly.

Once we have this new heart, immediately there is a battle being raged against it.  The enemy wants to take back territory that now belongs to God and he’s not about to go down without a fight.  The attacks against our heart begin.  Its our old nature (the flesh) struggling against our new nature (the spirit).

Our heart is the Holy Spirit’s abode.  In Proverbs 4:23 we are told to . . .above all else guard our hearts.  We guard our hearts by filling our minds with Gods word, and by walking in obedience to him.  We also do this by daily renewing our hearts and minds with the things of Christ.  Our mind is what filters what we put into our hearts and if we are not filling our mind with the things of God, our hearts will get clogged (just like clogged arteries) and it will eventually, if left unchecked, lead to some life threatening heart attacks.

I love the passage in Ephesians 5:19 where it talk about singing and making music in our heart to the Lord.  To me we make the music unto him by daily choosing to be dead to self (and the things of the world) and alive unto Christ (daily living for Him).  Our life is our spiritual act of worship unto Christ.  I liken it to listening to a Christian music station.  We set the dial to God and tune into Him, keeping our thoughts and minds filled with the things of Him and in fulfilling His purposes for us.

We all make daily choices as far as what we can do to keep our hearts healthy state.  The things we CAN control are exercise, the foods we put into our bodies and also by having regular medical check-ups.  It’s the same in our spiritual life.  We need to exercise our spiritual disciplines and feed ourselves upon the things of God, and to keep a watchful eye on the things we allow in our hearts.  We have an amazing Great Physician who is wonderful in diagnosing and helping preventing fatal heart attacks! May we call on Him today!

Thank you Father God that you give us new hearts, renewed hearts, good hearts which want to do what is pleasing to you.  Help us in daily making the effort to guard our hearts for you.  Help us to be all that you designed us to be and to live our lives as music unto you with hearts seeking to beat to the cadence of your drum.  Thank you dear Jesus how you work in each of our lives in unique and intimate ways.  Thank you for your amazing love for us. You are an awesome God and we love and praise you.  All Glory to you King Jesus! AMEN

How clean is your house?


I am constantly amazed at what a mess six people living in one household can make.

Besides our daily chores, occasionally we all do some extra hard work and we whip this house into tip-top shape.  Then usually only a few days later I look around and wonder when the tornado went through unnoticed. And just in case you’re wondering, no this picture is not my house, teehee.

Sometimes when my kids murmur and complain about all the cleaning, I remind them that maintaining a “clean house” is like maintaining our spiritual house (life) with God.

Chores are like daily spiritual disciplines. They help to keep our spiritual house in order. And in order to keep our life orderly, we need a bit of cleaning everyday and we do this through confession in our alone time with God (1 John 1:9).

We all know what it’s like at times when our lives are a bit overloaded with activities and we are constantly on the go.  If the house gets neglected for a few days, it doesn’t take long for it to look like hurricane central.

When messes accumulate over a period of time they quickly turn into disasters and disasters can be avoided by daily maintenance.

Sin works in the same way. If it isn’t dealt with daily it can soon become an ugly mess.

God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and reveals truth to us through our conscience. We can either choose to confess the sin and walk in obedience or we can make excuses for the sin and continue on.

Over time our consciences can become hardened to sin because we choose to deliberately walk in disobedience and then our perception of right and wrong can become seared.  Satan blinds us to the truth because we have chosen to rather believe the lies of the enemy versus God’s revealed truth.

We are told in scripture that we are to examine ourselves (1 Cor.11:31) so that we don’t come under God’s judgement. We do this by daily asking God to show us our sin and then to confess and renounce it.

I always confess known sins that I struggle with and then I pray something similar to what is in Psalm 139:23 . . . Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me . . .

With this I pray God would reveal areas that I am either not confessing (that I am clinging to) or that there are sins that I am not seeing that are offensive to God.

In my daily reading this morning I read the following from 1 John 1:5-7 which reads as follows:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

God wants us to walk as children of the light.  We do this by shining the light of God’s word (His truth) into the corners of our hearts to show us the junk that shouldn’t be there. Then ask God by the power of the Holy Spirit to help us do some house cleaning.

God wants us to be thorough in our house cleaning. He doesn’t want us hording junk that makes us less than what he created us to be. When we hold to tightly to the things of this earth, we sap the power of the Holy Spirit to flow in and through us as God intends, and our lives will soon accumulate heaps of worthless stuff.

So in striving to keep a clean “spiritual house,” God wants us to hold nothing back from Him.  We need to learn to give him access to our stuff so that he can do the sorting and cleaning and he can show us what needs to go and what (of Him) can remain.  God wants us to let go of everything so that in turn He can be our everything! Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can he help us remove the junk so that we may have a clean house fit for Him!