My sun porch

My sun porch

Friday, April 19, 2013

God's Promises...

" You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" -- Hebrews 10:36

In the last few days, I have been thinking and studying about God's promises. There is so MUCH to think and study about; I don't even know where to begin writing today. I think I will write over several days on this topic.

What ARE God's promises? There are MANY listed in the Bible. Here is a sample:

* He will ever leave or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
* He wants to prosper you and give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
* He will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
* He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.(Isaiah 40:29)
* He will give us peace of mind so we are not troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
* All who listen to God will live in peace, untroubled by fear and harm. (Proverbs 1:33)
* God will supply all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)
* Nothing can separate us from God's love. (Romans 8:38-39)

These promises sound pretty good, especially in the aftermath of the Boston bombings and explosions in Texas, not to mention the violence and discord in all other areas of our world. They sound pretty good, but can we believe them? Can we hold on to them? Can we REALLY stand on those promises?

In studying the verses above and many others, I am coming to realize that God has some unconditional promises, and ones that are conditional as well.

I believe that God loves ALL his children. That means those that follow him and those who want nothing to do with him. He wants ALL his children with him forever, but he knows that because of the free will he gave us, some will choose not to come to him. He promises to save anyone who asks.

Romans 10:9 states: "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." -- I believe that is unconditional, all you have to do is ask and you will be saved. Once you ask, God says that NOTHING can separate you from his love. THAT is a promise!

However, if you want the promised peace, joy, strength and power in the verses above, I believe God wants a little more from you. He wants you to abide in him. He wants you to follow him, he wants you to believe in him. He wants you to talk and walk with him every day. IF you do those things, then you will receive his promises. If God is just an afterthought, or someone you call out to only when you are in trouble, then you can't expect to feel the peace and rest he promises.

How can I say these things? How can I know?  I have experienced it! I HAVE used God as an afterthought. I HAVE ignored his teachings and warnings. I HAVE run away from his loving arms. During those times, I felt alone, lost, troubled and afraid. Those times lasted a LONG time! Did God love me then? Yes, I believe he did. But, I wasn't able to experience the joy of God's promises because I wasn't living up to his conditions. They are only conditions because he knows that when you do rely on him every day, his peace settles over you BECAUSE you are relying on him instead of yourself.

When I discovered the peace that comes when I talk, walk and live WITH God, I knew that he DOES keep his promises. Bad things still happen to me and I still have troubles, but with God in the picture every step of the way, the fear, worry and depression doesn't last as long or go as deep as it did before. I CAN show love to those who have hurt me. I CAN find the strength to do the things that scare me. I CAN give more than I receive. I persevere and try to follow God's will for my life instead of my own, knowing that God will keep his promises to me. I am standing on those promises today. I am not special. You can receive God's promised peace, strength and protection too. Just start talking to him and walking with him every day and you will begin to feel the benefit of standing on his promises as well!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A morning prayer

"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and have himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." == Ephesians 5:1-2

All I have is a prayer today:

Loving Father God, help me to practice what I preach as I write. My writings are full of high and lofty ideals, all based on Your word and your love and Spirit that lives inside of me. I long to tell your story and touch the hearts of the people who read what I write, and I totally believe that You guide my mind and my fingers as I type. I don't want them just to be words. I want them to be actions steps in the way I live my life.

Lord, help me today to be a good friend, to speak in love and not anger, to see people as You see them, to be obedient to your Word and Your calling for me. When I am frustrated, worried and afraid, let me first run to you and lay it all at your feet and surrender those hurtful things to you. Then, help me to trust You enough to let them go and move on. When there is someone in front of me who needs to hear about you, give me the courage and boldness to speak of my faith and how you have blessed me.

May these not be just words on a screen, but living, breathing examples of how you have made me new. You bless me in so many ways. Help me to remember that and be the woman you are calling me to be.

In Jesus' name,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You've got a friend in me...

“A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.” Proverbs 17:17

"Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Let us therefor make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." -- Romans 14:19

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." -- Hebrews 10:24

Let's talk about friendship. I say this because I am getting the feeling God really wants to talk to me about friendship. It is the virtue of the month in our KidsPraise program. We talked about being a good friend and an encourager at a recent small group meeting. I am contemplating the hard task of saying goodbye to very dear friends in the near future. I have new friends at work. And this morning, my Bible study lesson was all about friendship. I also feel part of the reason the world seems like such a harsh place is that many people don't really know how to be an encouraging friend.

Facebook is a wonderful tool to stay connected to our friends. I rely on it every day to communicate and share with many people I have met or am acquainted with in my life. However, being friends on Facebook is not where we should stop when it comes to friendship. I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, and it is impossible to be real, true, life-long, encouraging friends with all of them! A true friend does more than give you a :-) on your birthday and a nice comment on the picture you posted of your latest Pinterest post.

By reading the verses above, you can see that being a real friend takes a lot of commitment and is a HUGE responsibility.
* loving at all times
* there in times of trouble
* encouraging
* building up
* bring peace
* work toward mutual edification
* spur on towards peace and good deeds

If you have a friend who does those things for you, than you have a TRUE friend! A friend like that gets you through life. A friend like that leads you to be a better person. A friend like that can save your life!

A friend like that thinks of others before themselves. In our society, that is not the norm. We are led to believe we have to look out for ourselves because no one else will. The "dog-eat-dog" world we live in leads us to superficial friendships that we use to get us to the next place we are going. We want influential friends. We want friends who are just like us. We don't want to WORK at our friendships. Our friends are for the fun times. And we certainly don't want to get into THEIR business. When our friends are in trouble, we are too busy in our own lives to help them.

In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons the world is such a harsh and ugly place sometimes. People really don't know how to BE a friend and don't know the blessings of HAVING a friend. Hebrews 3:13 warns us that we do not encourage others and get encouragement ourselves, we can become hardened by sin's deceitfulness. WOW! Doesn't that describe a lot of people in this world? They are hardened by life. Without a friend to encourage and soften those hard edges, our hearts become hard and we are even further away from being able to encourage others. The cycle just continues, and we end up in a cold, hard, and closed off world.

So, let's work at being better friends. What can you do today to encourage someone you are close to? It may mean using that Facebook tool to send an encouraging message to a friend who is having a hard time. Send a card. Send a text. Give someone a call. Go visit someone who you haven't seen for a while. What you will find is that when you ARE a friend to someone, you will RECEIVE the blessings of friendship as well. If each of us would be a better friend to just a few of the people closest to us, and really get invested in their lives, it will cause a ripple effect. The benefits of true friendship will make this world a better place!