Friday, December 20, 2013

His Love

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1, NIV)

Note: This post was originally written the day after arriving in Sweden (November 29th), but I decided to wait and post it today. I'm praying that each of you and your families experience God's love in abundance this Christmas.

I am in Sweden this month, celebrating the holidays with loved ones and as I sit here writing, I am thinking about the capacity of God’s love for us all. I think about the political climate in the States and around the world, the social conditions, children being abandoned, families fragmented, and what appears as a growing climate of hatred and resentment toward others. Many will celebrate Christmas this year as they have done so in the past, decorating homes with trees, lights, and ornaments. Stores will offer competitive prices in order to entice consumers to make purchases. There will be the endless line of buyers waiting for the doors to open for the sale of the year and the words, Merry Christmas will be superseded by the words: “I saw that first!” Some will go into debt in order to create the aura of good times. Some will become so despondent that the thought, life isn’t worth living will consume them; and some will end their life.

Some will grapple with the dilemma of the next meal as they stand in line waiting for some charitable act of kindness. In Sweden I am told, there are no homeless people; a concept which is foreign to me as an American! In America, we discard so many things, food, clothes, and human lives. In Sweden, clothes, appliances, furniture and food are donated in each locality; seemingly nothing is discarded. How wonderful it would be if all of America took on that attitude of giving!

The disciple John who watched as Jesus hung from the cross (John 19:25-28, NIV), dying a slow and painful death understood the depth and quality of God’s unchanging love. Years before that moment occurred, Christ was born in the tiny town of Bethlehem (Matthew 1:18-25, NIV). I seriously doubt that many realized that this baby, born into the family of a carpenter and a virgin would fulfill the promise of God to save all humanity. This promise is revealed in God’s love for humanity.

There are varying opinions on the nature, quality and characteristics of God’s love. Some think that God’s love should satisfy my every wish and whim; much like the concept of Santa Claus. They think: "if I am good, then God will reward me". When that does not happen, the attitude is to turn away from God because He didn’t do what I deserved.

Some think that God’s love is measured, parceled out in minute amounts at unexpected times, and for unexplained reasons. When God isn’t dispensing His love, He is issuing punishments to those who displease Him. This causes an attitude of intimidating fearful uncertainty that I am not loved by God.

For varying reasons, there are some who believe that God does not exist; that the universe is just the result of a series of random occurrences. But this opinion fails to adequately address the origins of life, and why we have never been able to find life on any other planet.

I choose to believe not only in the existence of God, but in the salvation He promised through his son, Jesus Christ.

Why?

The biblical record (Matthew 2:1-2, Luke 2:1-20, NIV) sufficiently documents not only the foretelling of the birth of Christ, it records the event as well; Christ was born in Bethlehem as witnessed by the shepherds and the wise men (from distant lands) who witnessed the star proclaiming his birth and followed it to his exact location. History documents the birth of Christ; it also confirms the men who governed the Roman cities and occupied territories during his life on earth.

But even that isn’t enough.

My spirit bears witness with the accuracy of God’s written word (Acts 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:5-7, NIV), agreeing that Jesus Christ is Savior and God. I am reminded of countless times when I didn’t feel loved or I myself didn’t love. I cannot make that accusation against God. Even when I did not know or acknowledge Him, God loved me (Romans 5:8, NIV).

So as another Christmas appears on our horizon, let us all remember the price that was paid by Jesus that we would be reconciled to God. Let’s remember that we were bought with a price that no one else could or would pay but God!

That fact alone tells me of His love!

MTJ

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, November 22, 2013

He Hears You


He hears you

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)

Have you ever engaged in a conversation with someone whose attention was somewhere else? How did you respond when you realized they weren’t even listening?

You haven’t heard a single word I said!

Are you even listening to me?

It’s frustrating to realize that what you say is not valued enough to be heard. You recognize that you’re just not important enough to be heard. Have you’ve been guilty of tuning out the conversation of a spouse, child, or friend? It’s altogether different when you are the one being ignored.

Has the thought ever occurred to you that God isn’t listening?

How do you respond to that thought? Does that thought frustrate you? Have you asked that pointed question of God?

Are you even listening to me Lord?

I personally have experienced times in my life when it just seems like I’m all alone, but the Bible says:

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me...” (Psalm 138:8, NASB)

What this tells me is that behind the scenes, in areas of my life I’m not even aware of, God is at work so that all things work together for good. I remember reading in Daniel:

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting…” (Daniel 9:3, NIV)

In this same chapter of Daniel, the angel Gabriel appears and reveals:

As soon as you began to pray, a word went out…” (Daniel 9:23, NIV)

God hears our prayers!

I love the lyrics in the song, He’ll Do It Again, sung by Shirley Caesar:

And He'll do it again

He'll do it again

If you'll just take a look

At where you are now

And where you've been

Well hasn't He always come through for you

He's the same now as then

You may not know how

You may not know when

But He'll do it again

God simply doesn’t fail! That means that nothing can disable His ability to hear you. God hears you and He is actively concerned about you. God loves and cares for you. That’s why He sent His son Jesus into the world; to save us from sin, death and damnation.

Why would God do all that and then not listen to you? He wouldn’t!

So when you’re praying and the thought occurs in your mind that you’re just talking to yourself, just remember:
He hears you!

MTJ

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Power of Prayer

The power of prayer

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, NIV)

So often when a person prays, they have uncertainties regarding the question:

Does God hear me? Or, will God answer my prayer? This kind of prayer is laced with uncertainty.

How does one pray with a measure of faith that believes?

I use to fall into the trap of quoting scriptures to reinforce my belief that God would somehow be bound to the words I spoke when I appended them with scriptures. I’ve since come to accept the truth that God is sovereign and that His will, not mine is all that matters.

In this passage of Matthew, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and as He falls to the ground and begins to pray, He asks His Father that if there is any possibility to save mankind without having to die on the cross, let His life be spared. But He immediately says, “…not as I will, but as you will.” Christ understood the importance of obeying the divine promise to save all humanity; even at the cost of His life.

There is no restriction to asking God to hear and answer our prayers, but we are not empowered to dictate to the Lord to do as we ask. This is the mistake which believers can make; assuming that God is bound to do as you ask. I have not found this philosophy to be true in scripture or in my life.

God is sovereign, that is the truth whether I choose to believe it or not. God answers prayer, but how God answers prayer is within His will; not mine. In fact, scripture teaches that there are times when a prayer is simply not answered. Prayer is our method of communication with God, but in reality, most prayers consist of a request we make known to God. No matter whether we are praying on behalf of someone else or our self, prayer contains an expression of a perceived need from me to God. We want God to do something which we ourselves cannot do. Years ago, this would be referred to as a miracle, today we simply say, God answered my prayer.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives...” (James 4:3, NIV)

What about unanswered prayers with the right motives? Why do these prayers go unanswered?

I have known people filled with guilt because they were told that they lacked sufficient faith to be healed. As a result of this lack of faith, God never heard their prayer for healing. This to me is ignorance of the sovereignty of God. Many Christians have been burdened with the guilt of insufficient faith. But we must consider a fundamental question for Christians when it comes to answered prayer:

Who moves mountains on my behalf? Is it me or God? If it is simply a matter of belief, why then doesn’t the power of positive thinking change the world we live in?

I have seen individuals on television, heard the promotions on the radio, and received promises in email and postal mail that there is a privileged key to unlocking the flood gates to my prayers. Each of these salesmen (and women) would have you believe that you can have what you want. I do not believe that God holds some individuals in higher regard than others; that they alone can get an audience before the throne of God and achieve results which others cannot. This philosophy negates the sovereignty of God.

The prophet Elijah once asked the question:
…How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him!” (I Kings 18:21, TLB)

A believer may find themselves stuck between what I would refer to as true faith and ignorant thinking. True faith trusts in the sovereignty of God regarding the outcome of my prayers. True faith says, “not my will Father, let Your will be done.” Ignorant thinking says, "I can have whatever I want."

I remember reading in Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being faced with a crisis of their faith. They were given the choice of forsaking the one true God by submitting to idolatry, or remain faithful and die by being burned alive. I don’t personally know anyone who had to choose either death (for their faith) or life (by giving up their faith in Christ), but the bible chronicles that this happened to these three men. When given this ultimatum, here is how they responded:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

They believed the God of heaven and earth was able to preserve their life, but they also were reconciled in the belief that if He chose not to save them, they would choose to die believing in His sovereignty.

This helped me to understand that my prayers are not left to a random occurrence of events, there is no secret key which unlocks God’s willingness to answer my prayers, no oil, cloth, or holy water can do what only God chooses to do on my behalf. I don't dispute that prayers have been answered using a point of contact (the laying on of hands, anointing with oil, touching a piece of fabric, or the use of water). I believe that God will do what He chooses to do and how He chooses to do it when it comes to answering prayer. But I must also believe that what He chooses to do and how he chooses to do it is the best possible outcome for me.

That to me is the power of prayer!

Trusting God to do what I cannot and accepting how He chooses to do it.

Think about the fact that God already knows the need in my life or in the life of someone I’m praying for. If He didn’t know, it wouldn’t make much sense to ask Him. Since God is already aware of what I’ve yet to ask, why do I pray?

As I said, most prayers consist of some form of a request being made known to God. But since our Heavenly Father already knows what we have a need of, prayer is my acknowledgement that I depend upon God and not myself. Prayer is the method of spiritual communication between God and me. More than that, it is the only means of communication between you and God.

There is no form of communication which is one way. Every form of communication requires some type of two-way conversation. God is not a spectator in your life! He is both intimately acquainted and involved with all aspects of your life. He doesn’t just seek to hear your prayer, He also seeks to be heard by you. That is when your prayers become a weapon of spiritual power; when there is true communication between you and God. As you move from the position of always asking God for something and never hearing God, to the position of spiritually communicating with God, you initiate the power of prayer.

At that point, you know God is able, but even if He chooses not to do as you ask, you know He is still God and you are content to trust His will with the outcome and not your own.

That’s the power of prayer. Try it!

MTJ


A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, November 8, 2013

Just Ask

Just Ask

Then David prayed to God: “Shall I go up and fight the Philistines? Will you help me beat them?” “Go up,” God replied. “Count on me. I’ll help you beat them.” (2 Samuel 5:19-21, The Message Bible)

Have you ever faced a circumstance in your life not knowing what to do? One wrong decision can have devastating consequences. In the movie, The Matrix, Neo is told, “It’s the question that drives us”, but is that really true?

Are we driven by our questions or haunted by our decisions? How do I find peace and comfort from both of these?

When I look at this passage in 2 Samuel 5, I see that David was faced with a decision to make regarding the question of fighting the Philistines.

What to do?

Not a day passes by when you and I are faced with making some kind of decision. It may be a simple decision such as whether you want cream in your coffee at your favorite coffee bar or it may be speeding through an intersection because you’re running late for work. We may face a decision to move, take a new job, buy a house or car, get married, get divorced, make an investment, or choose which college to attend. Sometimes, our circumstances drive the decisions we make, an abusive spouse, substance abuse, loss of income, or news of a medical condition.

We may make impulsive decisions, calculated or reckless decisions. We may discuss the perceived options available in our mind, with a loved one, a trusted friend, or someone trained to guide our decision making.

I just don’t know what to do, is an expression I have heard people say. It’s an acknowledgement that you are faced with a dilemma of making a decision you very well might regret. Personally, I have learned that at times, it’s good to listen to the perspective of others. They may offer clarity to an area I’d yet to consider; something which was obscured from my view. Sometimes, the opinion of others only clouds one’s ability to make the proper decision. When that happens, the tendency is to blame someone else for the wrong choice. It is imperative then, that the decision you make, does not become something you later regret.

What to do?

David gives us the framework for making decisions you’ll never regret.

Just ask God!

I know that sounds almost too simple doesn’t it? Just ask God!

What do I ask?

David asked God two questions:
  1. Shall I go up and fight the Philistines?
  2. Will you help me beat them?
Not only did David need to know whether he should go into battle but he also wanted to know if God would assist him.

Should I do this? Will you help me do it?

Just as it is imperative that I make the right decision; one I’ll never regret. It is also imperative that I understand my need for God to aide me in accomplishing it; I can’t do it alone. I don’t want to live regretting decisions I’ve made, so I just ask. I ask God if this is what I should do regarding my choices, and I ask Him to help me accomplish it. In my life, I’ve made both wise and foolish decisions. Without a doubt, the wise decisions were always the result of seeking the guidance of the Lord along with seeking His aide to accomplish it. On the other hand, my foolish decisions were always the result of my own decision making. In every instance, I found myself seeking forgiveness for making the wrong decision. Although from time to time, I still make a foolish decision, the frequency has drastically reduced because I realize my dependence is on the Lord.

I depend on the Lord, for grace, peace, joy, health, hope, love and so much more. Are you faced with a decision which you don’t want to regret?

Just ask!

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Understanding Purpose (Part 3)

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

Obedience is far better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22, TLB)

As believers in Christ, many have gone to extraordinary measures to heighten their view of the relationship they maintain with the Lord. Some endlessly fast, others pray for hours on bended knee, some give up all material possessions; but without obedience, it is all for naught. This is an effort on the part of those who lack the understanding that all we do should be on the basis of our love of God, not our positional standing.

Obedience requires love of God, the passion from my heart; soul, mind and spirit that unquestionably seeks to please Him, not myself. Obedience is the realization that what God desires of me is first and foremost in my desire. What God desires of me regarding others is inclusive in my obedience to Him.

Is it easy to obey God?

I have heard many people affirm that it is, but I think it is quite difficult. The path of obedience is lined with obstacles and temptations that undermine my intentions.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.” (Romans 15-17, TLB)

Even my own determination isn’t enough to withstand the strongest temptations I face in life. I need something more determined than myself, stronger than I could ever be. It is not simply the obstacles and temptations along my path, it is the sin in me waging war with me; fighting for supremacy. Paul continues this discussion in Romans 7 with this realization:

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:24-25, The Message)

Isn’t that the real question?

I am powerless to help myself, but Christ has set me free by setting things right in this life. It is God Himself who lives in me through the power of the Holy Spirit; enabling me to obey in my flesh.

If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth.” (John 14:15-17, TLB)

Obedience is rooted in the basis of my love of God in Christ. When you love someone, you inexplicably want to please them. A husband brings his wife flowers on Valentine’s Day. Parents prepare the celebration of their child's birthday. Children remember Mother's Day and Father's Day. We give presents on Christmas. Some do out of obligation, but others do it on the basis of love.

Recently, I was visiting my daughter and her children. My little granddaughter handed me a sheet of paper. On it, she’d written in large block letters, “I LOVE YOU”. There was the face of a girl smiling the biggest smile and oversized heart. At the bottom (just so there was no confusion on my part), was her name. It was her gift to me. I didn’t ask her for it, no one forced it out of her; she chose to do it. Obedience is rooted in the basis of our love of God and others; but it is a free choice I must make.

If I am to obey God, it stands to reason that I ought to love Him. But my love cannot simply be directed to God alone; I must love others as well.

...whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20, NIV)

The results (fruit) of my love are demonstrated in my obedience to God. This then is the fulfillment of my purpose; obedience. Obedience is built on the foundation of love, instilled in me by The Holy Spirit, and always seeks to please God. Christ came to set me free from the bondage of sin and death so that I would freely choose to love and obey God; in order to fulfill my purpose in this life. If I am to fulfill my purpose, I must choose to obey God because I love Him.

Obedience is a choice made from love. Purpose is my destiny resulting from that choice.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, October 18, 2013

Understanding Purpose (Part 2)

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave...” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)

There is competition in all facets of life; one might even say all life is rooted in competition. Being competitive requires discipline. An undisciplined competitor, regardless of their talent, will not be successful. I have seen athletes with far less talent succeed where athletes with far greater talent have failed. Sports, business, technology, science, medicine, and education all require a level of discipline in order to succeed. Even societies require discipline to sustain success. When there is a fundamental breakdown of discipline, failure soon ensues. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying regarding societies. I do not refer to oppression as a form of discipline.

Last week, I spoke about the importance of knowing God’s word and applying it in my life. Additionally, I indicated how closely prayer is tied to knowing God’s word. The bible speaks of how God’s people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Jesus spoke of our spiritual enemy, referring to him as a “thief”, Jesus says, “The thief comes to rob, kill and destroy…” To rob me of God’s joy and peace, to kill all my love and desire to please God with my life, to destroy my hope of salvation; the thief is very disciplined. If I am to pick up my cross and follow Christ to Calvary, I’d better have a disciplined life to do it!

I can remember when, I struggled to pray. I would often go to the church and assemble with others, listening to the prayers offered to God. I was in awe of the men and women I heard praying prayers of intercession on behalf of others, our schools, teachers, students, families, political leaders, the nation, our economy. These were prayers which inspired me, encouraged me and taught me that this was an area of weakness in my life. Often, I would kneel, but not knowing what to say. I studied references to prayer in scripture, I bought books on prayer, but I failed to understand the fundamental principal of prayer; consistency.

I can memorize many scriptures so that I know what God says regarding His promises, how He has saved others, the power of His healing touch, and His divine grace; but without a disciplined, consistent prayer life I will never fully apply my faith in action. I had to learn, not to rely on the prayers of others (although it is good when others agree with me to pray), but to rely on my own will to come boldly before the throne of grace and plead to God on my behalf or on the behalf of others as an intercessor.

How do I establish discipline in my life as a Christian?

Pick up your cross daily and follow me.

These are more than the words of Christ; they are the instructions to every believer to maintain discipline in my life. Each day, I should eagerly seek God’s presence and call upon Him to guide me throughout the day; my thoughts, words and actions. Now I’ll be the first to admit that even with this thought in mind, I don’t always uphold my words. Like everyone else, I face trials; so in addition to discipline I need patience.

Patience will enable me to avoid the trap of discouragement. Every one of us have expectations; of ourselves and others. When these expectations aren’t met, we face discouragement. Discouragement plants the thought of giving up. Have you ever made the decision to lose weight, get healthier through diet and exercise? You begin with such good intentions, but soon, you find yourself craving that favorite food or you say, “I don’t feel like exercising today”. My thought gives way to lack of discipline and then I find myself discouraged. As I yield to this thought, I soon discover that I’ve given up totally with my goal and I am even more discouraged. Instead of acknowledging to God that I need Him even in this area of my life, I may blame it on my diet being too difficult, the exercises too hard, not having an exercise partner, or someone else.

Patience helps me recognize that although I failed, I must not give up; I must press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I don’t have to pray for hours, I can pray anywhere at any time! That’s the marvelous gift of prayer which God has given every believer; open access to Him. If you don’t have discipline in your life, start praying to God; practice daily prayer! Don’t focus on length or quantity of words but the quality of what you say to God. Open your heart up and genuinely speak frankly to Him. Do this every day and you will discover a powerful spiritual tool in your arsenal. You will also recognize a more disciplined life.

Next week, I will discuss the importance of obedience to understanding purpose.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Understanding Purpose

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

I remember as a boy how much I loved model planes and cars. There was always a sense of excitement when I opened the box and looked at all the small pieces of plastic which had to be assembled together to become the finished product. Always, without exception, I would open the folded piece of paper which provided the assembly instructions and a diagram of each piece included in the kit. I would meticulously follow the instructions until I had an exact replica of the image on the box.

I didn’t know then, but I believe God was preparing me to be both analytical and solution-driven by learning the procedures for doing things correctly. I'm certain you'll agree with me that knowing and doing are not the same; still the seed was sown in me. I wish I could say that I have always followed procedures correctly, but I would be lying. As a Christian and as a software engineer, I have had my share of failures when I didn’t follow the correct instructions.

I once heard a minister say, “If you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you will only abuse it.” I believe that whenever we see the word, “abuse” used as the suffix of a word, it is the result of someone not understanding the true purpose of a person or thing. Child-abuse, spousal-abuse, parental-abuse, alcohol-abuse, and drug-abuse are just a few of the obvious abuses we are most familiar with; I’m certain there are many, many more.

How does one avoid becoming abusive?

There has to be a way to bypass what Hosea the prophet wrote in Hosea 4 when he said:

my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6, NIV)

There are three keys to understanding purpose: knowledge, discipline, and obedience.

Knowledge: To know the true purpose of anything, I must have knowledge which equips me with a level of understanding so I am successful in what I endeavor to do. A small child may not understand the difference between a left shoe and right shoe, but we would think it quite odd to see a man wearing his shoes on the wrong foot. I have watched hunting programs where men sit in trees or hide in tall grass waiting for the exact moment to shoot a deer, bear, moose or other animal. But those who would use weapons on humans, like what happened in a Kenyan mall, or here recently in DC, tells me that people lack an understanding of the purpose of human life. There is no honor in killing. Those who commit such acts dishonor not only themselves, but all life which the Lord created.

The opposite of knowledge is ignorance and ignorance can be quite damaging. I remember attempting to fix a leaking pipe once. I’m no plumber and I have no knowledge of plumbing, but I told myself I could fix this pipe. I approached the problem analytically, using my own knowledge of software solution problem solving: Remove a portion of the leaky pipe, replace it and presto change-o, problem solved! Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize that pipes have to have exact fittings, exact lengths, everything must be precise; I wasn’t precise. I stripped the threads on the pipe and couldn’t remove it. The leak was now worse than before; I failed to use the proper tools and parts correctly to remedy the original problem because I lacked the requisite knowledge.

I didn’t know and in my ignorance, I caused a bigger problem for myself.

What’s the typical response when we’re stopped by law enforcement for speeding?

Officer, I had no idea I was speeding.

Our excuse is ignorance, but there is a purpose for posting signs to indicate the maximum speed. Perhaps there are children in the area, perhaps there is road construction ahead, or perhaps the road curves. Whatever the reason, there is a purpose for it. Have you ever come close to hitting another car or pedestrian because you failed to look left or right before turning? The purpose in doing so is obvious but sometimes, we’re in a hurry and purpose becomes secondary to what I want to do.

As a Christian, it’s vital that I understand the importance of God’s word and the correct application of it my life. You see, if I don’t understand the importance of prayer, I will abuse it through neglect. I will have a multitude of excuses for not praying. I don’t know how to pray, I prefer someone with faith pray on my behalf, or God doesn’t hear my prayers. These excuses are born from my ignorance of God’s word because the bible says:

...the prayer of the upright is his delight.” (Proverbs 15:8, NIV)

God delights when He hears you pray!

Why pray?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)

When you know God will hear you, you get excited about praying! My Father, the Creator of heaven and earth hears me! When a person doesn’t know that God not only hears, but listens with keen interest in hearing what you say, then prayer for you is erratic, it lacks consistency, and is too often uttered with little sincerity or depth from one’s heart.

Prayer is a strategic weapon God has given each believer to fight the good fight of faith. Prayer defeats the spiritual forces of darkness which oppose your life. There is a common enemy to every believer. This enemy seeks to undermine the purpose of prayer in your life; and the common method of spiritual attack is your own ignorance. You’ve heard it said that, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you”, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to knowing God’s word.

Jesus said:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

The opposite of freedom is slavery and when I live my life in spiritual ignorance, I am a slave to sin, unbelief, doubt, worry, fear, and spiritual defeat.

This is why knowledge is so necessary to understanding purpose.

Next week, I will discuss the importance of discipline to understanding purpose.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, October 4, 2013

Designed for Purpose

What is Your Purpose?
What is your purpose?

Michael Jordan: Hall of Fame basketball player and globally recognized as one of the greatest all time players

Michael Phelps: World Class swimmer, multiple gold medal winning Olympic Champion

Ludwig van Beethoven: World re-known, famous and influential composer; principal figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras of Western Music.

Paul Gauguin: World re-known French artist recognized for his experimental use of colors and synthetist style which led to the Post-Impressionist style of art.

Albert Einstein: Nobel Prize winning, German Born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity and is recognized as one of the world’s most intelligent men.

Martin Luther King Jr.: American clergyman, theologian, Civil Rights Activist, and Nobel Prize winner, who is recognized as the leading figure in the civil rights struggle of African Americans during the decade of the 60’s.

Leonardo da Vinci: Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.

Throughout the history of civilization, men and women have done amazing and incredible things that have advanced civilization and in doing so became historical figures. Each recognized their purpose. I don't know if they heard a voice within crying out for expression. I don't know if they understood that they were designed for purpose; but I do know they were enabled to achieve their purpose.

I would like to believe that all individuals recognize their call to a purpose. A purpose some have answered and in doing so, achieved what they were created to do. Many people don’t ever win a Nobel Peace prize, Olympic Gold Medal, compose unforgettably timeless music, champion the cause of human rights, or make discoveries in science, medicine and technology; and yet they still have a purpose. I say this because we are all custom-designed for purpose by God. He has put purpose in you!

The bible itself speaks of purpose:

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth…” (Exodus 9:16, NKJV)

God has placed a purposeful gift of talent within each of us so that the revelation of His tremendous love, power and grace is made known through you via your talent.

God has a purpose for each of our lives!

Knowing God’s purpose makes all the difference between living in fulfillment of His will and living in a way which never recognizes someone greater than myself is at work in me.

How do I discover my purpose?

I believe that in each of us exists a burning desire, a passion crying to be fulfilled. This desire and passion is good, but it can become perverted, corrupted and ultimately, unfulfilled through my own lack of understanding.

"my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6, NIV)

But God wants to inform you that you do indeed have a purpose; He Himself has placed it within you. Though it lies dormant within you, your purpose is ready to be cultivated by you that it will one day spring forth like a downpour of rain from heaven.

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” (Palm 20:4, NKJV)

God wants us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created; having placed in your heart that very desire to achieve it.

As a young boy, I read about computers and was captivated by this new technology. This desire burned inside me causing me to seek outwardly what was deep inside my heart. I see now that God opened the door of opportunity which allowed me to fulfill the desire within me. Knowing that God is no respecter of anyone, I know what he has done for others, he also did for me; and he will do the same for you.

I can remember speaking with others about purpose and being amazed at their confusion in knowing what God’s purpose was for them. Purpose is not some mystery which remains hidden from one’s eyes; purpose cries out from deep within us. It is always there, seeking expression from us. It is the voice of one's hidden talent, a God-given gift that wants to rejoice in the knowledge that I not only have a gift from God, but I use it in the way it was designed in me: as my gift to God.

Paul writes:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus...” (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

My purpose is an expression of my appreciation for God’s love and grace. I don’t do it for the admiration of others; I do it to reveal the awesome power of God.

How do I fulfill my purpose?

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)

Dedicating myself and the works produced from my life requires my recognition that God supports me. God wants me to fulfill that which answers the age-old question, why am I here?

What is it that cries from the depths of your spirit? What is it that you have not fulfilled, yet cannot escape the thought of doing?

It’s in you, no matter how much time has elapsed since the thought first occurred. You know it’s there inside you, needing you to express what only you can.

Art, music, sports, medicine, science, technology, service to others, janitor, cook, housekeeper, father, mother, caregiver; whatever you do, do as unto the Lord. You were designed for purpose by God, it's up to you to fulfill it, but you're not alone. God wants to help you realize the very reason you are here. God will help you cultivate your gift, your talent, your purpose; so that you will express it as a gift to Him.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Value of a Promise is Only as Good as One’s Word

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth (Isaiah 55:11)

What’s your most valuable possession?

Some people value their home above all else. For others, it may be their pet. Some value their job, position, status in life, or wealth. I’ve heard it said, “Clothes make the man”, but the truth is an expensive suit looks equally good on a liar as it does an honest man.

All of these mean very little if your word is of no value.

Why?

Your word is the only true representation of you.

In examining the character and nature of God, it’s easy to learn how He values what He says:

The Lord has done what He purposed; He has fulfilled His word...” (Lamentations 2:17, NKJV)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV)

God values what He says, He doesn’t make empty promises!

I regret that in my life, I have made promises I have never kept. Regardless of the circumstances by which I didn’t keep my word, what I said and what I did were not consistent.

That’s the difference between God and man; God is consistent!

That’s why when He makes a promise, we can be confident, He will honor His word.

People don’t forget a liar. We remember the person who exaggerates. We steer clear of those we consider untrustworthy.

Why?

Because their words are empty, lifeless, and not valued.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

God’s word is alive!

Have you ever seen anything lifeless accomplish anything?

A beautiful painting can be quite inspiring, but there is no life in a painting. A architect can design a beautiful skyscraper, but no matter how tall and majestic it is, it will never exhale the breath of life. Houses, clothes, cars, position, career, none of these contain the breath of life.

Life comes from the Giver of Life.

When I learned how God values His word, I began to understand how important my word is. I realize God values what I say.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment.” (Matthew 12:36, NKJV)

God encourages me to allow the same mind that is in Christ to be in me. I think that means my words should bear fruit.

But how can they if they are lifeless?

Perhaps I should measure my words more carefully so that when I make a promise, I will honor what I said and endeavor to complete what I said I would do.

As a boy, my childhood friend was the only person I knew who had a mother and father, and they lived in an actual home! His father was a New York Yankee baseball fan. I was just learning about sports but being from Chicago, I was a fan of the Chicago White Sox. One day, I was over my friend’s home and I was talking about how the White Sox could beat the Yankees. His father heard me and challenged me. Out of my mouth came the words, “I bet you the Sox will beat the Yankees!” So, I bet my friend’s father, even though I had no concept of the historical tradition of the Yankees or Sox.

I lost that bet and for days, I was ashamed to go over my friend’s home because I didn’t have the money to cover the bet. I finally decided I couldn’t keep avoiding him so I walked through alleys collecting bottles for the deposit until I had enough to cover the bet I made. I was thinking, he won’t take the money but when I walked up to him and said, “here’s the money I owe you for the bet Mr. Morris”, he just smiled, a short, stubby cigar protruding from his mouth, reached and took the money from my hand and said, “I told you the Yankees were the better team!

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” (James 1:19, NKJV)

I no longer go around bragging about sport teams I like. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Chicago teams, but I don’t go around saying what the outcome of a game will be; I certainly don’t entertain bets!

It’s better if what I say contains more than just idle words, chatter, vanity. I should desire to say what can be of benefit, of use, words which have a purpose.

The value of a promise is only as good as one’s word.

God’s word is true. That means His word is alive, filled with life-giving properties. I can rely on God’s word because He values what He says. He not only wants me to value and believe in His word, He also wants me to experience the benefits of trusting His word.

If, you’ve never experienced the power of God’s word, or you haven’t for a long period of time, why not start today and see what God can do for you?

Andrae’ Crouch sings the song, “Through it All” where he talks about learning to depend upon the word of God:


I’ve Had Many Tears and Sorrows,
I’ve Had Questions for Tomorrow,
There’s Been Times I Didn't Know Right From Wrong.
But In Every Situation,
God Gave Me Blessed Consolation,
That My Trials Come To Only Make Me Strong.

Through It All,
Through It All,
I’ve Learned To Trust In Jesus,
I’ve Learned To Trust In God.

Through It All,
Through It All,
I’ve Learned To Depend Upon His Word.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Promise Keeper

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
Psalm 145:13

"The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does." (Psalm 145:13, NIV)

A car speeds into an employee parking lot. A woman with an exasperated look on her face opens the passenger door and asks the driver:

Where were you? You said you would pick me up and I’ve been waiting for over an hour!

A young woman waits patiently by her phone for a call from someone who will later say, “I forgot”.

A young man sits quietly in a restaurant eagerly awaiting his date, only to realize that after two hours, he has been stood up.

Is there anything more frustrating than to have someone make a promise they will never keep?

Often, we look at the Lord the way we look at people; His promise is just a bunch of words. Looking at God in this way is a mistake that will only bring frustration. We know God has made promises to believers, but we have a tendency to doubt God when His promise is delayed. We forget how the Lord has watched over, blessed and honored His promises to us. We see futility more often than faithfully trusting in God.

Years ago, I drove an old beat-up car that needed servicing, I had it towed and waited for the mechanic to tell me what was wrong. Back then, I had so little money that I couldn’t even afford replacement wipers; the last thing I needed was absorbing the cost to repair a car I desperately needed for transportation. When the mechanic gave me the estimate, I was devastated. I don’t remember how much the repair cost was, but I do remember wondering how I was going to pay and to get my car running again. I began to pray and suddenly, I remember having a very clear thought I perceived was from the Lord:

This is an opportunity to demonstrate my love for you. Your car will be repaired and you will earn the money to pay for it.

I was relieved to know my car would be repaired, but I hoped for something a little more emphatic. I'm not sure what I expected the Lord to do, but it certainly wasn't enabling me to work and pay for the repair of my car. This was one of those times when I wanted an "easy, hassle-free blessing"; a blessing that didn't require anything from me. I wanted the Lord to just open the windows of heaven and pour out my blessing to my open hands! It took a few stressful days, I was without transportation but I earned enough money to get my car repaired and I was once again able to have adequate transportation. I’ve never forgotten that experience because the Lord kept His promise.

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me” (Psalm 138:8, NAB)

God is concerned about your life, right down to the smallest detail; things we tend to forget about. God doesn’t forget! He remembers everything concerning you.

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me!

Whenever I face circumstances that appear to overwhelm me, I remind myself how the Lord has accomplished on my behalf what I was unable to. Paul write in Romans:

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

We are assured that, “You’re in good hands with AllState.

Products and politicians make guarantees.

Promises are easy to make, but it’s not making a promise that’s important, it’s one’s ability to keep a promise made.

When God makes a promise, He’s able to keep it!

Why?

God honors His word by keeping it. God’s word cannot fail, absolutely cannot fail!

God wants the opportunity in your life to prove His word is true.

Will you give Him the opportunity?

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, September 13, 2013

God’s Uncompromising Promise


I will never leave or forsake you

It’s been months since I last wrote a post on this blog; much has happened during that time. I was ill for a while, then I injured my back, and I recently traveled to Croatia for six weeks. It’s a beautiful country and everyone I met treated me so kind.

Some of my family, friends, and those of you I call my virtual friends asked about this blog (I really appreciate those of you who wrote me). It’s encouraging to know that others read this blog; it’s definitely blessed my life to share my thoughts about living a Christ-centered life. I hope the Lord continues to inspire me to pen my thoughts; I also hope you continue to read and find something that encourages, strengthens you spiritually, and inspires you in your faith walk with Christ.

"...be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV)

Have you ever felt so all alone that you wondered: Does God hear my prayers? Does God even care about me?

I can remember having those thoughts and I remember how much of a struggle it was to trust God when everything in my life said, Give up!

What does a person do when things seem so hopeless?

What does a person do when you are in a vast, endless ocean with no land in sight, and the only thing keeping you afloat is a small piece of wood? You cling to that wood with a sense of desperation, not even knowing if you can stay afloat.

In those times, I felt there was only one option available to me and that was continue to pray…even though I had no idea what God would do, even when I had no discernible awareness of the Lord’s presence, I still believed he would bring about a change because He said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. That promise kept me from drowning.

After my marriage ended, I prayed that God would call me from this earth. I felt ready and willing. I said, I’ve lived my life Lord, I have no regrets, and I’m ready to go. I wanted to simply close my eyes and never have to wake up again. I thought, If I don’t wake up tomorrow, all would be well; I’d be in heaven praising God.

However, the next morning I'd awake somewhat disappointed that I was still here. My conversations with the Lord went something like this:

OK Lord, I'm still here so obviously You didn't hear me last night. Now I've got to face another day all by myself, so I could really use Your help to get me through this day.

I realize now that I didn't really want to die, I simply wanted things in my life to have some order, I wanted peace, and an end to the chaos. I imagine the Lord got a kick out of me advising Him on what to do with me. The words were coming from my mouth, the Holy Spirit is there listening to me (rolling His eyes) and saying, “Seriously?

I'm glad the word of God says, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26, NIV) It's a good thing to have the Holy Spirit as a spiritual filter for my mouth, my mind, my life.

This ritual went on every night and subsequent morning for several weeks.

Finally one morning, I got out of bed and on my knees I began to confess that the Lord didn’t need my counsel regarding what He could do with my life, and when He should do it. I realized that God still had a purpose for me and it was time I stopped wanting to leave this world.

Sometimes, we want to hear something truly special from the Lord, words meant just for us. We wait for the Lord to do something spectacular in our lives and we forget that:
    Faith in Christ does not hang on spectacular events in
    my life. Faith is my uncompromising belief that no
    matter what occurs in my life; Christ is with me…
    He will never leave or forsake me.


Remember what King Nebuchadnezzar asked Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego:
Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:14-15, NIV)

Remember what they replied to King Nebuchadnezzar:
King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18, NIV)

What this says to me is that God doesn’t need to prove Himself to me by performing something miraculous. Even when no spectacular miracle occurs, I still need to trust Him with the end results; no matter the outcome!

I can do that!

How?

Believing His promise to me is certain. No matter what happens, He will never leave me or forsake me.

He makes that same promise to you!

A Note of Thanks: Once again, I want to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day
This morning I read an inspirational thought called “God is a Changer”, which says:

God is a changer.
He changes darkness into Light...
Bondage into Liberty...
Ashes into Beauty...
Conflict into Peace...
He has changed death to Life!

Through everything mothers face in their lives, God demonstrates Himself as a changer. Many mothers have faced the heartbreaking loss of a child but God got mothers through that change.

Each year of our lives, we experience change but we also discover that God is unchangeable. He loves you today just as He did when you face tragedy. Trace the steps of your life back to the day you were born and you’ll see His love still remains unchanged.

It is we who change. Today, I have a greater capacity to love than I did a year ago. Certainly God has helped to shape my capacity to love but through my mother, He has given me an example of how to love.

This then is the reality of motherhood. Women, who wear the mantle of mother, invest a nurturing, loving and caring capacity which gives a child that spiritual, emotional and secure life.

As a man, I believe any son, husband, or father should be amazed at the capacity women have to love. We men need to strive toward love too. As men, we may not fully express the love of a son, father, brother or friend but God reminds us of you. You are our example.

He reveals your smile. He echoes your voice. He comforts with your touch.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Through you, God changes lives.

A Note of Appreciation: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Chist in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, March 29, 2013

He's Alive (Part 2)

He's Alive
Mary Magdalene sees the Lord, Jesus Christ

Introduction: This story is a fictional account of Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11 and John 20:1-18. It is told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, who along with three other women go to anoint the body of Jesus. For these women, this was an act of devotion and love. As a Christian, I realize that while Palm Sunday leads me to Calvary and the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus, Easter is the revelation of His glorious resurrection and the reality that He Lives! This story now concludes with Part 2.

Part 2:
Slowly, Joanna and Mary awoke and dressed. Usually, they were quite talkative but this morning, none of us said anything worthy of discussion. Joanna always had something to say about Chusa and his work for Herod. Mary is a proud mother of both James and Mark, as is Salome, mother of two disciples of Jesus. Sometimes, we would laugh and joke as most women did, other times we would talk about family, but more often we would discuss what Jesus said and meant to each of us. This morning, we are all silent. We watched Jesus hanging for hours on that cross; finally, he uttered words I shall never forget:

It is finished.

The words haunt me, echoing in my mind, again and again. Why did he have to die? Perhaps, I didn’t understand His purpose. I remember him saying on the way to Jerusalem,

We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!

Salome interrupted my thoughts with a question:

Do we have enough sweet spices?

I think so,” answered Joanna.

Having gathered all the spice we could carry, we left the house and silently walked toward the tomb.

As we walked, Salome asked a question none of us previously considered,

What about the stone in front of the tomb? How will we move it?

Perhaps we can ask the soldiers or some of the disciples if they are there.

Why would any of the disciples be there Joanna when they all fled once they arrested Jesus?

I didn’t want to think about obstacles, moving stones, fearful disciples, acts of cowardice or anything else, I just wanted to anoint his body this one last time.

We will find someone to help,” I said.

Finally, we arrived, but to my surprise, the stone was rolled away from the tomb. I stood outside as Salome, Joanna and the other Mary walked inside the tomb.

Mary spoke first, “His body isn’t here!

I could hear Salome scream, “They’ve taken his body!

I ran from the tomb to tell the disciples.

Inside the tomb, the others saw two men, whose appearance illuminated with a brilliant light. The three of them bowed low to the ground as the two men spoke,

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!

Salome wondered how it is possible to rise from the dead.

The three of them became so frightened that they fled to their homes.

I arrived to find Peter and John.

They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!

Immediately, Peter and John ran to the tomb; John arrived first to see the body was gone just as I said. John looked inside but would not go in. When Peter arrived, he walked inside the tomb, examining the strips of linen and the burial cloth which was used to cover the head of Jesus. John then entered the tomb but both he and Peter had a perplexed expression on their faces. Neither they nor I fully understood what took place. The two of them decided to go back home and left me at the entrance of the tomb crying.

I heard something inside the tomb and decided to take a look. There were two men sitting where I last saw the body of Jesus.

One of the men asked me, “Why are you crying?

They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.

Suddenly, I could feel the presence of someone behind me and as I turned, there was Jesus standing; but for some reason, I did not recognize him. He seemed familiar in a way that I cannot explain; hearing his voice brought comfort to me.

Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?

For some reason, it occurred to me that perhaps he was the gardener; if he was, I thought he would surely know.

Sir, if you have carried away the body of Jesus, please tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.

It occurred to me that I could not possibly retrieve the body of Jesus by myself. Who would I ask to help me return him to the tomb? As questions poured over my mind, the man spoke one simple word to me,

Mary.

Immediately, I knew whose voice it was that spoke. I turned and cried out,

Teacher!

I wanted to hold him and never let go. In that moment, I realized Jesus is alive, he is standing in front of me! As I extended my arms toward him, he spoke.

Do not hold on to me, I have not yet returned to my Father. Go to my brothers, tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.

The emotions I felt were overwhelming. Earlier, I felt great sadness and now, I experienced such tremendous joy. I ran with purpose to tell each of the disciples the good news; that I have seen the Lord, He’s Alive!

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Chist in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's

Friday, March 22, 2013

He's Alive (Part 1)

Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene's encounter with Jesus Christ

Introduction: This story is a fictional account of Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-11 and John 20:1-18. It is told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, who along with three other women go to anoint the body of Jesus. For these women, this was an act of devotion and love. As a Christian, I realize that while Palm Sunday leads me to Calvary and the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus, Easter is the revelation of His glorious resurrection and the reality that He Lives! This story will conclude next week with Part 2.

Part 1:
It was still early morning, the sun, yet to rise and signal a new day. I looked out the window and saw only darkness. I turned to see the women still asleep. There was Mary, the mother of James and Mark, Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John, and Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod’s steward.

We were all tired and exhausted from our sorrows as we watched Christ hang for hours on the cross. Our cries for a merciful end to his suffering went unanswered.

Why did one innocent man have to endure so much?

I felt a sense of relief when Joseph came and took his body from the cross. I watched as he wrapped Jesus in cloth and used all 75 pounds of spices he bought. The tomb where they laid his body was unused and would be a safe, secure place of rest for his body.

I thought back to the first time I met Jesus. People said that I was possessed with seven demons but thinking back, it seems such a distant memory now. I was so confused, my mind unable to focus on anything. I remember often hearing laughter as I passed by the faceless people on the street; the constant sound of voices in my head shouting for attention. I have no memory of my childhood, my mother or father; there was no one who valued my life. I now see how even in my misery, God was watching over my life. Though I did not know it at the time, God really has a purpose for me.

Jesus revealed my purpose to me!

Although I was tormented daily by these voices, I somehow managed to follow the crowd to hear Him speak that day. It was as if something was compelling me, so I moved closer and closer until I was standing before Jesus. I listened to Him speak, watched Him heal many, but the voices inside my mind sought to cry out against Him.

I felt this need to flee from His presence, but I couldn’t move. I was afraid, confused and awed as He looked upon me. It was as though He could see inside me; knowing my complete life and struggles, down to the smallest detail.

His voice spoke with authority as He called the demons out from me and finally, I was free; I vowed never to leave His presence. I joined the other women who accompanied Him, aiding to support Him and The Twelve from our own means.

I see you are awakened, Mary.

It was Salome’s voice speaking as she stood up stretching her arms upward. She gently moved to wake Joanna and the other Mary.

Come now, we must hurry to the tomb before the sun rises and prepare the Lord’s body…

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Chist in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodness of the Lord

Goodness of the Lord
The Goodness of the Lord

This week I am reflecting on the goodness of the Lord. I try not to take Him for granted, but I must admit there are times when I’m swept away into the so-called complexities of my life. Life can get hectic and stressful but I need to remember that my life is in God’s hands; in Him I have placed my trust.

A couple sits at home; they’ve got no food to eat. The husband takes the hand of his wife and begins to pray. A knock at the door and to their surprise it’s someone they met months ago in church. The visitor is holding a large box of groceries, telling the couple that while praying the Holy Spirit prompted him to bring food to them.

A young girl afflicted with Leukemia lies at home; her parents are at a loss because they lack the funds to pay for an experimental treatment. They wonder how they can raise six hundred thousand dollars. Someone familiar with their dilemma mentions it on Facebook and in less than one week, the funds arrive and the little girl is flown to Philadelphia to undergo treatment.

A young woman requires brain surgery in Germany; she hears about the little girl with Leukemia and gives all her funds to help. Others stepped up and give the needed funds so she can fly to Germany and have her surgery.

Some would say, “This was accomplished through the kindness and generosity of many” but I would say, “Many were moved by the Spirit of God to help.

The bible says that we should, “Give honor to whom honor [is due].” (Romans 13:7, KJV)

Is it so difficult to say,God is good”?

It’s easy to recognize the miracles that happen around us but too often we fail to recognize the things that happen daily in our life:
  1. Waking to the dawn of a new day
  2. Those with jobs, the ability to work
  3. Those in school, the opportunity to acquire education
  4. Those in ministry, the desire to serve
  5. Those who are married, the opportunity to discover the true meaning of love
For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28, NIV)

It is through the goodness and grace of God that we live, we exist, we function in this life; God is good.
written by MTJ


A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Chist in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sunday's