A LOVE LETTER...
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1)
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2)
I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139:3)
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:29-31)
For you were made in my image. (Genesis 1:27)
In me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28)
For you are my offspring. (Acts 17:28)
I knew you even before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
I chose you when I planned creation. (Ephesians 1:11-12)
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. (Psalm 139:15-16)
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. (Acts 17:26)
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
And brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6)
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. (John 8:41-44)
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16)
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. (1 John 3:1)
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1)
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. (Matthew 7:11)
For I am the perfect father. (Matthew 5:48)
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17)
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33)
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18)
And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40)
For you are my treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5)
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:41)
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3)
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. (Deuteronomy 4:29)
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13)
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18)
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Isaiah 40:11)
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. (Revelation 21:3-4)
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4)
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. (John 17:23)
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. (John 17:26)
He is the exact representation of my being. (Hebrews 1:3)
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. (Romans 8:31)
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. (1 John 4:10)
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Romans 8:31-32)
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. (1 John 2:23)
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. (Romans 8:38-39)
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:7)
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15)
My question is … Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)
I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)
Love, Your Dad.
You fall and make mistakes; you do things you regret. You understand the feeling of dejection when it feels like things could never be made right again. You might have felt at one point that God is angry with you or has never existed in the first place!
In those moments, it might be difficult to remember that God still loves you. It might even be hard for you to pray and ask for help.
But God knows you better than you know yourself. Remember that God is close, is extremely interested in you, and above all else, He LOVES YOU!
(above from Active Christianity)
If you've never called on Jesus to save you, please continue below:
Admit you're a sinner.
Understand that you can't save yourself no matter how "good" you are, or how much good you do, and that the ONLY way you can be saved is by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (who came, suffered, died and rose again for the forgiveness of your sins).
BELIEVE in His sacrifice so that you can be forgiven, and then put your TRUST in Him with your very life, and with that, you WILL be saved!
Jesus did His part, the rest is up to you.
(Romans 3:10, 3:23, John 3:16-17, Romans 10:9-13 and Ephesians 2:8-9)
Hard to see sometimes...
I now have a completely different picture of God standing beside my hospital bed while I was hurting and begging Him to help me. He wasn’t ignoring me. No, I believe it took every bit of holy restraint within Him to not step in and remove my pain. He loved me too much to do the very thing I was begging Him to do.
He knew things I didn’t know. He saw a bigger picture I couldn’t see. His mercy was too great. His love was too deep. Indeed, He is a good, good Father.
He was not far off like I’d imagined as I lay writhing in pain. He was near. So very near. Just like Psalm 145:18 tells us, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
He was loving me through the pain. It was necessary pain — life-saving pain I can see now with new eyes. It’s given me a whole new outlook on times when God seems silent.
His silence was part of the rescue.
Father, You know the heartache and pain we are facing. Help us trust and believe You are not far off, but are very close — holding us, comforting us. We know You are good. And we trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now is the time...
This life, right here right now, is your time for "choosing".
Will you choose "yourself", and all that this world has to offer you (both pleasures AND struggles), or will you choose to "surrender" yourself to Christ and live a life of obedience to God? You are free to make this choice. That's how God wants it, as He doesn't desire slaves, but rather faithful servants who are willing to carry out His will here on Earth.
Howevever, with this choice comes consequence. If you choose the things of this world, you are putting yourself ahead of God. What does that say to Him? It says, "I can do just fine on my own. I know what decisions are best for me and, quite frankly, I don't NEED you." If you're telling God you don't need Him during this time of choosing, then why would He think you'd want a relationship with Him for all eternity when this life is over? Answer: He wouldn't. God will honor your decision, not only now, but forever in fact, unless you repent and ask for His forgiveness. Have you thought about what a billion lifetimes would be like in the "absence" of God? I wouldn't even want to ponder what a world would look like where evil was left unchecked by God's goodness. A world without love. A world without light. A world where only despair and regret remain.
Not my world (thank you Jesus).
On the other hand, by choosing to make God your focus in this lifetime, you are telling Him that you DO desire a relationship with Him, both now and forever! You're saying that you acknowledge His love for you. A love so great that He sent His only son down from heaven to suffer and die for the forgiveness of your sins and to provide you a path to salvation. You're saying that you CAN'T do it all on your own and that you NEED His help in this life.
What does this choice require of you? Asking. Just asking Jesus to come into your heart and begin to guide your NEW life with Him at the center. A NEW life where you'll want to love others as He has loved you. A NEW life of spreading the "good news" to all those you encounter who are still struggling in darkness and unbelief. A NEW life where, once completed, you'll enter into an eternity of unimaginable joy with your Heavenly Father. This, all because of the choice you are making today.
Sounds like a pretty good "life" to me.
Don't let today, nor anything in your past, get in the way of making a choice to follow Jesus my friends. This is by far the most important "choice" you'll ever (and I do mean EVER) make .
"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." (Romans 10: 9-10)
There is no other way...
Only through a personal relationship with Jesus can one be saved.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)
It has become popular nowadays to believe there are multiple paths to heaven. Even some quote/unquote "Christian" churches have began to be swayed by this notion. "If I'm a good person, surely God will let me in" or "there are so many different religions that there can't be just one way to heaven and it's arrogant for one religion to think that." Oh, how this must grieve our Heavenly Father.
From the beginning we have rebelled against our Creator. Yet, God so loved us still, that He sent His only son down from heaven to die for the attonement of our sins and provide us a pathway to salvation. Folks, there is only ONE way to an eternity in heaven. It is not through our good works or being a generally good person who loves others, but through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Repent of your sins today, invite Jesus into your heart, and BELIEVE that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved! Not through anything you did, or can do, but through God's grace.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
Only Jesus can bridge the gap...
"Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf." (Hebrews 7:25)
Only through Jesus can the divide between us and God be bridged. "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10) With Jesus' death on the cross for the forgiveness of OUR sins, a pathway to salvation was created. Are you on that path? Repent and surremder your life to Jesus. For when you do, your old life will die, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)
A new life you will have, "Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault." (Colossians 1:22) You will now be "sinless" in front of God on judgement day, no matter WHAT your past. This in no way could have been "earned" on your own, but it instead was a gift to you through Jesus' sacrifice and God's grace.
"For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law--I stopped trying to meet all its requirements--so that I might live for God." (Galatians 2:19) It isn't about trying to live a "perfect" life. Good thing, because that would be impossible! When you accept Christ, "Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace." (Romans 6:14)
You will still stumble, but that's okay, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21) Jesus not only died for your past sins, but also those of today and the ones yet to come. You will fail at times, but guess what? He NEVER will! For even, "If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is." (2 Timothy 2:13)
Live a life of love and promote God's glory in ALL that you do. For it is said, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
I often want to immediately see the good that God promises, but sometimes God’s good answer is “not yet.” There is a timing to everything.
You may be living under a promise of God but not yet see the fruit of that promise. You might pray for something that hasn’t happened yet and even see no hope of it ever coming to pass.
Though we may not understand, we must trust God’s timing is perfect.
Our God is a God of completion. He makes promises and then He fulfills them. Even if we don’t see it in this life — He will complete what He has set out to complete.
Father God, thank You for reminding me today that I can trust You in my wait. When my circumstances and my own weary heart beg me to believe You have forgotten me, help me remember You are still very much at work. Even in the silence. Even in the unknown. Even when I can’t see anything on the horizon. I want to trust You more and more each day — knowing that not only are all Your ways perfect, but Your timing is perfect too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Who's in your corner?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
When satan was cast out of heaven, he didn’t go alone. Along with him, went a third of God’s angels who also rebelled against the Lord. So, where are they all now? They are demons here among us. Each day satan and his hoard are working to capture and then “keep” your soul from God. Once Adam and Eve rebelled against their Father, we became sinful beings. We can't help it, which is why it’s so easy for satan to keep us in darkness. Through our hatred, pursuit of money, lustful thoughts, selfish pride, etc., the devil has many tools to keep us out of God’s light. The more we concentrate our thoughts on worldly “things”, the easier target we become for evil’s strategies. But, all is not lost.
“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Remember, only a third of God’s angels were hurled from heaven. That means two thirds remained faithful to God and are being commanded by the none other than our Lord and Savior. We don’t have to fight evil on our own. “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (Exodus 14:14) and “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22). I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty confident with “GOD” in my corner as I enter the battlefield each day. What must we do? Resist temptation and live a godly life. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). By living in God’s light, He will fight our battles for us when satan and his demons come calling. Acknowledge, profess and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and God will be with you...ALWAYS!
As you rise in the morning, give glory to God for another day, and all the blessings He’s bestowed upon you. “Also, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 13-17).
Upon thanking the Lord for all you have, and suiting up in His armor, you are now ready to take on the day. Even if you do find yourself under attack, remember this, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8). “And if God is with you, who can stand against you?” (Romans 8:31).
Certainly NOT the devil!
What do you think the disciples where thinking the day after Good Friday when Jesus was crucified? Just think of the thoughts that must have been racing through their heads that day. “He was the Messiah, how could this have happened?”, “What are we supposed to do now?”, “Where are we going to go, because if they recognize us, we may suffer the same fate?”. You want to talk about sitting in God’s waiting room! Not understanding, not only what just happened in your life, but also WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?
In life, we are going to encounter times when something happens that we just don’t understand. Maybe a sudden job loss strikes, marriage difficulties arise, there's a bad medical diagnosis, or we lose a loved one, where we find ourselves looking skyward asking, “Why? I don’t understand!”. Therein lies the test. The time we spend in between these situations and a resolution is the “wait”. We can handle the “wait” in two ways. We can search around for answers and evidence for why this is happening to us, in hopes of then coming up with a verdict as to the “why,”…OR…we can trust that God knows the “why” and that He knows what He’s doing. That is what we call FAITH. When we approach difficult issues with FAITH, we “begin” (not end) with the VERDICT. We may say something like, “God, I may not understand what’s going on right now, but I know that YOU do, and that’s good enough for me.” That is showing God we can’t handle these difficulties on our own and we want Him to help us.
When we are in God’s “waiting room”, that is waiting for His next move for us, there are some things to remember. First and foremost is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even if the situation resolves itself in such a way that we didn’t desire, remember it was God’s will and there IS a reason for it. Isaiah 55: 8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” What this means is that we might not understand the “why” at that moment, or maybe even in the years to come, but in the end God will use the outcome for our good “and” for His glory down the road. Next, trust God’s timing, as it will be perfect. God is omnipresent, meaning He already knew the "outcome" before you even knew of the difficulty! So, TRUST in the wait, no matter how long it takes for the answer to appear. Lastly, remember that you are NOT in the waiting room all alone. God is always with you, God is always for you and God is always good.
Waiting is never easy. Struggles are never easy. Waiting for an “answer” during a struggle is a double whammy. Are you patient in your struggles or are you running around trying to fix everything all by yourself? If you’re doing the former, stop it. Lift up your concerns to the Lord, pray for His guidance in resolving the situation, and then “wait”. Just wait. Watch for His “nudgings” as He begins working on your behalf, but don’t try to “force” the issue yourself. Remember, this journey isn't about knowing all the answers and then trusting God, but rather it's having faith in God FIRST and then He'll reveal His goodness and plan for you.
As the old saying goes, "an idle mind is the devil's playgorund." Now whether you have an idle mind at the moment, or it's going 100 miles an hour, remember this, satan and his minions will take you down mentally whenever they can. Why? Because when you are feeling down, you are a MUCH easier target for their attacks.
When a relationship isn't working out, someone at work is trying your last nerve, or you keep thinking about past mistakes, you tend to think of activities that will give you an artificial "pick me up". Unfortunately, many of those "pleasures" tend to be the very tools of the enemy. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, sex, or even simply turning to anger and lashing out at all those around you to make YOURSELF feel better, these behaviors will just make you feel worse when the "high" wears off. The bottom line is NONE of these selfish activities will give your mind any lasting peace, and NONE will remove the negative thoughts that satan has planted there.
A much better way of handling these attacks is to do the following. First, recognize what the enemy is up to. When you find yourself "`dwelling" on a situation, or something in your past, know that satan is up there, planting away his seeds of discontnent and despair. Don't get me wrong, we will definitely encounter struggles now and then, but the key is to deal with them as soon as we can, and then let them go. Second, when under attack, turn to God through prayer, scripture and song. Once you feel a situation getting the better of you, turn to the Lord for comfort and strength to pull you through it. Lastly, know you are ALWAYS loved by your Heavenly Father, "no matter what" you do, say or are feeling. Don't be fooled by the devil and his tactics of making you feel unworthy, ashamed or unwanted. God loves you so much that, "He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
The enemy may be able to manipulate your mind, but there's NO room in your "heart" for their lies if Jesus is living there. Has He taken up residence yet? If not, know this, Jesus is at the door to your heart and is knocking. All you have to do is open it and let Him in.
Please take 5 minutes to read this, right now, and be sure that you are where you need to be with the Lord. And if you're not, I implore you to read it over and over again until you are.
Friends, this is as honest, and as truthful, as it gets.
The end of Pastor JD Farag's message from Sunday:
This is life and death serious, eternal life and eternal death serious. And in fact, in preparation for the Resurrection Sunday sermon next week, I'm kind of seeking the Lord about this kind of different than in past years because Jesus came the first time to die on the cross, be buried, and be raised again from the dead on the third day. And also, He would come back one day.
That's the gospel, the good news. It's not just the death and burial and resurrection of Jesus. It's the return of Jesus too.
That's the good news of salvation.
And that's what salvation is, right?
Salvation: I'm going to be saved.
We say, "I'm saved."
Saved from what?
I'm saved; I'm saved from eternity in hell. And I'm going to be saved out of this evil world that seems to be waxing more and more evil with each passing day.
That's the gospel, the good news.
Well, Pastor, how can I be saved?
Well, it's very simple.
Well, what do you need to do?
You don't have to do anything. It's already been done.
All you have to do is believe; it's that simple.
And that's why we do the ABCs, starting with
the A, which is for admit or acknowledge that you're a sinner. Because until and unless you acknowledge that you've sinned, why would you be interested in a Savior?
Romans 3:10 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one."
No one can be good enough. You might be good, but no one is good enough. And Romans 3:23 tells us why. It's because "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We've all sinned; we've all transgressed God's law, every single one of us.
And there's a penalty for that, by the way, and it's the death penalty, "For the wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23, and that's the bad news. But here's the good news. The good news is the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our
That's just the A, and it really is that which leads centrally to the B, because really it boils down to just believe.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life."
Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.
This is Romans 10:9-10; it says, "If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved."
And then what comes when you believe is this expression, confession, calling upon the name of the Lord.
Romans 10:9-10 also says, "If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved [And here's why] for it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
And finally, Romans 10:13: It says, "All who call upon the name of the Lord will [will] be saved."
That's pretty simple, isn't it? Is that too simple?
So one last thing just so we're clear here. Only those who call upon the name of the Lord, believing in their hearts on the person of Jesus Christ are going to be saved out of this world and taken in the rapture?
So if I'm not saved, I'm going to be left behind?
So that's why you're yelling at us and screaming at us and spitting on us?
Yes, actually, it is.
That's what's at stake here. That's what's at stake here.
I'm trying to get as many people off of that Titanic, of this fallen world as I can before it goes down, and it's just on the brink of going down.
It can happen at any time.
That's how close we are.
I think too often we say "God is all I need", but then when we get to a deep and dark place in our lives, we despair and it becomes apparent they were simply words we said.
"LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure." (Psalm 16:5) David knew God was all he needed. Not only that, but David knew that if he had God, everything else in his life would be "secure". Actually, God promises just that, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) It seems at times though, as we encounter difficulty in our lives, we think that "we" need to fix it. That we NEED whatever it is in our lives that now may be absent. Maybe it's money, a close friend, or even a spouse. Instead of "elevating" that need above God, take a deep breath and remember that God is all you TRULY need.
Instead of wallowing in despair or self pity, turn it over to God as He's commanded. "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." (Psalms 55:22) and "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (1 Peter 5:7) Then wait, "Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD." (Psalm 27:14) Remember, this difficulty is happening for a reason. You don't need to understand "why", but you do need to accept it as it's God's will for you right then, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
What can you do if you are still struggling in the midst of the storm? Keep seeking God's face. "I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 16:8) God is always faithful, so know that He is working out what is best for you. It may not resolve how "you" want it to, but trust that God knows what's best. And even though you may "feel" shaken during these struggles, keep the faith. As, "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) Lastly, trust in God's promises and words to you during these times, "For no word from God will ever fail." (Luke 1:37)
God loves you. God will never abandon you. God is always faithful to those who love Him. God will provide all your needs. God will support you at all times. God sent His only son to die for the forgiveness of your sins, and to provide you a pathway to eternal life with Him in heaven one day.
Do you really need anything more than that?
There will be times...
Proverbs 31 Ministries -
"They say hindsight is 20/20. We can sometimes look back on our life and clearly see what God was up to in the middle of confusing and hard seasons. But it’s easy to forget It's easy to forget that God is working behind the scenes when we are walking through our next valley season.
Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him."
God will work ALL things for our good… not just some things. Not just the good, but also the bad, the hard and devastating circumstances we face in our lifetime.
There is power in tracing God’s faithfulness from the past so that we can believe He will be faithful again in the future.
Is there a situation you have walked through that felt like utter devastation in the moment, but looking back you know God used it to shape you into the person you are today?" - Proverbs 31 Ministries
My comments -
Amen. I'm now grateful for that difficult season in my life as it lead to my very salvation. Certainly was no fun at the time, but the reward was (and will be for all eternity) "sooo" worth it.
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
One day at a time...
Just because you don’t see God working does not mean He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always working” (John 5:17, NLT). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NIV).
I wonder how many times I’ve missed the blessing because I stopped too soon. Perhaps you’ve wondered:
* How much longer will I have to wait until God brings my prodigal home?
* How much longer will I have to struggle with my unbelieving husband?
* How much longer will I have to endure this dead-end job?
* How many more laps will I have to walk around Jericho before the walls come tumbling down, and I can take hold of my Promised Land?
I don’t know the answer to the question of how much longer, but I do know this: Tomorrow could be the final lap. Don’t give up too soon.
Lord, sometimes I just want to give up. As a matter-of-fact, I am tempted to give up on something pretty important right now. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside, so I can persevere on the outside. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Think about the people you encounter in your life. Ever notice how some are life-givers and others are life-takers?
Every opportunity we have with someone is an opportunity to influence that person for the good. To give life, not just take it. Because whether we realize it or not, people are watching us. What we say and what we do matters. When we live with purpose, we can make a difference that can leave a lasting impact.
Are you taking enough leaps of faith in your spiritual life that you put what you have on the line so God can show up in a big way? I know it can be hard to do, but it’s always worth the reward. Often, we live so cautiously that we never give God a chance to come through.
You don’t have to have a dream to play professional sports or rule the world. Risk what you have for the sake of helping other people and see what God can do in your life and in others’. Put yourself out there, and do something that might terrify you or make you uncomfortable … like sharing your testimony for the first time or telling a stranger God loves her.
Remember that whatever you do, your main audience is God, not others. That’s why in Colossians, the Apostle Paul reminds us to put our whole heart into everything we do, with God’s purposes in mind. We’re called to live life for God’s glory, as Colossians 3:23 explains: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Does God really love me?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” ~Jesus
I love that verse, “…yet not one (sparrow) will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” When Jesus said this, something so simple, the way I began to look at the birds that fly around my neighborhood was forever changed. While out on my morning run, I’d see a robin fly by and land on a tree branch, immediately I’d think to myself, “God knows about that single bird, and He cares for it. He actually loves that particular bird.”
So amazing. So unfathomable. God is so big. He’s doing “all of this” at once. All of what? Sustaining His Creation. On an even deeper level, God doesn’t just know about that single bird in my subdivision’s oak tree, but He also knows the molecular structure of that bird. He even causes that little bird’s heart to beat…these were His ideas (see Genesis 1:21).
Just think about that for a moment, everything is in His hands, even our very own existence. The Bible says, “we live and move and have our being through Him” (see Acts 17:28). Life would not be happening without God wanting it to happen. Life would not be possible without His consent. This is why Paul said, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”(Colossians 1:17). Paul was speaking of Jesus, who is a part of the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. All three together equal God (see 1 John 5:7,8).
A hyper-critical person might say, “Yeah Matt, that’s great. God is big, so what. Life still sucks.” To that I’d say, “Oh, my friend, but does it?” What if this inconceivable God actually loved us? What if our Creator made this entire universe just so we could have a place to begin a personal relationship with Him? What if that was His big idea? Relationship? Eternal relationship?
What if our Designer loved us so much, He would actually become a part of His very own creation? What if He joined us in playing by His own created rules of physics and morals–and did so perfectly–on our behalf? What if, just to be fair to us, He took on the very notion of pain and death for us, to help us? That, my friend, is what happened in Jesus Christ!
So why is it we can’t just “jump on in” and enjoy this relationship with such a loving God? Well, because God has allowed a spiritual enemy to join us on planet earth. “Matt, why would your so-called loving God do such a thing?! That sounds sadistic!”
To answer that question, I’d have to ask you a question: Have you ever tried to force someone to love you? How’d that work out?…It doesn’t. It never works out. Forcing someone to love you is an impossibility. God knew this. He knew that a planet full of walking, talking, mannequins would never be able to genuinely love Him back, just the same as a sandbox full of army figurines can’t love the boy back who is playing with them–no matter how he sets them up or “makes” them talk. In order to be able to love, we have to have free will. Therefore, God gave us the option to not love Him.
Our enemy, whom God has temporarily allowed to reside here with us, he is everything opposite of what God is. This idiot and his dark dorks only have three main goals: kill, steal, destroy (see John 10:10). Jesus said Satan is the father of lies and that he doesn’t even have the ability to tell the truth(see John 8:44).
When the Holy Spirit began to point out this jack-wagon to me, He said, “Start fighting him, not people, and not yourself.” Once I began to do this, my relationship with God went to a whole new level. Like Dorothy and her friends who could finally see behind the curtain at what the wizard truly looked like–a weak old man pressing buttons, trying to scare people and ruin their lives with loud noises and smoke–I, now knew the devil. My real enemy had been defined.
This moron not only wants us to doubt God, but he wants us to resent Him, ignore Him, be petrified of Him, feel condemned by Him, and he wants us to believe that God does not love us. “But Matt, how can God love me? I’ve done too many wrong things in my life for anyone to love me, let alone a perfect God.”
Friend, I’ve been there. I can remember the days when I just wanted to die. I had believed the lies of the devil for so long that I honestly thought God was out to get me for my bad behavior and poor choices! I can even remember being afraid to pray! I’d squint and say, “God, I know I don’t deserve it, but please, help me. I need your help.”
I also remember thinking, “If I could just straighten my life out, then God would love me.” These are lies from our enemy! These are falsities from our accuser! (See Revelation 12:10). He fights us spiritually, in our minds! (See Ephesians 6:10-17). We must begin to recognize that! God loves us as we are! Period! The Bible says, “God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:9).
Let me repeat that: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS CHRIST DIED FOR US! So if we were sinners in our spirits, how did we become non-sinners in our spirits? How did we become saints? After all, that’s what every Christian is, a saint. Some denominations have incorrectly awarded this title to only a handful of believers, but Paul said that all believers are saints! (See 1 Corinthians 1:2).
God has made the option of spiritual perfection–sainthood–easy: believe Jesus has forgiven you of your sins and you will get a brand new holy spirit–one of your own–and it will be combined with God’s Holy Spirit, forever (see Ephesians 2:8,9, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:1, 6:6, Colossians 1:22, 3:3).
It is only through believing Jesus has completed your spiritual perfection for you, that you can become a child of God! (See John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5, Hebrews 10:14). Afterwards, Jesus keeps you saved–not you (see John 10:28). The only way you can become un-saved is if Jesus dies again, and that ain’t happening (see Hebrews 7:25).
The Christian who doesn’t understand their true identity in Christ will then beg the question, “What if I don’t stop sinning completely, am I still saved?” Well, did you stop sinning completely to get saved? No? Okay, so what did you do? You believed Jesus saved you, and He actually did! The Cross worked! So stop worrying about losing something that you aren’t even maintaining! Jesus is maintaining your salvation, your amazing attitudes and actions are not! (See Hebrews 6:19, Philippians 3:8).
So today, my friends, know this: Absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God, which is found in Jesus Christ! (See Romans 8:39). And yes, God really loves you! He loves you so much He formed this universe! He loves you so much He gave you life! He loves you so much He gave you Jesus! He loves you so much He decided to make His home in you forever! Enjoy this unconditional love and live it out each day!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for your love. It has changed my entire life! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them don’t realize just how much you love them, some are even scared of you. They’ve been incorrectly taught that your love is conditional. They’ve been taught to think you’re mad at them, and you’re not. The enemy has also embedded a tremendous amount of guilt in so many of their souls. Some even think you have too much going on to get involved with their “small” problems, and that’s not true. Others believe they have to behave better before you’ll pay any attention to them–teach them that is incorrect! I command any legalistic, religious spirit to stop pestering them!
Teach them about the power that lies within them–YOU! Break the chains on their souls of guilt, condemnation, addictions, and fear! Build up a new confidence in them! Reveal Satan’s lies! Make him leave these good people alone! Strengthen them on such a level that they would no longer be passive, but instead, fighting hard through your grace! Teach them how to defeat hell with their words! Show them how to overcome evil with good, and hate with love! Use these awesome, heaven-ready people for great and mighty things! I know you will! In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, amen.
Matt McMillen Ministries
Looking for peace?
There may be times when it feels like God is not working in our lives. But as scripture tells us, God is always working things out for the good of those who love Him (even in those moments when we can't possibly see how).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
When these times hit, it's important to recognize where you "are" blessed and give Him thanks.
Are you living in a home? Do you have enough to eat? Are you clothed? Do you have a job?
These are just a few things we take for granted versus how millions live all around the world.
Also know, that this too shall pass. Whatever it is that is going on right now, will end at some point.
The longer it takes, the more time we should commit to seeking God's guidance. Sadly, we tend to do the complete opposite, and withdraw or become angry and bitter.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
"Never stop praying." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
God isn't out to make our lives miserable. How we handle these times is a choice. Our choice.
We live in a broken world and bad things happen that are flat out beyond our control. But, there are also times when our current situation was caused by our own poor decisions.
Is God to blame? No. In fact, He wants nothing more than for us to come to Him for help and understanding.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
Call to God in times of confusion, stress, and adversity. He is really hoping you will.
"Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!' " (John 21:17-19)
The first time Peter chose to follow Jesus was in Luke 5. It says he left his boat, and his fish, and followed Jesus. The investment is admirable, but Simon Peter was following Jesus with a very specific idea of what the future would include: the overthrow of an oppressive Roman regime and the establishment of an earthly kingdom.
But when Jesus tells Peter, “Follow Me,” post resurrection, it’s a little different. Here, in John 21, Peter fully understands that the road to the Kingdom includes a cross. This isn’t what Peter had planned. But it has been part of God’s plan all along.
We are not called to follow a plan. We are called to follow a Person who has a plan that is greater than our own.
Maybe you have followed Christ "kind of." Maybe you've followed your idea of who you think God is. But really He's not leading you as much as you're trying to lead Him.
Like Peter, it's easy to follow Jesus when He's just "loaded your boat with fish." But what about when the boat is empty and the frustration is high?
Jesus is asking you today, "Will you still follow Me?
Steven Furtick - Elevation Church
“Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up.”
Do you ever feel like God doesn’t hear your prayers? Friend, I’m here to tell you today that God does hear your prayers. He is not only listening to your spoken prayers, but He is also listening to the unspoken prayers of your heart! (See Psalm 37:4, Romans 8:26). He knows more about you than even youknow about you, and…He answers allof your prayers! He doesn’t ignore a single one!
God answers our prayers in one of three ways:
2. Yes, but wait, I’m still using this.
3. No. I’ve got a better overall plan for my Kingdom.
I know it feels like your repeated prayers fall on deaf ears, but they do not. I understand that sometimes you just want to give up and stop praying completely, but don’t! Your prayers are not only heard by God, but they are feltby Him too (see Psalm 34:18, Hebrews 2:17,18). He is your loving Heavenly Father, and He only wants the best for all of His children (see Matthew 7:9-11).
In the book of Luke, chapter 18, Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and never give up. The story was about a widow who kept coming to an unjust judge for help. Even though he kept turning her away, she simply would not stop pestering him. The judge, however, was very arrogant and crooked. Jesus said that he “neither feared God, nor cared about men” (Luke 18:2), both are terrible qualities for any person in office to have.
This dirty and corrupt man kept overlooking the pleas of this woman. Her heartfelt cries fell flat due to the selfish power of this obstinate man who couldn’t care less about her or her problems. However, because she would not stop persistently asking him for help, the judge finally said, “I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually wear me out!” (See Luke 18:5).
Jesus then explains to His disciples, “And will not God (who is loving and just) bring about justice for his chosen ones, those who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” The answer is no. “He will see that they get justice…” (see Luke 18:7,8, my note added).
Jesus makes it clear that there is something much more important than having every single prayer answered exactly how we want it: “You will get justice and quickly, however, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (see Luke 18:8, my emphasis added).
Will He find faith on earth?…Will He find faith on earth?! Will He?! Or will we be like a nest full of baby birds with our mouths wide open, eyes closed, saying, “Gimme, gimme, gimme!”?
Why are we so focused on ourselves?! This life isn’t just about us! It took me over 30 years to figure this out, andyes God wants to answer our prayers how we want, but He is much more interested in getting us from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive! And then He wants us to realize we are spiritual perfect for good! He is not our genie-in-a-bottle! He’s our Dad! Good dads don’t just give their kids anything and everything! Good dads say, “No,” sometimes. Good dads say, “Wait.” Good dads think about their kid’s future, and they think about their other kids too!
Friend, we must allow the attitude of Christ to come out of us (see Philippians 2:5). It’s there, we just have to get it out (see Philippians 2:12). There is no law in prayer, but we should be praying prayers which have the aura of this: “God, you’ve heard me pray this a thousand times, and I still want it, but if you never give me what I’m asking for, I trust you. I know that you know what’s best for me and others. So continue to do as you see fit, and help me to live out my spiritual perfection in this process of trusting you deeper. I love you, and I’m available to you.”
There is no such thing as unanswered prayers. Realizing this fact will build up an unshakable confidence in you! Understanding that your Heavenly Daddy is looking out for you at all times strengthens you! You’ll be able to enjoy your life no matter what is happening around you, and you’ll refuse to fall into self-pity! This heavenly mindset also gives you tremendous enthusiasm and unconditional love for everyone! This is the relationship God longs to have with you–one that is authentic and trusting!
So today, my friends, know this: God loves you, and He hears your prayers. He is sovereign and incapable of being incorrect. Further, He doesn’t just hear your prayers, but He’s listening closely! He lives in us and He will never go away! He is a good goodFather who loves us immeasurably! So keep praying! Keep trusting! Keep being your heaven-ready self! And most of all, enjoy your life as God’s own child!
A prayer for you: Dad, I want you to know how grateful I am for you. I want you to know how much I appreciate you making me your child forever. Thank you for your commitment to me. You are the real Promise Keeper. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them are hurting, Lord. So many have been praying to you for a very long time and they feel like it’s not working. Speak to their hearts today and show them that their prayers ARE working. Please help these dear readers to develop a deeper relationship with you. Begin to teach them to trust you, to stand firm in your grace, and to keep praying! Teach them to ALWAYS communicate with you! In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
Matt McMillen Ministries
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7)
It can be easy to blame my feelings and moods on my situation. All it takes is running a little behind and I can feel my insides start to tense up. Then, once I become tense enough, my attitude and actions follow suit.
It’s the emotional domino effect. It’s why something like traffic can become the deciding factor of your attitude and how you treat people for an entire day.
You may have heard “guard your heart” so many times now it feels cliché, but it’s crucial to do so.
A situation may be bad. A circumstance may be hard. A relationship may be rocky. But your emotions don’t have to be controlled by what’s going on around you.
Your mood is a choice; your joy is your job. No one but you is responsible for your heart. Eventually, you have to own your emotions by the grace of God.
Once you own your emotions, you can control them. And when your emotions are in control, you can focus them towards what matters most: loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
Steven Furtick - Elevation Church
Yea or Nay?
"I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24)
Jesus simply says how it is.
Each choice takes us down the road of our choosing.
Option 1, being with someone who loves us more than ANYONE ever will and will last forever. Option 2, not be with that person, not only now but forever.
I can't believe it took me so long to choose the first option, but such was my path.
How about you? What option have you chosen?
He's right there with us when we're ready. Even if we feel as lonely as we've ever been, He's there. Talk to Him, ask if He's there, and find out for yourself.
Where are you walking?
A son carefully studies the actions of their father. From an early age, the son is learning how a father interacts with other men, how they treat their spouse, how they work to support their families, and most importantly to them, how they are being treated themselves. The father is typically the first role model a son will have. Thus, how we act and “walk” as fathers, obviously has a very profound impact on our sons.
We can tell them until we are blue in the face how THEY should treat others, respect their mothers, watch their language, make family (and especially “GOD”) a priority, but if we ourselves AREN’T living it, then what kind of message does that send?
I thought I was a good father. I tried to spend time with my kids. We’d take an occasional trip, go out to eat as a family frequently, and even go to church more often than not. I also worked very hard at my profession and we were financially secure. Here again, I “thought” I was being a good father for my son. I was wrong.
When I look back now I see a man that, yes provided financially for his family, and wasn’t a “bad” father, but certainly was not a Godly role model and MOST certainly wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I allowed my profession to run my life to the detriment of my son and family.
Slowly but surely that financial success that I had enjoyed, and believed was of “MY” doing, faded away (and of course it never was “MY” ability in the first place, but was instead God’s rich blessings that I failed to acknowledge). With that loss grew bitterness, anger, and a relentless pursuit to get all that financial success back.
For more years than I can count, I chased that "false idol" while my son watched. As I look back now, I couldn’t be more saddened by my actions. He certainly saw his father at his worst. Those were footsteps I sure wouldn’t have wanted him walking in, but fortunately, that wasn't the end of the story.
In November, late one night, sitting in my garage, exploding with anger, I finally accepted Jesus. And with that, the Holy Spirit entered my heart. Funny thing when that happens. There’s now a newfound peace as all that anger disappears and your priorities become much more obvious.
Yes, I can look back with “truly” open eyes now and see what a wretched soul I was but therein lies God’s abundant and never ending grace! And with that grace, all that past behavior disappears from His sight.
I wish I could erase it all from my son’s memory as well, but sadly I can not. However, what I can do is finally now show him, not only the “proper” way for a father to walk a path for their son (and hopefully for “his” future son), but most importantly, how to walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Our sons are always watching us. Analyzing and learning from every interaction they see us having. Live and practice the same kind of life you'd want for them when they are fathers.
Remember, we have the greatest fatherly role model of all time. God, our Heavenly Father. If we model ourselves after “that” father, our sons will never have to worry about following in our footsteps.
As the gospel transforms your marriage it will inevitably transform the hearts of your children. How you love, serve, and reconcile to each other is a glimpse—a foreshadowing—of how Jesus loves them.
Your actions and heart change speak a thousand times louder than any sermon they'll hear or understand. And with God's grace, they will respond by placing their trust in Christ.
There are countless ways that the gospel transforms and bears fruit in marriage. Here are a few.
1.) The gospel disarms pride.
In Christ, all are sinners saved by radical grace. This levels the playing field and produces genuine gratitude that says, "how dare I hold their sin against them, when Christ hasn't held mine against me?" This realization allows you to approach each other with grace and love in order to be reconciled -- even when it's difficult.
2.) The gospel is unconditional love.
You are saved, not because of anything you've done, but because of what Christ has done. There is nothing you can do to earn it, and no sin too powerful to nullify it. Marriage is similar: when two imperfect people spend their lives together, conflict will happen. But the marriage covenant binds you together while the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit continues - -while you both grow. Covenant love always looks for ways forward, never for ways out.
3.) The gospel makes your identity secure.
When you know who you are in Christ, everything changes. Your security is no longer dependant on anything or anyone that can fail. Instead, your peace, hope, joy, and satisfaction are secure for eternity. Security in Christ will birth surprising confidence and selflessness that seem ridiculous. The only explanation is Jesus.
Remember: your marriage is the gospel you are preaching to your children. Their faith doesn't ultimately depend on you (only God changes hearts), but your marriage can put them face to face with a living, breathing example of the beauty and wonder of the gospel.
Ryan & Selena
#fiercemarriage #twoasone #love #31daypursuit
I think it's safe to say we've ALL been here. In fact, many of us are there right now!
Even when you take that all important step to follow Christ, it doesn't mean all of your worldly problems go "poof" in the night.
In fact, Jesus warns us of this.
"In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)
Maybe it's an addiction, problems at work, an illness, loneliness, a marriage, etc., where you've finally said, "Father, I can't fix this on my own, please help me!". But then what do you do? You want to check on God's progress, as if somehow He's going to screw it up or will need your help lol.
When you turn an issue over to the Lord, leave it in His capable hands, and get out of the way. If He wants you to do something, don't worry, He'll let you know.
Even when things don't seem to be resolving as quickly as you'd like, remember this.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" (Proverbs 3:5)
What God is saying is, "relax, I know what I'm doing, even if it doesn't make any sense to you right now".
God's interest may not necessarily be your issue of the moment, but instead, what's best for you in the long run.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
If something is going on that you don't understand, be at peace, because He DOES.
Oh, and by the way, here's how John 16:33 ends, and Proverbs 3:"6" .
"But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:6)
Jesus promises that if you accept Him into your heart and follow Him, He will make ALL things right in the end (regardless of your current circumstances).
Don't get bogged down in the worry of today. Give your life over to Christ if you haven't yet. And if you have, don't be too concerned over the current battle, because you've already won the war!
Trust God to use whatever is going on for your good. He loves you and will see you through it.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
If not me, then who?
Proud to share a Spirit led devotion from my daughter (who is entering into minisiterial studies this fall):
Lately I have really had missions on my heart. Specifically international missions.
I’ve talked to very few people about this but a lot of times I get a similar reaction… “That will be dangerous” , “I’ll be worried” , “You don’t understand what you’d be getting yourself into” the list goes on…
What I have really taken away from this is- if everyone is scared to go and too worried, then who will? If not me, then who?
This doesn’t just go for missions though, this can relate to anyone and everyone.
Maybe you’re too nervous to talk openly about your faith, maybe you don’t want to invite that one person to church because you’re afraid they’ll say no, maybeyou don’t pray in public before eating because you don’t want other people to judge you.
But let me then ask you, if you don’t, then who will?
Someone else might go to Honduras to help the children in the orphange, someone else might talk about their faith infront of that person that you could’ve witnessed to, someone else might invite that one person to church (even if they say no), someone else might pray before they eat (causing conversations to strike up at tables around them).
But how can you be sure?
YOU may be the ONLY Bible someone ever sees.
Lord, help us to be like Isaiah in chapter 6, verse 8.
Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And whowill go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!'”
Not always easy...
I know this is easier said than done...believe me.
I walk around a parking lot, a couple times a day at work, feeling bad and repenting of my anxiety, worries, etc. But, you know what? God knows our hearts and struggles and He will not hold that against us. He loves us too much to.
Just acknowledge your stressing, turn it over to Him and move forward with your day. Rinse and repeat.
"But" also, watch for the Lord's encouragements. Conversations, things you see around you (nature, certain numbers, or street signs to name a few), and especially what you feel are "coincidences".
ALL are God's way of saying, "I know what's going on and it's going to be okay."