Wait for the Lord and Be Strengthened!

Waiting for God to answer, help, and deliver us takes several stages to attain a breakthrough.  The A’s of waiting:  (1)  Ask; (2)  Acknowledge; (3)  Accept; and (4)  Await.  Firstly, we are in a situation in which only God can help and/or deliver us.  We acknowledge that and ask Him for His help.  When we do, our flesh expects an immediate response or resolution.  As we walk and experience God more and more throughout our lives, we come to a realization that a response or deliverance is usually not immediate!  Why?  We have to develop faith and trust in and with God.  We have to truly hand over our problems to Him and let Him fix them.  As impatient human beings, we tend to meddle, give things to God but then become impatient because we want something yesterday and try to fix it ourselves.  As we wait upon the Lord for resolutions, we have to learn it is best to wait, no matter how hard and trying it may be, but to wait for His timing and to have complete faith and hope knowing that He is working on things and orchestrating a breakthrough for our problems.  God stands on His Word, His promises, and for those who wait on Him will be strengthened in more ways than one.

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired.” Isaiah 40:31 (AMP)  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint. (NLT)

Per an article written by Evie Megginson at Sermon Central, we will be strengthened internally, physically, upwardly, and onwardly.  Our heart, spirit, and soul, our faith, our hope, our trust in Him, will be strengthened.  We will be strengthened physically.  As we wait upon the Lord, we learn to physically depend on Him each day to get through the day.  To spend time with Him, talking, reading His promises, meditating, disciplining ourselves to wait; to wait with gratitude, to wait with peace, to wait with expectancy.  We will be strengthened upwardly.  We will soar like eagles.  We are not of this world.  We are to be heavenly.  Therefore, while we wait here on earth, our eyes and hearts are focused and aiming upwards.  We are looking up to soar with strength.  We have God in us, God is beside us, and God strengthens and carries us.  Our strength comes from Him.  Those days when we lack hope and patience, we stay focused and ask God for physical strength to wait with grace and He provides!  While waiting, that is when we become more like Him, we are developing better character, and are being transformed and learning that God is in control and that He is taking care of us and strengthening us and developing our trust, our hope, our expectancy, and our need of Him.  Lastly, we are strengthened onwardly.  When we go forth one day at a time, we are strengthened knowing that God is there.  He has been there, is by our side, and will always be there.  When we learn to wait and gain trust in waiting on the Lord, we are able to apply those times waiting to future times when we will have to wait.  There will be future waiting times!  To wait is to expect with hope.

“Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Don’t be impatient.  Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you!  Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous.  Yes, wait and He will help you. (TLB)  “Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit.  I’ll say it again:  Stay with God.” (MSG)

“Our waiting on God will depend greatly on our faith of what He is,” Andrew Murray, Waiting on God:  The Almighty One, CBN.

There are so many facets of God’s strength that He provides for us; that is instilled in us.  At times it is so tempting to give up and take things back into our own hands because we think we can fix it quicker or better, but this just prolongs God’s best for us; His resolution for us.  Some days will be great, full of expecting and knowing God is working on things.  Other days our hope and confidence may be tested and low.  Doubt tries to creep in, but we stay focused upon the Lord and remember each day to keep our eyes on Him and choose to believe that our Father is taking care of things.  He knows all.  Yes, waiting is hard.  Yes, waiting is challenging.  Yes, waiting is character building.  However, waiting is a prime opportunity to get to know God more, on a very intimate level; to spend even more time with Him; to search Him; to depend on Him.  In times of waiting, there is a special opportunity to feel His comfort, His love and know His heart.  If it were not for times of waiting, we would not develop into stronger children of God.  If we did not have times of waiting, then we would not rely on or need or depend on God.  Waiting, more ways than one, derives and develops strength, a God-given strength, a feeling as if you can soar like an eagle.

…He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.  He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath.  And He knows everything, inside and out.  He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.  For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. Isaiah 40:28-31 (MSG)

‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ Isaiah 41:10 (AMP)  “…I will give you strength, and for sure I will help you…” (NLV)  “…I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” (MSG)

“Still, the Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (VOICE)  But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation]… (AMP)  “…He will make you strong…” (TLB)

The following are lyrics to a song by Fred Hammond, called “They That Wait”:

They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up on wings just like an eagle at soar.  They shall run and not be weary.  They shall walk and never faint they that wait on the Lord.  And I say wait on the Lord.

Hold on a little while longer.  Here’s what you got to do.  Trust and believe my friend.  He’ll work it our for you.  One thing you must remember, my God is able and He cares for you.  He cares for you.

Wait on the Lord and He will come through.  Wait on the Lord He will answer you.  Wait on the Lord and He won’t be long.  Wait on the Lord…

Joyce Meyer shared, “Any time you become frustrated and start trying to make things happen on your own, it is a sure sign you are not being patient with God.  You need to practice waiting on God and let Him do what He wants to do, in His way and time.  The best definition of patience I have ever heard is ‘to be constant or to be the same all the time, no matter what is going on.’  Patience is not merely waiting; it is how you act while you are waiting.”

Mrs. Meyers further stated, “The hardest thing most of us will ever have to do as Christians is wait on the Lord.  You will undoubtedly have to wait on many things during your lifetime.  Waiting is not optional.  But it is during the waiting periods of life that the most powerful things will happen within you.”

“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 (AMP)

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord, Thank you for opportunities to wait on you.  Thank you for these times you so graciously strengthen us.  Thank you Lord for the faith, hope, and confidence knowing you are working on things and you will continue to strengthen us physically, inwardly, upwardly, and onwardly as we wait for our deliverance, our breakthrough, our resolution.  Thank you Lord for taking caring of us and for causing our growth in hope, faith, and trust in you.  Thank you for knowing all and what is best for each one of us.  Amen.

 

God Directs Animals to Help Fulfill His Purpose

Animals belong to God and He directs them to help fulfill His purpose here on earth.  “The earth and all that’s upon it belong to the Eternal.  The world is His, with every living creature on it.” Psalm 24:1 (VOICE)  The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his! (TLB)  “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine.” Psalm 50:10-11 (AMP)

God is sovereign over all the animals.  “…His spiritual purpose always overrides everything and He is sovereign over all,” John W. Ritenbaugh, The Sovereignty of God Part Four.

In the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6), God directs the animals to Noah.  The animals migrated to Noah.  Noah did not have to go out and round up the animals and bring them to the Ark.  God drew them to the Ark.  Imagine two animals of every species of birds, mammals, and reptiles to preserve life (Gen. 6:19, MSG) just showing up at Noah’s Ark!  How amazing is that?!  There is no other explanation of how that phenomenon happened other than God’s hand being in it to help fulfill His purpose of preserving life, to bring about His purpose.

There are many current instances where God directs animals to help bring about His purpose.  The stories you read and hear about, on many occasions, where the family dog awakens a family member to notify them of a fire or a burglar.  God directed these family pets to help save their lives.

Another modern day instance where God directed animals to fulfill His purpose happened this year on Easter Sunday in the Middle East.  Lions saved Christians from Islamic extremists.  Pastor Paul Ciniraj was leading a worship service when the extremists approached them holding weapons.  The Christians were not sure what to do and assumed that they all were going to die.  Then all of a sudden, a lion came out of the jungle and attacked the Islamic extremists who were about to kill the Pastor and Christians.  When the one lion attacked, two other extremists tried to fight the lion off and then two more lions appeared and the extremists ran away in fear.  The lions left the Christians alone.  Pastor Paul said that, “records show no lions are supposed to live in that forest.” ChristianHeadlines.com, April 21, 2017, Veronica Neffinger.

Wild boars attacked Isis militants who targeted Christians in northern Iraq the following week of the aforementioned story.  God directed the boars to carry out His purpose.  Three militants were killed and the Christians were protected and lived.  This was part of God’s plan. ChristianHeadlines.com, April 25, 2017.

There are numerous stories in the Bible in which God has used animals to help fulfill His purpose.  The story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22:21-41, where Balaam was not listening to what God was wanting him to do.  When Balaam left on his donkey, God revealed an angel to the donkey three times, causing the donkey to:  (1)  go off the path and into the field; (2)  to crush Balaam’s foot while trying to go through a narrow path with walls close on both sides; and (3)  to lay down because it was unable to turn around or move left or right due to a narrow path in which the angel was standing.  Each time the donkey saw the angel of the Lord and went off course, Balaam would beat the donkey.  Finally, the donkey just lay down and God caused the donkey to speak to Balaam!  After a short conversation, God opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel.  This obviously got his attention!  Balaam realized he sinned and that God was displeased.

Another interesting story in the Old Testament is in the book of Jonah.  God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah and preach against the wickedness that was going on there.  Jonah did not want to and actually tried to run away from God!  When Jonah was trying to flee aboard a ship, God caused a great storm which lead Jonah to be thrown overboard.  When he was thrown, God provided/directed a large whale-like fish to swallow Jonah and be kept in its belly for three days and three nights.  Jonah realized that he cannot run away from God and needed to do what God asked of him.  God directed the large fish to spit up Jonah onto dry land.  God again told Jonah to go to Ninevah & he obeyed and went.  What an amazing story of how God will use and direct animals to help fulfill His purpose here on earth.

In the story of Daniel in the den of lions, a decree was issued that anyone who prayed to any god or human being the next thirty days other than the king would be thrown into the lions’ den.  Daniel learned of the decree and went to his room and continued to pray and give thanks to God three times a day, as he usually did.  The king was informed of this and became distressed because there was no repeal of this decree and he wanted to save Daniel.  He followed the order and threw Daniel into the den and said, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:16, NIV)  The next morning, the king went to check on Daniel and Daniel revealed that God sent his angel and shut the mouths of the lions.  Daniel was lifted out of the den without any wounds because he trusted God.

In Kings 17:24 (NIV), God instructed Elijah, “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”  God told birds to feed Elijah until it was time for him to leave this place.

In the New Testament, an amazing story where God used an animal to fulfill His purpose is in Matthew 17:24-27 where Peter and Jesus needed to pay taxes.  Jesus told Peter to go to the lake and cast a line and knowing he was going to catch a fish instructed him to open the mouth of the first fish and in its mouth would be a coin to pay the taxes!

Another example of God ordering animals is:

A large school of fish miraculously appears alongside Peter’s boat just when Jesus says, “Let down your nets.”  Some may not view this by itself as a miracle.  Yet, David writes:  “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even…the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:6-8).  As Creator, Jesus knows where the fish are in the Lake of Gennesaret, a power Peter obviously lacks.  Christ, as the sovereign Lord of the earth and its seas, could have commanded thousands of fish to leap onto shore, but He directs them into the man’s net.  The combination of the precise place, time, and mass of fish following Jesus’ instructions qualifies this as a genuine miracle, one witnessed by many. Martin G. Collins, The Miracles of Jesus Christ:  The Great Catch of Fish

As you can see, there are numerous instances God utilizes animals to help fulfill His purpose.  There were so many in history, ongoing today, and will be more in the future.  It is so exciting and amazing how everything in God’s Creation belongs to Him and He can and will direct any part of it to help fulfill His purpose.

Thank you Lord for taking care of us through and by your Creation.  How amazing you are!  Amen.

Jesus Died For…Everyone!

Jesus died for…everyone!  He succumbed to the cross for all of us, each and every one.  Jesus loves every single human being that was created by His Father.  He died so that everyone can have Eternal Life.  Every single person is loved so much that God sent His Son to earth to provide Life for each person.  It does not matter how old you are; it does not matter what you have done or are doing or will do – He died for you!  It does not matter what ethnicity or family you were born into or what country you live in, Jesus died for you!  What matters is that you choose to believe you are loved and that God provided Eternal Life for you through acceptance of His Son.  What matters is that we share this glorious news to others so that they too can know that Jesus died for them.

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center:  One man died for everyone.  That puts everyone in the same boat.  He included everyone in His death so that everyone could also be included in His life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.  Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look…2 Cor. 5:14-16 (MSG)

“If you’re a Christian, you can’t have an ‘I’m better than’ attitude toward anyone because everybody is somebody for who Jesus died,” Andy Stanley.

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while [by taking on the limitations of humanity], crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering of death, so that by the grace of God [extended to sinners] He might experience death for [the sins of] everyone.” Hebrews 2:9 (AMP)  “…Yes, because of God’s great kindness, Jesus tasted death for everyone in all the world.” (TLB)  “…God has loving-favor for everyone…” (NLV)

The only way to go to heaven when our earthly bodies die is to accept and believe that Jesus died for you; that He died to forgive our sins so that we can be made more like Him and have Eternal Life.  When our earthly suits die, our spirits continue to live and we will be reunited with all our other Christian family in Heaven.  The only one capable of providing this path from earth to heaven is Jesus.  When Jesus died on the cross for you and for me, He also died to include everyone that will believe in Him.  He did not select a few people to be saved.  He did not die for a certain tribe, ethnicity group, or type of religious people.  When He died, He died for all, for everyone, not just a select few.

Since we believe that Christ died for all of us, we should also believe that we have died to the old life we used to live.  He died for all so that all who live – having received eternal life from him – might live no longer for themselves, to please themselves, but to spend their lives pleasing Christ who died and rose again for them. 2 Cor. 5:14-15 (TLB)  “…And our confession is this:  One died for all…He died for us so that we will all live…” (VOICE)  “…We are sure that Christ died for everyone…Christ died for everyone so that they would live for Him…” (NLV)

We are all sinners and will be until we die.  The difference that makes some sinners go to heaven and those that do not is the heart of the person; whether someone has accepted Jesus in their heart and knows that they are forgiven and knows that Jesus died for them.  When we accept Christ as our Savior we begin to transform each day to be more like Him.  We are forgiven for all past, present, and future sins.  No matter what you have done, including lying, cheating, murder, and rape, if you have asked Jesus into your heart, your sins are washed away, forgiven, and made pure.  No matter what you are currently doing, whether it is partaking in porn, drug use, or alcohol addiction, if you believe in Jesus, He can and will help you and you will be forgiven.  That is what the cross is about.  That is what it means when Jesus died for everyone.  No matter what we do in the future, if we become bitter, unforgiving, or have hatred in our hearts, Jesus will forgive us.  All we have to do is repent and accept and believe that He died on the cross for each one of us.

“…He died for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2;2 (VOICE)

What an exciting life to have when Jesus is involved.  Often times it is hard to grasp the love He has for us, the grace and forgiveness He has provided, but it is real and it is there.  We just have to accept it, believe it and know God is there.  He will help us get through life.  He will help us overcome.  He will provide His strength, His direction, His comfort, His love whenever we need it.  He cares so much for each one of us that He patiently waits for all to come to Him, to accept the best gift on Earth, His Son, so that all may go to heaven and live with Him than perish in hell.  That is love.

“You don’t have to wait for the End.  I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.  The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live.  And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.  Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (MSG)

“He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way.  But He is waiting, for the good reason that He is not willing that any should perish, and He is giving more time for sinners to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (TLB)  “…Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish…” (NIV)  Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise – slow is how some people want to characterize it – no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s. (VOICE)  “…He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost.  He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (MSG)

If you have heard about Jesus and know Him, then share this glorious gift with others when God provides an opportunity.  If you have not heard of Jesus or have and for whatever reason have chosen not to accept and believe in Him, please reconsider and pray about it.  He can do so much for you here on earth and in heaven.  Not only can He help you but He can do so much through you to help others.  Each one of us has a path that God has created to benefit you and others.  If you have accepted Jesus, but may be angry with God or do not understand why some things in life have happened, you can rekindle your relationship with Him and faithfully God will restore your relationship and pick up right where you left off because He is amazing like that!

“For this is how God loved the world:  He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 (NLT)

“Jesus didn’t only die for you.  He died for everyone you know.  Share Him often,” god-still-speaks.com.

“Something revolutionary happens in the heart when you recognize that every single person you will ever meet is made in the image of God,” Jackie Hill Perry.

Thank you Lord for your love, for your forgiveness, for your grace, your mercy and patience and mostly for sending Jesus to save…everyone.  You made each one of us articulately and with unconditional love.  May we realize how special every one of us are to you and how much we are loved by you and cared for by you dear Heavenly Father.  May whoever is lost, please provide an opportunity through us to lead them to you Lord; may they find you where there is hope, love, peace, salvation, healing, strength, and joy.  Thank you.  Thank you for everything and for Jesus dying for…everyone.  Amen.

 

Shine Like Stars

How do we Shine Like Stars?  Let us look at Phil. 2:14-15 (VOICE), “Do all things without complaining or bickering with each other, so you will be found innocent and blameless; you are God’s children called to live without a single stain on your reputations among this perverted and crooked generation.  Shine like stars across the land.”  The Amplified Version states to “do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God]…among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness].”  Do everything readily and cheerfully-no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!  Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.  Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns.  You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing. (TLB)

In this world, we are to glisten like beautiful diamonds.  We are to glow like fireflies in the darkened sky.  We are to illuminate the darkness like a candle flame.  When we all shine like stars, we bring so much light into this world, there is no room for darkness!

Why are we to shine like stars?

“The apostle Paul used the stars to describe our mission as believers in Jesus…God calls us to shine brightly for Christ so that the world living in darkness, will see it and be drawn to the ‘word of life’,” Unknown.

“We are called ‘to shine as beacons of hope and life for the sake of a dark and dying world'”, Jeff Olson, Our Daily Journey.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever,” Daniel 12:3 (NIV)  “And those who are wise-the people of God-shall shine as brightly as the sun’s brilliance, and those who turn many to righteousness will glitter like stars forever.” (TLB)  Men and women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies.  And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever. (MSG)

“…God calls you to let the beauty of Christ’s light shine through you,” Ray Fowler.

“When you shine as bright as a star, two things happen:  you attract other stars and you light the way for those in darkness,” Iva Ursano.

“The brightest stars are those who shine for the benefit of others,” Unknown.

There are many ways we can shine like stars.  We can consciously look out for others, whether it is providing a meal for someone in need, hold the door open, allow someone your parking spot, smile, and so much more.  We shine like stars when we walk in obedience to God’s Word.  Within in this obedience, we cannot help but glisten!  When we opt out of an argument or hold back a harsh word, we are shining.  When we willingly think of others and put their needs before ours, when we show this unselfishness, we are bringing light into the darkness.  When we are humble and not prideful and give God the glory for the amazing work He has done in us, we are illuminating.

Here’s another way to put it:  You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.  If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?  I’m putting you on a light stand.  Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!  Keep open house; be generous with your lives.  By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to shine like stars for you.  Thank you for showing us each day new ways and opportunities to let your light shine.  Thank you for this life to shine brighter each day and give you the glory.  For you are the Maker, Creator, and Ultimate Light of all the earth, heavens, and universe!

Let’s Get Into Trouble & Make Heaven Applaud!

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.  The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.  Not only that-count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.  You can be glad when that happens – give a cheer, even! – for though they don’t like it, I do!  And all heaven applauds.  And know that you are in good company.  My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matthew 5:10-12 (MSG)  The New Living Translation states that God will bless His followers when being mocked and to “be happy about it” because “a great reward awaits you in heaven”.

We should follow Jesus’ example and always do what pleases our Father.  Jesus stated in John 8:29 (NIV), “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”  We should only be interested in God’s approval; not the approval of man.  We should live to make heaven applaud.  Paul spoke of this in Gal. 1:10 (VOICE)Do you think I care about the approval of men or about the approval of God?  Do you think I am on a mission to please people?  If I am still spinning my wheels trying to please men, then there is no way I can be a servant of the Anointed One, the Liberating King.  The New Living Translation reads, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

To get into trouble for God is to live our lives for God’s purpose, for what He created us for.  If each day we awake and seek Him and let Him utilize us how He chooses, then no matter what we do, as long as it is glorifying Him, then we know we are okay and have made heaven applaud; we are able to get into this kind of good trouble knowing that what we do pleases Him.  Therefore, we can be at peace no matter what man may say or opine and we can go on strengthened and boldly know we are living our life for our Father, our Creator.  There is no better example of this other than our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He was on a mission here on Earth and never lost sight of His purpose, all the while, still tending to God’s people and the lost, showing His unconditional love and taking time along His journey to display God’s love.

“To the proud, the applause of the world rings in their ears.  To the humble, the applause of Heaven warms their hearts,” Ezra Taft Benson.

Naeem Callaway stated:  People may not say thank you.  You may not get the credit you deserve.  Nobody may be giving you applause.  But rest assured, when you serve others, there is applause for you in heaven.

“Oh, how thunderous the applause must be in Heaven, all those times we are mocked on earth for the sake of His name,” Mark Hart.

The following is an acronym on how to live our lives in such a way we get into trouble for the Lord and make Heaven applaud.  It is derived from the prayer in Col. 1:10-12 (AMP), which we will close with:

Admirable Character;

Personal Integrity;

Please Him in All Things;

Learning the Knowledge of God;

Attain Endurance & Patience with Joy;

Unfeigned Love for His Word; and

Delivering Fruit from Good Works.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray this for each one of us:  So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints (God’s people) in the Light. Col. 1:10-12 (AMP)  Thank you, Amen.

 

We Are All One In Christ Jesus

No matter what church we attend, no matter what religion we are affiliated with, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior in our hearts, then we are all Christians and are all one in Christ Jesus.  For those of us who are saved, we are all connected to each other by Jesus Christ and belong to the same family, the precious family of God.

“For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ…but we are all the same – we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:26 & 28 (TLB)  …In Christ’s family there can be no division…Among us you are all equal.  That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (MSG)

Unfortunately, there is division amongst us; there is division in our church families and fellow Christian brothers and sisters.  If we all can accept the truth, God’s Word, that we are all part of One body and that we all play a special part of this body, then there would be more unity among the various churches; there would be more acceptance, encouragement, generosity, and love among each other.

“For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One.  Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. Rom. 12:4-5 (VOICE)  “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body.  We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do.  So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others”. (TLB)

Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together.  So it is with the “body” of Christ.  Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ…the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body…He has made many parts for our bodies and has out each part just where He wants it.  What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part!  So He has made many parts, but still there is only one body. 1 Cor. 12:12-13 & 18-20 (TLB)

The following poem was written by Sam Hargreaves of Engage Worship:

We are many,
God’s great diversity,
yet we are one in Christ.

Different faces,
different races,
yet we are one in Christ.

Butchers, bakers,
website makers,
bankers, tailors,
teachers, sailors,
yet we are one in Christ.

Fathers, mothers,
sisters, brothers,
single, married,
broken, carried,
yet we are one in Christ.

The happy, the clappy,
the barely out of nappies,
the ancient, the modern,
the famous, the forgotten,
yet we are one in Christ.

Some hopeful, some hopeless,
some cope well, some cope less.
Some sure and some doubt,
some whisper, some shout,
yet we are one in Christ.

Those with abundance,
those with need,
those who are generous
or wrestle with greed,
yet we are one in Christ.

Elbows, tummies, knees and noses,
kidneys, femurs, teeth and toeses.
Some unmentionable, some protected,
some accepted, some rejected,
yet we are one in Christ.

A broken body,
torn apart,
mars God’s image,
breaks God’s heart.
And yet our Father knows how the end will be,
when all his kids will sing in harmony,
the bride will dazzle, her branches bloom,
so add your voice to hymn the tune
that we are one in Christ.

“To be ‘in Christ’ means we have accepted His sacrifice as payment for our own sin…To be ‘in Christ’ means that God no longer sees our imperfections; He sees the righteousness of His own Son…Only ‘in Christ’ is our sin debt cancelled, our relationship with God restored, and our eternity secured,” gotquestions.org.

“In Christ” means we all are forgiven; each one of us are cleansed and made pure.  “In Christ” means we are all a part of Jesus; each one of us is a member of His family.

Who we are, who God made us to be, where we were born, whatever our past, when we have faith in Jesus and accept Him as our Savior then we are welcomed with open arms into an amazing family, an awesome gift of God’s eternal gift, His unconditional love; His grace.  We are unified with so many other Believers because of Jesus and each one of us has purpose and play a special part in God’s family to show and display God’s love and acceptance with each other and to the world so they too can be saved and know our Father.

The following is Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of John 17:20-23:

“Our Lord especially prayed, that all believers might be as one body under one head, animated by one soul, by their union with Christ and the Father in him, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.  The more they dispute about lesser things, the more they throw doubts upon Christianity.  Let us endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, praying that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment.  Thus shall we convince the world of the truth and excellence of our religion, and find more sweet communion with God and his saints.”

“Baptized Christians of all denominations throughout the world are one in Christ Jesus…Diverse we are in nationality and culture, as followers of Jesus, we are one,” Jeremy Harrington, OFM of Franciscan Media.

1 John 4:20-21 (NLT) states, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”

My prayer for all of us who are one in Christ Jesus is that we may hold fast and display God’s true love, not only with our Christian brothers and sisters, regardless of what church they attend or religion they choose to affiliate with, but also to the lost so that they can become part of our family, God’s family, and discover the purpose God has predestined for them.  I further pray for those that are not “one” in Christ Jesus with their fellow brothers and sisters to pray and ask God to help mend any broken relationships in order for us all to be unified to fulfill God’s greater plan and purpose.  It does not just take one of us but all of us as One to carry out God’s plan.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Spiritually, Physically, and Soulfully Fit for Jesus

How do you think God wants the condition of our spirit, physique, and soul to be in order to represent Him and do the work He has called us to do?  We are going to look at all three points in this order – spiritually, physically, and soulfully, because to be physically and soulfully fit, we need to be spiritually fit first.  When we are spiritually fit, when we are spiritually active and putting and looking to God first, then our physical ability and our souls (our mind, will, and emotions) will follow and be healthy and active as well!

In order to be spiritually fit, we need to have an active, intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus.  We need to talk with Him throughout the day.  We need to acknowledge Him in everything that we do, not just when we need or want something.  When we go to the Word, we are spending quality time with our Savior.  When we pray to Him, we are talking with Him.  Talking takes two to communicate, and involves speaking and listening.  So often we do all the talking and do not spend as much time listening to what God is saying.  A relationship takes commitment, patience, time, and endurance.

When our spiritual life is active and we are in God’s Word and we are learning, increasing our faith, growing, and becoming more like Him, then we are spiritually fit and healthy.  When we awake each morning and the first thing we do is acknowledge God and Jesus, we are spiritually fit.  When we thank and praise Him throughout the day, we are spiritually healthy.  The more we do these things, the more of a habit they become and we are able to do it willfully and freely.

We are composed of three parts:  (1)  a soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions; (2)  an earthly body, and (3)  a spirit.  When we are born, we rely on our physical being and soul until the day we meet Jesus and accept Him as our Savior; then we become more spiritual and are able to live by the spirit and subdue our fleshly desires and soul.  It is not an easy task, but with God’s help we can do it and each day we learn and become more like Him.

“Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.” Col. 3:23 (AMP)  “So no matter what your task is, work hard.  Always do your best as the Lord’s servant, not as man’s.” (VOICE)

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13 (NASB)  For I can do everything God asks me to do with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. (TLB)  “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose-I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace].” (AMP)

The reason we begin with being spiritually fit and healthy is because we cannot overcome and be consistent without God’s help.  When we are spiritually fit, we are putting God first in all things, including working out and eating healthily.  When we have a setback, He is right there to pick us back up and gives us the strength and willpower that our flesh and soul just do not have to continue on the right path.  When we are in the Word, we learn that we are to be more like Him.  We learn that we are created in His image and that is what our hearts should want to strive to be.  “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male an female He created them.” Gen. 1:27 (AMP)

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]?  You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own].  So then, honor and glorify God with you body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20 (AMP)  Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that He lives within you?  Your own body does not belong to you.  For God has bought you with a great price.  So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because He owns it. (TLB)

“Well, I’ll tell you why.  It is because you must do everything for the glory of God, even your eating and drinking.” 1 Cor. 10:31 (TLB)  “So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God.” (AMP)  So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you-you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them.  As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. (MSG)

Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. 1 Cor. 6:12 (AMP)

How do you envision Jesus’ physique?  Think of all the traveling He did and it was done primarily by walking.  Think of all those times He retreated to the mountains for quiet time.  That is hiking!  Think of walking through the desert in heat and sand.  Jesus was physically fit.  He was healthy.  He had stamina, endurance, and determination.  The Bible only mentions a fraction of the miracles Jesus performed; meaning there was a lot more traveling/walking.  Jesus had to be physically active and fit to travel as much as He did, to reach the many people he performed miracles on.  When we are created in His image, we are to mirror this.  Are we able and capable of traveling far distances to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Do we have the endurance to meet with and talk with many people?  Are we representing God in the best manner we can?

Being physically fit is demanding, as is having a healthy spiritual life.  It takes time and effort and can be painful at times, but is very rewarding.  What matters the most is that we take it one day-at-a-time and do our best.  When we awake each morning, acknowledge God, then ask Him to help you, to guide you throughout the day, and to do what is best for you, His will for you, and He will show you.  You will enjoy the adventure together.

But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough.  For then you must learn to know God better and discover what he wants you to do.  Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you. 2 Peter 1:5-6 (TLB)

“For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].  So then, strengthen hands that are weak and knees that tremble.” Heb. 12:11-12 (AMP)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Rom. 12:1-2 (MSG)

Let go of what society portrays and advertises, which is unrealistically expected of us, and turn to God and be free in Him to be who He created you to be.  Forget the number on the scale.  Forget what you have or have not done to be physically active.  Start now and live from day-to-day.  Know that with God’s grace and help He will help you become the best you can be, how He wants you to be.

“I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.  You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.” Ps. 139:14 (VOICE)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing:   Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us. Phil. 3:13-14 (TLB)

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Rom. 12:2 (AMP)

Once you start on this path, you will soon discover, that when you have God on your side and you are dedicated to Him, to grow and learn everyday and to become more like His image, then your soul will fall in line with your spirit and body!  Our souls are extremely complex!  Our will, our mind, and our emotions are all rolled into one.  It is possible to be in control of our mind, of our will, and of our emotions.  It can be tricky at times, but when we are physically and spiritually fit, it makes it a lot easier.  When it comes to our mind, we are instructed in God’s Word to renew our mind.  “And be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude].” Eph. 4:23 (AMP)  When we are spiritually fit and reading God’s Word everyday, we are renewing our mind with His Word, with His thoughts, and learning more of Him to become more like Him.

Our will is our determination.  Our will is what we want to become.  Our will is what we want out of life.  When we are spiritually fit, our will wants to and desires to be what God wants us to be and do.  We become determined to be the best we can be and to know we are being changed more and more into His image each day and that it is a process.  We will always be changing each day until the day we are raised up into heaven.  It never gets boring!

Our emotions are our emotions.  God gave us emotions to experience different things in life.  He gave us emotions to control.  Emotions are not bad.  Our actions as a result of our emotions can be wrong and we need guidance and strength to deal with our emotions and to react in a manner pleasing to Him.  We always have choices when it comes to our emotions.  We are all human and behave in response to our emotions, but with God’s help and pursuing a healthy and fit spiritual life, we can better our emotions and behavior and learn to control and enjoy them.

Lastly, to tie all three aspects of ourselves together, when we are physically fit, it helps our soul.  When we are physically healthy and capable of carrying out various tasks God has called us to do, our confidence is raised.  Not only do we have confidence in God, but we are able to have confidence in our physical bodies to represent His kingdom.  When we carry ourselves with confidence, with God’s confidence, people see that in us.  We shine a light through confidence.  We are secure knowing we are growing and are healthy and fit in all three realms.  That is an amazing attribute, feeling, and surety to have!  When we are fit in all three areas, we are able to help others learn and grow and be a mighty testimony and example for our Lord!  When we are spiritually, physically, and soulfully fit, we are more joyful, at peace, and have a natural glow.  This creates a desire in others to know and want what we have and it opens doors to share our love and testimony of Jesus with them.

“She wraps herself in strength, carries herself with confidence, and works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand.” Prov. 31:17 (VOICE)  “She is energetic, a hard worker.” (TLB)  She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong. (AMP)

It is a challenge, but a persistent and a well-worthwhile one.  Just ask God each day to guide you and to teach you and He will.  You will be amazed at the knowledge you gain.  You will be amazed at the transformation of your heart, soul, and physically well-being.  All it takes is one day-at-a-time and determination.  It is a long race with plenty of water breaks, rest periods, and rewards.  Sometimes you may run into a roadblock, sometimes there may be a detour, but as long as you keep your eyes focused on Him you will finish and accomplish your mission fitfully here on Earth!

In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize.  So run your race to win.  To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best.  An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.  So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.  I fight to win.  I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around.  Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to.  Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. 1 Cor. 9:24-27 (TLB)

The Eternal One will never leave you; He will lead you in the way that you should go.  When you feel dried up and worthless, God will nourish you and give you strength.  And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended; you will be like a spring whose water never runs out. Isaiah 58:11 (VOICE)  “And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (TLB)

“Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].” 3 John 1:2 (AMP)