Love holds us together

What does God expect from us as christians – especially in today’s world? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes and neither have His expectations. He expects the same of us now as He did in the beginning, and He created us for such a time as this. That means that He has equipped us with everything we need to fulfill His plan and purpose for our lives.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

This verse clearly says that God created us to do good works. We as christians know that good works do not get us into Heaven, but God still expects it as a result of our salvation. In order to do this we have to have total dependance on God. You know, take up our cross and follow Him. We are obviously not all the same, so we have different things He has called us to do, but there are two very important things He expects from each and every christian.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

God expects us to love Him first with everything we have in every day. We must surrender to him each day and allow everything that flows from us to come from Him. We have to have a total dependance on Him to help us with every single task we face each day no matter how small or big. Loving God first is crucial to our lives because with it we seek him, we strive for righteousness, we obey, and in turn we gain peace, wisdom,and knowledge to handle the things of this life. Loving God more than anything gives us the capability to carry out the second expectation, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God wants us to show brotherly love and kindness and to genuinely have concern for others and care about the needs of our fellow believers. Love is what holds believers together in the faith. We are here to meet each other’s needs by serving, praying, and etc. In this same measure we should also show this love and kindness to unbelievers. Here again we need total dependance on God in order to help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so we can spread the gospel. We should have a burden for the lost, but also be careful in the way we present our beliefs. God doesn’t want us to argue with an unbeliever, only to plant the seed, show loving kindness, and then let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

There are so many opportunities to spread the love of God and to be sure we are always looking for a way to serve, whether we are among fellow believers or in the presence of an unbeliever, without expecting anything in return!! We have to become humble servants just as Jesus did and never think that we are better than anyone!!!

“Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross.

Philippians 2:6-8

Can we?

“Only in the act of praise and worship can a person learn to believe in the goodness and greatness of God.” – C.S Lewis

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” 

“Jesus loves the little children. All, the children of the world.”

“He walks with me, and talks with me, and he tells me I am his own.”

We’ve heard them. 

We’ve sung them.

The question is, Have we believed them? 

Worship is one of the top ways I feel the most connected with the Lord. Prayer and worship. The thought recently came to me, am I truly living out and believing the words I am singing during worship? I think back to all the songs I sang growing up in a christian household, family, and my journey into ministry. Yes, even those children choir songs. What a time of joy that was! Looking back, the songs we often sang when we were younger hold such importance. 

A famous hymn, “He Walks With Me (in the Garden)” 

Can we bring that back? Can today’s generation gather and sing this? Can we hear these words and be reminded of the truth behind them? We belong to the Father, the Master, WE ARE HIS. We live in a world where we need the reminder of how desperately in need of the cross we are. We need to be reminded to shine his light. We need to remember he loves ALL his children.

Lastly, you may cross paths today with someone that just needs someone to tell them that he walks with you, talks with you, and calls you his own. Will you share that with someone today? You never know whose life can take a pivotal turn just by being told the truth.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16 NLT 

Jesus, thank you for worship. Thank you for using music as a vessel to know your truth. Thank you for the connection we can have with you through your songs. May people hear of your love. May people hear of your truth. May more people come to know you and seek you. May I praise your name and declare it to all nations. May I listen to the words and trust in them. Thank you for walking with us, talking with us, and calling us your own. For we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a King. Amen.

Conviction

My pastor made me mad the other day. Not really but I bet I got your attention.

See what happened was God had been in my business about working on myself. Conviction – you know. And everywhere I looked that issue that I needed to work on was staring me in the face. A book, other people’s social media post, in scripture, and then in my pastor’s sermon.

That’s the Holy Spirit, y’all.

I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for a pastor that listens to the Holy Spirit. And I hope you are, too. That’s God communicating with us right here on earth. That’s God speaking directly to us – we just have to listen.

So next time you go to church and you get your toes stomped on – don’t be mad at your pastor. Be thankful for his willingness to let the Holy Spirit speak through him. And be thankful that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. John 4:16

Showing Up

Showing up is underrated. Showing up is support. People flourish when they are supported. What does showing up look like? When your friends are launching a new business, you buy their products/services. You give resources to fund their dreams. When your friend/family are sharing a message at their church, you sit on the front row and cheer them on. When there is a death in the family, you show up to the funeral and give hugs and shed tears together. When a baby is born, you bring a meal to the family. You may even get to hold the baby; that’s my favorite! When your friend needs to talk, you offer a listening ear. When a transition is happening in your family, you help to plan what’s next and show up to pack and purge.

Showing up is following through on what you know is the right thing to do. Our feelings want to tell us, “You are busy. You are tired. You don’t have time. You don’t have enough money.” Our feelings lie to us.

Jesus taught us how to show up. He showed up at weddings and funerals. He supported his friends, family, and community. He brought life just by being present. I encourage you to show up. Your life and the lives of those you love will flourish.

When we show up, we are a witness in the crowd! “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

Good

Genesis 1:31 – And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

We have all probably heard of the story of creation. How God created the earth in only a few days, and how He created Man and Woman.

But I think a lot of people miss a very important detail.

God called it good.

He called YOU good. He called everything He created good.

So if the maker of the universe calls you good, well then you best believe it.

Stop doubting yourself!!! Stop believing the lies the enemy has snuck into your ear and lead you to think is true!!

Start listening to God! Start understanding the Truth that He gives to you through the Holy Spirit who is in you!!!

Start believing that when God called His masterpiece good He was talking about you too!!!

God didn’t create this world perfectly for you to come in and have doubts about yourself. He didn’t send His only Son to die for you so that you can sit in misery and judge yourself.

He did it so that you can live in freedom today. So that you can walk with Him in Spirit and live a life of fullness. So that you can have eternal life with Him in Heaven.

So, get up, believe God’s truth, and live life with God right next to you. Acknowledge He is there, and listen to His words.

Always remember that He created you with the world, and He called it good.

Be Better

Honestly.

Why are we worried about what she’s doing? And her and her and her?

And her?

You want to put on a full face of makeup to vacuum and do dishes? Good! Do it.

That’s not your style? Good. Don’t do it.

You want to wear a dress every single day? Rock it!

You prefer jeans and t-shirts? Good! Nothing wrong with that either.

Breastfeed.

Bottle-feed.

Working mom.

Stay at home mom.

Minivan.

Car.

Introvert.

Extrovert.

Helicopter.

Hands-off.

But don’t talk about – don’t even care about – what the woman next door is doing. It shouldn’t matter.

Like my husband always says – don’t let minuscule thoughts live rent free in your head.

Cause why does it matter?

Keep your mind Kingdom-focused.

If we are going to worry about other women, let’s worry about their salvation. Let’s worry about their mental health. Let’s worry about if they need a helping hand or a listening ear. Let’s worry about loving everyone the way Jesus said to.

Let’s just be nice.

And just a little sidebar: When we as women do make that passive aggressive comment about another woman – our daughters see it. They feel it.

And they copy it.

Let’s be better.

“He must become greater; I must become less.”John 3:30

Stop Hiding

Vulnerability. Exposure. Being laid bare before others. It’s something no one enjoys, because since the fall of man, we don’t like being “naked” in front of others. It often brings a sense of shame, but that’s not at all what our Father’s heart intended for us when He created in us the need to be connected to people, to one another. His intention for the exposure was never to bring shame but to bring healing.

We were never meant to walk the path of life alone or to “figure it out ourselves.” He created us with the purpose of fellowship and connection. He literally said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And from the very beginning the enemy has conned us into shame and hiding. Man partnered with shame and hid from the very thing, the very One, who had the answer. They assumed that God would reject them for their nakedness, and they hid. Their hiding kept them from the One who would actually cover their nakedness and find a way to repair what had once been and what was lost.

It’s no different today. The moment we feel exposure coming or an opportunity to be vulnerable with our brothers or sisters we hide, afraid of being naked or laid in front of them. We have partnered with the lie that shame and condemnation is what we will be handed in return. The truth is that we are in a process of refining, and part of that process is for dross to come to the surface. It’s not the negative thing the enemy has trained us to believe but rather it means that our value is about to increase. In order for the value of a metal to increase, it has be put to flame and the impurities rise to the surface…exposed. The metal worker doesn’t condemn the metal for it’s impurities, they simply put it to the fire so that the worth the metal worker knows is already there can be revealed.

The Father wants you to know that exposure and vulnerability with others wasn’t designed by Him to embarrass you. It was designed by Him to increase your value. Stop hiding in the bushes of shame. Come out, be healed and made whole.

Everything

Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.

Those are big words. I hold them dear and He has proven them true so many times in my life. He. Is. Faithful.

I want to be faithful, but when the really big storms blow in it’s tough to stand firm. Fear creeps in, panic starts to rise and it’s hard to just walk into that fortress and be still.

For sometime now the Lord has been showing me it’s all about choices and actions. I can’t say He is my refuge and fortress if I keep running out to see if I can “help” Him in some way. I have to be still and let Him fight for me. When I say that I trust Him it has to be with everything. I have to surrender my health, my finances, my children, my grandkids, my security…….my everything.

We are living in crazy times. Chaos seems to rule the day. Are you ready? Are you willing to personalize this verse and put your name in that top line. Lay down those burdens and run to Jesus. He will not disappoint.

My way, right away

It seems like everywhere you go today you get to make choices. We can get our burgers, “My way, right away,” we can get 1,063,953 fountain drink combinations at Sonic, and I hear there is even a secret menu of choices at Starbucks. America is a great country and choosing things for yourself is a great thing.

I love having choices. If I want a triple, grande, half caf, sugar-free, mocha, iced coffee with extra ice, then so be it! For $5.50, I can have my coffee however I want. I am in charge. I am in control. I am drinking a ridiculous, but tasty coffee. Life is good, right?

Now I don’t care how you take your coffee unless I’m fixing it for you. I think you should order it the way you like it. When it is a simple thing of personal preference like coffee, you go ahead and order however you like it best. But I wonder sometimes if our human desire to make choices has gotten a little out of control? I feel like it has seeped into our culture to an unhealthy level. It isn’t just about coffee anymore y’all, and that is scary. As humans, we like to be in control and have independence, I am no different, but I think we need to remember that we are not the ultimate authority. That power rests solely with God. As Christians, we can make any choice we want but it is our responsibility to vet each choice using a supernatural lens. Is my personal choice glorifying to God? Is my choice going to be a stumbling block to my brothers and sisters? Will my choice showcase Jesus to lost people or will it damage my witness before them?

These sound like easy questions, but they represent a hard way of life. Choosing to put away selfish desires is the opposite of our human nature. In fact, we can’t do it…not apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. But God is so gracious to us. He sent His son, Jesus, to die for our sins, so that all who love Him and ask Jesus to forgive their sins and to be Lord of their life can be save. When you ask Jesus to be Lord of your life, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. Now you have the living God helping you when you make choices. Now listen, making choices God’s way will not become a natural thing overnight, but if we spend time reading the Bible, praying, and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit within us, we can align our choices with what God wants for us.

Of course, I still struggle with this concept, and I know I fail as much as I get it right, but I want to live within the will of God. I want to make choices that please our Heavenly Father, don’t you? Choosing to live life God’s way won’t always be popular, easy, or even allow us to make the choices that we ourselves want in the moment, but I promise that if you make earthly choices by obeying Godly wisdom, your choices will be good, and pleasing to your Heavenly Father. Philippians 2:13 says “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you to both desire and to work out His good purpose.” Isn’t that what we all desire? So today, instead of “My way, right away,” let’s live life “God’s way, right away.”

Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher,

I know you’re exhausted.

But I also know that you are making a difference.

I know the state keeps adding more.

And more

And more.

But you are making a difference.

I know that for the majority of teachers this is a calling.

Just remember – God never promised His work would be easy.

He just promised it would be worth it.

This is my 5th grade teacher.

She made a difference in my life big time.

30 years ago she walked me through the Lord’s Prayer.

And last week she sat in a class where I was the teacher – my verse mapping class.

So Dear teacher, if this is your calling from God please keep going.

You’re making a difference.

You may not see it today.

You may not see it tomorrow.

You may not see it in STAAR results.

But maybe just maybe – in thirty years or so – one of your students will be spreading the love of Christ to others just like you did to her.

Dear Teacher, you ARE making a difference.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9