God’s Unrelenting Love

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

The first song I learned as a child was “Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so.” And the first Bible verse I learned was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe on Him would not die but have everlasting life.” I had child faith in the truth of those words, but as I grechild-prayer-clipart-royalty-free-praying-clipart-illustration-216150w up I also heard, and believed other words presented as truth. Along the way the messages of the world began to drown out the message of God’s love for me.
Turn on the TV or listen to the radio for even a little while and we can hear that we’re not thin enough so we need this diet or that medical procedure. Our job is inadequate so we need to go to this school or take that training program. Over and over we hear how lacking we are.
Some messages we absorb from the world are subtle and more damaging to our soul. We compare ourselves or our lives to others and feel inadequate. We try to compensate by turning to other people, working harder at our job or even drugs or alcohol. But these are band-aides, incapable of healing deep wounds, and frequently only cause more pain. Meanwhile, God is calling us to Himself, whispering “I am the One who paid a great price for you, I am the One who heals, I am the One who can give your life meaning.” We must go back to that simple child-like faith and believe that Jesus loves us.
When God sent His Son Jesus to the cross because He loved the whole world, it wasn’t just the whole world in general, but it was for every specific individual ever born of a woman. If you’d been the only person who ever lived, He’d have done it for you.
I pray that you can know, can have intimate knowledge of how much God loves you. It’s not about who you are, how you look, where you came from, or even what you’ve done. It’s all about God and His love for you. He has assigned great worth and value to you. His love is unrelenting and it pursues you. He desires you to know Him and find your place and value in Him.
Here is a prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, and it is my prayer for you.
“I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (NET Bible)
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Overcome Evil With Good

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

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When Jesus was on the earth, He promised that His church would prevail against the gates of hell. “…and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b) Through the centuries Satan has perpetrated attack after attack against the kingdom of God, attempting to destroy the body of Christ, His Holy Church. The latest attempt last Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, was another defeat snatched from satanic jaws of victory.

Nine people, all followers of Jesus Christ, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered in church. It looked like a sure win for the enemy. Nine believers were dead at the hands of a confused young man who had said he wanted to start a race war. But just as Satan thought he’d won when Jesus died on the cross, it was no win but in fact was a great defeat. Just as Jesus took the first victory from him by rising from the dead, the church body at Emanuel AME has taken this victory from him. The families of the nine murder victims won by forgiving the young man used in this heinous act. Love trumps hate every time.

Satan thought he’d strike a winning blow against the church by inciting division in the body – black against white and white against black. Wrong again! Churches of all denominations, of all races and cultures have united in support of Emanuel AME Church. The devil fails to understand that when one part of the body of Christ is hurt, the rest of the body gathers around to support, to pray and to comfort. Churches across the nation are praying for their brothers and sisters in Charleston SC. My home church, Grace Outreach Center in Plano, was one of many that sent donations to show them our love and support.

I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans about how believers are to act toward one another and toward outsiders. I’ve seen this passage in action the last five days by the families of the murder victims, other members of that church and by believers across the nation.

Romans 12:9-21
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

What’s That Smell?

“God, create a pure heart in me. Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you.”  Psalm 51:10 (NIRV)Image

          A few days ago I noticed a slight odor in the refrigerator when I was getting my morning yogurt. I was getting ready to go to work so I noted to myself that I needed to clean out the refrigerator when I got home from work that day. By the time I got home, I was too tired and decided it could wait until the next day which was Saturday. Saturday morning I went to younger grandson’s baseball game, ran some errands on the way home and by the time I got home, I had other things on my mind and forgot about it. Since hubby was out of town, that evening I went out to dinner with a friend from work and didn’t open the fridge again until Sunday morning. Ugh! It was worse, but no time to do anything about it. Went to church that morning and since it was Mother’s Day I met my daughter and her family for a special lunch. By Monday I didn’t even have to open the door to smell the odor coming from the refrigerator. Good thing I’m off work this week, because there was no more putting it off. It had to be cleaned out now!  
             I emptied the contents of the fridge, checking expiration dates on every bottle and container. Finally I found the culprit – a plastic container of leftovers that had gotten pushed to the back and forgotten. As I was wiping down the inside walls and shelves of the fridge, God began speaking to me about how just as those rotten leftovers created a bad odor in the refrigerator and finally the kitchen, that is what unconfessed sin does in our lives.
           We go to church, pay our tithes and keep the Ten Commandments. Everything is good, right? Ok, what about that little white lie we told to get out of doing something we’d promised to do but really didn’t want to do? Cover it up and push to the back the fridge. What about that word muttered at the driver who cut who cut us off in traffic? Wrap it up and put it on the bottom shelf. There they’ll stay and grow mold. Any sin, even ones we consider small are an affront to our God because He is holy and He calls us to be holy. “For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44a (NKJV)
           John the Apostle writes in I John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”    We all sin, even after we are born again we all say or do things we know are not what we’re supposed to do. And we fail to do things we know God has told us to do.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:19
            So what is the answer? Paul continues on to tell us – Jesus. Jesus has made the way.  “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24,25a
Then John continues his message in First John. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1, 2
            We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  All we have to do is confess and Jesus will cleanse us.
            Just as I not only had to clean the refrigerator interior with baking soda to eradicate the smell, I also had to throw out the leftover food that was causing the odor.  Jesus cleanses us of all unrighteousness the moment we confess, but we have to remove it from our lives. Stop doing whatever that sin was. If it’s a bad habit, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He abides within you once you are born again and He is called to help us and to guide us. If you have unforgiveness towards someone who offended you, start praying for them. It’s hard to hold a grudge against someone you’re praying for!

Father, thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. I pray that my life will be holy, a sweet aroma to You. In Jesus Name, Amen

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

 

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Copyright © 1996, 1998 by Biblica

 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Through Jesus Christ I Have…

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“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

A number of years ago I was challenged to read the New Testament looking for all the prepositional phrases referring to Jesus. I don’t know how many there are, I lost count but I know it’s in the hundreds. But the purpose of the assignment was not to count them, but to grow in my understanding of everything Jesus has done for us. I began reading and every time I came to a phrase referring to Jesus, I would circle the phrase and meditate on what the Scripture was saying to me. The result was I came away with a deeper understanding of who I am in Jesus Christ.

I encourage anyone wanting to grow spiritually to try the same process. Starting reading the New Testament actively looking for “in Jesus Christ”, “in Whom”, “by Jesus Christ”, “through Jesus Christ”, “through Whom”, “from Whom” and so on. As you find one, stop and meditate on what the verse is saying. Ask yourself how that applies to you and your life, what exactly has God done? Sometimes you need to consider the verse before and after it to fully understand the context of the verse.

To help you get started, here is a small list of verses. But these are but a small sample of what is waiting for you in your Bible.

John 1:17 – we have grace and truth through Jesus Christ
Romans 8:1 – we are free from condemnation
1 Corinthians 5:18 – we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus
Philippians 1:11 – we are filled with the fruits of righteousness by Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:3 – wisdom and knowledge are in Christ Jesus
Romans 5:11 – we have eternal life through Jesus Christ

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Life or Death, Your Choice

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    “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17

 

Studying the book of Genesis, I notice something interesting. When God placed man in Eden, two special trees were in the center of the garden. One was the tree of life and the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told them they could eat freely of every tree in the garden, including the tree of life.  All the trees were pleasant for food but one was forbidden. Only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden to them, with the caution that if they did eat the fruit from it, they would surely die. God was offering them life, if they obeyed, or death if they disobeyed.
    Then isn’t it interesting that the serpent tempted them with the one leading to death. The tree of life was equally appealing to the eye, but the serpent could only offer death.  There is no life in him. Jesus said the thief (referring to Satan, called the serpent in Genesis) “…does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10)
    Only God can offer life and He has offered it to us from the beginning. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 says “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live and may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land…”
 God calls us to choose life. He has provided a way for us to have life. Jesus said then, and is saying to us now, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)
The choice is ours. Life of death. I believe I’ll choose life. Thank You Jesus for giving me life, a fulfilled life on here on earth and when it’s done, eternal life with You in heaven.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

All scripture quoted is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Disappointment 101

“My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Mark 14:34

How do you handle disappointments? People don’t always behave the way we expect or need them to behave. Even our closest friends or family members let us down. Things happen that we have no control over cause us pain and disappointment. What are we supposed to do with those feelings? Who can we turn to in those times?

Jesus suffered disappointment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the twelve men He’d called to follow Him, His closest friends, into the Garden to watch and pray with Him. One of the twelve had already deserted Him and was going to betray Him.

“Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.’” Mark 14:32-35

“Remain here and stay alert” Jesus asked them, but when He returned they had fallen asleep, not once, but three times. When He needed them the most, they were sleeping. (See Mark 14:32-42)

David wrote in Psalm 31:7 “I will be happy and rejoice in Your faithfulness because You are aware of how distressed I am.”

God notices our pain, emotional as well as physical. He is aware of our disappointments. But He does more than just notice and be aware. David goes on to say, “But I trust in you, O Lord! I declare, ‘You are my God!’ You determine my destiny!” (31:14, 15a)

Keep trusting God. He knows what happens in your life, and He has a plan for you. Other people do not have final say in your life – God does!

Verse 19 says, “How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.”

When your friend lets you down, when your spouse disappoints you, when you get passed over at work, pull into Jesus. He knows your hurts and He understands them as no one else can.

“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus suffered disappointment without letting it cause Him to sin. He forgave and continued to love those who had let Him down. He held to the plan that after His resurrection, those eleven men would be the leaders and take the gospel to the world. Forgive without being asked, keep loving those who hurt you and hold fast to Jesus.

David closes Psalm 31 saying, “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!”
Be strong. Be confident. Wait on the Lord.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

References: New English Translation (NET)
Mark 14:32-42
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16

Choose the Best Part

 

            “…but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:42 (NET Bible)

 

            I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions. I know I need to decide to exercise more, but all year and not just on January first. Same with eating better, watching TV less or spending less time on Facebook, not that there is anything wrong with having occasional sweets or snacks, watching TV (assuming it’s quality shows and not garbage) or even Facebook. But these are things that are only good in moderation.

            I have been asking the LORD what changes I need to make this year over last year. One answer He spoke through a precious friend was “to stir up the gift of God which is in you”, meaning get back to writing more.  The other thing I kept hearing in my heart was “chose the best part.”

            In the book of Luke there is recorded a story about two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha invited Jesus, and most likely the twelve disciples with Him, to her house for a meal.

 

Now it happened as they went that He [Jesus] entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me. And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42 (NJKV)

 

            While Martha was working in the kitchen preparing the meal, her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus feet listening to Him teach. Martha didn’t appreciate being left alone to do all the preparations. I occasionally have 15 or 16 people at my house for dinner, and even though they are invited guests and I am happy to have them, it is still a LOT of work to serve that many people.  I can understand Martha’s frustration that Mary wasn’t helping her and her request to Jesus for Mary to come help.

            Notice Jesus’ response to Martha. He simply told her that while she was overstressing, her sister had chosen “that good part”. Mary had chosen the Word of God over stressing about feeding their guests.

            It wasn’t that Martha was doing anything wrong. No, the meal had to be prepared because she had invited them there. But she could have first “chosen the best part” (NET Bible) that could not be taken from her. Then Jesus, Who had blessed the bread and fish to feed 5000 (see Luke 9:13-17), would have seen to it that Martha’s dinner was taken care of. 

           But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33

            This year, 2014, I want to choose the BEST part of what God has for me and what He leads me to. I’m excited about the New Year. 2013 was a good year for my family and me; some really great things happened. One of the best was my younger grandson Braden asked Jesus into his heart. The only thing that could equal that would be for his little sister Kaylee to follow suit. Perhaps this year she will. Then all three of my grandchildren will be born again and have eternal life.

            I pray God will bless you and your loved ones beyond anything you can think or imagine this year, and Happy New Year!

 

Peace and blessings in our LORD Jesus Christ,

Dee