Let’s Talk About the “F” Word

What is it about faith? Some people say if you pray and you don’t get what you want, you don’t have enough of it. 

If you believe even when it looks impossible, people say that you have lots of it.  

James 2:20  says if you have tons of it but don’t do anything with it, it’s worthless. Jesus said it only takes a little.  (Matthew 17:20)  

Jesus’ first miracle was at the wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-11) His mother didn’t ask Him to change the water into wine.  She simply stated the fact, “the wine is all gone”.  Then, she turned to the servants and with the confidence of faith, simply told them, “Do whatever He tells you to do.”  

Jesus had himself, not yet done any miracles. She had the head knowledge that He wasn’t an ordinary child.  And, with that, the heart knowledge that grows from close relationship. She had no proof that He COULD do miracles.  She didn’t know HOW He would get more wine but, she knew that He would.

In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus ignored the Canaanite woman who pestered Him about her demon possessed daughter. Jesus finally told her ‘so what’ and was, in fact, really kind of rude to her!  She responded about how even the dogs eat the crumbs under the master’s table. 

Jesus told her, “Woman YOU have GREAT faith.” and delivered her child from the demons. Why was ‘her‘ faith great? She had (probably) seen, or at least heard about, the miracles. In spite of impossible circumstances, she knew that He could so she persisted.  

The first miracle, (water to wine) was done through a heart’s awareness that existed because of an intimate relationship. The other (demon cast out) was done because of a persistent faith that came from knowledge. 

When we have an intimate relationship with the Lord that acknowledges His sovereignty; our faith is perfected.  Faith is  knowing that He “can”.  Perfect faith acknowledges that He is Lord while trusting that He works all things for our good because He loves us.  (Romans 8:28) 

Perfect faith acknowledges the sovereignty of God. So, how DO we acquire perfect faith (?); through intimate relationship in prayer and the confirmation in knowledge that comes from Bible study.

 Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

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Why The Patience of JOB?

One of the magnets on my refrigerator door reads, “Lord, give me patience, but do it NOW.”  

The hardest part of patience is waiting; I want what I want and I want it now.  

Sometimes, when patience is discussed, the example of Job is brought up.

Most people have, at one time or other, referred to “the patience of Job”. People talk about the patience of Job when it is the patience of God, Himself, that is beyond comprehension! 

God created us for relationship with Him then gave us the choice to choose Him—OR not.  Patiently He uses the circumstances of life to draw us toward an intimate relationship with Him.  

It’s interesting to note that Christianity is entirely about relationship! We were created for relationship with God. Sin ruined that relationship.

God sacrificed His own son, Jesus, so that relationship could be restored.  Jesus sent us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so we could not only have relationship but have intimate relationship.   

The Lord of all creation has literally given and done all that can be done in order to make relationship with Him possible. Now, God patiently waits on us to — respond.   

II Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

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When You Don’t FEEL It

 

One day, I was praying through the house anointing the door posts with oil.

Lost in prayer that God would touch my family; I knew that I was alone and could pray without hindrance or interruption. 

 

Sometimes, when I pray, God’s presence is so real. At other times, it seems my prayers hit the ceiling and fall back to my feet. How can I make sure my prayers are effective, since ‘feeling’ is not a reliable reference? 

One of the first things I do, before praying, is ask God’s forgiveness for my sins. We all have sin, if we think we don’t, we are lying to ourselves (I John 1:8). Through the blood of Jesus, we are brought back into relationship with God. (Romans 6:23) 

If there is a damaged relationship, a fuss or fight with another person, Jesus said to take care of that before I pray (Mark 11:25).  If there is a problem in my marriage, my prayers can be hindered (I Peter 3:7). It’s important that I come into God’s presence with a pure heart; without the hindrance of broken relationships. 

One thing I must remember is that God is sovereign. He works through circumstances, relationships, conflict and experience to make us into the vessels He planned for us to be.  Sometimes it is the hurts in our own life that make us sensitive to the needs of others (II Corinthians 1:3-5). 

When my heart is pure through the blood of Christ, my prayers are answered. It doesn’t matter what my eyes see or how I feel, Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the evidence of what we know; that God is faithful. 

Hebrews 11:6 And 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Is the REAL Winner?

At the conclusion of Valentine’s Day, my 12 year old grandson was standing with two friends at the car loop waiting for their ride home.  

One friend was holding a box of chocolates, a fuzzy teddy bear and a bright red heart balloon in his hands; all gifts from his girl friend.

The other friend walked up and began taunting, “You have a GIIIIRLLL friend!”  The first friend said nothing and friend two kept on with the teasing.   

Finally, my grandson turned to the taunting friend who stood with no gifts and said, “DUDE!  The man has a box of chocolate candy, a cute little fuzzy bear AND a big red balloon—while you and I stand here with NOTHING because we don’t HAVE a girl friend. Who should be making fun of whom here?  Hello?” 

The world does the exact same thing to Christians!  We stand, with our sins forgiven and the up close and personal moment by moment attention of the God of the universe.  Yet, the world makes fun of us!   

The scripture says we will be persecuted; we are really and truly a “peculiar,” chosen, called out, different kind of people.  The world can’t understand the meaning of the evidences of our committed lives.  The gifts we bear are not discernible through the eyes of the world because they don’t comprehend the value of what we have. Pray for their eyeballs to be opened.

 I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

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Is Anybody There?

 

My daughter in-law, in England, wanted a cookbook. Pleased to be able to do something for her, I made my selection from a web site and proceeded to “check out”.

The site would not accept the APO address. I clicked, “if you have problems with your order, try our on line chat with a live representative”. Relieved to have personal   contact, I clicked the button.

“Hello, my name is Jill, can I help you?” appeared.  I typed in my problem.  Jill responded that she needed my credit card information. I quipped “you promise you won’t use it to get a condo on the beach?” 

“Jill” responded, “I don’t understand your request.”  This response seemed strange, but, ok, after all, she’s at work; business is business.  I typed the information and waited. Time passed, I typed, “hello? Is anybody there?” 

Jill typed, “I don’t understand your request.”  Frustrated, I told my husband that it would have been faster if I’d have wrapped the book and held it in my teeth while I swam to England.  

Weary of waiting, I added, “It doesn’t help that the rep I’m working with has the personality of a stump”. Dan laughed, saying, “There’s no rep there! It’s all computer generated; certain words are recognized and the appropriate response is given.” 

In disbelief, I turned back to my computer, where I was still waiting for “Jill” to finish the paperwork to make my purchase. Timidly, I typed, “Are you real?”  She typed back, “I don’t understand your request.”  Horrified, I realized that my husband was, —MAYBE—right.  

Still not entirely convinced, I typed, “There’s no company rep eager to serve me, is there?” Jill immediately responded, “Thank you for choosing to shop with us”.  Feeling totally betrayed, I typed, “Your mamma is a circuit board.”  Jill responded quickly with “I don’t understand your request.” 

One of the many things that my heart cherishes is that when I speak to the Lord, He hears me.  He doesn’t tell me he’s busy or give me a number and tell me to get in line. He ALWAYS hears me and understands me. (Psalms 91:14-15)

My Lord never hands me off to an automated program.  He is there, first time, every time, all the time (Isaiah 65:24).  My Lord loves me, hears me and answers me. That’s not customer service, that’s RELATIONSHIP.

 Luke 11:9-10 So, I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened to you.

 

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From a New Point of View

 

One day I had the pleasure of spending some time with my 7 year old British born grandson, Gregory. We had gone to my favorite coffee shop to have a cup and enjoy one another’s company. 

As we were leaving, I noticed that Gregory had a chocolate covered spoon in his hand. I’d seen the spoons in a basket on the counter. Knowing that I’d not paid for the spoon and to my knowledge, neither had he, I asked him how he’d gotten it. 

Gregory happily told me that he had gotten it in the coffee shop, “Wasn’t it great and it was free!” I told him I was sure they were not free.  He said that he was quite sure they were free because there had been a sign that said, “TAKE ONE”.   

Trying not to laugh, I told Gregory that the sign had meant take one and pay for it, not take one and leave!  He got a horrified look on his face; his mouth agape, he gasped, “Oh!  Mamaw, do you mean that I’ve STOLEN it?” 

I assured him that stealing was when you took something and didn’t pay for it on purpose.  What had happened was a misunderstanding. Back in the coffee shop, we all had a good laugh and I happily paid for the spoon. 

One of the first things I noticed when I accepted Christ as my Lord, is that I saw things differently than I had before.  With the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit whispering into my heart, I began to see situations and circumstances through the eyes of Christ. My attitude changed from self centered to the heart of a servant; my entire life was different.   

II Corinthians 5:17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come.

 

 

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What Version Are You Singing?

 

A new Kid’s Church series was starting soon! In preparation, I had been singing the kids’ song for the puppet play again and again.   

After several weeks, I finally had the words committed to my brain. After weeks of ‘practice’ I was not singing it when I picked the grandkids up. Noticing the silence, my grandson, Max, said HE WANTED to sing it some MORE! 

His older brother, Zac, quickly responded, “ok, but do you want to sing it the way mamawl sings it —or the way it’s supposed to sound?”

The world is watching to see how we handle every day life as Christians. Is our life “sounding” the way Jesus REALLY sounds? Or have we made our own version of the way Jesus “sounds”?

When I say, “I’m a Christian”, I’m saying, “I represent Christ”. It is important that I’m in the Word and in close relationship with Jesus.  Spending time in God’s Word changes me from the inside out, making me more Christ like. (Hebrews 4:12) 

When I allow the ways of the world to influence me more than God’s Word does, my “version” of Jesus doesn’t ‘sound right’.  God’s Word is powerful and effective; I need the constant cutting away of worldly influences that being in the Word provides. (II Timothy 3:16)

Do those around me; my spouse, my children, my extended family and friends see Christ in my priorities, attitudes and goals? How does my every day life reflect Godly principles?  Does my life ‘sound’ like Jesus or have I made up my own version?

John 14:23-24 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

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Make a Pie Out of Those Lemons!

Have you ever had somebody hurt your feelings or make you just down right MAD?   

Sometimes, stuff happens in life that can make your heart bitter as a lemon!

There is a saying that when life hands you lemons, make a pie. However, making a pie requires effort and determination.

A mile high lemon meringue pie doesn’t just miraculously appear because you acknowledge that it ‘can’ be done.  Making a lemon pie takes effort, patience and work; but, it’s ALWAYS worth it.  

Satan wants the trials of life to make us bitter. Anger is one of satan’s tools (Ephesians 4:26-27).  Proverbs 29:11 says that fools look for revenge.  Romans 12:19 specifically says to NOT get revenge, let God handle it.  Psalms 4:4 says anger can lead to sin, it’s best to be silent.   

When we are angry at people, that anger separates us from intimacy with Jesus. (Matthew 5:21-23) Satan wants to use sour circumstances to drive a wedge between us and our Savior. We DO have the choice of what we do with the sour things in life! 

We can allow bitterness to make our hearts mean, callous and vengeful. Or we can do the things necessary to change the bitterness into tenderness and sweetness.  

Action is required; bitterness can destroy if left unattended to.  We must emotionally, mentally and physically do the things that turn the bitter into better.  Don’t get even—-get busy and make something good out of those lemons.  

Prayer is the first step toward transforming bitter fruit into the fruit of the Spirit.  Ask God to help you forgive the person you are angry with. 

When you forgive rather than get revenge, you are taking action to turn the bitter fruit of anger into the sweetness of the fruit of the Spirit.  

Galatians 5: 22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

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The Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung Yet!

Have you noticed that the most important life decisions are made when we’re young and inexperienced?   

The life decisions your children make will be made the same way yours were—without the benefit of  experience.  

You want the best for your children, but, you can’t make them be good, or serve God.  You CAN hold everything in your own life accountable to the Word of God ; what you do speaks louder than what you say.  

Jesus should be so real in your home, conversations, attitudes and activities; that it would be easier to convince your child that they have no parents than to believe they have no God. 

You can not make their decisions for them, but you can influence them. TALK to your kids.  Even though they snort and roll their eyes and whine and fuss.  

Talk to them about their friends, their attitudes and their life choices. Teach them to be strong and independent in Christ. But, be aware that independence could also be used to not want exactly what you want for their lives.

Parenting isn’t easy. Even children who are raised by Godly parents in Christ centered homes have been known to make unwise choices.   

The life example of having a relationship with God will not be forgotten.  The Holy Spirit will continue to whisper the truth they have been taught even when they are out of your reach.  Remember, it’s not over till the fat lady sings—and the last time I saw the fat lady, she was still looking for her music.  Hang in there.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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Make Room for More Fruit!

 

Wonder of wonders, I’ve found a diet tool that works for me!  Instead of the empty calories found in sweets, I indulge in the vitamin and nutrient rich sweetness of fruit.   

Fruit is delicious, healthy and satisfying.  Fruit is so satisfying that when I eat it regularly, my desire for not so healthy snacks is lessened.  However,  to be successful  requires daily discipline and choices.

The fruit of God’s Spirit works the same way.  When I actively determine to choose more of God, I’m satisfied with the fruit His Spirit brings me.   As I make life choices that keep me supplied with the “good fruits” of joy, peace and self control, I find there is more than enough good fruit to keep me satisfied.  

However, this abundance of the fruit of the Spirit leads to a storage problem. As long as my heart and life are full of the world, there is little room for the fruit of the Spirit.  The only answer there can be is to make more space for the good fruit.   

When I spend time talking to the Lord and reading His Word, the unsatisfying junk food of the flesh, like anger, greed, impatience and selfishness, are taken out.  Space is made available to bring more of Gods’ fruit in!  

Just like it is my choice to reach for a piece of candy or a piece of fruit, it is my choice to yield to the discipline of the Holy Spirit or——not.

Just like with healthy food choices, I make the decision. God doesn’t force me to do anything. It’s totally up to me. Daily, I make the choice of what I feed my mind; the good fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the world.

Galatians 5: 22- 25  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

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