Chief of Sinners

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” ‭‭I Timothy‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

IMG_1538Unless we are willing to see our spiritual condition for what it is we cannot recognize our need for a savior.

Paul was a man who persecuted the followers of Christ before he encountered Christ in an undeniable way on the road to Demarcus. Why did God choose Paul? Perhaps because He knew Paul would serve Him with the same zeal he had demonstrated to Judaism.

There is so much to learn from this scripture.

A. In order to surrender to Christ, I must first see my spiritual condition and recognize my need for Him. We live in a society that is more concerned with protecting someone’s self esteem than confronting them with the consequences of sin. If I compare myself to another person I might look pretty good, but when I compare myself to the sinless life of Christ I see that my righteousness looks like filthy rags! (Isaiah 64:6)

B. Regardless of my past, God can use me. When Paul gave his life to Christ, the transformation was undeniable! He did an about face and everyone who knew him knew that only God could have done that. What a testimonial. God can do the same through us. While we must recognize our condition before Christ, we don’t have to continue to live in shame over our past. The redeeming power of Christ has set us free.

C. If God can save Paul, He can save anyone! If there is someone in your life you believe is beyond God’s reach, take comfort. They are not. Yes, God gives us free will, but He will moves mountains to win their heart. NEVER stop interceding for them. We are called to stand in the gap for the lost.

PRAYER:
Father, I am so thankful that You came to call sinners, of whom I am chief. Without You, I would be lost, without hope. Help me to always remember that You are the true measure of righteousness. I cannot rely on my own righteousness to save me. My salvation rests solely in the completed work of the cross. Thank You for paying a debt I can never repay. Thank You for removing the shame of my past and replacing it with purpose. My life is Yours, use me to bring others to You, Lord.

Father, I know that every person in my life is there for a reason. Help me to never give up on those who have rejected you. Give me a burden to intercede for them with passion. Enlighten their hearts, Lord. Help them to see the truth, just as You revealed Yourself to Paul on that fateful day on his way to Demarcus. Remove the blinders. Soften hearts of stone. Heal broken spirits. You know exactly what is needed in each of their lives. Protect them from death without You, Lord. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, AMEN

Representing Christ

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

IMG_1537When we become a Christian, we become “New in Christ”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we always ‘act’ like a new creation. As we grow in our walk, our character should begin to change and become more Christ like.

Colossians 3 is broken into 3 sections:
(1) Shedding the carnality of the old man.
(2) Adapting the character of the new man.
(3) Instruction for the Christian home.

I encourage you to read this chapter today.

Verse 17 is found in section 2 and tells us to do everything (in word or deed) in the name of the Lord. We are His ambassadors, His representatives. Everything we do and say should reflect Him. This goes beyond our interaction with believers. Our relationship with Christ should impact every area of our life … personal, professional and spiritual.

Even after being a Christian for many years, I often fail to reflect Christ. It’s easy to allow my emotions to override or rule over my spirit. It can be very discouraging, and yet it is also a constant reminder that my strength is found in Him, not in my abilities. Thankfully Jesus is always willing to forgive me when I fail.

However, I still need to have the humility to go back to those I act inappropriately around and ask their forgiveness as well. Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world about how that person views Christianity. I Corinthians 8:9 admonishes us not to be a stumbling block to those who are weak (in faith).

PRAYER:
Lord, thank You for Your Word and the wisdom You give me through the Word. Help me to remember that everything I say and do should reflect you. Help me to crucify the old me and adopt the character of Christ. Forgive me when I fall short and give me the courage and humility to acknowledge my sin before those I may have caused to stumble because of my words or actions. AMEN

The Wise Fool

“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”
Proverbs‬ ‭17:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

IMG_1523As I read this scripture this morning, I pictured several people standing in silence. If I didn’t know them personally I would have no way of determining anything about their personality simply by their appearance. Are they wise or foolish, kind or hateful, humble or proud … none of these character traits are visible until we speak.

What a wonderful gift we possess in language. Yet, this gift can also be a deadly weapon. Contrary to the childhood rhythm, words are way more powerful than sticks and stones. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 tells us our words are so powerful they either create life or death.

I have said many things that I regret. I’m sure you can relate. Oftentimes our words mark us with labes that can be difficult to erase.

I can not change my past, but I can learn from it. I can seek to guard my tongue and allow wisdom rather than emotion to dictate when and what I speak. It’s a difficult  task. It’s so much easier to blurt out whatever comes to my foolish mind!

Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is be silent. Perhaps if we spent more time listening than speaking we would in fact become wiser.

IMG_1522Ecclesiastes 3:7 teaches us there is a time to speak, and a time to remain silent. Wisdom comes in determining which time you are presented with.

PRAYER:
Father, thank You for the gift of speech. Help me to use words wisely, to speak life over death, healing over hurt, wisdom over foolishness. Help me know when to speak and when to remain silent.

The Sacrifice of Sharing

“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews‬ ‭13:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

IMG_1518Our good works cannot save us, but they certainly impact others. God is pleased when we sacrifice for the benefit of others.

This verse reminds me of several people God blessed me with as a young divorced mother. I remember being so humbled as time after time God sent someone to meet my need.

It was difficult for me to ask for help when I needed it, but God always made a way, through the generosity of others.

IMG_1519I remember asking God at some point, “Will I ever be the one in a position to help others?” You see, I truly believe it is more blessed to give than receive. Those who give to others, with a pure motive, experience a wonderful sense of satisfaction.

The struggles I faced shaped who I became later in life. Everyone has different spiritual gifts, some we are born with and some that are acquired through experience. Mine are mercy and exhortation.

God has given me many opportunities to bless others as He blessed me. Even in ministry I work with hurting people … the homeless, the addicted, prisoners. It is far more fulfilling work than my career ever was.

Being a giver doesn’t always involve finances. The key is to find something you are passionate about and allow God to use you in that area.

People are hurting. The greatest gift we can give someone (other than the good news) is a sense of value. What can you do today to show someone they are important, needed, loved?

Ask God to give you creative ideas to impact others.

PRAY:
Father, thank You for putting people into my life over the years who have sacrificed their time and resources to bless me. I ask that You give them a hundredfold return on their investment.

Give me eyes to see the needs of others. Help me to be a resource to bless others spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially as You lead.

Father, help me to see others as You see them and to love them as You love them.

 

Loyalty … Obedience … Perseverance

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:5 NKJV‬‬

IMG_1516According to Jesus, this is THE greatest commandment. As such it makes sense that we need to truly grasp what it means.

As I read this verse, I asked myself … why did Moses say to love God with:
(a) all my heart
(b) all my soul
(c) all my strength.

How does loving God with my heart differ from loving Him with my soul and my strength? It must be important or Moses wouldn’t have expounded on it.

In Deuteronomy 6 Moses is preparing the children of Israel to finally enter the promised land. Knowing their inclination to idolatry and rebellion he reminds them of three key mandates which in turn answer the question of ‘how do we love God with all our heart, soul and strength?’

Loving God with all my HEART is about loyalty: There is ONE God and He is a jealous God. God will not share His glory with false gods. Anything, or anyone, that is more important to us is an idol.

Loving God with all my SOUL is about obedience: Moses instructed the people to keep the commandments of God AND to pass them on from generation to generation. To love God is to obey God. This theme is seen repeatedly in the Word in both the Old and New Testaments. Our soul is comprised of our mind, will and emotions. To love God with all our soul we must “know him’, through experience/relationship, knowledge of His Word and revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Loving God with all my STRENGTH is about perseverance: Possession of the Land required defeat of Israel’s enemies. To this day Israel has to fight for their land. While God is capable of wiping out our enemies with a single word, He knows we value what we struggle to obtain. Our dreams and visions are worth the fight! Never give up on God’s promise(s) to you.

PRAYER:
Lord, thank You for opening my eyes to understand Your command to love You will all my heart, soul and strength. Help me to always love you with loyalty, obedience and perseverance.

No More Tears

“He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. Isaiah‬ ‭25:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

IMG_1515We often look at this scripture as reference to the afterlife; I believe it is also relevant to this life.

The people of Israel have always had to fight for their promised land. Even though God gave them the land, their enemies didn’t give up  without resistance. They still face rebuke and prejudice from other nations.

Satan, our enemy, doesn’t give up without a fight either. I often hear people talk about “all Hell breaking loose” after giving their lives to Christ. It only makes sense. Satan hates God, and we are His children. As long as we are submitting to Satan he has no reason to come against us.

While this passage was written long before the birth of Christ, it pointed to a time when God’s people will finally have peace.

Jesus first came as a lamb, but will return as the lion of Judah. The Word tells us, He will rule and reign on Earth for a thousand years, followed by the creation of a new Heaven and Earth. (Revelation 20) Those who gave their lives for the gospel will be resurrected to reign with Christ.

I’m going through a really tough time emotionally right now. This verse gives me hope. Whether I live to see the Lord’s return or not, I know that ultimately He will wipe away my tears. In fact, I can go to Him in prayer, crawl up in His lap, and allow Him to comfort me as a loving Father.

I also know when I breathe my last breath on Earth I will breathe my first in eternity. Jesus has conquered death. It is no longer an end, simply a transition.

As for rebuke, it hurts when someone we love scoffs at our faith. It’s not fun to be ridiculed or persecuted, but Paul told us to count it all joy. (James 1:2) God will reward our faithfulness; more importantly we have an opportunity to be a living witness, if we respond appropriately.

PRAYER:
Lord, you are a good Father. I am thankful I can run to You when life is hard. Though You have not promised an easy life, You have promised to be with me through it all. I can trust You will never abandon me.

Thank You for being my comforter, giver of life and for turning rebuke into joy, tears into laughter.

AMEN