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Never too late!


But that is not the way you learned Christ!—  assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.    –Ephesians 4:20-24

Do you ever feel like you’ve blown it and blown it big?  Have you ever just felt like giving up on even trying to walk with God?  Maybe with all you’ve done, all you’ve been involved in, you are afraid others will call you a hypocrite for even trying to get close to God?  You think, “Maybe when I get my act together, I can try then.”

So many people feel this way.  I remember a few years back.  I  had fallen out of going to church regularly.  I felt pretty self-conscious when I tried to go back.  I worried over what others would think.  I entertained the thought of just giving up and living life my way.  After all, sleeping in on Sunday was easy.  And comfy.

What I had to realize was all that matters is what God thought about me.  And you know what?  Pulling people from the pits of sin is His specialty!  The truth is you can never fall too far, rip your britches too badly, or make too big of a mess that our Almighty Father cannot pull you out, dust you off, and put you to work for His kingdom!

In this passage in Ephesians, Paul was writing to the people of Ephesus, to encourage them in their walk with Christ.  He reminds us that we are corrupt and our sinful ways are not what we learn in Christ.  We are meant for more.  But ultimately, we are sinners.  We have a sinful nature that draws us in and encourages us to sin.  Paul says we are to throw off our sinful nature.  To be renewed in our mind and spirit, and put on a new self that is devoted to God and His ways.

How do you do this?  Through prayer, reading your Bible regularly, and staying in fellowship with other believers.  You can do it!  You can throw your old, sinful ways out with the help of our Father.  Does that mean you will never sin again?  Certainly not.  A Christian life is a life of constant striving to be Christ-like.  We will never find that ultimate state of perfection.  Only He is perfect.  But you will grow.  Will get better at saying no to sin.  And when you fall, you will have even more desire to seek Him and get back on track.

As you begin this weekend, commit to putting away your sinful nature.  Commit to walking in God’s ways.  Commit to living for Him.  Every day.  It’s never too late for God to use you. You are never too far gone!  God has a plan for you.  A great plan.  Far better than you can imagine for yourself.  You only need to be obedient, draw to Him, and follow his direction.

Happy Friday!

 

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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It’s NOT an option!


A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.   –Luke 6:45

 

Have you ever had someone say something to you that really stung your heart?

Something that cut you to the core?

How many times have you replayed those words in your head?

Words are powerful.  They can heal.  And they can hurt.

That old saying ……’Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’

It’s a bunch of bologna!

The words we speak to others can be poison to the soul.  A wound heals, but words inflicted on another can be replayed over and over and over again in someone’s mind.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last night, I found profanities.  Vulgarities.  Even threats.  From teens and adults alike!  The Bible tells us that the words that flow from our mouth comes from the overflow of the heart.  It’s a reflection into your soul.

As Christians, we are called and even commanded to be Christ-like.  It’s not an option!  The second greatest commandment is this:

Love

your

neighbor

as

yourself.

–Matthew 22:39

That’s a pretty tall order. But the Bible gives us very real, very specific direction on how to live.  God knows what’s best for us.  And when we follow His guidance, His direction, we cannot fail.

As you go through the day today, be aware of the power of your words.  What does the overflow of your heart look like?  Do walk through your day inflicting wounds to the souls of others?  Do your words reflect Christ-like attitudes or are you making Satan smile with your verbal vomit? Do you love your neighbor?  Or do you gossip about them, tear them down, and belittle?

Today, commit to be an encourager.  An up-lifter.  A light in someone’s day.  Let the words from your mouth be like a blanket to the soul.  Love your neighbor.  Even the ones that are hard to love.

The same way Christ loves us.

 

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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Daily Devotions

 

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Do-Over, Please


But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    —Romans 5:8

Have you ever felt unworthy?  Undeserving?  Have you ever been fearful that if only people found out about the REAL you…your innermost thoughts and desires, the hidden sins in your life, that you would be an outcast?  You would be unloved and uncared for?

When you look back on your past do you see all the mistakes, all the sin, all the messes you’ve made?  I know anytime I take a peek backwards, I pinpoint all the bad choices I made, many of them life-altering.  I can easily become angry and even disgusted with myself because in hindsight, those mistakes were so silly, so unnecessary. If only I could have a do-over.

It’s very easy to become burdened with past failures.  We become so burdened, so grieved over our failures, that we decide we are not good enough to serve God.  He could never use us.  We are too tarnished.  Too far gone.  We convince ourselves that we are unworthy and unusable.

Well, guess what?  We are ALL unworthy.  We are all unusable.  You and me.  You worry if people only knew?   Well, God does.  He sees all.  He knows each and every desire of our heart.  The thoughts running through our minds.  He hears every word that falls from our lips.  He sees every action, no matter how discreet……..and he knows the motivations of our hearts, too.

We ARE unworthy of His love.  We ARE unfit and unusable for His kingdom.

Until Christ enters our hearts and lives.

Christ is the game changer.

The most amazingly awesome thing about Christ is He knows all these bad things about me,  but He loves me anyway.  During the darkness of my worst sin, in the pit of my life, He loved me and loves me still.  And He paid the price for every sin in our life.  He paved the path to forgiveness and a lifelong relationship with our heavenly Father.

Through Him, we get that do-over.

Suddenly, through Him, His power, we can do ALL things.  Nothing He calls us to do is too big, too hard.  Not because we are suddenly worthy or fit for service, but because our strength comes from Him.  His power and glory will shine through those of us who yield to Him.  We are weak, but He is strong.   We are suddenly not only useful, but needed.  He wants and expects us to help further His kingdom.  He has a plan for you.  A plan to bring you hope.  A future. A plan for great things in your life.

When you take that walk down memory lane, don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the mire of your mistakes.  Seek Him, seek His forgiveness, and look toward the future.  Stay in the word and in prayer.  He will lead you down the path He has for you.  Grab a hold of that do-over and make the most of it.  Through Him, we have a clean slate.  A fresh start.  A new beginning.   You get a new story to write.  Make it something you are proud of.

Live for Him.

In every moment of every day.

Live for Him.

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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Just Do It!


Just do it.

That’s what the old Nike slogan says.

Advertisers are smart.  They know that we all want to be better.  Do better.  And hopefully better than everyone else.  It’s human nature.  We want the big house, the coolest car, the biggest diamond.

Nobody goes to the game and says, “Let’s lose!”

I drive a mini-van.  I’m quite certain I have never heard anyone say, “Oh, I just can’t wait to get one of those!”

Many advertisements appeal to that inner desire to be the best.  Do the best.  Have the best.  Be better than the rest.

We devote our time and energy to going all out.  We don’t just want our kids to play baseball, we want them to win state in All-Stars.

We don’t want to JUST play football.  We want to go to the play-offs.  Every defeat is a slap in the face.  We set the bar higher so we will be better.  Achieve more.

That desire, that drive to be the best.  To get better.  It’s a good thing to have.  It requires endurance, stamina, determination, hard-work, perseverance.  All great qualities.

So, why do we lose this mindset in our relationship with God?

It seems so many don’t care if they do their best for God.  They are apathetic.  They are happy with mediocrity when it comes to their relationship (or lack of) with God.  They have no drive to have a real day-to-day relationship with Him.  Being a Christian is so much more than walking the aisle and getting dunked.  It is a lifetime commitment.  It’s a full-time relationship.  It’s a journey.

I hear people say they love God.  They want to follow God.  But right now their lives are hectic and busy.  They have problems in life that need to be dealt with first.  It’s not that they don’t want to follow God.  They just need their life to slow down first. Get things in order.

Life never slows down.  Life is and will always be hectic.  If you are looking for a reason, an excuse for a mediocre relationship with God, Satan will make sure you always have one.  But take time, just for a moment to imagine a life completely devoted to following God.  How would your life be different?  Imagine the peace that would come from giving Him your all.  Imagine the joy that would come with knowing your life has a valuable, lasting purpose.

It’s time for many of us to re-evaluate what we give our time, attention, and devotion to.  It’s time we take some of that drive and apply it to our walk with Christ.  Be the best Christian you possibly can be.  Set the bar for your Christian walk high.  Grow.  Follow God with passion, not just obligation.  Stop making excuses.  Don’t put it off.  As the old commercial says, Just Do It!

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. —-Chronicles 15:7

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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Is Your Faith Full??


Ivan Aivazovsky's painting Walking on Water (1888)

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Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”    —Matthew 14:22-33 NLT

I’m sure most have heard the story about Jesus walking on water…..  While Jesus was on the mountainside praying, a storm came and the disciples were caught up in the fury of the waves.  Jesus walked out on the water to get to them.  Of course, SEEING Jesus walking on water wasn’t enough to convince them of the power of God.  They cried out that it was a ghost!  Peter, still not believing it was Jesus, even after He reassured them of who He was, asked Jesus to prove it was Him.  “Call me out on the water,” he asked.   Again, lacking faith, belief.   Needing proof.   Jesus did, and as Peter began to walk on water, fear overcame him and he began to sink.  He cried out to Jesus, who as usual, came to the rescue and pulled him from the water.   His response to Peter is our verse for today.

All too often, I find myself in Peter’s shoes.  Not quite believing in the ultimate power of God.  Sure, I say I believe.  I even DO believe…on a small level.  But my faith stops short of the big things.  My faith….or lack thereof, prevents me so often from following God’s calling on my life.  Instead of putting my faith COMPLETELY in Him.  In His power.  In His timing.  In His plan….. I begin to listen to myself instead.  It’s too hard.  There is no way it will work.  I can’t do it.

Not only do I listen to those voices in my head, I entertain them and allow them to dictate what I will or will not do for Christ.  If I am to grow in my relationship with Him, I must STOP listening to this nonsense!  God will call you out of the comfortable.  He will call you to do things that you feel you cannot do.  If His calling on our life were easy, we wouldn’t really need Him, would we?  When I have to lean on Him, depend on Him to achieve His plan for my life, His glory is shown.

Do you have something today you feel called of God to do?  How strong is your faith?  Do you believe he can make a way where the human eye can see none?  It’s time we stop selling God short.  Start believing Him for His promises, His power, and His word.  We need to be FAITH—FULL.

He can do ANYTHING He sets his mind to do. 

But we must have faith.  We must let go of doubt. 

We must choose to listen to HIM….and BELIEVE. 

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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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Thrown Away?


I have a huge walk-in closet, the length of my bedroom.  Yet, it is overflowing with clothes, shoes, and purses.  I decided it was time to get rid of some of this junk.  I started with clothes.  I began to toss clothes right and left.  They were useless to me.  I never wore them and probably never would.  So out they went.

Next, I pulled out a few tubs of purses.  Yes, a few tubs.  I LOVE purses.  And although my new stay-at-home mom lifestyle no longer allows for me to buy a new purse each month, I still LOVE purses.  So, I started going through them, one at a time.  I began to search through each one, looking for anything useful or valuable inside.

As I picked up each one, memories began to flood my mind with the things going on in my life at the time I carried this purse.  Even though I knew I would probably get very little use out of these old purses (I rarely re-use a purse), I couldn’t bear to toss them out.  Each had it’s own value in my eyes.  Pockets right where they needed to be.  The perfect straps for carrying.  Beauty in their design.  I just couldn’t do it.  I tried my best to talk myself into it.  After all, as beautiful or useful as they COULD be, they weren’t.   These purses were of no use to me sitting in the closet in a plastic tub.

As I put the tubs back into the closet, I wondered if that is how God sometimes feels about us.  So many times,  I go about my merry way, living my life for me…..of no use to God.  Although I have some great qualities and characteristics,  so often I choose to sit in hiding.  Not being useful to God.

For I have chosen you
      and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
      Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
   I will strengthen you and help you.
      I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  –Isaiah 41:9b-10

The Bible tells us, as believers, we are chosen by God.  He will not throw us away.  He sees the value in our lives and in our hearts even when we don’t.  I believe people get frightened of living for God.  What might they have to give up, what sacrifices might He ask me to make for Him?  They immediately dismiss the idea because it might be hard.  They focus on their fears and failures and forget their value in Christ’s eyes.  They allow Satan to discourage them into believing they are useless.  Hopeless.  Weak.

This is why it is so important to stay in God’s word.  To see what He says.  He will not throw you away.  No matter how useless you may be for His kingdom at the moment.  His love is too great for tossing you out.  He can help you overcome your fears and failures.  He has mighty plans for you to further His kingdom.  He will give you the strength you need to stop listening to Satan’s lies.  But you have to come out of hiding. You have to make a commitment to live for Him.  Walk with Him.  Lean on Him.

Each day as I learn more and more by reading His word, I am amazed at His love for us.  Considering the vast number of people walking this earth, it would be so easy for Him to throw me away.  He doesn’t need me.  He has no reason to love me.  There are plenty of people He can use.  He DOES love me, WANT me, has PLANS for me.  The truth is, he knows the number of hairs on my head.  My name is engraved in the palm of His hand.  If I am that important to Him, loved that much by Him, how can I not want to live for Him? 

What lies has Satan told you that you believe?

Do you live a life useful to God?  Or are you like my old purses, tucked away in my closet, full of beauty and usefulness, but hiding?

God’s love for you is there.  His plan for you is there.  Claim it and cling to it!

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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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I’m a Masterpiece!


For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,

so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

—Ephesians 2:10

77 cm × 53 cm

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The Mona LisaThe Michelangelo.  The Sistine Chapel.

All masterpieces.

The absolute best of man’s artistry.

Mount Everest north face from Ronguk monastery...
Niagra Fall (Closeup)

Image by williams_jt via Flickr

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The Grand CanyonNiagra FallsMount Everest.

All natural masterpieces.

The absolute best of God’s handiwork.  His artistry.

Never, not even once, have I thought of  myself as a masterpiece.  Yet, the Bible tells us it is true.

When we accept Christ, we are created new.  We are His masterpiece.  He creates in us a new, clean heart that is equipped for His work.

Me.  A masterpiece of God’s work.  Equipped to bring Him glory through working for Him.

All too often, I feel tired, worn out, and just useless.  I spend too much time focused on my fears and failures.  I allow my weaknesses to keep me from working for Him.

God doesn’t want to use somebody like me.  I have too much baggage.  Too many mess-ups.  If I try to work for him, what will others say?  With all I’ve done, I will be the talk of the town.

To my ears, it sounds like a good excuse.  These are lies spoon fed to us by Satan.

The Bible tells us we are equipped for God’s work.  We are capable to do what He has called us to do.  God knows all our errors.  He knows our sinful hearts.  He knows every little detail about you.  Yet, he calls you His masterpiece.  He says you are able to work for Him.  No excuses.  Failure is not an option.

I look around me and see the passion in people.

Football.  Shopping.  Baseball.  Having Fun.  Hunting.  Basketball.  Fishing.  Crafting.  Raising kids.

Things we are not only passionate about, but we love and serve most in life.  And it makes us happy to do so.

What if we matched that passion, that excitement, that zeal with our passion for God?

What if we invested as much time and energy into our relationship with God?

This morning, as I read this verse.  I realized, I have no excuse.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  All my mistakes.  All my sin.  It’s all covered by the blood of Jesus.  God has equipped me with the strength and skills I need to live a life of purpose for Him.

It’s time to step up.

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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Daily Devotions

 

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