Monday, August 30

Rejoice in Hope

Today, I’m pleased to bring you the next segment of our Behave Like a Christian series. It is written by another cyber-friend, Elizabeth Marks, and is entitled Rejoice in Hope. Here’s Elizabeth…

Rejoice in Hope

“Rejoicing in hope…” (Rom. 12:12a NKJV)

Faith is a choice to believe things hoped for are really going to happen, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1 NKJV)

As Christians, we have much to rejoice in because of the hope given to us through belief in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Let’s take a look at some of the promises we hope in:

* One day we shall meet God, our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, our Savior, face to face.

The God who spoke the world into existence and knows everything about us, even down to the very number of hairs on our head, made us. He knows us. He loves us.

Jesus Christ, who sacrificed for us and died on a cross to pay the penalty of mankind’s sin, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we will see Him face to face.

* We will live forever in heaven, a place with no sin, no pain, no sorrow.

All the troubles, hurts, fears, and worries of earth will be but a distant memory, for heaven is a perfect place.

* We are assured of Jesus’ presence forever in this life, for He promised never to leave us or forsake us.

When we are tempted to feel lonely, depressed, sorry for ourselves, or thinking no one cares for us, we can remember Jesus Christ is with us right then and there. As believers, Jesus came to live in us by His Spirit so that He is always with us.

This same Spirit guides us in all truth and teaches us how to obey. He leads us along the path of righteousness. He provides the power and strength we need to do the right thing every time.

* We have been given everything we need to live a godly life until Jesus Christ returns to take us to heaven.

God provides everything. He equips us with His Spirit. He gives us signs to follow the way. He provides escape routes when we are tempted. He shields us with His armor so the enemy can’t touch us. He encourages us through other believers. He enables us to believe. He reveals exactly what we need, when we need it. He never gives us more than we can handle.

So, until our homecoming, we hold fast to the truth, knowing all things we go through are being used for our good because we love God and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

Yes, we have much to hope for and much to rejoice in. Our Holy Father is gracious, generous, loving, patient, kind, faithful, just, and trustworthy. So, if you find yourself slow to rejoice, shift your thoughts to God’s promises. Review what He plans for you.

Stir up your hope and rejoice!

© Elizabeth Marks has a heart to encourage and equip you with God’s Word. You might also enjoy Daily Bible Devotions. Sign up today for Bible devotions at ThinkOnIt Bible Ministries, Inc..


Thursday, August 26

Standing Strong in the Lord

Today, we are back to our series on Romans 12:9-21. This post is on verse 11 and is written by Wayne Gaines of M300 Ministries. I hope you will stop by and visit his website, M300 He is doing marvelous work for the Lord around the world. I am so happy to bring you Wayne’s guest post…

Standing Strong in the Lord

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your
spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
(Romans 12:11 NIV)

As we consider “Behaving like Christians,” let us consider this single, short verse in Romans 12:11. It seems straightforward and simple right? If we lack zeal and spiritual fervor while serving the Lord, we are taking a chance that we won’t be pleasing unto Him. If we lack zeal for the things of God while serving Him then we become easily entangled and imprisoned by the hindrances that so easily beset us.

The Apostle Paul was a very zealous servant of the Lord, yet the Lord Himself had these words for the newly named Paul, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” (Acts 9:15-16 NIV)

Sometimes, when we suffer, we begin to lack zeal and spiritual fervor. The Lord uses the Apostle Paul as an example of how we are to endure suffering as “good soldiers.” A good soldier is taught that suffering is part of the process of serving. When a good soldier suffers, his zeal is kicked in high gear. When a good soldier suffers, his spiritual fervor is elevated while serving the Lord.

There is a little known and little talked about secret that is known fully by those who suffer for the name of Jesus. At M300 Ministries, we are called to work in the hardest to reach places on earth and with men who go at the risk of their own blood. These men, called Valiant Warriors, have revealed their secret to not being found lacking in zeal and spiritual fervor while serving the Lord. It may surprise you to find that it is all summed up in a single powerful word…GRACE.

Yes, I know this is not normally what your Sunday school teacher would teach you about grace and it may not be what you would learn about grace from your pastor or minister who may not have had an occasion to suffer for the name of Jesus. The grace I am going to share with you is what is learned from those who have been beaten, maligned, kicked, and imprisoned because they dared to name the name of Jesus or to preach the Good News to the lost.

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever.” (1 Peter 5:9-11 NIV) Amen.

We are called to resist the devil by the name of Jesus and to stand firm in the faith. We are reminded that our brothers around the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Hold on tight now for verse 10 that says that “the God of all grace... after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Do you know the God of grace in this way? Yes, we serve a God of this kind of grace that restores, makes strong, firm, and steadfast. This is the grace that helps us to persevere and triumph over the enemy. This grace comes not from us but from the God of grace. Remember the Apostle Paul prayed for a thorn in the flesh to be removed yet it was not because God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

God’s grace is sufficient to help us in our hour of trial, suffering, distress and disease. God’s grace is sufficient in all things so allow me to encourage you with Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Learn to rely on the God of grace who can restore, make strong, firm, and steadfast.
For more thoughts on this subject, visit my site.


Monday, August 23

Out of the Mouths of Babes!

photo courtesy of Ernesto JT @flickr

***I temporarily interrupt the Behave Like a Christian series (as I boo-booed on my schedule) to bring you this post.***

A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law sent me a conversation that took place between her and her then seven-year-old grandson, David. I have had this sitting in the file, waiting for the right occasion to pass it on. This is it.

My sister-in-law wrote this to me…

I have to share a conversation I had with David today after school. I hope they penetrate deeply and make me more aware of some things, some of which are the importance of friendships and family.

Here goes:

When we had tornado warnings a few nights ago, David called here very concerned. He wanted me to go to the basement. He then wanted to talk to Pop Pop. The speaker phone was on so I was able to hear him say, “Pop Pop, there’s going to be another storm coming through after midnight. Will you stay up and watch the weather and get MiMi up then and take her to the basement?”

It touched my heart. Well, today when I was with him he brought the storms up again and asked if I went to the basement. I answered yes. He said, “I cried all night. I hardly slept.”

“Why, David? God will take care of us.”

He replied, “Because I was so afraid I was going to come to your house and find you dead!”

I don’t know how to tell you that impacted me. I was deeply touched but I also wanted to reassure him that I would always be okay. I was also stunned as he has never known death other than his goldfish, Mece.

I told him that, when I did die, I would be in heaven with Jesus. He said he knew that but he was concerned he would forget me.

“How could you forget Mimi, David?” I asked.

Here are the words that completely pierced me. He said, “When someone has been gone awhile we can forget them. We can forget them because it’s been a long time since they died, or we can get distracted and forget them.”

I immediately thought of how we get too busy for the people who really are important to us in our lives. I also thought of Jesus and how He died a long time ago and how sometimes I get too distracted and I forget Him.

I whispered, “I hear You, Lord.” I then went on to tell David everything was alright and changed the subject.

Pop Pop and I talked about these words of David’s tonight. He thought those were really deep words for a seven year old. I still think it was also the Holy Spirit speaking to me, “Remember what is important, (name), and remember Who is really important.”

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God-some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth.” (Eph. 3:14-15 TLB)

*This has been part of One Word Blog Carnival at Bridget Chumbley’s site on Children. Check it out for the other posters.


Thursday, August 19

We Are Family!

Today, I am thrilled to bring you this segment of the Behave Like a Christian series (Rom. 12:9-21), based on verse 10, which is entitled We Are Family, written by another friend, Stephanie Shott.

We Are Family

“Be kindly affectionate to one another
with brotherly love, in honor giving
preference to one another.” (Rom. 12:10 NKJV)

I remember before I became a Christian that I really didn’t want anything to do with those “church people.” In my mind, they were boring, rule-making, fuddy-duddies and I knew if my lifestyle would ever collide with their world, it would not be a pretty sight.

But when I received Christ into my life, everything changed. I found myself running to those I had so adamantly run from. I realized that I loved them. Every single one of them. In fact, I realized I was one of them and they were my family.

They got me. When I talked about what was going on in my life, they understood. When I wasn’t sure how to live out this new found life, they helped me. When I cried, they cried with me; when I laughed, they laughed too. They loved me, in spite of me.

That’s what family does...we love each other in spite of each other. We share in each other’s joys and pains; we lift each other up; we encourage each other; we help each other out; we put up with each other’s quirky ways; we get each other.

In fact, Romans 12:10 gives us a perfect picture of what our relationship should be like when we’re part of the family of God.

We are to tenderly love each other as a family. We are to prefer each other. The word ‘preference’ in the Greek means to go before and lead the way. We are to lovingly lead the way for each other. To show one another how to put one’s needs before our own.
After all, isn’t that what families do?

Unfortunately, we don’t always look like the loving family God calls us to be. We’ve given the Christian family a black eye because we often look more like the Hatfields and McCoys than the Waltons.

Brothers and sisters, as James 3:10 says, “these things ought not be.”

God calls us to love one another as a demonstration of the relationship we have with each other because of the cross. Throughout the New Testament the Lord says to “love one another.” Scripture says…

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)

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

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NKJV)

Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is not an’s not a’s a commandment.

Is it always easy? No. But if we’re going to be a family that brings glory to our Father, then we need to love the unlovable...even when they’re part of the family...especially when they’re part of the family.

Here are a few tips to help each of us love one another as Christ loves us:

*Be slow to speak and slower to judge. (Remember, we don’t always know the whole story and a wise person thinks before s/he speaks)
*Always look for the best in one another. (We don’t always know someone else’s motives; we don’t always see everyone’s potential.)
*Give each other room to grow. (We’re all a work in progress and we all make mistakes!)
*Look for opportunities to help each other grow. (That’s part of loving someone.)
*Remember how much Christ loves you in spite of you. (We all fall short, but our Savior is never short on love for us.)
*Forgive quickly. (Grudges have a way of finding fertile soil in an unforgiving heart.)
*Be humble. (God does not see anyone as better than or less than. He sees us all as equal.)
*Admit your own failures. (Are you guilty of gossiping or griping? Have you caused a family feud of your own? Fess up your mess us and start loving like Christ loves.)
*Be kindly affectionate to one another. Honor one another. Put others’ needs before your own.

Why? Because we are family and that’s what families do.


Monday, August 16

Cling to What is Good

Today, I’m happy to bring you the next in the series Behave Like a Christian. It’s entitled Cling to What is Good. It is a poem entitled Beauty Exposed by Keith Wallis.

It is based on Romans 12:9c, “Cling to what is good.” (NKJV) The New Living Translation states it this way, “Hold tightly to what is good.” And The Message says, “Hold on for dear life to good.”

The Greek word for ‘cling’ or ‘hold’ means to cleave, join together, glue, cement, unite, join firmly. ‘Good’ is being morally honorable, pleasing to God, and therefore beneficial to the Kingdom and others.

When Barnabas went to Antioch, he was glad to see the grace of God at work and “continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them all to cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart.” (Acts 11:23b Amp)

Cling to God in the trials and afflictions of life, for then is…

Beauty Exposed

Winds may cuff wild raging blows,
salty draughts scour and purge,
suns may blister, boil, and burn,
snows may clothe and ice grip,
but you survive.
This seed fell on rocky ground
a sea-birds transient sentry post.
Tenacious roots peeked and seeked
sustenance in hidden places,
survival driven – you endure.
And on this drab day with sad grey sky
and crying cloud
you add colour
and joy
and hope for those
who, like you, root in hard places.

~~The beauty of our lives grows out of the hard places when we cling to what is good, rooted in God, the Rock of our salvation.


Friday, August 13

Abhor What is Evil

Today, I’m happy to bring you Abhor What is Evil in the Behave Like a Christian series, written by Marja Meijers…

“Hate what is wrong.” (Rom. 12:9b TLB)

The apostle Paul’s ancient call for Christian living couldn’t be more timely and fitting for our present day and age! His pleading for love-based moral behavior is a cry that needs to wake up the church as we know it today.

His words are a clear call to lifestyle evangelism. In his exhortation, Paul uses words to set the stage for the epic battle between good and evil, between light and darkness, and grants us a role in this power play.

He urges us to stand up for what is good, loving, and honorable and to be living witnesses for our generation. The message has not changed: love is still the most excellent way!

Paul starts his appeal in Romans 12:9 with the mentioning of love and hatred, good and evil. His commending when it comes to the deeds of darkness is quite simple: abhor what is evil.

According to the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, to abhor means ‘to think of with hatred and disgust.’ So, having knowledge about good and evil by itself is not enough; we must cultivate a strong dislike for evil.

Paul’s words are actually a serious warning not to be casual about sin or evil, not to be slack in resisting it, and not to ignore the red signals in our lives. Looking back at the history of mankind, we learn that our knowledge of good and evil is a result of eating from the tree in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22). And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

That knowledge, also known as our conscience, is, therefore, not a virtue, not something to boast about but simply part of God’s nature in us. It is, however, our reaction to that knowledge which makes all the difference in our daily Christian walk!

Paul calls for action, for a simple but dedicated decision, to make a stand against evil, starting with our thought pattern! The author of Psalm 97:10 makes that choice very clear, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” (NIV) Make it your decision today to guard your thoughts!

Why does Paul advocate such black and white thinking? I personally believe it is necessary to take a radical stand against anything evil because if we don’t, it will turn out to be more and more difficult to see a clear difference between good and evil. If our thinking about evil is slightly blurred, our feelings will be and eventually our actions will be. When we neglect to take a stand against darkness, we will, often unknowingly, allow the enemy of God to gain territory in our lives.

Paul warns the believers against the deception of evil over and over again, for example, in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (NIV)

When we refuse to clearly say NO to evil, we will give the enemy of God access and permission to come in and stay with us, and he will do so in often subtle ways. That is why we need a clear picture of darkness versus light, as Paul paints it in Romans 12:9-21.

When studying this part of scripture, I was reminded of my days of dating and courtship, although a long, long time ago. At a young age, I quickly learned that whenever I wasn’t clear about my feelings for a guy, he either kept pursuing me or totally ignored me. A clear yes or no was often needed to set the boundaries for friendship or relationship.

That boldness and clarity should also be our attitude when it comes to anything evil. We must learn to set the boundaries, to think with hatred about evil and, as a result, clearly say NO to anything that opposes the goodness of God.

“God loves all who hate evil.” (Ps. 97:10 Msg)


Tuesday, August 10

Love Without Hypocrisy

If you missed my last post, I just started a series called Behave Like A Christian, the idea being dropped into my head by the Lord. The series is based on Romans 12:9-21. First up is verse 9a. Different versions of this verse expand the meaning…

* “Let love be genuine.” English Standard Version
* “Love without feigning.” Wycliffe New Testament
* “[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing).” Amplified
* “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.” The Message
* “Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them.” The Living Bible
* “Let us have no imitation Christian love.” The New Testament in Modern English (Phillips)

I love those last two, don’t you? Don’t pretend; really love. And no imitation. The Greek says, “Let love be without dissimulation,” meaning without hypocrisy, deceit, or pretense, unfeigned, undisguised.

How do we love God? Others? Ourselves?

Have you ever feigned your love for someone? Ever gotten that cheesy grin on your face, that smirk of fake love? It’s called hypocrisy, being an actor as an assumed character.

Have you ever feigned your love for God? What did Jesus say to the Pharisees? “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is a farce.’” (Matt. 15:7-9a NLT)

Outward smiling, nicey-nice and lovey-dovey; inward stinking, hypocrisy and pharisaism. Ever been there, done that?

Do we see the face of Christ in others? If God is love and “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” (Rom. 5:5 NKJV) then how do we not see others as vessels containing His Spirit, unless the snarling monster of self raises its ugly head to block our view?

How can we love God and hate Him in others at the same time? Solomon said, “He who despises his neighbor sins [against God, his fellowman, and himself].” (Prov. 14:21 Amp) If we say God reigns supreme in our lives, why are we so unloving to His other body parts? I just don’t get it!

What did Jesus answer when asked which was the great commandment? He said, “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NKJV)

On the last night of Jesus’ stay on earth, He told the disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV) Do we really think about what that says? How did Jesus love us? Enough to give His life for all. Do we love others with this kind of sacrificial love, with no exclusions?

Paul said, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” (Rom. 12:10 NKJV) “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:2 NKJV)

“Be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God.” (Phil. 2:3b-6a GNB)

Unfeigned, unmasked, unbroken, unreserved, undisguised, no deceit, no pretense,
all-out, pure love…without hypocrisy. That’s the kind of love I want to have for God and for others.

Lord, may my love for You be so pure, so true, so undivided, that it flows effortlessly out of my heart to encompass all those that cross my path. Amen!


Friday, August 6

Behave Like A Christian!

This morning, I was reading Romans 12 and decided to look it up in my Bible program. Paul presents his readers with a heavy section of exhortation in verses 9-21. The New King James Version gives this section a title…

Behave Like a Christian

The Lord dropped one of His ideas into my head. I could almost hear it go kathunk! It had to be Him because I had such a nasty headache that my eyes were crossing. Here’s the idea: divide up the verses and do a series of posts on them. And have others guest post.

Cool for me. I don’t have to write them all. But God always has a reason. I think I know what it is but I’ll wait and see how it turns out before I give my thoughts on it.

So, over the next several weeks, you are going to be royally treated to some great guest writers.

Here’s the portion of Romans…

“Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil.
Cling to what is good.
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope,
patient in tribulation,
continuing steadfastly in prayer;
distributing to the needs of the saints,
given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
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.
Repay no one evil for evil.
Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.
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.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Paul gives us some great exhortations in these verses, things we need to practice. I hope you enjoy the weeks ahead.


Thursday, August 5

Abundant Comfort and Grace blog tour

Today, it is my privilege and sweet honor to be a part of the blog tour for my friend, Connie Arnold. She is the author of the book of poetry entitled Abundant Comfort and Grace. Connie brings comfort to hurting souls through her words.

Connie has also authored two other works of poetry, Abiding in Hope and Love and Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace. I hope you’ll check out her give-away at the end.

Now, h-e-e-e-r-e’s Connie…

Thank you, Lynn for your gracious agreement to be a part of my blog book tour. Your blog has brought me so much inspiration and many blessings for several years, and I hope to add my bit to that today!

Do you have children? Whether you do or not, perhaps you can remember being a small child. When you were hurt, sad, upset, feeling lonely or unloved, your mother would gather you up in her arms and soothe you. There was such a comforting, secure feeling in being wrapped in arms of love that made everything better for you in your small world.

As adults, we face greater hurts, sadness, upsets, loneliness, and feelings of depression and being unloved. We can still find comfort in all those times and at all others in our life. God is ready to wrap you in a love that can soothe away the pain and fears, filling you with a peaceful, comforting, secure feeling, and making everything better in your world.

This is a poem from my new book, Abundant Comfort and Grace (accompanied by a photo of one of my children and her children) that I hope will remind you of the childlike contentment we can still find!

Childlike Contentment

A child’s contentment is quite clear
When held in a mother’s embrace,
Knowing that she is always near
With love shining on her face.
Comfort is felt when a child is held
As troubles and fears are quickly dispelled.

Like a child we find contentment too
In the arms of the One who loves us best,
In everything we are going through
We can discover comfort and rest.
Held in a loving and strong embrace,
Childlike contentment is found through God’s grace.

The schedule for the tour is posted at Inspirational Poetry of Joy and Peace and I hope you will follow along. Be sure to leave comments. There will be two drawings at the end of the tour from comments made at the different blogs, one for a free copy of my first book, Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, and one for a $10 Amazon gift certificate. The more blogs you comment on, the more entries you receive!

There will be an additional drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate from those purchasing Abundant Comfort and Grace. You’ll be entered by purchasing a signed copy from my website using PayPal or check, or online and contact me with confirmation of your online purchase. May you be abundantly blessed, comforted and filled with God’s grace!


Monday, August 2

Crazy Painting

As I'm working on many projects at the moment, including my book, and short on time, I'm sharing this video with you. I hope you don't mind. I know you'll enjoy it. Be sure your speakers are on.