Saturday, January 28, 2017

Majoring in faith

~Saturday Stories~

“I think I can trust God’ll take me where I need to go ... I guess I better major in faith first, huh?” -Kirsten, The Merciful Scar

"Dear God, please help me to know how to handle this. I think you're telling me to break up with Josh. But a big part of me is struggling with it. Please, show me somehow what I need to do. Thank You." - Caitlin, Becoming Me

"My life was a mess. It still is - I mean my family is all messed up. But I don't feel all that agony inside anymore. I feel like I'm part of God's family. He really, truly is like a father to me. For me, it was like my heart melted when I asked Christ to come inside and pick up the pieces. I don't think I'd want my life to continue if God wasn't in it." -Katie, A Whisper and a Wish

How about you? Have you ever asked God what His plans are? Have you received an answer? Can you trust God to lead you to right where He wants you? Has God relieved some of your agony? Do you feel like a part of God's family? 

Friday, January 27, 2017

End of discussion

~Friday for Friends~

“God must hate me. I hardly ever pray anymore—”
“Lilianna.” Mom never used Lilianna unless she was really serious. “We’re not going to have that kind of talk. God loves you. Period. End of discussion. Now close your eyes. Let’s talk to Him.”"
 -Lilianna and her mom in Here's Lily

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Always remember - God loves you no matter what!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Loving God and neighbors: Applying Matthew 22

~Tuesday Thoughts~

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV).

God’s Word repeats the command to love your God and your neighbors again and again. From the well-known passage in Matthew to John’s love-infused letters, there is no doubt that love should be one of the crucial parts of our lives.

However, sometimes we do not know how to make this feel “real.” How do we imply head knowledge to actions? How do we obey 1 John 3:18, which encourages us not to “love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (New International Version)?

Loving God is something that is both natural and extremely hard. As Caitlin says in Melody Carlson’s Becoming Me, “Now loving God may sound simple enough, but it’s not that easy to love him above all else.” From careers to hobbies to relationships, many things try to steal our attention and love away from where it should be. Church, friends, family, and maybe even a Christian school or college can help us dig deeper into knowing God, encouraging and providing accountability. Yet a lot of the job is for us to do one-on-one with God. It is never too late or too early to start reading the Bible or conversing with our Lord about our lives, this world and its troubles, or anything else.

One of the most important parts of loving God is obeying His commands (1 John 5:3), and one of these commands is loving others. If we love God, we must also love our neighbors (1 John 4:20), which sometimes proves to be a very difficult task. Numerous people annoy us so much or have hurt us time after time. However, we should not settle for tolerance of a person; we should love that person. No one said it would be easy.

We need to remember that loving with only words is almost nothing. Actions, however, do not need to be large to show this love. If we just look around, we will find millions of opportunities to do good to our neighbors. These include spending time with someone, encouraging him when life gets tiring, and reminding him of a love so amazing and great that will always be there for him if only he ask.

We need to remember that God loved us long before we even considered loving Him. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, New International Version). Let us go love others!

Monday, January 23, 2017

It Is Well

~Monday Movies & Music~ 

David Dunn has a great song, "It Is Well." Here are the lyrics

"1 I love you, Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV)

Do you trust God? Is He your strength? Is He your rock and deliverer?  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How much longer will I be okay?

~Saturday Stories~

Despair seems far away 
Loneliness has fled
How much longer will I feel okay? 

I’m scared that if I close 
My eyes it’ll all disappear 
And I’ll be by myself again 
All alone with nobody to hear me 

It is encouraging to know that, no matter how alone we feel, we will never really be alone. No matter how uncertain our future or even our emotions, our God is never-changing.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[a]" Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

How about you? Have you ever felt great only to feel horrible soon after? When was a time you had to trust God through all of it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When we confess, He forgives

~Tuesday Thoughts~

In a campus ministry I belong to, we were talking about repentance, rooting the talk in the story of Jonah. Other verses were talked about as well, one of which is Psalm 51:17.

  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (ESV)

Let us humble ourselves before our Creator and ask for His forgiveness. Let us remember that when we confess, He forgives. Let us rejoice in that truth and start to obey Him again. And let us be examples to the world of people changed by a Love that will never fail.

Monday, January 16, 2017

God's forgiveness

~Monday Movies & Music~ 

"Burn" by Group 1 Crew (lyrics) is an amazing song about forgiveness: forgiving others, forgiving yourself, accepting God's forgiveness of you. It's about making a new start no matter where you are now. 

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

"'For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.'[a]" Hebrews 8:12 (NIV)

Have you had trouble forgiving others? Forgiving yourself? Remembering that God forgave you? 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Emma Wimble Accidental Astronaut by Michael P. Waite

~Saturday Stories~

"Mr. Mishkin set the helmet down and it pushed against a lever. The Cosmo-Jet began to rumble and shake. It felt as if it were rising off the floor. “”What have I done?” Mr. Mishkin cried, turning to the control board in terror. “Don’t worry,” Emma said. “You just pushed this one is all.” Emma shoved the lever (at least she thought it was the same lever) in the other direction, and the Cosmo-Jet lurched upward instantly. “Oops,” said Emma."

Emma didn’t obey Mr. Mishkin and now both of them are lost somewhere in space. With a little robot and a smart alien, though, things seem to look up. Until Emma messes everything up again. But this time it’s even more dangerous. Will they get out alive?

Mr. Mishkin, Emma’s friend, is a Christian and tells her the story of Moses and the Israelites. “If the people had obeyed Moses,” he says,-“they wouldn’t be stuck in the dessert for forty years”. That is basically the Bible story of the book. Throughout the book Emma tries to obey and be more like Joshua, “the wise spy”. There are no talks about other aspects of the Christian life. Emma Wimble Accidental Astronaut will mostly entertain, rather than teach about God.

  "Hear instruction and be wise,
    and do not neglect it." Proverbs 8:33 (ESV)

For more on Michael P. Waite, visit his Amazon author page.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Something to share

~Friday for Friends~

"Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need." Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

It's interesting that the command not to steal is followed by a reason for it - to share. It's not so we can  buy a better house, go on cooler vacations, lose ourselves in our work, or whatever. It's so that we can share. 

And we can start sharing now. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

God IS acting (in your life)

~Tuesday Thoughts~

Recently a pastor at my church preached on Matthew 1:18-24, the story of Joseph learning about Mary's pregnancy, making a plan, having an angel tell him that plan was wrong, and following the angel's words. 

The sermon was on... seeing God act in our lives. 

Granted, we will probably not see angels telling us to marry our spouses when it sure LOOKS like they've been unfaithful. But, see, God doesn't always work in these grandiose schemes that get put into a God-inspired Book. He does work in those ways. But not always. 

If we look into our lives, we might - just might - see what God had planned when He let us walk through the stories we walked through, good or bad. And even if we don't ever figure out why things happened the way they did, we can always know the One who is working everything to our good and who has great plans for us. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

""For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

How about you? Have you looked back at something and saw the way God lead you to be right where you needed to be?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Only a mountain

~Monday Movies & Music~

Jason Castro has a great song, "Only a Mountain." Here are the lyrics.

"He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[a]"  Matthew 17:20 (ESV)

Whether this is to be taken figuratively or not, faith is, in fact, an amazing thing. God CAN do miracles, and He still does them. Not every time we want Him to, maybe, but our God is so very powerful. He knows what He is doing every time. And sometimes He does miracles. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Jesus is changing my life"

~Saturday Stories~

"You make it sound so easy to trust God for everything, Leslie. I'm not sure it's going to be that easy for me."
"It'll get easier the more you do it." - Leslie and Christy, A Whisper and a Wish

"[The song]'s about how we can't do anything on our own, how we are totally helpless without God, but how we sometimes think we don't need him, that we can get by, and then we fall flat on our faces. But that's when he picks us up and cleans us off." - Emily, Faded Denim

"Jesus is changing my life."
"Most people I hear talk about God say it in the past tense, but you say it like it's happening now."
... "It is. It's a process. I mess up all the time, but the Bible promises that 'He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.'" -Hannah and Sue, Stuck in the Sky

How about you? Do you sometimes find it hard to trust God? Do you ever forget that we are helpless without Him? Do you remember that God is continuing His good work in you?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Orphans, widows, being unpolluted

~Friday for Friends~

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 (NIV)

Who can you look after today? How can you keep yourself unpolluted? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Stop judging people already!

~Tuesday Thoughts~

Ever been told "stop judging people already!" or "he/she is big enough to make his/her own decisions" and "not everything that's right for you is right for everyone?" 

Eeeeer. Big, big sigh...  I want to address the first statement in this post. The whole "stop judging, what are you, better than everyone else?" statement. 

Many times when that is said, I'm not actually judging anyone. Sometimes I am, and I am seriously sorry for that. But sometimes I'm just pointing out that a certain lifestyle and/or decision is wrong. That the Bible says so. I don't believe in abortion because the Bible teaches that life starts in the womb. I will not support gay rights because the Bible claims homosexuality - as well as adultery - to be immoral. I don't cheat on tests because I believe I should not lie. I believe that Christianity is the only religion that is right, and that every other religion is wrong. 

I AM NOT saying everyone else is a horrible person, and I'm perfect. No way am I perfect. And I'm really really sorry for those times that I do judge people. Those times do happen, sadly. What I am saying, though, is that some acts and beliefs are wrong. Just... wrong. That's what the Bible says. 

But if I'm not saying all this in love, please tell me. 'Cause that's the way I should be doing it

I'd encourage y'all to read this post on criticism and how it should/should not be done. 

How about you? Have you ever been blamed for "judging" others? Have you ever accused someone of it? Have you ever judged others in the wrong way? What are your thoughts on the topic?

Monday, January 2, 2017

I won't let you go

~Monday Movies & Music~

Switchfoot has a beautiful song, "I Won't Let You Go." Here are the lyrics

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”" Hebrews 13:5-6 (ESV)

No matter what happens, God is with us. How glorious is this truth!