No word from God will ever fail!

my ways are not your way

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

If God is for us, who can be against us…Powerful words, words full of promise and commitment. Words to encourage and assure us, words that fully express God’s passion for His children. Just a few verses later it states, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37

So, if God is for us and nothing can separate His children from Him, then why are we so fearful? Why do we doubt His love and His care? Why do we think and act if things are either out of His reach, to big for Him to handle or too small for Him to care?

Is it a lack of faith? I believe that, at least in my life, it’s a lack of understanding. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

I don’t understand why I had to struggle so much in life; death, loss, more death, trials and tribulations…why? I asked that a lot. What I have experienced recently however, is a growing sense of who God is, through my relationship with Jesus Christ, and through that, a better knowledge of how little I know, or as Socrates put it, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Isaiah 41:10“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

I can’t comprehend the passion and fullness of God’s love, or of Jesus’s sacrifice for me. I can only understand through the lenses of my life’s experiences, without the Holy Spirit. And there it is…with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in my life I can begin to experience and understand God’s ways, who Jesus is, and through that the unthinkable grace that’s been given to me.

Cory Asbury expresses this so well in his song Reckless Love“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”

God is sovereign. Nothing gets by Him, nothing is beyond Him, nothing surprises Him, and He can and will work ALL things for His Glory and our good. More than that, there is nothing that will surprise Him, shock Him or rock Him.

Jeremiah 32:27“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

So, back to my point, if God is with us who can be against us? Knowing that there is nothing God can’t do, nothing is too big or too small for His attention and that He will always provide for our needs, then why do we still doubt and fear? I believe it is because we have a very hard time, without the help of the Holy Spirit, fully comprehending who He is.

The remedy is easy, get to know Him better. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to discern His ways, pray for understanding, read His words. None of us would attempt to write a biography on a famous individual without spending considerable time with that person, reading about them, studying their actions and decisions. Why then do we throw our hands up in the air and yell, “why Lord”, when we haven’t been intentional in our efforts to know him better?

The key is being intentional, you can’t read a scripture, pray Sunday morning then throw your hands up that it’s not working. It takes time, effort and commitment…the fruits of which however, will be immeasurable; thirty, fifty and a hundred-fold more than you could ever imagine.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

Like, share, comment, and add your email to receive blog posts, podcasts, and more!

come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

 

1 Million Followers

My 9- and 10-year-old love following people on Youtube. There is one young couple and another young family who spend their days playing hide-and-seek in the strangest of places. Both my children like to tell me how many followers they have, how many likes their latest video received, and how cool and popular they are. This is inevitably followed by how they want to be cool like that by having their own Youtube fame. But, when you ask them why these people are cool, famous, and popular the response is because, “they have like a million followers, mom!”. They’re cool because people follow them, not because of who they are.

It seems to me that we (myself included) are raising a generation of children and youth who are finding their value, their identity, and their validation in an arbitrary number representing the volume of reactions they get from a nameless, faceless, multitude. The more shocking the behavior the greater the reaction. To beat out their ‘competition’ for the prize of the largest number of followers, they need to perform more reckless, heartless, dangerous and damaging feats…and there seems to be no ceiling or depth limit. There seems to be no limit to how they will behave and expose themselves to get to the coveted 1 million followers.

In the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul provides a list of historic heroes of the Bible. Those whose stories we’ve heard told from Able and Noah, to Samson and David, not to mention all the prophets who placed themselves at the mercy of their enemies to remain faithful and obedient to God. They didn’t care what those around them thought, nor did they seek their approval, they lived their lives for a higher purpose regardless of the outcome. Talk about a radical lifestyle!

“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38

None of them chose their life to please themselves or others. Each chose their path because they found their identity in God alone.

“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15

They neither looked for nor wanted the approval from others, the approval of the crowd is fickle and fleeting. The moment you stop being more shocking than the next person they turn on you and from you. Look what happened to Jesus, He makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and by Friday some of the same crowds are calling for His death.

When our identity is wrapped up completely in Jesus, then the storms of change, chaos, uncertainty, and fear cannot sway us or cause us to lose our way. Our eyes are fixed on the eternity that He promises us, not in the temporary and finite world we now live.

There is one group of fans, however, I’d like to call your attention too. After Paul lists several Biblical heroes, and their many trails, and the favor found in their obedience to God, He begins Chapter 12 with an amazing encouragement.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

When you consider all those in the world and throughout history who have stood firm in their faith through persecution, humiliation, torture, and death, those numbers far exceed any you may, or may not, get to like, follow, or share your worldly identity today. That is the great cloud of witnesses that are cheering you on, not because of what you do but because of the faith you’ve found in Jesus.

When you chose to align yourself with Jesus, to stand with Him, not only do you have the God and creator of the universe guarding your back, but you also have a ‘posse’ walking with you that have seen and done it all. You’re never alone. You’ll never face something new. You are 100% guaranteed to win in the end. No matter the outcome in this world you are assured a place with Jesus forever.

There is a post on Facebook that I’ve kept, it was posted by Lecrae. I’ve used it before, but I think it’s very pertinent now.

“If I’m wrong about God, then I’ve wasted my life. If you’re wrong about God, then you wasted your eternity.” When you identify and find your value in Jesus, you will live a better life here on earth and your eternity will be greater than you could ever imagine. If you identify with this world, with the crowd, with the followers, with the fickle, broken, hurting, and sinful, not only will your life on earth be hard, but your eternity will also be harder than you could ever imagine.

Choosing Jesus, you’ll never stand alone. Choosing the crowd, you’ll never know who will be standing with you tomorrow.

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

God loves me the best…I win!

“I love you mom”, “I love you too son”, “I love you the best, I win!”

Then I say, “no, I win”, then he says, “no, I win.” And, so it goes until I claim, “I win cause God gave me you for my son.” “No, mom I win cause he gave me you for a mom.” This is a very regular conversation in our home, who loves who best, who is more blessed because God gifted us the other. However, on this night Marcus added something new. “Mom, I think God loves us the best…so doesn’t that mean He wins?” I smiled and gave my amazingly intuitive 10-year old a  big hug and said, “actually, Marcus, I think because God loves us best…we win.”

We win! Powerful words, it also happens to be the title of one of my favorite Mercy Me songs. Can you think of any time, circumstance, or action in your life where regardless of who you are, what you’ve done (or are doing), you are totally, unconditionally, and recklessly loved?

We read in in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We all have heard or read this passage of scripture at some point, if however, this is the first time…take a minute to really read it again/anew. God shows (present and continuing tense) His love, that while we were still (present and continuing tense) sinners, Christ died for us. In our worst most secret, shameful, and sinfilled moments…in those very moments, Jesus Christ died for you. In fact, later in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul states that there is nothing ever in time, past, present, or future that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35-39)

So, if God loved us at our worst and tells us that NOTHING can separate us from that love, then why do we still walk through life living as if we don’t have it? We turn from God out of shame and fear, when He sacrificed His life to free us from shame and fear. We turn from God because we don’t feel we’ve done enough good to deserve it. When, in fact, there is nothing good enough in us to do enough good to deserve God’s love. We have to remember something very important, His love is never dependent upon us, or our deservedness, it is always dependent upon His goodness.

We win because He loved us best. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13.

First we receive Jesus’ command, love one another as I have loved you, (unconditionally and recklessly). Then He give us the example of what this love looks like, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. He did just that. And, because He did…we win.

Jesus’ love is so great that it is blind to what we see as flaws. We see our physical defects and try to hide or change them, He sees the beauty of His creation, each detail, an intentional artistic decision. We see our character defects, our habits and behaviors, and try to hide or gloss them over. He sees the potential of who He created us to be, a beautiful reflection of God, a light to shine on the world and point to Him.

What we see, or what others see as bad, broken, imperfect, and unworthy, God sees as beautiful, whole, perfectly created, and wholly loved. I know it’s difficult to comprehend that the creator of everything we can and can’t know loves us unconditionally, but that is the truth, without exception or amendment.

The next time you are having a conversation with a loved one, or with yourself about who loves who best remember, God is the source of all love. We couldn’t love without Him, and we can’t out love Him. All love flows from Him, through us and to the world. We are the recipients of the greatest gift of all time, God’s unconditional love, it’s there for each of us, will you accept it today?

Let God surprise and bless you in 2021 as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

To the Unbeliever in 2021

Hindsight certainly is 2020, we’ll find it to be more so the further we are from it.

My dearest friends, my hope by this note is not to provide any new insight, but to give you something to consider sharing with your non-believing friends and family, as we begin a new year. It is not a treatise per se but an invitation. An invitation to consider not just the person of Jesus Christ, but the life he has provided and called us to live.

This is my letter to unbelievers in 2021.

Friends, consider for a moment your current belief about God, life, death, afterlife, what is out there, and why are we here? Regardless of where you currently stand on these subjects, I believe that they are rooted from some place deep inside you, that you probably can’t explain. CS Lewis refers to this in his book Mere Christianity, as the Law of Human Nature. That each one of us is working from a common set of internal beliefs of right and wrong, and that if we did not have those that life would be chaos. All arguments large or small stem from a belief that one person is right and the other wrong.  If you have not read this book, I would highly encourage. Lewis is one of the great apologists of the last century as well as an incredibly gifted writer and speaker.

This moral coding that is found inside all of us recognizes that there is more to life than a coincidental smashing together of atoms. It understands there is more than the here and now, we have a purpose and it’s bigger than ourselves. From this common understanding comes all things.

For example, in cultures across the world we have an uncanny level of hero worship. We make movies, television shows and books that highlight the individual sacrifice of one man (or small group of men) for the greater common good of all. Where does this come from, “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:17-18 

We read books and tell stories of heroes who are part God and part man that can both save and destroy the world. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” Genesis 6:4

We place in high regard those, who against all odds, band together for a common cause to make the world a better place. “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve[a] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” Mark 3:13-15

We love an underdog story, Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”” 1 Samuel 16:10-12

We idolize heroes, believe in the supernatural, cheer for the passionate, and identify with the underdog. What has this got to do with you? None of the stories are original, they all stem from scripture. Even before that they stem from that common core which we received from our creator, that believes in the nobility of righteousness, sacrifice, honor, and love. There is nothing new under the sun and we all are imbued with the same quest to be more than we are.

Since we know that in us is a common bond of understanding that gives us each a desire to be more, and to understand our purpose, why do we then settle for less?

In today’s culture we glorify those who hunt ghosts, seek to prove that aliens have visited from outer space, claim inanimate objects have magical properties and that we can know and understand our future by what the stars tell us. However, it’s taboo to believe that there is a sovereign God who created the universe. We believe in the supernatural but only so far as we can possess, control, or comprehend. We believe in the supernatural so long as it is small, and we can keep it in a box where it doesn’t really affect our daily lives.

In scripture we find talking animals, visitors not from this world, spirits reaching out from the grave, so called magicians and astrologers who can perceive the works of God but not understand them.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

Dear ones, how can you continue to put your faith, trust, hope, and expectation in the created and not the creator. Inside each of us there is a longing that cannot be filled by anything but God; money can’t, power can’t, people can’t. Nothing created by God can satisfy, only God himself can.

The problems of the world are caused by the human propensity to seek to fill that void in themselves with the things of this world, which will never work. It is in that inability to be satisfied by what we have that drives us to seek more and more, nothing will ever even put a dent in that desire. There is only one answer to your longing, it is God.

If you find yourself beginning this new year longing to know more, be more, understand more, I encourage you to find a Bible and read the book of Matthew. It won’t take long and is easy to understand. Read it with an open mind, an open heart. I think you will find that it will speak to you in unexpected ways, and I will pray that the Holy Spirit moves, and you come to know who you are, how you are loved, and most especially the creator who sacrificed himself to bring you, and everyone, out of slavery to this world and closer to him.

If you remain unconvinced, I will ask you to consider one question. If you are right, and there is no God, and I am wrong. I have lived a full and complete life, truly happy with my decisions, loving my fellow man and working to spread love and peace in the world. When I die, that will be remembered of me. However, if I am right, and you are wrong, and there is indeed a God in heaven. You will not only have wasted your life chasing after things that will never make you happy, but you will also lose your eternity in the process.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:16-21

Let God surprise and bless you in this new year!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

T-Minus 1-Day till 2021- Lord help me to seek you first.

It’s safe to say that of the four Gospels, the book of Matthew is my go-to. I love that it is clear, honest and doesn’t pull any punches with regard to who Jesus is and what He expects of us with regards to how we live our lives. From the Sermon on the Mount, through the parables, the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission. You could read through this one Gospel and have a whole new level of understanding with regards to who our Savior is, what He’s done for us, and how He has called us to live.

Everything about this Gospel (all of them actually) points to God’s Sovereignty through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ with a foretelling of the Spirit to come that will enable us to do and be what we were created for. Whenever I am struggling with some aspect of my life; in my family, in my ministry, in my relationships, I can look to this book and find answers. I will find answers that confirm, and answers that convict. The Holy Spirit will reveal to me new truths and provide the direction and discernment that I’m asking for.

In Matthew chapter 6 we read a litany of worldly problems that we allow to distract us, Jesus answer to those problems is very simple, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

Jesus answer to all our problems, challenges, suffering, questions, etc. is to seek God first in all things. I know that in my own life it is easy to say, and harder to do, especially in the emotional moment. I am a problem solver by nature and my practical problem solving side kicks in and I’m operating in my own knowledge and not in Gods. 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 tells us, Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 

My prayer, on this last day before the breaking through of 2021, is to seek first the kingdom of God, to seek his wisdom and his knowledge, not what this world considers to be wise, which is foolishness to God. I pray that before I speak, act, decide, and emote, that I measure each with the wisdom that the Holy Spirit provides to me through Scripture, and prayer.

I pray that this new year brings restoration for families, peace for each heart, and most especially a revival in the Church. Our world is hurting, reeling, and desperately seeking for an anchor. Christ is that anchor, Christ is what the world needs, Christ is the only one who can save us from the storm that is blowing all around us.

If you are looking for answers and are uncertain where to turn, I encourage you to pick up a Bible and read the book of Matthew. It won’t take days and days, it’s easy to understand, it will challenge your thinking, break your heart, give you hope, and prepare you for the life you have been called to live with Jesus in your heart. What harm could it do, none. However, the hope it will bring can change your life and provide answers to questions you’ve been asking.

Happy New Year dear ones, may it bring you abounding blessings, deep love of God through Christ Jesus and a life made whole by the gift of His Salvation.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

There is Freedom in Forgiveness

The word forgiveness brings up all kinds of feelings and images for people. Some see forgiveness as being weak, allowing those who have hurt you to “get away with” the pain they have inflicted. Some see forgiveness as giving permission to wrongs, others see it as allowing evil to exist unchecked in the world. However you view forgiveness, I believe it is fair to say that the word carries with it strong emotion. Shakespeare could just have easily written the words, ‘to forgive, or not to forgive, that is the question.’

Whatever your view of forgiveness, one thing remains true, God calls us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. He does not follow that statement with a litany of exceptions to this command. It is complete and absolute, without exception. We are called to forgive, just as God forgave us. Let’s be clear, I do not know what sins have been committed against you, so I cannot, and will not claim to fully understand the pain that you may have suffered, and continue to suffer because of them. I would never want to do anything to negate what has happened to you. My sole desire in sharing this is to help you understand the toll that unforgiveness takes on your life.

People who hold on to wrongs, injure only themselves not the person whom their grudge is against. Unforgiveness festers in your heart, it makes you bitter, angry, resentful, and at its worst can cause you to injure others. All the while, the individual(s) who sinned against you, continue on as they were. Forgiveness is not about them; it is about you and your relationship with God. By living with unforgiveness in your heart, you are creating separation between you and God.

Remember God forgave us for all the sins we committed and have yet to commit. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, in this world we can do to make amends for, or to earn that forgiveness.  If we could in our own power make ourselves righteousness, and restore our relationship with God the Cross would not have been necessary to reconcile us to the Father. He forgave us in the midst of our sin, our injuring others, and in our denial. When we didn’t even realize we needed forgiveness, He forgave us. His love for us, and His desire for us to be reconciled to Him was so great that He forgave it all…ALL. He made the ultimate sacrifice in Jesus, who paid the price for all our sin, so that we could return to God.

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it Is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

All scripture speak aside, unforgiveness puts you in bondage…ties you to the person who wronged you, forever. Unforgiveness is bondage, it is handing your life over to another, your emotions, your heart, to the person who has hurt you. Living in unforgiveness is like handing the reigns of your life over to someone else and letting them drive you. The hate, anger and resentment that festers in your heart will overtake your life and you will be unable to move forward.

The word forgiveness (aphesis) mean loosing someone from what binds him. It stems from a verb meaning to send away. Forgiveness grants freedom to those who are in bondage. Those bonds tie you to the hurt that others have caused either intentionally or not. Forgiveness allows you to send away the pain that holds your heart and mind hostage. Imagine for a moment, what it would be like to not have those feelings shadowing you. To be free from those negative feelings associated with that person or action.

Forgiveness is not something we can do on our own. We are broken and resentful people, unable to do anything good outside of God. Sure, we may forget for a while, we may stuff it down and chalk it up to ‘no big deal’. However, there will come a time where something will happen to remind you of the pain that was caused, and it’s like living through it all over again. In fact, the longer you stuff it, the worse it will be when it comes out…and it will come out.

The only way to be rid of the root of bitterness is the loosing of forgiveness. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every for of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:31-5:2)

Yes, I do know what I’m saying. I know that pain and bitterness has become part of who you are and you’re not sure who you will be without it. You feel justified in your anger and desire for revenge, but if you hold on to that bitterness, your hands are not free to hold onto Christ. Forgiving those wrongs does not make them right, does not mean you approve, does not mean it was OK, it means you are loosing that which binds you, sending it away.  You can’t do it on your own, but you don’t have too.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably ore than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

My prayer for each person reading this, is that the Holy Spirit will reveal the unforgiveness in your heart, what which binds you and keeps your heart hostage. I pray that He will work in your life and enable you to let go and forgive those who have hurt you, just as Christ forgave you.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries