October 31st: What Do You Shine For?

In light of the upcoming date of Halloween, may we take a minute to step back and observe the date from a Christian perspective, rather than pagan. There is something powerful about celebrating what the Lord has done on various days—and not allowing our Gregorian calendar to tell us what the date should signify. If we know a bit about the day in respect to Christian history, rather than its fame as a day of dressing up as ghosts and asking for candy from strangers. There is much to spur on conversations of faith with those celebrating Halloween, if we just know our history! Let’s take a quick time travel to learn the facts. Ready to travel back in time? Awesome, let’s go!

 

The year is 1517 and the date is October 31st. We are in Wittenburg, Upper Saxony which is within the Holy Roman Empire. During this time in history, the church has been marred with a reputation of bribery schemes and grave injustices, better known as the sale of indulgences. A German Monk by the name of Martin Luther has reached his breaking point and addresses Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg through a list of objections to the current issues widely known and recognized within the church. This letter titled “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” was nailed to the door of the All Saints’ Church. This letter, which would later be better known as the Ninety-Five Theses, would play a crucial role in the Protestant Reformation.

 

Among the objections, Martin Luther states in Thesis 86 “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

Martin Luther also rejected the notion that by dropping money in the church coffers, one was able to buy entrance into heaven. Luther recalled that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to heaven and no amount of money, or lack there of, was going to change one’s personal access to Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Now, in 2017, it is our turn to take a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10-13). Regardless of what others may tell you or try to sell you—salvation is found through confessing our wrong doings to God above and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 John 1:9). There is no other way by which humanity can be saved, but through the living Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:26 & 1 Timothy 2:1-6).

 

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

 

As a Christian, may we rejoice that our souls are not stuck in some form of limbo until someone can earn enough money to absolve the debt of our sins and ensure the way to paradise. Praise be to our Victorious and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ that all the filth, shame, perversion and unspeakable deeds committed by all humanity were thrust upon Him as He died upon a cross, between two criminals, to pay each and every one of our debts in full—once and for all (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Hallelujuah! May we rejoice as followers of Jesus Christ, and use this season of plastic witches, sparkling paper bats and candy eye balls to recall our true reference point for October 31st. It is not defined by souls floating around aimlessly and waiting for the indulgences of another to get them through the gates of heaven, but firmly standing upon the Word of God that claims for each and every believer in Jesus Christ that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-10). Happy Reformation Day, church family, may we also be people who hold fast to the words of the Holy Bible; regardless of how many or how few are standing at our sides.

 

Jesus Christ called us to be His light to this dark world (Matthew 5:13-16). May we honor the Lord through speaking the truths of God’s Word to a world who is utterly confused on what pure love should look like and many are sincerely desperate to experience the real thing. Perhaps this is written for you today. What if someone you personally interact with will see pure and godly love lived out for the first time? What if, by caring for others who do not agree with you politically, economically, socially, or otherwise—what if you were used by God Almighty to help introduce someone to the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time? Sounds too big or too crazy?

May I encourage you this day to realize that our words hold weight, our actions leave impact and the love of Jesus Christ will long outlive us all. Praise God! May we bring all people to Jesus Christ who is in fact, the lover, rescuer and redeemer of every soul who confesses their inadequacies and turns to Him as the Lord of their lives (John 3:16). This is a truly exciting time to be a believer of Jesus Christ, may we not throw away the opportunities given to us each day to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us for Jesus Christ alone is worthy!

 

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

      5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?6This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

      16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

      18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

1 John 5:1-21 (NASB)

 

 

All historical information regarding Reformation Day was gathered from this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial Flowers: The Acceptance of Other

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 

   2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

 

In recent days, it has become clear to me that many of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior, do not like to hear much about the reasons for which He came. For example, the topic of sin is uncomfortable, for it cannot be covered in name brand apparel or given a prescription drug to forever numb the pain. Another such topic of discomfort is that of hell. The point that really strikes me is that these topics should indeed cause discomfort. These realities should indeed cause each soul to pause and ask God Almighty where we stand regarding sin and hell. You see, to act as if one has never sinned—is to lie to oneself—and forgo the offer of eternal life.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

One must see their own depravity and their own shortcomings in order to more fully realize the sheer weight and gravity of the offense of our rebellion against the One and only Holy God of all things. The Bible assures us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is why we must understand that because of God’s amazing grace and unabashed love for His creation, humanity, He sent His One and only Son, Jesus Christ to rescue us from a course bound for destruction that was never intended for us.

 

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)

 

The Bible clearly teaches, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And as the pages unfold and the vast beauty of God’s detailed and complex creation is brought to life, we are first introduced to Adam and Eve within the perfect land called Eden (Genesis 2:7-10, Genesis 2:21-25). God had perfect fellowship with them and would daily walk in the garden with them, but as rebellion entered this perfect place, through the free will of Adam and Eve, guilt and shame also entered (Genesis 3). Only perfection could be in the presence of Almighty God. Thus, as Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, the epic and celestial rescue operation, of God sending His own Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to atone for the screw ups and rebellion of each and every human heart (Isaiah 53:5), was set into motion.

 

Hell was never intended for humanity, but rather for the devil and his minions (Matthew 25:41). Thus, we must be burdened, as believers in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from a place that was never intended for them (Acts 16:31). Jesus clearly spoke of the reality of hell and the excruciating torment of hell for all who do not believe (Luke 16:19-31, John 5:39-47). Ladies, remember that the devil and his minions are determined to destroy all joy here on earth and cause each heart to reject God’s offer of eternal life through the penalty paid in full, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Allow us to bring this point home: Ladies, rather than settling for an artificial flowers of carnal love or the inaccurate depiction of romance, may we repent from deception committed through smart phone screens and exploding text chains and return to the Lord who sees the value of each precious soul and poured out His own blood to rescue and redeem (1 John 4:9-10). Rather than believing that our culture or Hollywood knows best how to align our priorities and the allegiance of our souls, may we repent and return to the Lord for He promises plans filled with hope and a future for all who trust in Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Rather than settling for fashion that depicts the female body as a playground and shows the onlooker that the one wearing such articles only sees herself through the eyes of sex, may we repent and return to the Lord for He has so much better in store for you (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 13:14).

 

The time is now, Ladies. Let us not accept artificial lifestyles any longer. The King of Kings has called and created us for something much grander than simply updating an internet feed or chat chain; we have been called to righteousness as we advance the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection to all people (Genesis 1:26, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18-20). The time is now. Let’s go.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Thanks To The LORD In All Seasons

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34 (HCSB)

 

LORD AND ETERNAL KING JESUS,

You are so good (Job 34:10, Nahum 1:7).

You are so faithful (Deuteronomy 32:4).

You are righteous (Psalm 92:15).

You are timeless (Psalm 90:2, Revelation 1:8).

The things You do no one can undo (Isaiah 43:13).

Your love is everlasting (1 Chronicles 16:34).

Your faithfulness stretches to the sky (Psalm 36:5).

You see value and eternity in each heart (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10).

You do not slumber or miss the details of Your children’s’ lives (Psalm 121:2-3).

You are sovereign (Psalm 145:13).

You are the only uncreated One (Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6).

You hold all things together (John 1:1-2).

You held heaven back as You died upon the brutal cross of Calvary for my shame and guilt (Isaiah 53:1-12).

You laid Your life down and You took it back up again on the third day (John 2:19, John 10:17-18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Colossians 1:15-20).

You are the conquering King (Revelation 19:11-16).

You alone are the source of eternal life and peace (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 John 5:1-12).

Those whom have a broken and contrite spirit, You comfort (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3).

Those who are lost, experience Your guidance as they reach out to You in earnest (Psalm 119:9-16, Jeremiah 29:12-13).

You did not need us to accomplish Your plan, but You give us the grand honor of taking part in the eternal story of Your love and faithfulness (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Thank You for saving a wretch like me (Isaiah 6:1-8, Romans 3:19-31, Romans 10:9, 1 John 1:9).

In Jesus’ holy and victorious name I praise and pray, amen.

 

 

Tangible Gifts of Thanks for Family, Friends and Mentors This Holiday Season

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:15-17 (NASB)

 

As Thanksgiving is upon us in only a matter of hours away, take a moment to assess your true feelings of giving thanks. Are they determined by a situation or by the unchanging status of our Lord, Jesus Christ? As I have reflected within my own life, I have come to the conclusion that the world only champions certain blessings. And for other types of godly blessings (e.g. heartache, difficulty and trials), the world looks on. What’s my point? If we aren’t focused on the Word of God and living thankful lives, as referenced in the Scriptures, it is easy to grow complacent.

 

The Bible speaks of many gifts the Lord has given to us through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11). Ladies, bottom line, we have everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to God and a blessing to others. I love that even in times of not knowing what to say or even what to pray, the Lord encourages us to come to Him for wisdom (James 1:5)! Thus, if you find yourself feeling a tad bit overwhelmed by the social pressures around you as the holiday season revs up—silence all devices and sit at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39 & Luke 10:42). After a time of serious refreshment, check out these five gift ideas to express thanks to those who have made an impact on your life.
As you consider who you would like to bless this Thanksgiving season with an encouragement, the biggest thing is to pray for the person by name. Ask the Lord to bless and direct the steps of the individual.

 

Idea #1. A Ray of Sunshine Bottle: This is a fun way to create a memorable gift that will be treasured for years to come! Take fifteen to twenty paper strips and write out an encouraging verse or personal encouragement for the recipient. Fold the notes, or “rays of sunshine”, in half and place into a small mason jar or other glass container. Now add a little glitter to the jar, close it up and shake. Tie a ribbon around the lid, and deliver!

 

Idea #2. Shadow Box of Memories: Gather some little items that represent the times you have shared together. For example, little pebbles or leaves from a path you walk together. Arrange them within the shadow box and write a short card sharing something you have learned from the recipient on such a walk together.

 

Idea #3. A Steaming Basket: This is a great gift for those who enjoy a hot cup of something to warm up as the weather continues to cool off. Gather an assortment of individually sealed tea, coffee, hot cider and/or hot cocoa and display them in a small wicker basket, atop a pretty seasonal napkin or decorative straw. Wrap some burlap and ribbon around the basket and add a little verse to complete the gift (e.g. Psalm 18:46, Psalm 46:10, 2 Peter 1:3 & Matthew 6:10)

 

Idea #4. Bouquet of Thorns: This one may sound a bit unconventional, but it really is a blessed reminder of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. Inspired by a Revive Our Hearts podcast this past Thanksgiving. Go to the florist and ask for a bouquet of roses…without the rose heads. Ask for a beautiful bow to be tied around the rose stems. The bouquet of thorns signifies that there is beauty that comes out of seasons of discomfort, longing and even great heartache. Include a card to accompany the bouquet. Encourage the recipient that you are praying for them in their season of great difficulty for the Lord to provide His strength, steadfast love and ability to praise God in the midst of it all (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 145:18, Isaiah 57:15).

 

Idea #5. Three Ingredient Cupcakes: Ok, ladies, this is a total favorite in our home! Three ingredients…no eggs…super easy! Mix 1 cake mix (chocolate, vanilla, yellow or white) with one 15 oz. can of Libby’s Pumpkin…add 2 cups chocolate or butterscotch chips. Mix and put into oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350F. Done. Delicious…instant win!

 

No matter how you choose to bless someone in this season, remember that you are a blessing in their lives—not simply the gift you bring.