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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

GUILT BUSTER





 Everything was my fault.  At least that is how I felt . 
If a friend or family member was unhappy I blamed myself. If there was a deadly tornado in the mid west, somehow it was my fault because I did not pray about it.  If two people were whispering it had to be about me.
What a selfish mindset. I needed freedom from guilt and self condemnation.



There are two kinds of guilt. 

Before salvation- Everyone stands guilty of sin before God. We are judged by the Law or 10 Commandments.


Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12 KJV


For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. James 2:10 ESV


After salvation- We feel guilty when we sin against our Father in Heaven.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. Romans 5:18 ESV

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:21,24


Before Salvation


I think of Isaiah 6:1-6

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost;for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

 Isaiah was a righteous, godly man by all outward appearance. Yet when he saw God in His splendor and holiness,  he acknowledged how sinful he was in comparison.

 Isaiah's sin had to be burned away; the fire of judgment was applied to his sin. Once Isaiah  had been convicted of his sin, and cleanse from its guilt, then he was ready to serve God.



All believers are here to serve God.  We still sin.  So what do we do with that guilty feeling?


After Salvation


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV


This is agreeing with God that what we did was wrong and asking Him to provide the strength to walk in righteousness.


So why do we still feel guilty?  
When we sin against our God we have a spiritual wound that needs to heal. The feeling is the healing process, not guilt.
Our enemy wants us to keep feeling guilty.
The truth. We stand righteous before God 

 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love Ephesians 1:4 ESV


Know that your heavenly Father loves you and disciplines you.  

He does not want you walking around feeling guilty or defeated.

As I learned this I began to focus on my Abba and not myself.   I claimed His promises.  

Now, I am free.

Do you struggle with guilty feelings?




Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 NIV


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WORTH REMEMBERING



There are events in life that are worth remembering- weddings, birthdays and other special moments. 
My best memory?  The day the Lord took my hand in His and we began our journey together. That was 27 years ago.
 My sister Charlene needed prayer. She lived in Hawaii at the time.  We live in New England.
 I searched for a church that was open during the day. 
None!
 However, Wood River Baptist Church in Hope Valley, RI held a prayer meeting every Tuesday night at 7 pm.
 I walked through the doors of the little white chapel with my younger sister Jessie.
 I remember three of the eight people who were there. 
Jimmy Stewart’s mom, Pastor Bell, and my sister, who took Jesus’ other hand that night. 
As Jessie and I entered, a gray-haired lady motioned for me to sit on the piano bench next to her. As I sat down I recognized her.  Guilt set in.
 As teenagers, we went to Jimmy Stewart's house and listen to ACDC, KISS and other rock bands.  Jimmy was banned from having friends over when his mom was at work. God reminded me of one moment, as we left Jimmy’s bedroom to go home.  Jimmy's mom was sitting in her rocking chair with hands folded.  
Was she praying before she killed us? I thought to myself, trying to leave unnoticed.
My stomached turned and my face reddened with embarrassment as she smiled her angelic smile and waved goodbye to us.  No judgment about the music, no mention of disobeying her rule.  We hurried out of the house and nervously giggled all the way home.  
That same angelic smile from the past was sitting next to me on the piano bench.  I told her we were there to pray for our oldest sister, Charlene, who was going through some difficult problems.
"I remember Charlene, she finished High School early." Her sky blue eyes focused on me.
 Pastor Bell came into the sanctuary and asked Jessie and me to follow him.  Before I stood up, Jimmy’s mom put her hand on my knee, lovingly looked into my eyes and said, “If you accept Jesus as your Savior you can still wear makeup!”  To this day I still chuckle about her statement.  Maybe she thought I was only concerned about beauty.
My sister Jessie and I followed  Pastor Bell into his office.
 We shared our concern for our sister.  He prayed for her. Then he asked, "Do you know Jesus?"  We both looked at each other, "No!" we said in unison.  He asked if He could share something with us.  We both nodded, yes. He led us through, what I now know as “The Romans Road” to salvation. 

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.-
Romans 3:10– As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
Romans 5:12  – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
Romans 6:23  – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9-10  – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
Romans 10:13  – For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Romans 10:17  – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

I knew that I was a sinner separated from God.  I desired the love of God to fill my empty aching soul.
"Would you like to have a relationship with Jesus?"
 Jessie said, "Yes!"
 I blurted out “But I am not good enough for Jesus”.   
The childhood abuse at the hands of my biological father consumed my thoughts.  If my own father doesn't want me why would a Holy God want me?
 The pastor said, “I will be right back, I have something to show you.”  I watched as he took a green book off the shelf and made a copy of one of the pages.  
“This song from our hymnal may help.”  As I read the following words, tears filled my eyes. I said "YES" to the free gift of eternal life found only in Jesus.

               Just as I am, without one plea,
                but that thy blood was shed for me,
                and that thou bidst me come to thee,
                O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
That was the best day of my life.  God accepts me just as I am, broken and flawed. 
I always smile when I remember Jimmy's mom, Pastor Bell, and Jessie. They shared in the most important day of my life.  My very own sister and I met Jesus the same day, now that's worth remembering.

Do you remember the day Jesus took your hand?
Rejoice in your re-birth day.

If that day has not yet happened for you, go back and meditate on The Romans Road.
 If God is calling you say "Yes"  and take the hand of Jesus.
Life can be difficult, even with the Lord at your side. However, imagine what life would be like without Him there to guide you, comfort you and teach you?  
Take His hand, believe and make today a day worth remembering.
Do you have a day worth remembering? I'd love to her about it.  Please join the conversation?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What can chase, replace, and erase? - Sinner turned Evangelist



Grace changes lives. The last two weeks we looked at these biblical accounts.

Part 1: Grace Chased Adam and Eve out of the garden

Part 2: Grace replaced Rahab from darkness to light

Today, we encounter Jesus as He pours out His grace on a Samaritan woman.

 First, the background. 

Samaritans were despised by the Jews because they were half Jew and half Gentile. 

They also worshiped idols. 

This woman was not only despised by Jews, but she was shunned by her own people. 

I've felt like her in the past.

Her shame was evident, she went to Jacob's well midday, not in the morning when all the women would get together and socialize as they retrieved water for the day.

 Her heart could no longer stand the snickers and the gossip-then she met Jesus  (Click to Tweet)

   John 4:4-42

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is

coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 

Jesus knew her every sin. 

He knows our sin, the sin that so easily entangles. The sin that may be hidden even from us.
By Grace, He looked past the sin that leads to death and offered her life. 

What was her reaction?

She instantly believed that He was the Messiah.
She left her water jar and raced toward those who once shunned her, her guilt no longer a barrier. Her pain replaced with a love for those she hid her face from- those who gossiped about her!
She showed them the way to Jesus. She became an instant evangelist.
She was compelled to tell others about the grace giver.

 Do you feel ashamed of who you are or what you have done?
Let's drink from the living water and allow Gods Grace to erase the past and give us a new future.




From His fullness we have received grace upon grace John 1:16 ESV



How has God's grace changed you? Join the conversation.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WHAT CAN CHASE, REPLACE & ERASE-REHAB'S STORY

Welcome!  We've solved the riddle, "What can chase, replace and erase?"  If you missed last weeks, click
 God reveals His grace in marvelous ways.
Last week we learned how Grace Chased Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, and how He chases us away from people and situations to protect us.

I was in despair over the tragic choices I made. An abusive childhood left me reeling, with no direction in life.  The pain manifested in unhealthy behavior. I felt hopeless.

Scripture paints a beautiful picture of how grace can consume, sin, aimlessness, and anguish- replacing it with hope and a new destination.

GRACE REPLACED-

The Biblical account of Joshua conquering Jericho reveals a woman who was an outcast of society, used by men and needed a way out. 

God wanted the Israelites to possess the land. Joshua, their leader, sent two spies to the city of Jericho to investigate.
They entered the home of Rahab, a prostitute.
Imagine her reaction when two men of God approached her.
I wonder if she felt shame.

 After the spies had entered Rahab's home, located in the city walls, the King of the city sent men to retrieve the spies. She hid the spies on her roof.  She lied and told the men that the spies left.  We continue the story right after the Kings men left to pursue the spies.

Joshua 2:8-21
 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof  and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you... When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign  that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who

belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.  She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us  unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down...”“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

The skin on my neck and arms tingled, and my heart skipped a beat as I studied the original word for cord. 
Only God can give us such a gem.

The word for cord in the original language is used often in the Old Testament: 

chebel:   lace, bracelet, wire, twist, cord


The book of Joshua is the only place chebel  is replaced with the word
tiqvah, which means hope.
I  stop and praise God every time I think of this. 

The Rope of Hope.
The chord was a promise of freedom for her and her family, a fresh start to a new way of life.
The spy's return trip took, at least, three weeks plus a week of marching around the city.
The bible does not mention this, and I am careful not to add to scripture or fill in areas where God is silent.  I do believe that while the spies were gone Rahab looked out her window as she waited for the men to return, she fixated on the red chord;  the promise of a new life.  
When she sees Joshua and his men march toward the city, her excitement builds.  She grips the cord, knowing that hope will not disappoint.
Joshua and his army take Jericho, just as God promised.
Rahab and her family are rescued.
They live with the Israelites.
Rahab marries  Salmon.
This prostitute never imagined that she was part of history in the making...
and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of David the king. Matthew 1:5-6

Jesus is an offspring of David.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel -2 timothy 2:8

Rahab, the prostitute, is in the lineage of Jesus.
That gives me joy and hope.
God can use anyone, even a sinner like me.
She is recognized, along with Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets for her faith

 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31

Oh, the riches of God's grace.


God took this pitiful sinner out of a dark dungeon of sin, now I live in the light of His glory and grace.

I would love to hear how God has bestowed His grace on you. Has God replaced your destination?

Monday, April 17, 2017

WHAT CAN CHASE, REPLACE, AND ERASE?

I love a good riddle.  The funnier the better.  I also love puns and word association games.  But the answer to our question is no laughing matter.
What can chase, replace, and erase?
(Drum roll, please)
If you didn't guess, the answer is Grace.
For the next three weeks, I desire to share with you these life-changing truths I gleaned from my study of the Word. I desperately needed God's grace in the midst of my bad decision. Have you every made a bad decision?
Then join me on this journey through Scripture as we look at people from three Biblical accounts.  
These people experienced Gods grace in a personal and poignant way, and we can too!

What is grace?  Blue Letter Bible defines it:
Greek word: charis:
divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude,  benefit, favor.
Others have defined it as unmerited favor.
 I like acrostics and acronyms so I appreciate this definition
G-Gods
R-Riches
A-At
C-Christs
E-Expense
However we chose to define Grace, one fact we can't deny,
 we are lost without God's Grace (tweet this)
Jesus gave His life so that we many experience the full grace of God.
God's Grace saved us and keeps us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8 ESV


who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 2 Timothy 1:9 ESV


My prayer is that we learn more about God's unmerited favor toward us as we see His grace manifested in these three stories. 



Grace Chased Adam & Eve out of the garden of eden- week 1

Grace Replaced the destination of Rahab- week 2

God Erased feelings of guilt for the woman at the well- week 3

GRACE CHASED
Adam & Eve out of paradise.
God's creation sinned against Him.  How could this be when they had the perfect relationship with God.  You can get the background of the story Here
I first thought God chased them out of the garden as a discipline.
Then this verse captured my attention.

Genesis 3: 22-24
 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.


God Chased them out of the garden because of His grace.  He wanted to protect them from being separated from Him forever.  If they ate of the fruit from the Tree of Life there would be no remedy for sin. All mankind would eternally live in separation from their loving Creator.
I thank God that He chased them out of the Garden.

God has chased me away from people and situations. He had to pry my fingers away from a toxic relationship, I did not have the strength to leave when I knew God wanted me to.  The process was painful. In hindsight, I see how He rescued me from
 continual heartbreak.



I may not always understand why God chases me away from situations and people, but I know He loves me and has my best in mind. His grace is sufficient.
Ler's join together and thank Him for Grace.



Has God ever chased you away from a person or situation?
Please share.



Next week we discuss how Grace replaced Rahab's destination.
Will you to continue on this grace study with me?




Monday, April 10, 2017

WHY I DON'T SAY, "HAPPY EASTER"

I've said things out of habit. 
God has convicted me to consider every word I speak.
Now, I won't say, Happy Easter.  
Some say I am nit picky.
Others say, "People know what you mean."
I didn't. 
So why don't I say Happy Easter? 

It began about 20 years ago.  I  researched the origin of Easter. 
I love this holiday.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, I would be lost forever.
I desired to know all about the event that radically transformed my life.
To my shock and horror, Easter has it's root in paganism.  Easter is derived from the name of a fertility goddess. 
Her name, ISHTAR.
Ishtar was frequently worshiped as the goddess of fertility, a sort of Mother Nature, goddess of Spring,  sexual love, and birth. 
Ishtar was considered a mediator between God and man.(Yikes)
 She was called, Queen of Heaven. Sexual orgies and temple prostitutes were often used in her worship, in an attempt to gain her favor.
As I studied, my hair stood on end.
She is mentioned in Jeremiah 7:18

The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.

The Lord stated in the previous verse not to pray for these people who worship her. 


As Christians, we know God hates idol worship.
His Scripture states,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV 
Goddess Ishtar

You shall have no other gods before me Exodus 20:3 ESV

These verses echoed in my head, along with other scriptures.


Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God  Leviticus 19:4


For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus  1 Timothy 6:5 ESV



I hope you understand why I am sick to my stomach at the thought of wishing someone a Happy Easter. (tweet this)

Some say that Easter is the celebration of Spring, so why not say Happy Spring?

As believers, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  He is the one who created the earth and everything in it (including eggs and bunnies).
Without Him, Spring would not exist.  

I am not trying to convince you to change your vocabulary. This is my conviction.
However, I do feel compelled to share with you why I don't say Happy Easter. 
Now, my greeting is Happy Resurrection Day. 
On Resurrection Sunday, I say,  He has Risen!

Let's rejoice knowing that Jesus died, was buried and rose again on the third day to give us life.

When someone says Happy Easter to me, I don't give them a sermon, I politely say  Happy Resurrection Day!
Have you ever been convicted to change your words?

Join the conversation.