Talk is Cheap, or is it?

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Spend a day listening to the world around you and number the conversations that are “of God” and those that are “of the world” and I can pretty much guarantee which will be greater (Unless you live in a bubble or are blessed enough to have a ministry job.) And even then I’m not so sure the numbers wouldn’t run close. When I refer to conversations that are “of God” I’m not talking about deep theological conversations or even shallow ones, but rather conversations that you would have in the presence of Jesus if He still walked among us. Every day I’m shocked at how very little people actually think about what they say. Profanity seems to be at a premium while godly conversations are whispered in a back room for fear of offending someone. My heart sinks for I know God is frustrated.

How do I know?

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ~ For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

The select few. If you are a child of God you are of a select few, chosen especially for God himself; above all the people on the earth He chose you. You may or may not have a great relationship with your parents who gave birth to you, but your Heavenly Father handpicked you not to be like the world (for there are plenty like that) but to be holy. Matthew 7:13-14 reiterates the same notion when Christ said “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and manythere be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

If you are a child of God you are of the few! It’s not that God wouldn’t take them all for He loves the world, but the select are the elect that choose to take Him.  And upon choosing to take Him as your Savior you chose to have Him reside within you; so those conversations you are having during your day are not in front of Jesus, they are from Jesus because you are His representative.

How are you representing?

Today you and I are both reminded that our words do not return void. They sow and reap something. We’ve been redeemed, bought with a price. Talk is cheap… salvation was not.

3 Things God Needs You to Know

Isaiah 43:18-19 ~ Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

What encouraging words this early morning! We know spring is on its way because we’re all likely dragging from the loss of another precious hour of sleep. But in West Virginia this morning it’s a balmy 32 degrees and I’m still feeling the effects of the harshness of winter, and in Isaiah 43 the Israelites were still feeling the effects of the harshness of captivity of Babylon; so God inspired Isaiah to pen these words of encouragement that continue to give hope to the captives of today. Captives of what?

Things.

I love bible word studies because they’re often like an unforeseen journey; a vacation from the typical way of thinking. Isaiah said not to remember the former things and the old things and upon further searching out those words I discovered that the “former things” were ancestor related, and the “old things” were places where they had went before. God didn’t want them dwelling on past mistakes and places that didn’t hold the best of memories, He had “new things.”

This morning as we’re on the edge of springing forth into a new season, we’re ready to don the fresh colors of the spring, short sleeves and flip flops! You’ll likely not find anyone wearing the cumbersome wool overcoats, boots and hats in a few weeks but in the scope of life there are many people who have failed to leave the old seasons of life behind when God gave them a brand new one! They’re stuck in winter grays when God provided a whole new palate of beautiful color. Too metaphoric?

Past mistakes of ourselves and others can haunt our future and prevent us from living the successful lives God intended. Rehashing the places we’ve been will create an epic fail in the new places God wants to take us. I’ve witnessed it and I’ve lived it; when people won’t let go of what someone did and continuously bring them or the event into a conversation of today making it a fresh wound all over again. When God said “No, I’m giving you a fresh new life!” Just as it says in II Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

As spring approaches it would be a good day to bring in some fresh new thoughts… stop allowing Satan to keep you captive in the harsh winters of life. It’s a brand new day!

Perhaps you’re still in captivity. The children of Israel were at the time Isaiah wrote these word of encouragement. They’re to serve as a reminder that as a child of God He has a new plan for you.

God went on to say in verses 20-21 ~ This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.

God made you for praise and He desires to give you reason, but if you’ve failed to call upon the name of Jesus for salvation or help you’re still captive. God’s not going to drag you out of captivity until you have taken the first step.

Spring forward child!

I know You are I Am, but who am I? Days of Doubt

Moses. No doubt one of the greatest leaders of all time looking back at him from the 21st century. But looking at him from a biblical perspective… in his day…we see a man full of guilt, doubt and comparison. Those are the reasons I love his story; because I can relate.

In Exodus 3:4-6 we see Moses standing curiously before the burning bush.

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

If I may interject my thoughts on this scripture. God called Moses’ name and Moses was quick to answer “Here am I!” That’s how it is when God’s doing miraculous things. Get in the middle of big church service where the Holy Spirit of God is moving and you hear Him call upon you to step out on something and you’re quick to respond, “Here am I, Lord! Use me!” But a couple hours later when you’re alone in your car driving home you’re wondering why in the world you opened your mouth. There Moses stood before that burning bush, on Holy ground and in awe of God and then he remembered who he was and he hid his face.

All the sins of the past came back. He’d killed a man causing him to run into hiding but he was sure he’d moved on past it. He’d married and now was working for his father in law Jethro. His life wasn’t what he thought it would be, but it was good enough. Until he ran into that bush in the dessert. He ran face first into God who begins talking about a new plan. One that’s going to put him out of hiding and in front of the masses and every doubt that Moses had in his life came flooding into his soul. That’s how it is when Satan hears your call. He’s gets busy reminiscing your list of failures and Moses begins to question his ability to convince anyone he is a leader. To which God responds:

Exodus 3:14 ~ And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

But Moses later questions God again about His decision making in Exodus 4:10-12

 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 

As if to say “Lord! What are your thinking choosing me?” but the Lord squelches him…

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

I heard a quote from Steven Furtick yesterday on these scriptures “When you doubt the product, you insult the manufacturer.” I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I’m always doubting God’s decision to use me and comparing myself to everyone else. And I’m never enough. Enough what? Insert any number of things in there: I’m never skinny enough, smart enough, eloquent enough, entertaining enough, rich enough…. And the list goes on. Truth be told you have your list too. Insert it here.

I am never _______________ enough.

It may be different today than yesterday, or five minutes ago if the right person walks into the room, because we measure ourselves by someone else’s gift. Thus doubting the Manufacturer of our product… us.

We know Who I AM is. He’s God, but who are we? If we could only get ahold of and maintain the truth which is ~ I am me, with I AM within me. Made in His fashion, for His purpose, and placed on His path, now why do I question it? Because Satan’s good at his job and I lack in mine. My job is to go. God told Moses “I made your mouth, do you know think I can cause it to say what I need it to say? Come on, I’m God!” – that was definitely the Bible according to Shari.

That blank in the statement “I am never ________ enough.” We need to take out two words, Never and _________. Because with God “I am enough.”

The Power of Praise!

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James 1:1-3~ James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to “counting it all joy,” I seem to lose my ability to count past 2 or 3 when midst of trials and tribulations. It is then that I am painfully aware of my elementary school fait1h. When it’s gumdrops and goodness I’m in like Flinn! This week I’ve working on a song for the weekend service titled “Praise His Name.” A beautiful Jeff and Sheri Easter song. The lyrics begin by saying “When you’re up against the wall, and your mountains seem so tall, and you realize that life’s not always fair, you can run away and hide, let the old man decide, or you can change your circumstances with a prayer.” Sometimes… my prayers have seemed little more than “God, get me out of this!”

James is speaking to Christians who have been scattered, literally run out of their homes and communities and forced into hiding to share the gospel. It is at this time in history that Christianity explodes! The harder they are pressed the more they burst out of their shells and the braver they become. There is no waving flags of surrender but rather shouts of “Palms of Victory, Crowns of Glory, Palms of Victory, I shall wear!”

If that don’t put a shout on you then your shouter is broken!

James words serve as a reminder to me today that troubles come, and troubles go, but in looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith there is no need to stay in my shell avoiding people, but rather sing the song of Victory.  If we’ll allow it, those who rub us the wrong way can polish our shine for Jesus. Every time we’re tried it’s a runner’s test of endurance making us stronger.  When we’re tried by fire, we’ll come out as gold. Those are not clichés, those are Bible and the Bible is truth.

I needed to be my own cheerleader this morning… I hope my words encouraged you!

A Conversation from the Back Seat

A post on my Facebook wall yesterday morning of the A&W Root Beer Stand brought floods of memories of my own times with my parents at the drive in hamburger stand. What a treat to get to eat in the car! Now it’s the story of my life as I travel the roads of West Virginia. My favorite A&W story isn’t mine, it’s the story of Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) from his book “Rebel with a Cause.” As a child he was picking on his sisters in the back seat of the car as and having been warned by his mother (Ruth Graham) that she was going to put him in the trunk if he didn’t stop, he wasn’t really concerned.  They were on the freeway in four lanes of traffic (heading to A&W or a like place) so he “knew” she wouldn’t stop there.  So he continued until he felt the car swerve out of traffic, across three lanes and on to the berm. She got out, pulled him out, and proceeded to put him in the trunk. He said he loved it. There were all kinds of toys in there. Car jacks and tools and such! When they got to A&W he thought, great, now I can get out. He hears him mom order their food, waits a while, hears the waitress return and then hears the car door open. Ruth Graham opens the trunk, hands Franklin his burger and, and shuts the lid again where he enjoyed his lunch and rode the trip back home. Lesson learned. Don’t doubt your Mom.

I’m not advocating this method of child rearing!  The Welfare department would be knocking on your door before the day was out and probably should be; that was dangerous! But it just goes to show how times have changed. We’ve learned some lessons in raising children and we’ve failed in many other respects. In church it’s no different. We’ve learned much over the years but by the same token many of the old paths have long since been forgotten, traded for a newer shinier path that may or may not show you to Jesus. Church discipline is all but a thing of the past because the church no longer has the right to interfere in the lives of the members.

Well, for the record, God’s still calling the church to hold its members accountable. No… I’m not going anywhere with this. I really don’t know why it’s on my heart this morning, I only know it is. And if it only touches one person this morning, giving them the desire to walk the old path, then it’s been worth it. The world is watching… we’re supposed to be different.

We’re the kids in the back seat… not a good idea to run your mouth to the Father.