shani4jc

In my last blog, I talked a little bit about “take up your cross” and how that can cause us a little apprehension. We never know what the “cross” God has for us may look like. We don’t know how hard it’s going to be to carry that “cross”. We don’t know how much inconvenience that “cross” is going to cause us. What we do know is that God has called us to carry it and that thought can leave us shaking in our boots. However, there is something else we know about that “cross” that we may not even realize! We can be assured that the weight of the cross God has for us to carry will never be heavier than the chains that once held us to our sin! Yes, we may have some difficulties on our path and yes, we may struggle, but no matter what, our load will be lighter in Christ on our worst day than our load without Christ on our best day!

Luke 9:23

“Then He said to me, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Most of us have heard and/or read this verse on more than one occasion. As Christians, we know we are supposed to follow Christ, but following Him can be costly. Let’s look at this verse closely. In its context, we know that “come after Me” means to pursue Him, but truly pursuing Him means that we will also “come after Him” in ranking as well. It means He is first and we are not! That can be a tough pill to swallow for our self-centered selves! Before we can even digest that, we are told to “deny” ourselves. Denying ourselves is not something most of us do willingly. Remember, we are self-centered creatures. We fall into the thinking that the world revolves around us, so anything contrary to that mindset is foreign to us. Not only do we have to deny ourselves, we are told to take up our cross daily! Sounds like a lot of work to me. What if the cross we have to carry is heavy? What if it’s inconvenient? What if it stops us from doing what we want to do (remember, we are self-centered and want to be first priority in our lives)? What if that cross causes us pain and suffereing? What if that cross causes us to have to give up something or someone? Finally, we have to follow Him. Again, we are following Him…not the other way around! If we are following, then He is the leader and He is in charge! Here we go again with the putting Him in a place above us! Our “the world revolves around me” attitude is not going to do well with this type of arrangement! We are people who like for others to come after us, who do not like denying ourselves anything, who don’t want anything to do with pain or inconvenience, and who like to be the one followed instead of the one doing the following. Everything about this verse is contrary to who we are as humans! That’s why there is no way that we could ever do this on our own accord! Only by the power of God’s Spirit living in us can we lay ourselves down at the foot of the cross and surrender to the fact that God is so far out of our league that all we can do is follow Him. Is it easy? Absolutely not! Is He worth it? Absolutely! Until you surrender your life to Him, you will not truly experience the life He died to give you!

I read an excerpt from Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union to Congress in 1939, Roosevelt says, “There comes a time in the affairs of men when they must prepare to defend, not their homes alone, but the tenets of faith and humanity on which their churches, their governments, and their very civilization are founded.” I’m pretty sure we are living in one of those times now.  The world we live in seems to get more and more out of line with God’s standards by the day. In thinking about what Roosevelt said, I was wondering how many of us are willing to defend the tenets of our faith no matter what the cost. It’s easy to say we would, but it’s a much more difficult thing to live out. In truth, it is often much easier to blend in to the ways of the world than to stand up for your faith. It’s easy to feel like you’re so outnumbered that it’s not even worth the fight. It’s easy to feel like no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference anyway, so why bother? And that’s exactly what the enemy wants you to think. He wants you to think you make no difference in the world so that you won’t make a difference in the world. No, you may not be able to change the entire world, but you may change someone’s world. Yes, you may be laughed at and mocked, but while some are laughing and mocking you, there may be one who is listening. No, you may not ever see any good come from your fight, but you can be sure it will. Anything you do in the name of Jesus has no choice but to yield good because He is good and can do nothing but good. Now, more than ever, is the time to stand up for the One who died for you! The future is depending on you!

“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.” Psalm 52:1

“Obey God and leave the consequences up to Him.” Charles Stanley

Do you wonder what would happen if we took Charles Stanley’s words to heart and started obeying God and letting Him take care of the consequences? I think many of us operate more along the thought process of God should obey us and we should be in charge of the consequences. I confess I’m guilty of telling God what to do, when to do it, and how to do it on more occasions than I care to admit. When you really think about it, the fact that we think we know how to handle anything better than God is just simply absurd! However, we give it our best shot, don’t we? Of course, our best shot ends up a total train wreck, which leads us back to God to see where He went wrong! Yes, I said where He went wrong, not where we went wrong! Maybe even more absurd than the fact that we think we know better than God is the fact that we will handle the situation in the worst possible way and then blame Him for not doing a better job. Eventually, we will let go of control and let Him do His job, and He will clean up our train wreck and we will be shouting His praises…until the next time we have the opportunity to take charge! When will we ever learn that God in control is the very best think that can happen to us? Our job is to obey Him and His job is everything else! Why not give it a try and see what happens? One thing’s for sure…with God in control, you will avoid a whole lot of train wrecks!

Live Free

Posted on: 7-15-112017

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

I came across this quote today andalthough it is speaking more about the freedom we have in our country, it reminded me that our freedom in Christ must also be something we focus on daily. As Christians, we are free in Christ. He has already done all of the work, so we don’t need to “earn” it, but we do need to remind ourselves daily that we are free in Him. We need to actively live in that freedom. If we don’t keep that freedom at the forefront of our mind, we will find ourselves slipping right back into the chains that Christ died to break. There is nothing the enemy loves more than to see you live the life that Jesus died to save you from. He knows that if you are chained to anything at all, you are not free to live for Christ to your fullest. He knows that you living for Christ to the fullest is the most powerful you that you can be…the you he cannot defeat, the you he cannot destroy, and the you who he has no hold on. This you is the person who makes him shake in his boots, and he wants no part of it. He will do anything to stop you from loving free! And if he can take your focus off of that freedom for just a split second, he can get his chains wrapped around you and bondage begins. If you are in Christ, you are free! Do not let Satan have one more moment of your life…the life Christ died to give you!

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

 

Most of us are familiar with WWJD…what would Jesus do? Today, there was a situation that happened with my three year old grandson that had me pretty sure that what Jesus would do would be to turn someone into a pillar of salt! My daughter stopped at the Walgreens near our home to buy some sunscreen because she was taking my grandson to swim at my son’s house. When he got out of the car, he noticed a car parked nearby that was loaded from top to bottom with stuff. He said, “Mom, they have a lot of stuff in their car!” He didn’t mean anything negatively by what he said…he was just making an observation. The owner of the car became irate and started screaming at my daughter. She told her that my grandson was “f***ing disrespectful” and he needed to be taught respect. My grandson got upset and starting telling his mom that he was sorry! This sweet little boy thought he had done something wrong! The lady kept screaming and threatened to call the police. My daughter got my grandson back in the car and just left before the situation escalated any farther! When my daughter called and told me about the situation, the Nana blood started boiling! I confess that my first thoughts were definitely not Christlike, although I did throw up a quick, “thank You, Lord” that I wasn’t there because if I would’ve been there, we would’ve surely needed the police before I was done with her. I would like to think that I would’ve kept my composure and not stopped to this lady’s level, but I just don’t know if I could’ve held it together. Sometimes, it’s just hard to be Christlike! As Christians, we are called to be imitators of Christ, but we can’t do that in our own. We have to constantly be pursuing Christ and purposely seeking to be a reflection of Him or we will fail every time! Being like Him is just not natural to us…we have to allow His Spirit to be in charge! Not always easy…but always the right thing to do. So, I’m going to try and cool my boiling blood down and I’m going to say a prayer for this lady, even though I don’t want to. And I’m going to talk to my grandson about the lady and have him say a prayer for her as well, because I don’t want this to be a negative experience in his life. I want it to be a learning experience for him…a chance for him to be an imitator of Christ.

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Today in the USA, we celebrate our independence day.  We express our gratitude for the freedoms living in this country afford us.  We honor the ones who ensure those freedoms exist.  And we take time to think about what we so often take for granted.  Many appreciate these freedoms, but they have no idea about the ultimate freedom offered to all, no matter where you live, through a life committed to Christ.  No matter how free you are in your country, you are not truly free until you have allowed Him to break the chains that hold you down.  The words to “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams express it better than I can:

If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to feel the same old holes inside
There’s a better life
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all search for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
And there’s a better life
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker

“He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.” Psalm 107.14

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