Saturday, June 10, 2017

Faith and Obedience

Hello dear Reader,

Each morning I read several devotions. Today one quoted 2 John 6.

"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love." (NIV)

The devotion* goes on to say, "If you've made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, you've already taken the first step of obedience." 1 Corinthians 12:3b (Voice) says, "...and no one confessing “Jesus is Lord” can do so without the Holy Spirit’s inspiration."

Faith follows the same suit.  If you change the word 'obedience' in the last paragraph to 'faith' it reads, “If you’ve made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, you’ve already taken the first step of faith.”

The day I gave my life to Jesus was one of the most emotional days I ever had. When the Holy Spirit started calling me, and I stopped what I was doing and listened, the urge to turn my life over to Jesus became so great I couldn't resist it.  I almost literally ran down the aisle during that altar call only 4 days shy of 30 years ago. 

A week had gone by since the very first time I heard those words, the words that formed the most beautiful invitation my heart could receive.  I resisted on that particular day because I was filled with religion and its laws.  But during the week that followed, my heart yearned more and more for Sunday to come again so that I could answer the call.  All week I was thinking about that invitation to ask Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Master. I had never been asked such things before.  My upbringing in my former religion held me back from receiving the gift of salvation a week earlier.  Being born again wasn't something I was taught, so I knew absolutely nothing about it. I shudder to think where I would be if I had died that week before asking Jesus into my heart.

I always believed in the Trinity, and that Jesus came to earth as a human and died for us. I learned that at a very young age, so I had absolutely no doubt it was true.  It was faith--believing without seeing; and believing with all my heart.  Jesus says in John 20:29b NKJV, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

It requires faith to give your life to Christ.  So we must spiritually accept and understand in a way that our hearts cannot deny, but instead needs more than anything else, to pursue.  This is our greatest faith.  We believe without seeing, and we 'run to the altar' without a second thought. 

The enemy has never wanted this day to come, so he has helped you sin by temptation as often and as long as he could.  You kicked him in the teeth the day you were born again.

The devotion says that when you accepted Christ as your Savior you took the first step of obedience.  That still small voice inside you kept calling, and each time, your heart beat with a yearning and desire to answer the call.  And when you did, when you couldn't say "not now" any longer, you obeyed the Spirit of God.

Was it difficult?  Not for me.  As I said, I almost ran up the aisle.  And as I gave my life to Jesus that day, as I recited the Sinner's Prayer (also called the Prayer of Salvation), the joy in my heart poured out in uncontrollable sobs.  What was empty in my life became filled with the love and forgiveness of God!  It was by far the most incredibly emotional and spiritual day of my life.

I confess that over the last 30 years my faith has wavered and I wasn't always obedient.  Since that Sunday morning on June 14, 1987, the enemy has attacked again and again, sometimes causing me to doubt many things.  That's his main objective--to cripple the Christian and make us doubt God's love for us or that we are precious in His sight.  Satan will tempt us into doing or saying things that will make non-believers have a very poor opinion of Christians.

Though there have been times of great struggle, God has kept His hand on my life.  He has shown me many things, and brought so much joy to my life there aren’t words to tell you. He gave me the armor that defeats the enemy.  He reminded me that faith will carry me through the valleys up on to the peak of the great mountain where the view is magnificent.  I trust that He will always be by my side, that He will never desert me.

We must be vigilant, my dear brothers and sisters, and keep in mind how we 'ran to the altar' without trepidation or doubt, or second guessing, or analyzing our feelings.  We really can have faith in all situations and be obedient.  We just need to remember the first time we did it.  It was so easy and proved to be the most significant moment in our lives. It was the moment that gave us eternity with our Father!

* From Faith to Faith by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's a New Day, Dear Readers!

I am back after a long season of being away.  My life was in turmoil for a good part of 2016.  I had some physical challenges as well as some very hard emotional challenges.  In March, the pain of losing our unborn granddaughter at 28 weeks tore at my heart like nothing I had known before.  The sorrow I felt for my daughter and son-in-law was all consuming, but I had to put it aside in order to help out with taking care of Makayla Grace, their now 4-year old.  

I had extensive oral surgery in May, and one week later I contracted Shingles.  By the end of the year I had lost my desire to write, and my faith was greatly tested.  I doubted God's presence in my life, and I struggled to believe that I would ever write again. I couldn't see the point, and I felt as though there was no reward.  By the time 2016 ended, my hope was just about gone. I was feeling pretty down and useless.  On top of that, I gained eight pounds which doesn't work on my small-framed body. That in itself depressed me.

On 1 January, my church of almost 30 years, Grace Christian Center in Killeen, TX, began its third annual 21-day Daniel Fast.  This is a time to eat only fruit and nuts, veggies and seeds, and only drink water.  There are no sweeteners, caffeine, breads or desserts, chemicals or preservatives, meat, fish, or fowl.  More importantly though, it is a time to pray and draw closer to God.  When we deny our flesh the things it craves, such as ice cream, coffee, steak and potatoes, pizza, or any other foods we desire, a battle ensues over the flesh. 

After the third day of headaches from withdrawals of the above mentioned delicacies, it gets a little easier. I found I wanted to spend as much time with God as possible.  Some days I sat in my office and read and studied the bible for hours on end. It's true that meditating on the Word brings you closer to God.  As the days and weeks went by, I found myself being filled with joy once again.

In those times when I starve the flesh and stay in the Word of God, my heart's ears are opened and I hear so much more clearly what God is speaking to me.  It will work this way for you too. As my body was cleansed of impurities, so my soul was filled with the Bread of Life. 

Since the beginning of the year, God's message, whether through my Pastor's sermons, devotions that I read, or studies that I attended, was very simple.  Listen and obey.  That's all.  Don't procrastinate, do!  I had to go back to remembering what it was that God put me here to do.  He blessed me with certain gifts.  His plan for me is to reach as many of His children as possible and to share the Good News of the Gospel through my writing.  Jesus lives! He reigns! He is eternal and He loves us!

Let me encourage you today to listen and obey without delay.  We have no need to fear, He is ever by our side.  I am happy to be back at my keyboard and being with you once again. I may change up the format of my blog, but I won't change the purpose - to be His representative.  Have a blessed and grateful day, and know that you are loved by Your Creator.