Don’t Let the Passion Burn Out

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We are Christians, called by His name. He has saved us from a horrible fate and given us, not just life, but abundant life.

But do you ever find yourself growing hard? It becomes a burden to go to the extra prayer service. You don’t want to go to church today. It becomes more of a duty than a joy. You forget to pray more than you remember to. The Bible doesn’t hold the same charm that it used to.

I was reading in Hebrews this morning and it brought some light:

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:12-13

I see a progression in this passage. It starts with unbelief and goes to a hard heart. The very next passage talks about rebellion toward God which is the next step. You don’t start out with a hard or rebellious heart toward God, but maybe you don’t believe Him like you used to. Maybe you’ve had things that you have held onto for so long without seeing results that you have finally let go. This can cause a hard heart.

It also talks about being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is deceptive. Why? Because the enemy of your soul would have you believe that it is never really as bad as it seems. It wants to hold on and not be dealt with, just shoved under the rug. Sin always wants to lessen the consequences. That is where it is deceptive. “It’s not that bad. Don’t worry about it.” But sin will separate you from God and it will never tell you that. Deal with sin and don’t let it deceive you.

Then there is unbelief. What are the things that are hard to believe God for? Where is it hard to give Him reign in your life? Build your faith in those areas. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17) Find scriptures on those areas. Read them over and over. Post them on your bathroom mirror. Say them out loud.

Don’t let sin or unbelief dampen your passion for God. Take God at His word. Find Scriptures for your life and pray them over your life. Let nothing separate you from God. Don’t let your heart grow hard in unbelief, but keep your faith alive through the Word of God.

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

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“Come to Me”

220px-Bullock_yokesWe have just come out of the busiest time of the year. Between family coming into town, shopping, fewer days at work, and busier days at work; it can be easy to get stressed and overwhelmed. But it is imperative that we deal with the stress in a way that pleases the Lord.

What keeps us going through the stressful times? What makes us, as Christians, different from the rest of the world? We know where to go. We know where to take our stress. We can’t afford to take it out on our coworkers or family. We have to take it to the One who takes it away.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

This has to be one of the most comforting phrases in the Bible: “Come to Me.” When you are tired, come. When you are burdened, come. When you are overwhelmed, come. When you are stressed and life is crazy He still says, “Come.” Come to the maker and lover of your soul, He is gentle.

John 1 says that Jesus is the Word made flesh. So when we come to Him, we come to Him either in prayer or in the Word. I believe this is what He was talking about when He said, “Learn from Me.” We learn His ways and His principles when we read the Word. He teaches us through His Word how to live to please Him.

The Word of God is such a comfort and a steadying force when life is crazy. It is a rock when everything else is moving. And if you let it, it will change your life.

That word labor is to grow weary or tired; exhausted with toils, burdens or grief; to labor with wearisome effort; it speaks of physical labor. Wow! He knows where we are at. There is never an assumption that our lives will be perfect or easy. He just asks us to come so that He can refresh our souls.

Heavy laden is another phrase that speaks to many of us. It means to place a burden upon, to load. Sometimes we carry a heavy load; grief, condemnation, guilt, shame… the list is endless. But Jesus wants to take those away. He has relief that nothing else in this world holds.

In busy seasons of life, I always come back to this verse. “Take My yoke.” His yoke; a yoke is not usually something that you want to put on. They were big wooden harnesses used for putting oxen at the plow. That doesn’t sound fun or restful in the slightest. But it is different with Jesus. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. It is worlds better than any load you could carry.

There is a more than just a suggestion in His words, “Learn from Me.” I believe that it is a challenge for us. Take His yoke and learn how He would have you live life. He is gentle. He isn’t a harsh task-master. He is lowly in heart. That word lowly is humble. He is gentle and humble. He has grace for those willing to learn. Give yourself to it and you will never be the same.

Read it in the Amplified Translation:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

So when life is stressful or overwhelming; when work is hard or physically exhausting; when you are ready to give up and throw in the towel, come. Take up His yoke. Learn His way. Lay your burdens down and let Him give you rest.

Stand

I apologize for the lack of postings the last few days. Life gets crazy sometimes. I was thinking yesterday about this verse. It has to be one of my all time favorites.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

This verse is set in context of Jesus’ victory over death and how we will inherit immortality. So, because we will inherit the incorruptible, be steadfast. Keeping heaven in mind: be immoveable. Remember that you will stand before Him: abound in His work. Knowing…

It can be so easy to skip straight to the end of the verse and take the promise. My hard work won’t be in vain! But wait. First, be steadfast. Be immoveable.

Do your standards change depending on who you are with? Do you have standards? Do you hold yourself to a higher standard than others do?

Be immoveable. Can people talk you out of the Bible? I have seen it over and over where a young person will have a conviction from the Bible, a verse that they want to live by. But before long, someone comes along that has a different opinion or doesn’t agree or thinks it’s a little too radical. Or sometimes, they just want to argue. And they will argue or reason the person out of their conviction.

Can you be moved on what is Biblically right or wrong? Not by opinion, but by the Bible. Things that the Bible states very clearly and strongly, do you sway on them? Or are you willing to stand against the tide of popular opinion and stand on truth?

The last part of the verse is about abounding in His work. Build His Kingdom. Build His House. And in all your building, as you stand steadfast, immoveable and unshakeable, know that it is not for nothing.

We can’t grab the promise without keeping the conditions. Let’s keep the conditions and live to please the Lord. Let’s stand on the Word of God and not be swayed by opinion.

Love The Light

I must confess: October is one of my least favorite times of the year. I love fall. I love red, yellow, and orange leaves. I love frost and pumpkin pie and wind. But I really dislike Halloween. I don’t like to drive through my neighborhood and see skeletons hanging everywhere. It hurts my heart to see ten year olds dressed like ghosts and zombies.

I know. I can hear it coming. “What is wrong with Halloween?” “Are you one of those mean neighbors that refuse to give kids candy because it’s evil?”

Well, here it is. Halloween was originally a pagan holiday. There is nothing godly about it. It was a ritual night of live sacrifices and evil spells. Yes, I do give candy to kids at my door. But I take no part in celebrating this day of darkness.

1 John 1:5-6 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

In context, this verse is talking about not living in the darkness of deception. Don’t be deceived. Don’t let something that is culturally acceptable make you look like the darkness.

I can’t tell you how to believe, or how to behave. But I pray that you would research and decide for yourself how you will live. We don’t celebrate death and evil. We celebrate life and life more abundantly.

Here is a link to some very well put together research done by a Christian on Halloween and what it really is all about. i would urge you to please take a couple minutes to read it. And maybe think a little differently about this ‘Day of the Dead’.

http://theartofpursuit.com/2012/10/01/halloween-whats-the-big-deal-2/

The Heartbeat of God

Pondering the love of God today…

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

One part at a time: God so loved the world that He gave… Most everyone when they love, they give. It is easy to do. When a young couple falls in love, they will do all sorts of things for each other. Parents will do just about anything for their children in the name of love.

But how many people would give their only son for someone else? How many would willingly offer their son’s life in the place of a stranger, even a criminal? How many would allow their son to give his life if he wanted to?

And yet, the King of the universe gave His only Son to take my place. I didn’t deserve it. God owed me nothing. In fact, by the way I lived; I was one to spit in His face. But in spite of who I was and am, He still loves me.

It redefines love. But God is love, I think He has the best definition. God’s love is and always will be the greatest love. It never changes. The Bible says that God never changes, so His love can never change. The same desire, the same love that led Him to give His Son, still wants to spend eternity with us.

The heart of God beats for people. It beats that we could know Him and be close to Him. He wanted us to have eternal life. We were meant for heaven, not hell. Jesus took our place, we were deserving of death and He died in our stead that we might live forever with Him in paradise. God so loved that He gave. He gave the most precious thing that He had that, if we will believe, we can be with Him.

It’s The Little Things

1 Chronicles 16:8 “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”
Just thinking about this verse this  evening. What  am I thankful for? What has the Lord done for me?
It can be so easy to go about our lives and take things for granted. Let’s start with the little things… Electricity. Heat or AC. Slippers. A car. Family. Friends. A bed.
Think if we took two minutes every fast to stop and thank the Lord for His goodness. He hasn’t given us what we deserve.  Some of us He has preserved our lives. He gives us breath every day. He doesn’t withhold any good thing.
Share it with a friend. This verse says to make His deeds known among the people.  Tell someone, “You know, I am so thankful for…” And make that a habit. “Do you know what God has done for me?” It is so fun to do, and it encourages both of you.
What are you thankful for today? I would love to hear from you. But even more so, I would like to challenge you to take a minute every day and turn your heart to the Lord and thank Him for what He had done. It does wonders for the soul.

He Took My Place

I’ve been thinking a lot about Barabbas. He was a criminal, tried and true. He was in prison waiting to be executed for his crime. But he was released.

I find myself putting my name in place of his. I am a sinner, tried and true. Even though I have never been convicted of a crime or even had a speeding ticket, I am still guilty. Guilty of what? Guilty of breaking God’s law. The Ten Commandments are there to show us right from wrong.

Let’s pick one: Thou shalt not lie. I love the Old King James, it makes it sound so much more important. But, we have all lied, even if it was only a little white lie. A lie is a lie.

Thou shalt not steal. Most of us at one time or another, to some degree, have taken something that doesn’t belong to us. Guilty. Thou shalt not murder. OK! I can safely say that I have never killed anyone. But, the Bible says that if you hate someone in your heart than you are a murderer (1 John 3:15). Ouch! Guilty. Three for three.

But just like in the story of Barabbas, Jesus took my place. He took upon Himself the sins that I have committed, the lustful thoughts, the thoughts of hate, the wrong things I have done. The Bible says that He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I was deserving of death, for the payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). But Jesus, the only one who had no sins of His own to pay for, took mine and yours upon Himself to pay the price that you and I could not pay.

Why? So that we could spend eternity with Him. Sin keeps us away from God. God is so perfectly holy that it is against His very nature to dwell with darkness. That is why Jesus came.

I cannot read the story of the cross without tears, knowing that it was for me that He was crucified. Now I walk in freedom from sin because of it. I put myself in Barabbas’ shoes and can only imagine how he felt to know that an innocent man was killed in his stead.

Let us remember the cross as we live our lives. Remember what He has done, so that we live a little differently. The best part of the story is not just that He died for us, but that He rose again. Death could not hold the Prince of Life. The Spirit of God raised Him from the dead and He lives to give us freedom over the things that would hold in bondage.