After reading a thought provoking post with my granddaughter about relationships and who we are as women, this was what God laid on my heart in response to her. What I realize most is we truly do gain wisdom from our life experiences. To go back and change our choices is impossible. However, to learn from them and get understanding is the beginning of gaining wisdom. Throughout God’s word we see the value of wisdom, especially seeking wisdom from our elders. When we are young, we think we know it all and rarely listen to the counsel of our parents or elders. As I reflected on this, I realized the richness I missed in my life by refusing to heed the wisdom of those who have had more life experiences than I had.
Through much hardship and toil, I have learned the wisdom of knowing what a healthy thriving relationship looks like. I realize how not knowing who you are, and what you want in your own life is key to being trapped in an unhealthy and unsatisfying relationship.
Today, I realize how growing together takes two people who want their partner to become the best “them” they can be. It is a “Selfless Love” that wants the best for you and wants to have the best with you. The unselfish love derives from an ongoing desire based on a mutual love and respect for each other. It begins from the start of the relationship and can never be allowed to stop on either fronts.
Growth is an action word, a wheel that should never stop rolling. If one person stops that rolling wheel it will stunt the other partner’s potential to grow and becone their best self. Eventually, that wheel will stop moving and the rot will begin to set in. The rot becomes death to the relationship. This can happen no matter how long you’ve been together in the relationship. The wheel must continue to turn. That’s why the saying goes, ” A relationship takes alot of work”.
Death of a relationship can happen with a dim slow fade. I know this personally from experience. After 28 years of marriage, the slow fade became a complete blackout in my relationship.
The challenge for us all is to see what is “the” reality and what is the “hoped for” reality. We can’t exist in a “hoped for” reality status of a relationship. We have to remember and know we can never fix anyone, love them into behavioral change or heal their faults and pains away for them.
We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see them for who they are at their core values and belief system. Then we have to look honestly at ourselves to see if what they want, desire and believe matches up with what we want, believe and desire in our own life.
The core value of a person can only change by their own desire to be changed. They may stop for us temporarily but eventually they will see it’s not what they really wanted and in result they return to their old ways.
True change only happens from a person’s complete surrender to God and and a choice to die to our own selfish ways. That’s nothing we can ever do for another person.
Our growth begins to happen when we are true to ourselves and choose not to settle for anything less than God’s best for our lives.
If we ever have doubt that a relationship isn’t good for us than more often than not it isn’t. There is always a realm of truth that exists within our doubt. We just need to ooen our eyes and see it. We can’t wish away our partner’s undesireable behaviour. It must be handled with gloves of truth and honesty. It’s so easy to push what we “hope for” from our minds. We easily set it aside for the sake of others, for our own desire or “idea” of love. We close our eyes because of our circumstances, for the sake of our kids, for fear of being alone or for fear of being unloved.
The hard part is trusting that God has a plan for us and believing that His plan is best and because we are worth waiting for it. He promises us in His Word if we are patient and seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength then He will give us the desires of our heart.
I wish I would have gained this wisdom at a younger age instead of choosing to go my own way. I wished I had known not to seek the love of a man, acceptance from others or material things to try and gain happiness and contentment in my life. Had I gained the wisdom at a youthful age, I certainly could have saved alot of hardship to myself and my loved ones.
The good news is God still has a plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His plan is always the best plan for us. It’s also never too late to begin to walk in that plan. I am 58 years old and I have just begun that walk myself. How thankful I am to know who I am at my core, to know what healthy relationships look like and what my value and purpose in life is.
I could have begun much sooner but I have no regrets here. Some people never find godly wisdom. I am blessed and grateful to have gained the wisdom in life. It is because I know my identity in Jesus Christ that I can honestly say I am living my best life now.
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom. But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Galatians 5:16-23, 23-26 MSG
Every day I live I fight a battle within my own spirit. It begs the questions…Do I seek only the things that I want?… Does absolutely everything need to go my way?…Are my own desires and ideas more golden than yours?… Do I wake up changed from my selfish thinking by renewing my mind to God’s perspective?
I. 👏Only. 👏Wish👏.
The real truth is I don’t do the things which I want to do. I throw fits and easily get angry when I am told “no” or “not now”. I am a born again child of God but my daily struggle with my flesh is very real. It has the strength of an million man army at times. There are days when I find myself walking into that fire of anger because my spouse isn’t doing exactly what I want him to do… when I want him to do it… and in the manner I know it should be done.
I seem to walk straight into the crevices of my bitterness because life has not worked out the way I thought it should.
If only it were my “natural” instinct to be patient with others and forgive quickly. To trust wholeheartedly and walk by faith. To live without an ounce of fear. To rest in the hammock of love God has there hanging just for me.
Instead, the natural instinct of my spirit is to make bad decisions and to like bad habits. To find fault and render self sabotage. It’s easier to drive in the well known ruts of lousy communication and ugly discord. This is what I instinctively do. This folks is the reality of the skin that covers my bones.
Change…real change of my behaviors, thoughts and decisions requires me in every circumstance to die to what it is I want and to live in the dominance of the Holy Spirit of God. To without hesitation know that the sins of my fleshly nature have been covered by a Crucified Christ.
Whenever I walk by The Spirit and not in my own skin I can breathe in fresh air of relief. I can believe that God will lead me into His ways A.K.A. the better pathway. Where I am satisfied to find His Joy and Peace ruling and reigning in my soul.
This is the good gift God has planned for us. A life of freedom. The key to unlock our daily battle is in the sword of our complete surrender.
The struggle for my flesh is completely unnatural and derives itself from a prideful, self protecting survivor who struggles with releasing the reins of complete control.
However, I read from God’s word that letting go is the only way possible to walk by The Fruit of The Spirit. And the only way possible to live life freely without bondage.
I want the chains of brokenness gone. I want to experience a life without condemnation. I want to feel loved and completely accepted.
So, why do I fight against the good gifts from above? Why do I struggle living under the protection of a completely satisfied crucifixion? The answer is because I am a living being who is fighting a very real spiritual battle every day. It’s time I put away the desires of my flesh. It’s time I stand and fight. It’s time I walk by faith and not by sight. It’s time I am a doer and not just a hearer of the word.
Today is the day…I want to begin walking by The Spirit living life freely of me, myself and I. Don’t you? It’s time!
When we are depressed we question just about everything in our lives. We question if we are good parents or even good people. We question our faith and if God is really present to help us. We question our past and our future. We hear the negative messages from our youth that says we’re never good enough or we will never amount to anything. Depression has us questioning if everyone in our lives would be better off without us.
Depression brings to thought every bad decision we ever made. Depression tells us no one wants us around them because we are sad and no fun. Depression tells us to isolate ourselves and just stay home.
The important thing to know about depression is it confuses our perspective into a toxic thinking perception about our lives.
Depression is a false identity to us of who we think we are and an unrealistic view of who we want or think we should be. Depression is a stronghold of pain and fear from our past and our present circumstances.
What we need to keep in mind when we’re facing depression is that it’s power over us is only as strong as we THINK it is. That it will only win over us if we give into the deception it wants us to believe.
Depression lurks like tumors in the dark shadows of our regrets and unmet expectations. It can strike us at any time. It wants to bomb our minds when they’re at their weakest points.
Depression is a tool which a real spiritual enemy will pick up and use against us.
The most valuable defense we have against depression is gratefulness and praise. When we breathe of depression our air of praising and giving thanks can prohibit the lingering of our sadness. It’s really difficult to be sad when we seek things in our lives to be grateful for. They’re there…hiding from us but we can draw them out by being thankful. As crazy as it sounds, we can even be grateful for our depression because we know God will bring something good from it. Being thankful and grateful lessens the power depression has over us.
How do we find gratefulness and praise in the storms of depression? By turning our thoughts over to giving praise of thanksgiving to our God. By praising Him because he never sleeps and He is always at work. He is always a Warrior standing in the gap for us. He is our strong tower and our fortress. We can praise Him through His promises in His word. We offer praise to God by acknowledging who He is to us. We can give thanks for the hope of knowing God promises to never leave us and accepting that He always has us in His hands. We can gain peace in believing He is our comforter who prays on our behalf. And He does so especially during the difficult times when we don’t know what to pray for.
When we are trapped in depression we have to fight to put our eyes on Jesus. Fight to turn our thoughts toward others and take them off of ourselves. It’s never easy. In fact, the struggle is real. The difficulty of just putting one foot in front of the other. Day by day it is making ourselves get up and continue to walk forward into another day.
Our most greatest defensive weapon to hold onto in depression is the knowledge that what we are feeling in our emotions is only for a short season. To remind ourselves that the overwhelming distraught we are experiencing will end.
We must remind ourselves that we can never trust what depression is saying to us in our minds…why?Because. Depression. Always. Lies.!!!
The Message Bible
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.
8:27 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.
8:28 That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good
Romans 8:26-28 The Message Bible
Romans 8:26-28 The ESV Bible
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes…
Romans 8:26-28 ESV
Oftentimes, I have discovered that it isn’t my own words that can communicate what I need to say or hear. I find the message I desire comes from the Bible. God always makes everything right and He always has the hope I need. The following passage is just one example. May God richly bless you with His love and make everything come out right for you…Psalm 103:6-18 The Message (MSG)
6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
I met my sweet friend at a church group about a year ago. The friendship grew stronger as God walked us through a very difficult time in our lives. I truly believe the Lord placed her in my life to bless me for a season and for such a time as this. We quickly realized how many things we had in common. When she made the decision to start a new life in Florida, I was happy for her. If I am keeping it 100, I was completely envious of her bravery and boldness to branch out to begin her new life so far from home.
Two days before she was scheduled to leave, our bible study group decided to take her out for a surprise going away dinner. While at this dinner she was expressing her concern about making the long drive alone. She said she wished she had a co-pilot to make this trip with her. Without hesitation, I said I will be your co-pilot. Afterall, I have no real responsibilities holding me back from going. I have no one depending on me at home. So, the decision was made on the spur of the moment, I would become her co-pilot for this new journey.
So, we set out like the infamous Thelma & Louise for this new great adventure. She had told me before we left to schedule plenty of extra time to stay with her. She had rented a beachfront Condo and wanted to share in that blessing with me. That sounded amazing! A few weeks on the beach in Florida was just what I needed to recoup from the difficulties of the past year. I soon realized that what initially started out as God using me as her co-pilot to bless her ended up with me being rewarded with a piece of paradise through her by God.
Blessings & rewards come when we need them the most. Proof of this truth for me is that this blog is being written from the blessing of a balcony over-looking the ocean front view at my friends beautiful Condo. Since we have arrived here, God has revealed Himself to us in so many ways. We delight in this blessing with the truth we are blessed children of God. This is not anything of grandeur we have done. It is simple truth. Scripture tells us that God blesses us because we acknowledge His existence, and we believe He is a faithful Lord. Without question, we know He will reward us as we seek after Him…
And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him…Hebrews 11:6 NIV
The reward of our obedience here in Florida is the blessing of looking out at the amazing artwork of the greatest artist of all time. Our Magnificent God…The Creator of this expansive universe…formed all the beautiful oceans white with foam…painted all the lavish skies…and was sculptor to the billions of tiny grains of sand that forms our spectacular beaches. That is the way of our Great Amazing God. He loves us and He wants to showers His blessings and rewards upon those who love Him.
Do you love God? Do you acknowledge His existence? By faith do you believe in Him? If you do, then right where you are stop and thank Him for the blessings and rewards in your own life. If you can’t see them ask Him to reveal them to you. Diligently ask and seek and you will find Him open the door for you. You don’t need to have a Thelma & Louise adventure to get them. He loves you so much He will meet you right where you stand!
It is reported that more people attend Church on Easter Sunday than any other time of the year. In 2018, a National Retail Federation study indicated about half of Americans plan to go to Church on Easter Sunday. The current population of the U.S. on April 17, 2019 was 328,608,560. Half of those people will attend Church on Easter Sunday according to this poll. You do the math! That is a lot of people who will have their eyes focused on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No wonder pastors all over the world stress and jump for joy at this holiday. That population number is really mind blowing isn’t it? Of course, the glass half-full perspective will celebrate the large number who will be in attendance, while the glass half-empty perspective will be concerned for the number who aren’t present. Regardless, of which perspective you hold, it is for sure Americans can get excited at Easter time.
During Easter, the question most Pastors, Theologians and Christian leaders focus on is, “How do we get people to attend Church and worship God all year long as much as they do at Easter time?” It really is an age-old question that remains unanswered. We know this to be true because the question is still being asked among leaders today. I recall serving on numerous Leadership Committees where this question was discussed. Of course, I heard those who said that is the way it will always be because of the sin that exists in the hearts of man. In which there is validity in that fact. But what I have discovered in serving for 30 plus years in ministry, is that often it is not as simple as the sin in man’s hearts as the cause of hindering their worship. I have discovered that many times the cause is more so a need of stewardship. We focus on the need for salvation and we should equally focus on the need for worship. I have found through my years in ministry that people need to be discipled in their knowledge of the Truth and what it scripturally means to Worship God.
I believe the number one place to begin discipling on worship is to start with answering why we should worship God in the first place. The simple answer is we were created specifically to worship Him. But we leaders need to disciple deeper and teach others that not only were we created for worship, but we absolutely have a need to worship. Our life and joy and spiritual walk literally depends on it. We must help people grow in our knowledge of worship and understand that God doesn’t need us because absolutely and completely He is enough on His own. However, we must grasp and help others see God desires our worship of Him and more than that we have a deep dark unseen need to worship Him.
God loves us and wants us to know Him not just at Easter but at all times. He teaches how to worship Him. He wants us to spend appointed time focused on Him. He wants us in an intimate, that is a close and familiar relationship with Him. A relationship that is based solely on worship to a Holy deserving God. It is a fact that our soul thirsts for God. The scripture tells us in Genesis 2:7, “…the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;”. Did you catch that? The bible just said God was the original inventor of CPR! Who knew that right? God’s very breath is what gave us life. Are we teaching others how to worship and where the heart of worship begins? God just laid it out for us. Don’t miss it. The first reason to worship our God is His breath became our living soul. Without His breath we would still remain dust.
That deep yearning began once sin entered through Adam. We had a separation from our Creator when our worship was broken from God. that is when our longing became a deeper and a black hole need for God. We needed a Savior to restore us back to Him. When you are away from a loved one you yearn for them. In the same familiar way, we also yearn for our God. He is our Father, and whether we realize it or not we have need of Him. The scripture tells us like a deer pants for water we hunger for God. What we need to understand is this yearning for God can only be filled through our continual worship of Him.
“O, God you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So, I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; In your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth
will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:1-8
That beautiful passage of scripture my friends, depicts our yearning our need to worship God. He is the only true God who is worthy to be praised every day of every year. For an eternity, our lips will sing praises and we will for an eternity worship him. It is the only way to satisfy the hunger that lives in our souls. Not just at Easter should we hunger for Him, No! We should hunger for our Lord everyday with every breath we exhaust. We NEED to worship God. It is a longing from deep within our being. It exists in the deep realm of our soul. We are nothing but dust if we can’t worship our Creator. Worship is why He created us period! This is what people should know about worship.
People also need to understand God not only desires our worship but He requires our worship. In scripture God gives us the requirements of worship. Scriptural worship of God requires we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The bible says in John 4:23-24, “but the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for the Father is seeking such people to worship him, God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” God desires our authentic selves our authentic and heartfelt worship. Not just a worship of prayer, attending church or reading your bible; although these are very good spiritual disciplines necessary for our growth and understanding of God, this is not all that God wants from us. God wants us to worship Him in spirit as He is spirit and in truth as Jesus Christ is Truth. From the depths of our souls and to the core of our strength. From the deepest thoughts in our minds, to the strongest desires in our hearts, God wants us to worship Him there. He doesn’t want us holding back anything in our worship of Him. Worshipping God is how we draw near and get to know Him on an intimate personal level. And worshipping God is also how we can learn more about ourselves and our purpose. That is how God designed worship to be for us. There is no other acceptable way except an authentic heartfelt worship of God in spirit and in truth.
This Easter Celebration, as we reflect upon His sacrificial death, His burial and His resurrection, let us do so with a heart and attitude of gratitude toward worshipping Him. Let’s teach others why we worship God every day not just at Easter time. Our Lord is worthy of all our praise! I encourage you to take time to get alone this week and dedicate some time of just worshipping God in spirit and praising our Savior in truth, Jesus Christ. Teach and disciple others of the importance to worship God.
If you still wonder why we should worship God, then take a moment and read Psalm 111 and let scripture speak to you. The Psalmist is crystal clear on why we should offer praise and worship to God, the Creator of this universe…
“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever.
He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever.
He has shown His people the power of His works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever, to be performed in faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is His name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!”
Don’t you just love the Psalms? I know I do. The words there always hit me right in the center of my heart felt emotions. These last few years have been challenging for me, but I wouldn’t change one thing that has happened. Through my challenges in life, I have learned to praise God on a larger plane of worship. A plane of worship like none other that I have ever seen or experienced before now. God redeems and He restores my soul faithfully every time I stop and dedicate my worship of Him.
My hope on this Easter Sunday, is that ALL 328,608,560 will flock the Churches in the U.S. My dream is to see 100% of Americans, as well as all the rest of the world stop and learn the value that comes to us as we worship The One…The True… Almighty God. Imagine what a celebration we could have, not just at Easter, but on every day of every year, if we committed to a continual worship of Him. That is my hope but, if we can’t celebrate 100% of the world worshipping God this Easter Sunday, then I will hope and wait upon the Lord. For the bible says there is day, a near time, when every knee will bow, and every mouth will confess Jesus Christ is the Lord of this world! When that moment happens, then we will truly celebrate the Author of Easter…the best thing about that day is it won’t require colored eggs.
Isaiah 61:3 New International Version (NIV)
…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
It was five months ago, when we all sat in front of our televisions and watched the most out of control wildfires ever recorded in history. We watched the horrifying pictures on the news of a once beautiful valley known as Paradise burn to the ground. We watched in horror the people trapped on top of their cars with fires raging on both sides of them. We watched helplessly while their town was being decimated by a ravaging campfire. Most of Paradise, was dead end streets and only four roads could lead you out of town. People were trapped and sadly, 86 people lost their lives and over 13,900
homes were reported destroyed. Paradise quickly became a town that was seemingly without hope. Today, there are only ashes and remnants remaining of homes that once were. That is until one man of faith, saw a picture online, of one single chimney standing alone in the ashes of ruins.
When artist Steve Grammar, saw that chimney online, he saw something no one else had seen. He saw a blank canvas and a picture of hope to be shared. Steve, with the permission of the owners, went and painted a beautiful mural on that white brick chimney. He saw an opportunity to give the people of Paradise some renewed hope. Steve Grammar wanted them to have something beautiful in the place where their ruins remained. After painting the one mural, the people of Paradise saw the artwork’s splendor and they asked Steve to not to stop painting. The mural was so beautiful, and the people of Paradise were so encouraged by Steve Grammar’s God-given talent they felt hope was alive in them once again. They found themselves rejoicing in the artistic abilities of his painting with the cans of spray paint.
They felt such joy from the murals that they wanted more from him. So, Steve Grammar, did just that, he painted them more murals. He painted them on the ruins of partially standing walls. He painted one on a church baptistry that remained sitting on the ground surrounded in scraps and ashes. Then he painted some of them on the abandoned and burnt vehicles that remained. His artwork was mostly paintings of women. Steve said he thought of the love story from the book of Solomon that is written in the Bible. Steve, with his artistic talents, found a way to bring the beauty of hope from the ashes of despair for the hurting and devastated people of Paradise California.
In a similar way, as the artist Steve Grammar, looked and saw a blank canvas on that lonely chimney, a canvas that no one else could see; God, in the same way sees us as His blank canvas. He sees something in us that we or no one else can ever see. When God looks upon us, He doesn’t see our lives as ashes of ruins. No, instead God, our Creator, the greatest artist of all time, also sees a beautiful blank canvas of hope. When he looks at us, he doesn’t see our created failures standing in the tragedies and ruins of our lives. He sees only the beauty of hope that can rise from the ashes left standing there.
When we surrender our lives to the One True God of this universe, He will reach down and artistically paint a masterpiece from the fire ravaged ruins of sin in our lives. He takes our mess and He shapes it into something so magnificent and so beautiful. No one except God can do that. Only God can trade beauty for ashes. I know this is true because I am one of those messes He picked up from the ashes of ruins. God has taken my sin scorched life and turned it into His masterpiece of beauty. He restored my soul and I now have hope in the place of my ashed ruins. I have peace in the place of my sorrow. I have joy in the midst of my pain. I have love living in the place where only death once lived. Only God by His Son, Jesus Christ, can take our lives and restore them to a place of love and hope and real beauty.
Some people say, that the town of Paradise was not prepared for the fires that swooped in and destroyed homes and lives that day. Others say that they were prepared because of the drills they had practiced and the number of lives that were saved. The people of Paradise had practiced drills, and they believed they were ready to escape in the case of a fire emergency. The only problem was they had never practiced or prepared for a fire with the gale-forced winds and the rapid pace of embers that blew and spread so quickly. I want to ask you, are you prepared for that day? Are you ready for the unknown time of His rapid return? When we see Jesus coming in the clouds, in the blink of an eye, to take His children home will you be prepared? That is what the Bible describes will happen. In the blink of an eye Jesus will return to take His children to their eternal home.
I Corinthians 15:50-52 ESV
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For thetrumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
The Coming of the Lord…I Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Only those who have accepted Christ in their hearts can be called His children. And only His children will be saved from the fire and eternal destruction. Will you be one of His children? Do you have hope of an eternal future with Christ? If you are not sure, then please email me and let me help you settle your doubt. It is never too late to give God, the ashes of your life. That means that today is the day of salvation. The Bible says it is appointed once for a man to die. So, if you still have life and breath it is not too late to surrender your will over to God.
The artist Steve Grammar understood where hope lies. He knew the love of God and he wanted to share it with the hopeless people in Paradise California. I also know where hope lies. I also want to share that hope with you and tell you that God has a plan for you. He wants to give you an eternal future of hope in Jesus Christ. His desire is to paint on your blank canvas and create beauty from the ashes of your life. My hope lies in Him. My hope is that you will be ready.
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?
In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
I Corinthians 2:10 NIV
In God’s Holy inerrant Word lies all the answers and mysteries to life. Everything we shall ever need can be found within the pages of the 66 books that comprise the oldest living book known as The Holy Bible. In order to find the answers, first thing required is to seek the wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit.
No one can know your own thoughts except you. We may say, I know what you are thinking, but what we really are saying is that you must be thinking the same thing I am. We can never truly know what lies in your thoughts only you can know that. In the same way, no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.
The Holy Spirit of God is our interpreter of scripture. All scripture is the Truth and wisdom of God spoken to men through the Holy Spirit of God. We are saved by grace through faith by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive Christ into our heart, we also at that point receive the Spirit of God. It is the gift God left to those of us who love Him.
New American Standard Bible
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. —John 16:7
Jesus told the disciples that He had to leave them in order that The Holy Spirit could come. He explained to them that His physical death and resurrection had to happen in order for God to gift us with His indwelling Holy Spirit.
It is only through The Holy Spirit, that we can know God. This is not gained through our knowledge. The Truth of scripture can only be revealed in us by the Spirit of the Living God.
Scripture tells us about this in I Corinthians 2:10-12,
New International Version
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
New Living Translation
But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
English Standard Version
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
I always like to use three versions of printed scripture when I am studying. I do this for a clearer understanding of what the Holy Spirit is teaching us.
Vocabulary and printing have nothing to do with the interpretation of the Holy Spirit of God. God’s words are God’s words not man’s words. Vocabulary and the printed words of scripture came to man through the Holy Spirit of God as God revealed himself to them. He spoke to the disciples in their language insuring without error what they wrote down was what He revealed. We know this because of all the fulfillment from The Bible. What was first recorded or written down was not their thoughts but it was the thoughts God spoke to them.
Throughout history, Christian scholars have come along with their language vocabulary expertise to carefully transfer without error the Hebrew and Greek texts into the English language. The most prestigious translation we are familiar with was The King James Version in 1611. Now, I really hate to be the one who bursts the bubbles of thousands, but the King James Version was not the first translation. In fact, it also was translated from another version known as The Bishops Bible of 1568. These early scholars took serious the privilege they had to put scripture into the English language for others to gain a clearer understanding of its meaning.
The Bible is not intended to be read like any ordinary book because it certainly is not any ordinary book. It is the Word of God! Even though we have so many versions of scripture in print, and in so many different languages, we still require The Holy Spirit of God to be our interpreter. It is God’s thoughts we need to understand in scripture. We cannot know God’s thoughts without His Spirit dwelling in us.
We are greatly blessed to have God-breathed scriptures in a vocabulary we can understand today. Now, please don’t do what I have done and like many others get caught up in legalism. For a while I believed the King James Version was the only accurate Bible there was. It is true, it is accurate but also accurate are the other literal interpretations we have available to us. And because we want to clearly understand the literal written word, it is a good practice to use more than one version when studying.
All scripture is God-breathed and useful according to 2 Timothy 3:16…
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Berean Study Bible
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Berean Literal Bible
Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
New American Standard Bible
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
King James Bible
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Remember…Whatever version you prefer is just tha…t it’s your preference. God by His Holy Spirit has protected the integrity of His Word. We can trust this not because scholars say so. We can trust this because we trust the Holy Spirit’s interpretation to say so.
Next time you sit down with your Bible, do so knowing that God will use His Spirit to teach and guide you into His wisdom. Invite God to open the eyes of your heart and speak to you by His Holy Spirit. Then and only then can we find the answers we need from God and begin to unravel some of His mysteries.
God’s promise of scripture:
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever”.
—Isaiah 40:8 New American Standard Version
The most popular verse in the Bible is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 3 verse 16… Let us all say it together from the King James Version. That is most likely the version you first learned…”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.KJV
Not only is this the most popular verse in the Bible, it is the greatest “LOVE” verse ever written. Let’s take a look at this verse in three different Bible translations to get a clearer understanding of its meaning:
New International Version
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
King James Bible
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
International Standard Version
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be lost but have eternal life.
It does not matter which translation you prefer, it tells of God’s great love with every interpretation. It is within this simple verse that the complete story of the Gospel can be found. Knowing this truth, transforms this verse from the simple to the complex.
In this popular verse, we not only find the definition of God’s love, we can read the depth of how God loves us. Not just some of us, but all of us. We see the depth’s focus through the biggest little word in the Bible, “SO”…For God “SO” loved the world. Try saying it without that tiny adverb. It completely changes how God’s love of the world is emphasized. Dr. David Jeremiah says it this way:
The biggest little word in the Bible may be the word “so”. Included in “so” are all the agonies of the cross, and all the riches of God’s grace, all the depths of my sins, and all the beams of his mercy. The cross is bound up in that adverb “so”. God so loved the world that he went to extraordinary lengths to express it. His love is beyond comprehension, for we cannot fathom a God who would willingly, self-sacrificially create the set of conditions we call “Calvary”.~~Dr. David Jeremiah
No one could ever love us the way God “SO” loves us. John 3:16 sums everything up in a way our human minds can perceive it. It doesn’t take anyone by surprise that this verse is the most popular well known verse of all time. We have seen it posted everywhere across the world. The very fact that this verse has it’s own Wikipedia page is validation of its popularity. Wikipedia speaks of the popular culture of John 3:16 in this way:
Some people (such as the Rainbow Man) display the reference in large letters at sporting events, seeking the attention of fellow fans, the staff controlling the venue’s giant video screens and, if the game is televised, the television audience. The Heisman-winning American football player Tim Tebow printed this reference (among other Bible verses) on his eye black, notably during the 2009 BCS championship. Exactly three years later on January 8, 2012, was the game that would become known as “The 3:16 game”, where Tebow threw for 316 yards in a playoff upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers; a game in which measurements of 3, 16 and 31.6 were also noted, “John 3 16” became the top Google search in the US. Professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin‘s marquee catchphrase (“Austin 3:16”) originated as a reference to John 3:16.~~Wikipedia
To meet the most popular verse of all time, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.. is to have the introduction to the greatest love verse of all time.
This Love is not like any other kind of love we can define. In fact, when this verse was written, the Greeks had to come up with a new word to describe this kind of love. That word was Agape. Agape love is the highest form of love that originates from God to man. This love is not romantic nor sexual in nature. It is a self-sacrificial kind of love for fallen man and humanity by a Holy God. This love is immeasurable and never ending. It does not harm or disappoint us. It never abandons or abuses us. It is the only kind of love that can redeem and restore us. Heal and comfort us. It is the beginning and the end of all love. This great love only originates from God and yet is available to the entire world for free. It costs mankind nothing because Jesus paid the price for us. It is a beautifully wrapped gift He offers to the world. And all mankind must do is simply receive this gift and proclaim it as their own. How are we to do this? Let’s take a closer look to what scripture says…
New International Version
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe ivn your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
New Living Translation
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
English Standard Version
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The greatest love of all is more than a Whitney Houston song. More than a Wikipedia page. And certainly more than any human type of love possible. It is God. God IS Love. It is available to each of us and simply ours for the taking. Let’s go to scripture and see how we are to accept this free gift…
New International Version
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
New Living Translation
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
English Standard Version
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.if we just confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts Jesus Christ is Lord the Bible says then He will save us.
Save us from what you may ask? Let me remind you of the Gospel of John 3:16, the most popular verse in the world…God wants to save us from perishing so that He can give us eternal life with Him. We must believe the Truth that Jesus died to save us because God first “So” loved us….If you want to know “real love” you have to reach out to where the greatest Love of all begins…with God.