He Loved Us First!

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”  

We know that the bible says this, but can we really understand it?  The fact that we love God because He loved us first?  How important is that to remember in our lives?  That we don’t get saved and then fall in love with God and then as He sees our good works, He decides that we are worthy of His love in return. NO!  He loved us way before we deserved it and way before we knew how to love Him back and how to manifest His love by loving others.  Isn’t it tempting to roll your eyes when someone says you should “love your enemies” or “pray for the ones that persecute you”?  How in the world are we supposed to love people that hate us and try to harm us?  How on earth are we supposed to love strangers?  Yep…and there is the point…it isn’t “earthly” possible, but God has shown us how.

God loved us first.  Jeremiah was a prophet and the Lord told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NIV

Although God was telling Jeremiah who he was, this scripture has meaning for us too.  It shows us that God does not do anything by accident and that He has a purpose for all of us, even before we get here.  The question is…will we fulfill our God given destiny…or not?  Think about this in a ‘natural’ sense.  God is our Father.  He loves us and we can compare that love to a Holy kind of parenting.  Now think about a mother that gives birth to a new baby.  Imagine that scene, in the hospital…when the doctor hands this mother her child.  That baby has no idea what is going on at that moment, they have no clue who this person is that is holding them and they certainly don’t have a concept of love. This new mother however, holding this child, is now feeling this surge of emotion unlike anything she has ever felt before.  LOVE!  Over time, parents demonstrate unconditional love. A child learns that his mother is the one that provides for his needs.  A daughter learns that her father is the one that she can run to when she is scared, in trouble or hurt.  A mother is the one that will fight for her children when they are mistreated. Parents are the ones that forgive over and over even when children make the same mistakes.  Parents show love…and in turn it teaches children to trust, depend on and LOVE back.  See how that works?  Our heavenly ‘Parent’ loved us first…

Before we knew how to love.  Before we deserved it.  In the beginning.  While He formed us in our mother’s womb…He loved us and He knew us.  He even gave His child as a sacrifice so that we could be safe in eternity.  Just as a parent loves their child, God demonstrates unconditional love to us and we learn to trust Him, to lean on Him, to run to Him when we are in trouble; with child-like trust and awe, we learn to love Him back because He loves us so much.

Nothing can make your “Parent” stop loving you!  The bible says so…38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT

Now the tricky part to all of this is how are we supposed to take this perfect love that only God seems capable of and the way we feel about Him and turn it on to folks we either don’t know or don’t like, can’t trust and who don’t give hoot about us?  Did you know that love is an action-verb and not a mere emotion?   Yes, there are things that you must NOT do and DO to effectively love others. We can start with the things that love is NOT all about. (You can find all of these in the bible in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.)

Love is not envious.  It does not brag or boast. Love is not proud. Love doesn’t dishonor others nor is it selfish and self-seeking.  Love doesn’t get angered easily and it doesn’t keep records of wrongdoing and bad behavior.  Love doesn’t take pleasure in evil or other’s misfortune.  So if you find yourself doing any of this to your family, a friend, a co-worker or even a perfect stranger…it’s “no Bueno”! These are not lovable actions people! Yes, I know we ALL do this stuff from time to time, we are human, it happens.  After all, who can remember not to get mad ever or not to remember that someone you just ran into cussed you out last week?  So when you find yourself in a love-less action, here’s what you do: Stop…Think…Repent to God…Apologize to the person…and keep it moving.  No one is perfect, but believers ask God for conviction (which is like a reprimand or a correction) in their heart when they are wrong, and this will help you go through the steps of correcting your behavior and moving on without guilt.

Now for the stuff that Love IS!  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love rejoices with truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes and always perseveres.  Wow…so yeah…all of that stuff that makes us feel good when others do for us, but is so hard for us to do for others.  I already know how hard this is ya’ll…I struggle like almost daily! Well no…not almost…definitely daily. Lol! This doesn’t mean you have to be everybody’s best friend, nor that you have to hang out with people that are dangerous or toxic.  You just want to show God’s love to others at all times.  This entails forgiveness.  There is a whole lesson on forgiveness coming soon, because that’s another hard thing to do.  There’s hope and help and strength to do both though, I promise!

The point I am trying to make is not only about how we love others.  It is to help you realize that this “loving” thing is the most important instruction God has given us.  If you want to know more about it, read Mark 12:28-34.  In it, Jesus is talking to a bunch of religious scholars.  They are asking him a million questions, trying to trip him up (which of course didn’t work).  One of them asked him, “Which of the commandments is the most important?”  Jesus told him that first and foremost, “One must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Then he told them that we should “Love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves”.  Jesus said that out of all the commandments, there were none more important than these two.  So there you have it folks.  LOVE.  LOVE.  LOVE.  You cannot claim to be a Christian and you cannot claim to love God if you don’t love everyone else, yes everyone…even the folks that don’t deserve it.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your precious Son here to walk among us, to be human and to suffer, to die on the cross and to rise again three days later for our redemption.  We know that He knows exactly what we are going through because He had to endure Satan’s temptations too.  Unlike us Father, Jesus never sinned, but You knew that we always would and that we needed Him to survive. We were so lost and we needed Him to give us a way back to You Father. There is no way that can we repay what You have done for us, but we are so grateful Jesus.  We love You.  Love You more than words can express.  Father we give You all the glory and honor and praise for who You are in our lives.  Thank You for loving us, even though we don’t deserve it.  Thank You for loving us, even when we weren’t ready to accept You.  Thank You for loving us, even as we learn to love You back.  Father, I ask that You reveal Yourself to anyone reading this blog that longs to know You. I pray that You will shower them with an overflowing sense of Your love even as they are reading these words.  Cover them with peace and understanding and give them a deeper desire to be closer to You.  I thank You for the opportunity to share with others.  In Jesus’ precious name, I pray.  Amen.


Do you know you who you are?

A while back on a Sunday morning, my dear husband delivered a sermon at our church.  He talked about the time before David died and how he was preparing his son Solomon to take over.  As he talked about David as a young boy, and how everyone counted him out, he reminded us that even David’s father, Jesse didn’t believe he would amount to much. I started to think about all the great things God helped David accomplish…and why him?  I think it’s because from a young boy, David knew something that others around him didn’t…

 Let’s learn more about it…

I would recommend reading the story for yourself because it’s awesome!  You can read it here: 1 Samuel 17.  Basically, the current King of Israel is named Saul.  He’s actually on his way out and God has already decided to name young David as the new King but at this moment, none of that has actually taken place and David is a just a shepherd. Now, it’s important to know that David and Saul already have this relationship where David often goes to Saul’s house and does a little music therapy for the King when he’s feeling blue, so Saul already knows this kid, but he doesn’t really recognize how special he his.  One day, Saul and his army were in a battle against a group of men called, the Philistines.  These men had a giant, (yes, I said giant, think Andre) in their army and his name was Goliath.   The men in Saul’s army were pretty scared of Goliath and weren’t quite sure how they were going to win against him.  It just so happens that David was home from Saul’s house that day and was feeding his sheep when his father asked him to go to the camp where the soldiers were and check on his three older brothers that were soldiers.  David got there just in time to hear Goliath threatening and talking smack to the men of Israel about how he would take on anyone from their army and win!  We can imagine he was being rather mean and vulgar, and David was offended.  If you read verse 26 David even asks the people around him, “….who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 NKJV)   In other words, “Who does this guy think he is?”  Don’t you just love the indignation? Like, “is he kidding me, we are children of God! How dare he!” 

I wonder if you know who you are?  David sure did. 

Saul didn’t think he could do it, because was just a kid and because he wasn’t really a fighter, but David knew that he’d fought lions and he knew he had some talents that no one else knew about.  So let me pause right here in the story.  This hits home for me and maybe for a lot of you.  How frustrating is it when we know we can be good at something or when we know something for sure in our hearts and try to share it, and no one listens?  They count us out because we aren’t old enough, or experienced enough, or we don’t look like we could do half of the stuff we say we can.  If you are like me, it makes you shrink back….or maybe you are the opposite of me, and it makes you push your way in and try to convince them that you can do it and you get desperate to prove yourself.  Well, here’s a little encouragement if it’s age that holds you back, memorize this verse: 1 Timothy 4:12(NKJV), “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  So, in other words, you can show ‘em better than you can tell ‘em! 

If it’s your “obvious” lack of knowledge, experience or current success that is the barrier, then you should pay special attention to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT, “26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy[a] when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world,[b] things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 

The nugget for all of us to remember is simply this: God uses anyone he chooses and if we already looked the part before He used us to WOW somebody who counted us out, the impact wouldn’t be nearly as cool!  He uses the least of us to show HIS mighty power!  Now back to David and this giant! 

So David is telling Saul, “I can do this”, and he’s confident he can because he can remember other times where God delivered him from the lions and bears that were attacking his sheep.  He tells Saul, “God will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  See David had a good memory.  He could look back on his life and realize that God had protected him a bunch of times before, so why oh why would God not continue to do so?  He trusted his heavenly Father and so he had brazen confidence and knew that he would be OK.

David knew who he was.  Do you know who you are?

So hopefully, even if you remember this story from Vacation Bible School (VBS), you went back and read it again and you know how it goes.  Goliath was annoyed that this ruddy little kid was going against him; and Goliath threatened to kill him and feed his dead flesh to the birds.  Yeah…yuck!   Young David however, told Goliath that he “came in the name of the Lord of hosts”, and the he knew that God would help him kill Goliath and when it happened it would prove to everyone in attendance that the battle already belonged to the Lord, and no matter what weapons the enemy Goliath had in comparison to David, that they would not prosper and David would no doubt kill him first.  Hmmmm…I hear some familiar biblical themes in there don’t you?  In another kingdom, a little while after all of this, when another King was in a battle against another tough army, God told him outright through the mouth of another man, “…’Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”, and in this story, worship and praise was the weapon they used to defeat the enemy and they didn’t even have to physically fight at all. God caused the enemy armies to kill themselves in confusion!  Read this awesome bible story here: 2 Chronicles 20. Praise and worship is vital…and David knew a lot of something about praise!  (We are going to talk about that in another blog story post…and it will be soon!)

David knew God and God knew him.  See…young David, the eventual King, always knew what he could accomplish because he always knew who he was!  So my question is….do you know what you can do? Do you know who you are?

Galatians 3:26

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:13

“I [You] can do all things through Christ that strengthens me [you].” 

Need Strength?

I wonder what your day has been like today?  Has it been good?  Are you in good spirits and feeling like everything is working out?  Perhaps your day, or your week or even your month has been quite the opposite.  Maybe everything in your life is going horribly wrong right now from your viewpoint and maybe you have been feeling like “simply, no longer caring” about much of anything.  I have been there.  For many years I have battled depression.  What was hardest for me was always just dealing with life’s ups and downs.  My relationships suffered, my work suffered and there were times I just didn’t even bother getting out of bed.  It was almost like when things went bad, I went under.  Today, I am healed from all of it and I am so grateful to God for the change in my being.  I realize there are others that struggle too sometimes and in honor of yet another “tough time” in my life currently…I want to share some goodness with you!

Lately, as I have been studying scripture I came across some interesting ones in the book of Philippians.  In Chapter 1, Paul is writing a letter to the church group at Philippi and he mentions being in “chains” (Philippians 1:13-14).  I thought, “wait, is this guy in JAIL?”  Yes, Paul, an apostle of Jesus, who has been diligently going around the world preaching the “Good News” is in a prison cell, writing a letter of encouragement to the church.  He says, “that even being thrown in prison was a good thing because it advanced God’s message.”  The prison guards and every prisoner were all aware that he was happily “in chains for Christ”.  It makes me think about our times of suffering and how bad we seem to always want the pain and hardship to go away.  The truth is, that when we are going through tough times in our lives, that is a time of serious strength training, a time when God is preparing us, perhaps to be a witness to someone else that is silently watching us very closely.

A few years ago, my employer implemented a wellness service for the employees.  Basically, we are charged with getting a health screening that checks things like cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose. etc…  Once the results are received, the employees are given a free phone consultation with a dietician.  My cholesterol levels were less than stellar and I remember my first conversation with my assigned dietician clearly.  She was telling me that I needed to eat more whole grains and vegetables and she wondered about my exercise habits.  Well, I had none; but something she said about exercise stuck with me,

“…you need to exercise your heart regularly. If you do that, it will be strong so whenever it has to beat harder, like when you are running, or stressed or in ‘flight or fight’ mode, it won’t give up on you!  If you don’t prepare it by slowly building up tolerance, when the time comes for it to go into overdrive, it may fail.”

I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but it made so much sense to me.  So it’s like that…the little trials, the small setbacks, the tiny disappointments are God’s way of training us to have faith, to learn to trust Him and to learn to pray instead of worry.  Once we have this habit of strength and faith and speaking the Word of God back to our problems…then we can just about handle anything satan tries to throw at us.  The best part of this though, is really not how wonderfully we can pull through a situation, the greatest part is the TESTIMONY on the other side that will show other’s what kind of God we serve.  “If He did it before, He can do it again…and again… and again!” Amen?

In my women’s group at church we are studying the book of Daniel.  Most of you probably already know the famous bible story about Daniel in the lion’s den.  In case you’ve never read it, here is a brief summary: There were some wicked men that didn’t like this guy Daniel and they talked the King into sending him to his death because he refused to stop praying to God and would not worship the king or his idols.  The King really didn’t even want to do it because he liked Daniel, but he did it to “save face” (you know how pride can be, right?) and once he’d done it he stayed up all night worried about Daniel.  Of course, Daniel prayed and worshipped God through the night and was alive and well when the King went to check on him the next day.  What I really love about this story is not just about the fact that Daniel was saved by God from being killed and eaten by the animal, I mean that part is a no brain-er for me because I know God always comes through.  For me, the greatest part is the revelation and the confirmation of God’s power to everyone else that saw what happened.  It was such a powerful testimony, that the King made it a law that everyone must serve the living God that Daniel worshipped. He wrote a decree and publicly made the declaration that the God that Daniel served “rescues and saves” and that “he endures forever”! Wow, what a testimony that is.  Daniel’s faith changed the heart of others.  You know about those people in your life that need to “see things to believe”?  Yes, we all have them around.  What if one miraculous movement of God upon your life could turn an unbeliever into a Christian?  If it were possible, for just one person to be saved while you went through a trying time, just to be publicly delivered…would you volunteer for the pain?

In Romans, Paul says that we should, “Glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4  Sounds pretty awesomely spiritual doesn’t it?  It even seems logical, reasonable and simple for any committed Christian to understand and remember…wouldn’t you think?  Yet, what happens to so many of us when reality hits and times get really tough?  We lose our jobs, our homes, relationships that we cherished fall apart or when we or someone we love gets sick or…the hardest trial yet…when a loved-one dies un-expectantly and we don’t understand why or how God could allow it.  That’s when we really need help…what then do we do?

Answer: We worship God through the pain.  See the truth is, things go wrong in life and it’s not always an act of God nor a trick by satan.  Sometimes, it’s just ‘cause and effect’ of our earthly actions, or you know…the way life happens.  Here’s the thing…  the devil knows all of this already, but when tough times come, he takes the opportunity to try to trick you into thinking the worst possible thoughts.  He wants you blaming God.  The devil tries his best to get you to be sad, hopeless, depressed, afraid, angry and generally just in a very dark place emotionally.  Satan knows that if you are feeling all of these negative feelings that you won’t have the energy or time to pray.  See God would prefer that you trust Him and lean on Him in these times…it’s the time when we really need to pray because what we need most is God’s strength and power to get us through to the other side.  And guess what else?  PRAISE WILL CONFUSE THE ENEMY! (Thank you Mr. Sapp!) That’s right…Satan is waiting for you to fall apart, but imagine the surprise and horror in hell when instead, you start to pray, praise God, dance around smiling and happy, right smack dab in the middle of your sorrow? Watch this. Here’s what happens when you sing praises to God:  Your little tiny voice floats into the air and reaches all the way to heaven…the angels perk up as they hear you and they start to sing along.  (…and trust me…whatever Jesus music you are singing…they can name that tune!) Imagine how it goes…God is actually smiling, heaven is rejoicing with you and angels are dispatched by God as a result of your prayer…they swoop on down to wherever you are and a fight begins.  They demolish the demons that have been lurking around you, whispering despair and fear into your mind.  The darkness has gone and the Heavenly Hosts (the Angels) are there with you…and even though you can’t see them…your body feels warm and tingly…you no longer feel like crying.  All of a sudden…you feel better, you get some encouragement…you know it might not be easy, but you feel a burst of Holy adrenaline! Whatever you are going through today, YOU CAN AND WILL GET THROUGH IT!


No…I mean it!  TRY IT!  RIGHT NOW!  Wherever you are…start to praise God even if you don’t feel like it….do it anyway! Someone is watching to see how you handle your trials…give them an amazing testimony of faith!

Tomorrow is another day and what Satan hopes will harm you, God will turn around to bless you!  God always comes through!

Remember that brothers and sisters!


Dear Heavenly Father,

I want to thank you so much for the love you have given us, your children.  Your mercy is everlasting and we never deserve it Father, but we are so grateful.  I thank you Lord, for the opportunity to fellowship and share with others through this blog.  Now Father, I ask that you bless anyone that may read this today, Father that may be going through the toughest struggle of their lives.  Lord, no matter what it is, I ask that you shower them with your love, grace and mercy Lord, and cover them with the blood of Jesus.  I rebuke satan’s attack on them using depression, oppression, despair and fear in the name of Jesus. We thank you Father for sending your precious Son, your Word tells us that He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed and because of this, we thank you God! I pray for healing in body, in mind, mending in hearts and peace for the souls of my readers Lord.  I ask that you deliver them from whatever bondage that is holding them back from seeking you Father, whatever keeps them from crying out in prayer and praise, I ask that the chains be broken immediately in Jesus’ name!  Send your angels from heaven to minister peace to whoever has stumbled onto this page today Lord, someone that needs a breakthrough.  We ask you for it Father and we thank you in advance for it Lord.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Be encouraged!




Do You Have Enough Courage?

Last week I attended a really great church in N.J. with a dear friend of mine, Danielle.  The pastor was teaching about the real reason Jesus came and the real meaning of Christmas.  He told us that the purpose was to give us a special gift.  The gift of freedom from iniquity.  If you are not familiar with this word, Merriam-Webster describes iniquity as “a wicked act or thing”, so in basic terms…sin. He went on to speak about how iniquity is a mindset of habitual disobedience that separates us from God.  Later, I began to think about what would be the opposite of this “wrong thinking and wrong living” and I came to the idea of “sanctification”.  If you have been in a Christian or church environment since you were a child like I have, then you have surely, more than once, heard someone state that they, or someone else is, “Saved, Sanctified and filled with The Holy Spirit!”  I used to think when the person was speaking about themselves in this way that it was a self-righteous proclamation and when they were referring to others, that it was a declaration of how “holy” that person was and it was usually reserved for the pastor or a church elder.  I wonder how many of us really know that ALL Christians are sanctified and OUGHT to live as such…but it takes courage to live like this.  Let’s unpack …shall we?


Sanctified or sanctifying

  1. to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use:  consecrate
  2.  to free from sin:  purify

Well, we already know what it means to be ‘Saved’, don’t we? Some of us can say that we have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we believe that He came in human form to die for our sins, that He arose from the dead three days later and now sits at the right hand of God, the Father. If we have declared that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and asked Him into our hearts and lives, then WE ARE SAVED!  Awesome!  I started thinking what a wonderful feeling it is to know that we are saved, but how many of us accept that we are also sanctified by Christ and how many of us attempt to live according to that sanctification?  So we know that to be sanctified in Christ is to be separated or “set apart”.  This is a concept that I struggle with a lot.  For as much as I love my God and want to please Him, there is that fleshly part of me that is not fully where it should be and I fall into sin all too easily.  Now, I am not saying that any of us are ever going to be perfect and sin-less…we could NEVER follow the laws of God  and actually NOT sin and He knew it, that’s why Jesus had to come to make us righteous (this is explained more in Romans 3:22-29 NLT, when you have some time, read it), but we are actually supposed to make EVERY effort to live differently than the rest of the unsaved world, and when we fall short, we repent (tell God we are sorry and mean it) and don’t continue to do the same stuff!

Oh boy…here we go!!!!  Before I get too deep into the stuff that WE ALL do, that we KNOW we should NOT do (do you know those sinful things not only grieve The Holy Spirit, but also keeps us at a GREAT distance from God?) let me give you an example from my life.

Last year, I was invited to a sex toy party.  Yes, you read that correctly! I am sure you’ve been to or have been invited to at least one in your life, at any rate, most of ya’ll know what I’m talking about.  If you are truly unaware, it’s like a Tupperware or jewelry party, where a person hosts the party and invites their friends. The salesperson demonstrates the product to the guests and then people at the party (hopefully) buy the products and the host/hostess gets free stuff as a result of the sales, the salesperson makes a huge commission…but instead of selling Tupperware or jewelry…they are selling sex toys, candles, lotions, flavored body oils, etc.…you get the idea. It was marketed as an innocent gathering with great food and a wonderful hodgepodge of the hostess’s friends: people of varying sexual orientation, singles, cohabitating and married couples, all very nice people I am sure and it was promised to be an evening of fun and laughter with raw, honest discussions about sexuality and sexual pleasure within the confines of loving relationships….or “whatever else” one might be into. Harmless fun, right?  Well maybe for some…but God had me in a place where I knew that even though I had great respect and love for the hostess, this was not an environment that I needed to be in.  I agonized over it for weeks as she continuously reminded me to RSVP and kept re-assuring me that even though she knew I was a Christian, single and sexually abstinent, that I could still come to the party, have a good time and could at least “just buy a candle” …you know just to be social and be a part of the group.   I wish I could tell ya’ll that I just had the guts to tell her I wasn’t interested and declined the invitation, but it took the wisdom of a great friend named Janedia to tell me, “Baby, now I don’t know why you are even thinking about going, you know that’s not what you are into. You are going to have to decide how YOU are going to live no matter what others are doing.”  (Janedia is from East Texas, so you can imagine that last line being spoken in her sweet, Texas southern drawl.)  Even after I conceded that The Holy Spirit was telling me that no, I could not go…I STILL didn’t have the courage to just decline the invite. So I told her I would come, waited until the day, didn’t go and then made up an excuse. Yep, such a coward!  I wanted to be liked and accepted and not thought of as the “weird girl”, or the “holier than thou girl” the Jesus freak that thinks “she’s too good” and I wanted to be included and invited to other gatherings…so instead of standing my spiritual ground and saying no…I took the non-courageous way out.  Truth is, I AM too good to live in sin and ignore the prompting of The Holy Spirit, and just because something is OK for others, does not mean it is OK for me if my Father tells me no! (of course, I came to this firm resolve after the party!)

It’s a spiritual training that we go through however, and yes, we all fail the tests…all the time! Ultimately though, I think God is trying to get us into the HABIT of doing what is right…no matter what else is going on around us. WE ARE DIFFERENT.  Are we courageous enough to act different? Better yet, do we even WANT to be different? We want to claim we are sanctified…but really…are we brave enough to live sanctified, apart from the world…boldly…proudly?  This is what being saved and sanctified is all about folks!  We spend all of elementary school and most of high school trying not to be different and singled out and now God tells us, “NOPE…live holy and separated from the rest. Be different, stand out, I insist!”   Paul explains it better than I can here in Ephesians 2: 1-5 NLT.  He is telling us that before Christ came into our lives, we followed the way of the world, which is INDEED the way of Satan.  Back before we were part of God’s family we satisfied our fleshly desires and cravings and evil thoughts with not a care or a clue about the damage it would do to our lives.  So now…what is going on with us when we are now saved, but still live according to our flesh? Answer: WE ARE IN GREAT DANGER! In case you think I may not know what I’m talking about…click on over to Romans 1:18-21, these four verses are especially important to the meaning in my next paragraph, however keep reading as you have time, the whole chapter is very interesting and it is easily digestible in the NLT  version of the bible.  It’s deep reading but know this…IT IS THE TRUE WORD OF GOD and it explains a lot of what we now see in the world!

Here comes all the stuff I didn’t want to get into earlier, and you were hoping I’d forget. Why do Christians still want to do all the things we used to do and still do it with all the same people?  Why do we lie, cheat, steal, hate, fornicate and cohabitate, (did I already say cheat?), gossip, cuss like a sailor for no good reason, do recreational drugs, drink to intoxication, watch and read smut that celebrates homosexuality, adultery, lust and murder…oh I could go on…but basically, you know all the stuff the rest of the world seems ok with doing, the stuff that “isn’t really hurting anyone”, one might say.  Plus “it’s just the way the world is these days”!  You probably also want to ask me this: “Glory, are you trying to suggest that it is so easy…we get saved and then all of a sudden we are supposed to be perfect?”  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  “Then how do we focus on doing what is right in the face of all the world’s temptation to do the wrong stuff every day? Especially since you just told us we would NEVER be able to NOT sin anyway…what’s the point of trying?”

I really like reading Romans and Ephesians in the bible, they were both written by a guy that was at first, pretty much a “religious zealot” that was really hung up on the “laws” that defined good and bad.  When he was born, his mother named him Saul. He didn’t immediately understand who Jesus was and he wanted to kill everyone that believed differently than he did.  Along the way of life, Jesus not only revealed Himself to him, saved him and changed his name to Paul to signify the transformation, but thought him worthy to teach about Christ and lead others in the right direction finally.  In the New Living Translation bible, Ephesians, Chapter 4 starting at verse 17, there is a section entitled: “Instructions for Christian Living, and it goes through Chapter 5, verse 17”.     Take a moment to read this.  Now, let’s for a moment go back to the beginning of my post and remember what the pastor taught us about iniquity, iniquity is a mindset of habitual disobedience that separates us from God.  So how does a person like Saul/Paul and Christian people like us get to a point where we are not in a habit of sin…which leaves us feeling “uncovered” and “disconnected” from God?

Saved, Check. Sanctified, Check. Enter the Holy Spirit.

Do you know that once you ask The Holy Spirit to come live inside of you…that once you are truly filled, that there is no longer room for wrong desires?  Your actual cravings, wants and behavior will begin to change and lean towards the will of God because you will then no longer be seeking after unholy things.  Ever heard someone say, “something doesn’t ‘sit well’ or ‘feel right’ with my spirit”?  It doesn’t even become about what others think or what “appears” to be correct or socially acceptable.  Being sensitive to The Holy Spirit means you will actually feel when something is not pleasing to God even when everyone else around you thinks it’s fine (even other Christians).

Do you realize that obeying The Holy Spirit can free you from relational bondage and stop you from getting into a mess you will have a difficult time dealing with or getting out of? (Think: The wrong job. The wrong  relationship. The wrong friendship. The wrong place at the wrong time.)  This is what people mean when they tell you to “pray” about your life and your decisions.  What it does NOT mean is that you will get everything you pray for…your prayers must line up with God’s will.  Hmmm…maybe you don’t know how to discern His will for your requests? Click this link, Romans 8:25-27 NLT, and read how The Holy Spirit can help get your prayers answered!

Following the leading of The Holy Spirit will convict you of your wrong thinking, methodically change your wrong-living and heal so much of your pain from being in a space where God would have never taken you in the first place!  The Holy Spirit will show you what to do, show you what not to do and will get you on the path to living IN the world but not being OF worldly things.

Saved! Sanctified! Filled with The Holy Spirit! Do you have enough courage to live like this?

Galatians 5:16-17(NLT):

 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 Praying that this message glorifies God and helps someone today!

 Love always,