There’s a whole lot of love in the house of the Lord

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The general area around where I live has many different businesses but it still can identify itself as a family neighborhood.  If my wife and I had children in school age, we would feel very confident to raise our children here.  There are shopping centers, grocery stores, convenience stores, department  stores, gas stations, and even a local Emergency Room.  There are doctor and dentist offices.  And we are only little ways from Lake Erie and access to recreational opportunities on the lake.  There are many places of worship to choose from and the folks around here are friendly.  They’re “good people”.  We feel safe and secure.  We’ve never had an issue.  This makes me smile a lot.

When I got married to my wife Nancy, we  wanted to find a place to worship in as we both were attending different churches.  What did we do?  We took it to the Lord in prayer.  It wasn’t long that we both came into agreement and it has been a tremendous blessing.   Oh by the way, we will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary in May.  We were  married in the church we now attend.  We have been so blessed.  We are confident this is where the Lord wants us.

What drew us to this church?  There’s a whole lot of love in the house of the Lord.  Our church is filled with the Love of God.  Our church’s mission is Connecting People to a Growing Relationship with Jesus Christ.  That being said, is the same kind of love being poured out when church is over.  What are we doing outside of the church walls?  Jesus said this, And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”” Mark 16:15 ESV  And Jesus also said this,  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV   It’s a tough question.  What are we doing outside of our church walls?  It’s fine that you may attend a church full of love for you.  But what about the lost outside of church who are headed to an eternity in hell.  Yes, hell.  It’s not a pretty picture.  I hope that you are not saying or thinking that you’re ok and that’s not your problem.  That kind of  thinking is not biblical.  Jesus gave us a command.  We must be obedient to it. 

praying for the lost

Friend, I’m asking you to think about this.  Really think.  I wouldn’t want anyone to perish because we were selfish; thinking only about ourselves.  The man who told me about Jesus in 1999 was not selfish and loved me so much that he told me about Jesus.  Did you get what I just said?  The man loved me so much that he told me about Jesus.  Love isn’t only inside of the church to get people to attend.  If a church is like that they are missing the most important command of God.  The Apostle Peter said this, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 ESV  We must take the Love received by accepting Jesus into our lives and go tell a world about it.

You have a choice.  This is my challenge to  you.  I ask you to pray and listen to what God is saying to you about a lost and dying world and how you can reach them; to pour out the love that Jesus gave you when He died for you on the Cross.  He took your sins and paid the full price for them.  His death on the cross.  Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  He is the Son of God and He is coming back someday.  You have a choiice.  I will be praying for you. God bless you.

If you have never asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you can do that. In humble prayer ask Jesus to  forgive you  of  your sins, repent of your sins and  declare your belief that He died for you and arose from the grave to defeat sin and death for all.

Don’t believe me.  Believe God!

 

 

Through it all…

god's been good

I know that I know that God loves me. He rescued me from the depths of my sorrow, fear, feeling abandoned. I’ve had seasons of great challenge. I’ve had times of pain both mentally and physically. But through it all, God’s been Good. I’ve placed my trust in the Lord and have given up the things of the world. I once thought that these worldly things were necessary for me to be happy. They are not. God has saved me, He has raised me, He filled me with the Holy Ghost. He healed me, to the uttermost. He picked me up and turned me around. He placed my feet on solid ground. For all of this, I thank Him and give Him Praise. Again, through it all, God’s been Good in my life.

You might ask why I am so confident of this.  How do I truly know?  Well, each story or in this case, every testimony is different.  When I received the touch of God, I was at my rock bottom.  Really!  I’m not giving you the standard testimony of someone who now goes to church and is all happy.  That kind of person, I am not.  I am a realist.  I was raised to study and investigate and always question what lies before me.  I lived my whole life that this was the only way.  To cover all the bases; to get all the answers to all the questions.

So how long do you think I studied the question, “Does God love me?”  Well, I don’t have knowledge of how long, but I will tell you it took 45 years for me to think about that infamous question.  My life was at a point where I needed to make a choice.  Sometimes that’s where you need to be so that the only thing left is “Choose Jesus or Die.”   “Oh, come on, George.  Really?  Sounds to me that you are saying all the right things. Is this real?”  Before I asked myself the question “Does God love me?” I was ignorant. I was wandering around lacking any knowledge of God’s love.  Jesus was calling me to come home to Him.  All the while, I closed my ears and eyes of that.  I know now the truth.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)  Yes, He was chasing after me from the beginning of time, though I didn’t know it.

My testimony began with a man sharing his love for me by telling me that there was a man who loved me and wanted a relationship with me.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  For me it was like bait in the water of a great pond filled with fish.  Except it’s not about hooking fish.  It’s all about His mercy and grace that pulled me out with one great pull.  Great is the Lord. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3 ESV) 

You may have heard the following praise, even if you don’t think of yourself as spiritual or religious.  It has been said, “God is Good all the time. And all the time God is Good.”   This has nothing to do with being spiritual or anything to do with religion.  It has everything to do  with relationship.  The Bible says this.  And it is a promise.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”” (1 Corinthians 2:9) “Does God love me?  Most wholeheartedly Yes.”  I now serve One Master.  It’s in Christ Alone that I give my life.  Has it been easy?  No. Have I been blessed?  If you’re looking for me to quantify this question, I can’t.  God’s blessings are immeasurable.  Overflowing.  More than I can even imaging.  His grace is sufficient for me.   Through it all, God’s been Good!

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing.  I  don’t know of the circumstances by which you live your life.  I don’t know if you feel that if God knew me, He couldn’t love me.  But I know this that God loves you with an everlasting love that can never change or be diminished.  If you knew Him like I know Him you would know that He is Alive and death has died.  Jesus paid the price for sin and death by His suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  I’m just asking you to come to  the everlasting love of Jesus and have a talk with Him.  My joy is unspeakable because I know that someone will read this and join in everlasting life, the Family of God.  It’s not how much you have done.  It’s simply about belief.  There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life.  God paid the price for you.  It’s His grace that will be applied to you once you accept Him.

Jesus, You paid the price for all of us to receive Your grace and partake in everlasting life with You in Heaven.  You’ve not applied a lot of rules or duties to receive the greatest gift.  We only need to believe.  Then we will see Jesus in all of Your glory.  Thank You that You have been with me since the beginning of the age and through it all You have been good.  Help me to understand more and more about You.  Bless our relationship Lord.  Forgive me sin and come into my life.  Thank You Lord.  I will serve You until I die.  I’m on the battlefield for the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Divine Interruption

divine-interuption

Does anyone have a childhood memory of the summer vacation trips you took? I know I do.  I remember as a child thinking ahead of the day that we would leave.  I remember pondering what we would do; each time getting more and more excited.  I would count down the days.  But there were times when something would happen and times where plans had to change.  Mom and Dad had so much on their minds, trying to get things taken care of.  I know I didn’t think of what they went through so that my brother and I would not be too disappointed.  Sometimes things happen because that’s life.  Sometimes it just can’t be helped.  The world is an ever changing thing.  Even in the 60s and early 70s when family vacations really meant a lot to me, things of this world caused things to happen.  My dad had a certain amount of vacation time to take and if plans changed, he had to try to get his vacation dates changed.  Mom was a stay at home mom, but when dad was stressed, she was stressed.  All my brother and I knew was we weren’t going when we thought we were.  It was a sad time for us and I am sure mom and dad felt bad that we were disappointed.

Sometimes the hardest thing once my brother and I got over the announcement, was just trying to understand why. We saw how hard it was for mom and dad to tell us.  They knew that we were excited.  Yet, because of circumstances beyond their control, the plans had to change.  The best thing that my brother and I could do was to simply accept it.  But in our private conversations between brothers, we were very sad and somewhat angry.

The Bible speaks about someone who had their life turned upside down due to an announcement. Something she didn’t know would happen.  The world was about to change for all eternity and she had to try to understand.  Luke 1:30-33 (NIV) shares the announcement: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Can you imagine what Mary felt?  Certainly it was much more than a change of vacation plans.

The Angel Gabriel wanted her not to be afraid. The announcement was good news, yet an incredibly HUGE event.  Mary was not only giving birth to a son, but she was giving birth to the Son of God.

When I was told of our change of plans I had to come to a point of acceptance. Mary also had to come to a place of acceptance, but I am sure there were times when her mind was filled with the “what if’s”.  And she must have thought about the effect on Joseph.  You see Mary was a virgin.  The culture that they lived in would allow Joseph to divorce or cancel his plans to marry her because she would be carrying a child in her yet not married.

So much was going on, yet Mary said this as written in Luke 1:38 (NIV): “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” When it counted, she responded in faith to trust the Lord.

Think about this for a minute. What would you do?  If you were either Mary or Joseph.  Mary was a teenage girl who now found herself pregnant with a son though she was a virgin.  Joseph found himself in a position to now understand how this happened. That’s no small dilemma for Joseph, especially since he is obviously not the father of the child.

Sometimes interruptions in our lives come from our relationship with God. I call them divine interruptions.  They take us by surprise, yet God has a plan for us and interruptions are a part of that plan. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.” Can we do that?  Or should I ask, “Do we do that?”  I know that I struggle with interruptions.  In my perfect world, I like having things go as I plan.  I think to some degree we all do.  I think that there’s a lesson to be learned from the story of Mary and Joseph.

Friend, interruptions are a part of our lives. They happen every day.  Divine interruptions are for our good and God’s glory.  When these Godly interruptions occur, pray.  Seek God in prayer.  Speak to Him and take time to listen.  Next, put the interruption into proper perspective asking yourself things like, “How bad is it really?” and “What difference will it make in eternity?”  Then think about God’s providence and who really is in control.  God is still in control.  And finally, give thanks to God for He truly cares for you.  Jeremiah 29:11 says this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   God had plans for Mary and Joseph and their hope was in Him.  God has plans for you, too. God bless you.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

He saw the greater need

So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14: 10-14 NKJV)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, though He knew of what would happen to John, in His humanness, He grieved. His friend had died. He wanted to be alone. But then something happened that changed everything. It says He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. In the midst of the times in the land, Jesus’ grief and the sorrow of the death of a dear friend, He saw the greater need. He saw the multitude. He saw that the sheep were before Him. They, too, had great needs. Jesus, God in the flesh, set aside His personal grief, and what He was facing and ministered to those in need.

There are times in our life where we, too, face incredible stress, heart ache, and grief. It happens to all of us. We come to a place where we might think no one else has to deal with what I am facing. I’ve said that myself. But I’ve learned that when I can set aside just a little bit of the struggles I face and look to what others are facing and pray for them, I feel a release. I feel comforted in knowing that God knows what I struggle with and He is on it. And when my prayer for others opens up into an opportunity to talk with them, the release is even greater. I want to be able to see, and hear, and feel as Jesus did. With a heart of compassion that always recognizes the greater need.

Heavenly Lord, You poured out Your love to those in need because You desired for them to see their Savior in the flesh. You came to seek and to save that which was lost. As You walked this earth You always ministered with a heart filled with compassion. Help me Lord to walk with Your heart, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears. To set aside our own needs to minister to those in need. May those we minister to see Your light in us. Help us Lord we pray. In Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Nehemiah 1:8-10 NKJV – A place which I have chosen

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you. But if you return to Me, I will gather you from there and bring you to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling place for My name. A conditional statement, but yet one of great love and desire from God. If you do not obey I will cause you to scatter but if you return to Me, you will be where I am. That’s really what this scripture is saying. God is our sole redeemer. Redeeming us from difficult personal circumstances, deliverance from our enemies, and Jesus is central to God’s redemptive purpose. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 NKJV)

And why would we not want to be where God resides? Jesus prepares the place in heaven for His own, and the Holy Spirit prepares the redeemed on earth for their place in heaven. That is God’s desired location of your eternal dwelling. He tells us that He desires to bring us to His place. But let me share something with you. Until the day when we stand before Jesus; when our life on this earth ends, we can still be where God is. All we need to do is desire it and ask God to lead us there.

To reside in the place where God dwells is to desire an intimate relationship with Him. It means to access God in His throne room. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV) Let us then with confidence draw near to where God is. Coming to God honors Him because it demonstrates our dependence upon Him. Coming to God brings us to the place where He resides. Where there is only Him and us. No one else. And God responds in mercy to those who call to Him. “Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today” (1 Kings 8:28 NKJV) And the path to the throne room; the path to meeting with God is prayer. Prayerfulness is an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and believers is developed. And prayerfulness is a way of life and a way to life. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV) What better way “of life” and “to life” than a daily time of prayer and conversation with God.

Friend, God promises that if we return to Him and obey His commands, He will gather us and bring us to His place; where He dwells. The blessings and favor of the Lord await those who come to God and seek an obedient, intimate relationship with Him. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your promises. Thank You that You have prepared a place for us. Thank You that we can come into Your throne room to meet with You, to worship You and to pray to You. Lord, Your Word is the gift of life. Forgive us Lord when we do not obey Your commands and try to live a life outside of You. But thank You Lord that if we return to You and obey Your commands, You will gather us up and take us to the place You have chosen n matter how far we might have drifted. We love You and praise You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Mark 11:25 NKJV – Forgiven so I can forgive

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

God’s forgiveness of believers’ sins leads them to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving to others. This is a command and not a choice. “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t know what he/she did to me.” No, I don’t, but Jesus is very clear with this command. Jesus said, “anything against anyone, forgive him”. Being forgiven is dependent on forgiving others.

I know that I struggled with obedience to this Scripture even after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Though I would tell you that my heart and mind were changed, I still had deep hurts from my past. Some of the hurt was actually bitterness that I refused to let go of. Bitterness is a bad seed. I’ll tell you that it eats at your life and endeavors to consume you. It’ like the worst kind of killing weed. The enemy uses bitterness to keep us from forgiving others. But our God is greater. The enemy is of the world, but God is not. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

I had to learn that forgiveness begins with love for that individual. Loving those who hurt you. Loving those who persecute you. Loving those who scorn you. Loving those who tell lies about you. Loving those who others say are unlovable. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NKJV) Jesus was very clear about loving your enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

Being changed and delivered from bitterness in my life gave me a freedom that cannot be adequately explained. A freedom of extreme joy. The change and the deliverance came after long hours and many days of being discipled from many brothers and sisters in the Lord and prayer. It was a process that was nurtured and fed with every moment I sought God in prayer. To love like Jesus loves, you need to have a relationship with Jesus. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without the power of His mercy and grace. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without an active relationship with love Himself, Jesus. Jesus is love!

Friend, our forgiveness of others is to be without limits. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sin. He suffered and died because of us; our sin nailed Him to the cross. The good news is, Jesus forgives. He rose from the grace to defeat sin and death once for all and forgives those who come to Him in faith and belief. Jesus forgives unconditionally when we humble ourselves and submit our lives to Him based on His mercy and grace. Our forgiveness of others must be as unconditional as Christ who forgave us. So where do we start? We start with prayer, seeking God for the mind and heart and compassion of Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) You can choose to carry the bitterness of unforgiveness or you can choose to forgive those who have hurt or persecuted you. Make the right choice and go to God in prayer.

Precious Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness. Lord, there have been times when bitterness has overtaken our hearts. Thank You Lord that You give us Your love that transcends our bitterness. We can love our enemies because Lord you love them. Teach us how to love as You love. Bring us to our knees as we seek You to understand the depth of Your forgiveness and love. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Jeremiah 31:3 NLT – Everlasting love

Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

The while back I was looking over posts to my Facebook account, I noticed a posting from a dear friend and Pastor. I asked him if I could share the posting and he graciously gave me permission. Here are his thoughts:

“As I’m spending some time meditating and listening to music this morning. I felt the overwhelming presence of God’s Love. And I say “overwhelming” because it moved me to tears. I got this message that I’m going to share because someone else may benefit from it. God’s love is not something you can earn or purchase-it’s more valuable than that. God’s love is not something you can convolute or complicate-it’s more simple than that. God’s love is not something you can manufacture or manipulate-it’s much more genuine than that. God’s love is unexplainable & unshakeable. God’s love is available for you whether you feel worthy or not. God’s love is AMAZING!”

Thank you Pastor. I thank God for you being a part of my life. I, too, believe that this message is for someone out there who needs or should I say desires to understand what defines the “Love of God”. What is God’s love? Well, God’s love cannot be purchased. It’s free…given to all who accept it. It has no price tag rather you can receive it just by asking for it.   It’s not complicated at all, it’s simply this, “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.” (John 3:16 NKJV) God loved you and He loved me even before time began. And He continues to love us with an everlasting love. A love that NEVER ends.

God’s love cannot be manufactured by anyone or any other thing. It comes from the heart of our Father in Heaven. It’s genuine. It’s real, having great value and cannot be pretended. It’s honest and open. And God’s love is unexplainable and it cannot be shaken. God said, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” God has called you His people. God is our Creator. Believe it. And He will love you forever. And His love is unfailing. You can’t be disappointed in His love. It’s not an earthly love, but an eternal and everlasting love.

Friend, God’s love is amazing. It truly is. There was a time in my life where I could not understand the love of God or what it meant to be loved by God. I was not able to understand because the thought of God was not with me. I was lost and living for the benefit of myself and no one else. But let me tell you something, God’s love is real and it’s alive and it’s available. God’s love is named Jesus.   Yes, God’s love has a name.   A name above all other names. The Name of Jesus!!! “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV) God is love itself. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:15-16 NIV) How can we be sure that God lives in us and we possess the love of God? We need to pray. We need to ask God to live in us and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Do you need to seek God today for this? You can. Right now if you choose. Prayer is foundational to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our personal relationship with Jesus begins with a prayer and is nurtured through prayer. Why not begin today with the first prayer. Ask God to put His love in you in the person of Jesus Christ.

Dear Jesus. I don’t understand what God’s love means. I don’t know where to begin, but I am told that God’s love is in the Name of Jesus. I need this kind of love in my life. So Lord, come to me and come into my life and heart. Jesus I acknowledge You as love and the Son of God. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. I am a sinner in need of You. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I can live eternally with You. Thank You for loving me with an everlasting love and placing Your love in me so that I can love others as You love me. Lead me in Your ways. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!