Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Unconditional Love

Psalm 51: v. 1 NIV
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailling love;"

Today is Calliope's birthday! She is my toy poodle, she is 7 years old and she is spoiled rotten, but beautiful. I thank God for the blessing of having her in my life and for the joy that she has given us.

As I have sat in the recliner each morning to have my alone time with God and His word, she has been by my side. She sometimes beats me to the chair and sits, waiting. If I tarried longer than usual, she's even come and barked at me as if saying, "What's taking you so long."

She displays unconditional devotion with excitement when I'm coming home from work or in the way she waits for me at the top of the stairs at night. She doesn't care what I look like in the morning, how much money I make or who I am in the social realm. I don't have to put up a front or do anything special. She loves me, no matter what.

As I read God's word, she's a reminder of just one of the many blessings God has given and of the unconditional love He bestowed upon us at the cross. He knows us through and through, right down to the very sins that no one else sees or knows about. But He loves us anyway.

As we celebrate Easter, may we be reminded of the sacrifice of love that He gave us, not because we were worthy, but just because He loved us so much.

Romans 5: v. 8 NIV
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unexpected Company

Matthew 24: v. 43 NIV
"But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into."

Panic! Company's coming and my house is a wreck. How many days had I put off cleaning telling myself I'd get it done later? As I looked around noticing the dust bunnies, the clutter and the pile of dishes in the sink I wondered what would they think if they walked in now and found my house like this? I didn't want to face embarrassment and feel awkward because of the mess. I had just gotten busy and I'd put off doing what needed to be done.

Procrastination seems to be one of my issues that I'm trying to improve on. How many of us are guilty of putting off something only to find ourselves coming up short later? If we're not careful we may find ourselves doing the same thing in our daily walk with Christ. We may put off Bible study, devotional time with the Lord and prayer while telling ourselves we'll stop later and catch up. We convince ourselves we'll sign up for nursery duty, serving or visitation the "next time" the sign up sheet comes around. We may put off talking to a neighbor, friend or family member about Christ until the "time is right."

What would Christ find us doing right now if He were to return at this very moment? Would He find our spiritual house in order or would we be embarrassed by the clutter and meaningless things we've filled it with?

As I hurry to clean my house and prepare for my unexpected guests I pray it won't be the same thing I'll be doing with the life that Christ has given back to me when He returns.

May we live daily so that not only will we be ready when Christ returns but that others will be also because of our witness and work through Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24: v. 44-46 NIV
44. "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." 45. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge...."46. it will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just A Box of Chicken

2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,... for God loves a cheerful giver."

I was standing at the deli counter talking to Carolyn, a co-worker, when Margo approached. She put her arm around my shoulder, smiled and announced to Carolyn, "She's a good friend; she really helped me out this past year."

I knew what she was referring to. Over a year ago Margo had started working at the grocery store where I am employed. I worked in the deli and she in the kitchen. She had a constant smile and a bubbly personality that stood out. She also was bald, which got everyone talking and wondering why she would choose to look like that. I on the other hand don't like to assume anything. Through conversations with Margo on lunch breaks I really got to know her. I learned her hair loss was a result of a treatment she'd received years earlier. There was a medical solution to regain her hair but the insurance wouldn't cover it. Well, so much for gossip!

Several months later I noticed Margo wasn't smiling and seemed to be stressed. During one of our conversations she revealed she was having some financial problems. She was even having a hard time putting a meal on the table. I remember the compassion God layed on my heart at that time. My finances weren't great but I decided I could help in a small way. I noticed the 8 piece chicken meal was on special. I paid for the chicken and gave her the receipt so she could take it with her when she left work. You would have thought I'd given her a $1000.00 by her reaction. She was overjoyed.

Here it was a year later and she was still expressing gratitude. Who would have thought that this one small gesture of giving would have made such an impact. We don't always know how God can use us if we allow Him to fill our hearts with compassion. It can be a word of encouragement, a card, service or even "just a box of chicken."

Colossians 3:12 NIV
Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pressing Toward the Goal

Hi, I'm back! I'm sorry I've been away so long. Exhaustion and health problems have played a part, but this is where God has placed my heart and I know it's just the beginning of where He wants to take me. He has been teaching me during the meantime. I'm learning how to place "life"(things I do), in order of importance. It takes alot of listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying. I know it's a day to day process and will not be completed until the day of redemption. It's the same thing that was placed on Paul's heart in Phillippians.

Phillippians 3:12 NIV
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

Please be patient. I may not post as often as I'd like. I may not run as fast as others, but I will trust God to complete in me that which He has chosen me for.

Phillippians 3:13-14 NIV
13.....But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

You'll be hearing from me soon. Love in Christ, Marie

Thursday, January 1, 2009

God Has A Plan - Believe and Receive

Jeremiah: 29: v. 11-12 NIV
11. "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." 12. "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

In the midst of everything that's happened this past year, from the failing economy, to the violence, death and destruction in other countries, one may wonder if there is hope. But hope and a future is exactly what God has promised.

Did you know that God has a plan for you? His word says that His plan for you is one that will prosper, give hope and a future. Haven't seen that plan yet? There's a reason for not seeing God's hand in our lives. That reason is unbelief. If you noticed in Jeremiah, v. 12 it says, "then you shall call upon me and pray to me and I will listen to you."

I believe God is trying to show you the plan He's already laid out for you. First of all you have to realize that we all fall short of God's glory, but His plan included forgiveness and eternal salvation.

Romans 3: v. 23-24 NIV
23. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 24. "and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ."
Romans 5: v. 8, 12 NIV
8. " But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 12. "For if, when we were enemies; we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more..., shall we be saved through His life."

You have to accept His plan by faith. God cannot give you something unless you believe He has it to give in the first place. Why else would He say, "then you will call upon me..." God wants to raise you above the circumstances in your life and give you peace even in the midst of the turmoil of this world. God has blueprints for your life- "plans to give you hope and a future." Believe, then pray by faith, so you can receive all He has for you.

Romans 10: v. 8-10 NIV
8. "...the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart..." 9. " That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." 10. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified...."


The Wisdom of His Word

Jeremiah: 29: v. 11-12 NIV
11. "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." 12. "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

For the last few years I've struggled with this verse, especially v. 12. I couldn't quite understand why God said we would pray after receiving His plans instead of praying before, then receiving plans for our lives.

Then just a few days ago, out of the blue, an elderly gentleman approached me at the gas pump- he was on the other side. He just started talking about how bad the economy was, the violence in the Middle East and just how dark our future looks. During the conversation I had several things go through my mind as how to respond back. Just as quickly as the conversation started though, it ended. Maybe there wasn't time to respond due to others wanting to get gas.

However, since then God has layed on my heart what's really important; getting His word and the hope that is in Jesus Christ out to others. I decided I wanted to write God's plan of hope and salvation and hand it out to those in need-as God's Spirit leads.

Of course in God's all knowing wisdom He gave me Jeremiah 29: v. 11-12. As I began to write, I looked at the scripture and asked, "Lord, I don't understand. Why wouldn't we pray first, then receive the plans You have?" Suddenly, He gave me the understanding I needed. " You have to believe in what I have for you to be able to ask for and receive it by faith."

Wow! So simple, but what a revelation. He already has the plans for our lives. We don't have to pray for them. We just have to believe and receive them. We certainly want to pray about them and be opened to what they are, but faith comes first.

It's the same with salvation. He's already provided the way. We just have to believe and receive through prayer what He already has given. This will be the foundation for what I've decided for my tract, (devotional), I want to give out so that others may believe, then pray for God's plan for their lives.

Following is a posting of the writing I want to give out. I pray the words belong to God and that His Spirit will minister to others through what's written.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Choose Your Gift Wisely

Isaiah 9: v. 6-7 NIV
6." For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the goverment will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7. Of the increase of his goverment and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Mighty God will accomplish this."

The realization that Jesus was sent to be a permanent solution for the dilemma of mankind was completely missed by the Pharisees and the people of Israel. They wanted political freedom and freedom from bondage, but were only willing to accept that freedom for a short time. They were short sighted and didn't see beyond the "now" of their lives and their nation.

Had they really given thought to the previous reign of kings, they'd have realized there can never be any long term peace or freedom with any earthly goverment or king. Once a ruler's reign ends, who's to say will take their place, leaving them once again in a vulnerable position.

They were blinded to the words in scripture, such as "there will be no end, forever and Mighty God." Isaiah spoke of a king that would rule forever. He would also be able to deliver them from their sins because he would be divine or holy, something only God could do.

Matthew 1: v. 18, 21 NIV
18. "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary .... was found to be with child through the Holy Ghost." 21. "She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

You have two packages to choose from this Christmas. One is an earthly package wrapped with fancy paper, a huge bow and gives the most sparkle. It's usually the one we reach for first. When opened it may contain an instant but temporary solution or relief to your "now" situation.

The other is a heavenly package, but it isn't wrapped with fancy paper, ribbons and doesn't sparkle.

Luke 2: v. 7 NIV
"She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manager...."

This gift will be chosen with the heart and opened by faith. It was wrapped in love and when opened will reveal in light and glory a permanent and eternal solution for all mankind.

Luke 2: v. 30-32 NIV
30." For my eyes have seen your salvation," 31." which you have prepared...." 32." a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

Which gift will you choose?