“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 NIV
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
These passages speak of the love God has for everyone. Not just when we are good or do what he wants. But everyone and all the time. He does not want anyone ever to perish. He gave his one and only son to be born so that he could die a humiliating, horrible death so that nobody would have to die. We all deserve death because we’ve all sinned. But he died for us. That is real love. He is a perfect and holy God who cannot dwell among sin. They made a way for us to be together with them for eternity in heaven. But they also gave us free will, to be able to choose just what we want. They have made it very clear what they want. They have given us their own words written just for us to help us know them. They have given us a gift. Just like every gift you have ever been given, it is free. You have to do nothing but accept it. It takes faith to accept it because it is not something you can see or feel. We have to believe we have it. With that gift comes the promises that they will help us. Once we believe, we need to practice what we believe. We will turn away from sin. We are no longer a slave to sin but are made new. Many people choose to believe the parts of the Bible they like. It is historically accurate and has been proven to be true. If it is true, it is to be believed. All of it. If we believe all the good things like how much God knows us and loves us, knowing our every thought and always wanting what is best for us. Then we ought to believe when he tells us not to do something. Sin is not just wrong, it is not good for us if it brings eternal death. He has warned us time and time again. But this is one thing he doesn’t have control over. We do though. So nobody can say that a righteous God would not send someone to hell. He doesn’t. But we do by not believing and obeying. We have the final say over our actions. We can use any excuse we want, but not doing his will puts it on us. He is a very loving and just God. He tells us in his word how to be blessed. He tells us he to have a full and abundant life. How to have fullness of joy bubbling over in our lives. He wants what every good father wants for his children. The best. Every parent will do everything they can to see their children happy, healthy, and safe and sometimes say ‘no’. If what they want is not best for them. Shouldn’t we be glad to do things that will bring joy, happiness, and blessings.
What can we do to have a good and abundant life?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1John 7-8 NIV
It is very important to have fellowship with others. Some of the best relationships I have are with other Christians. I believe we can be real with each other and gain so much from each other. But the best thing we can do for any relationship is spend time with our Heavenly Father. I know that my relationship with God has grown so much in the last six years. I love to spend time with him. I can spend time lounging in bed in the mornings and just talking about everyone and everything that is important to me. I know I can spend over an hour because my mind wanders. That isn’t always bad. Sometimes I will think of things I need to do that particular morning, but sometimes God will give me something to write about or something I need to do. (A divine assignment ) I can have a physical problem that I’m worrying about and he will give me a great idea of something to try. Or something I can do for someone. I love these times. Everyone must think I’m lazy but curled up in bed with my best friend is the best part of my day. Then when I do get up I’m sharp and ready to go. I can hit the floor running, or rolling for me. Like this morning I saw several things I needed to do right off. Spending that quality time with God makes me a better person. The love God has for me is bubbling up inside of me and I know he has that same love for everyone else. That makes me want to have that same kind of love. Just because I read my Bible and the knowledge of Gods love is inside me, I didn’t really know it until my relationship grew. Now I see and feel his love because we are so close. Just like any relationship it takes time of talking about important issues. It is so easy to do the polite chit chat and not really know someone. But to me, everyone has the potential to be a new great friend. Even though I know I may never see them again I want them to know I care about them and wish them well. Even a couple well chosen words can say so much. It is hard for me to talk to some people because I don’t speak very loud or distinctly. But I try real hard to use gestures and emotions to help my words. My smile is a big thing I always want to give away. The more time I spend with God, the more I will be like him. I know myself, I still make judgments of others. Someone can do or say something and I assume. That is sin and I confess that one a lot. I do not know the shoes they’ve walked in and I want to be understanding but I need God’s help. We all do.
What can you do or who can you talk to today?
“I have told you this so my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV
There is a misunderstanding among most people and it keeps them from God. God just doesn’t want you to have a joyful life. It is his job to keep you in line and fill you with many good deeds to do that will keep you oppressed. The minute you become a Christian you must give up so much. Most people know they just can’t give up so much, too much to have a good life. This is not correct and not how it is. God has come to give you life, a full and rewarding life. In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy. You can never find real joy without God. Inside everyone is a hunger that is just dying to be filled. People spend their entire lives trying to fill this need. They try love relationships, drugs, alcohol, money, fame, knowledge and so many things that can’t do it. They want love and acceptance, something only God can give. God loves everyone perfectly because he made them. He designed them just how they are and only God knows why they are who they are because he sees everything. He wants to help them. He has told us to cast our cares on him and he meant it. It is easy to give things to him and to ask forgiveness but we don’t always let him keep it. We continue to assume that we must help. It is up to us to prove we deserve forgiveness . No one deserves forgiveness. He does it only because he loves us. We are hopeless on our own and unable to do anything good. We can not do it without him. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He makes us strong. The more we know him, the more we understand. We need to know who he is and all that he has promised us. As we see that he does do what he says we are encouraged. I began the big search when I had my stroke. I had tried most things to make you happy but I wanted a full life. I had been raised in church so I started with what I knew. I also met a woman that talked about Jesus like he was a very close friend. I read everything i could get my hands on. I spent a lot of money at second hand stores buying books about God. I also joined a great church and got to know so many great people. As I began to read my Bible and spend time in prayer I began to feel that love and acceptance. The more time I spent with God and Christian friends the better I felt. I would sit outside and listen to praise music. One day I really listened to the words that meant so much. I learned so much about God through these songs. There is so much power in worship. I started living a life full of gratitude. God has done so much over my 60 years. I decided I am where I’m supposed to be and I was going to be joyful. I do everything with joy and enjoy being joyful. It is a choice you can make. You can choose to be grumpy too. I continually smile at others. I couldn’t do it on my own but he is always with me.
Do you want pure and perfect joy?
“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:” Matthew 6:20 NIV
This time of year we need to think of others. God tells us to give 10% of our income to the local church. If we all did this there would not still be needs all over the world but people, at least most people, believe that if they have left over money at the end of the month then they might give some to God. Wrong! That is not what the Bible says. First of all God was here first and all that ever was or ever will be was his, everything. That is why I know that anything I have or earn is from God. It is for me to use to do his will and I will obey his commands. I was raised in the church and my father taught me about tithing when I was a little girl. On weekends I got allowance say $1.00 so I took 10 cents with me to Sunday school for my offering . It doesn’t matter if you get $1.00 for allowance or $2,000.00 a week in pay. It’s still 10% that God expects. 90% of your income totally blessed will go so much further than 100% cursed by God but in your pocket. I have a silly example of tithing. When I decided to tithe after my stroke I had 0 income. I received disability from Uncle Sam and decided to tithe on that. I don’t have a lot of needs but I buy mascara because I have beady little eyes I don’t like. I used to buy a few tubes at a time. Then I began tithing and I don’t remember the last time I bought mascara but it was years ago and it hasn’t gone dry yet. I never need body wash because I always get scented ones as gifts. So God does supply all of my needs, always. Everyone has heard the phrase “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” I really don’t need one more trinket. My room is the only home I have and it is only so big because I live in a nursing home. This morning I was given a little bear. Cute but I didn’t need it. So I gave it to a dear friend worrying about an upcoming surgery. He was upset and scared so I hope it helped. It did feel good. I love to give every time there is a special new need. And I do above what I tithe because My God loves a cheerful giver. I get so blessed every time. Our church has a motto “find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it”, well they take that very seriously. Our church has spent millions of dollars doing just that. Now they are having a fundraiser to collect money to help with human trafficking. They are having a walk-a-thon in January and I have decided to walk. Ok so I can’t walk but I will roll for $. We can all be used by God and it can be in simple ways. He just asks for a little. So little that you won’t miss it. Another way to help is pray. It is free! God is still large and in charge and he does answer prayers. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. I have seen some crazy wild answers to prayer and have been blow away time and time again. I get to be apart of it wow!
Wouldn’t you like to be apart of what God is doing in the world today?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
Jesus wanted us to be ready. He does care about us every minute. Life can be hard at times. I have been dealing with others struggles lately. Please God help them. Why? Struggles come in so many different ways. Our lives can’t and won’t be perfect. But we can have peace always, but this is up to you. Our attitude is very important. What do you do when troubles comes? First you need to believe that God really does love you and he does have a plan. Everything will be used for your good. That may sound so impossible, right? I know myself that some of my greatest fears, struggles, and pains have turned me into a better, stronger person. My stroke tops the list of tough times and it is also what caused some of the greatest growth in my life. I am so very happy with where I am now in my relationship with God. No way I would be there but through my stroke. I used to have severe leg cramps. For over four years I suffered in pain and cried a lot. Number one truth – God gave me the strength to endure. Number two truth – he held my hand all through it. Number three truth – i am so much stronger. I don’t even notice little cramps any more. Cramps that hurt before I can almost ignore. Number four truth – I’ve learned to focus only on the good things and there are so many. I see that he is always blessing me and am always thanking him. I know my God better and I trust him always. Some things we can do when troubled be trials. Pray, read about God, listen to praise music, and do something for someone else. The biggest problem solver I have found is gratitude. I can spend just five minutes of my time thanking God and I feel great. I don’t care what I am going through it helps. Another help is something I learned this week. Look at a beautiful rose. Long stems come with many sharp thorns but out of them grows a beautiful bud. Slowly opening so majestically. Do you know something else? Jesus wore a crown of thorns for each of us as he hung on that cross one Friday. He did it for us, so we could have eternal life with him and never be apart. If he did that willingly for me I can handle so much more. He would do it all over again if he had to. But God said it is finished. That simple sacrifice has done so much. So never grow tired of all life throws at you, because in the end there is an eternal reward that is so worth it.
Are you feeling trials or pain?
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 1 Corinthians 29:11 NIV
Lord you are so wonderful. Your ways are so good. I am just so grateful you have blessed me so for all of my 60 years. I look at the world around me and it does shout of your glory. You made a masterpiece for us to enjoy each day and I will never take that for granted. I love that you plopped me down in beautiful Arizona. From the beautiful sunsets to the cool tall pines. I could never see it all. Yesterday I got to enjoy our botanical gardens and it was a perfect, sunny, 72 degree day. I saw so many cacti so different and unique. Small to large and some really weird and prehistoric looking plants. Nothing average or boring. You are creative. They had a wonderful butterfly exhibit. I really enjoyed going through this enclosure. I saw thousands of butterflies everywhere. Up close they are so delicate and lovely. They were flying all around me and landing on me. From a huge monarch to tiny little ones. So much to enjoy in this world. The people you have sent into my life, I choose to enjoy each and every one. Friends, family, and those I don’t know yet but long to know better. You have helped me learn the importance of being grateful. Every morning even before I open my eyes, I can come to you and say thank you. A bright new day, maybe cool, or warm, rainy, windy, or snowy(which I sure miss). So much goes into the upkeep of this great planet but you do it effortlessly, because, you designed it so well. You thought of absolutely everything. Scientists try to know things, and they have come quite a long way thanks to you. They will never begin to discover all that you know. Your plans for us are so good. I really enjoy that you sent me to a church that I just love. It is beautiful and it is so good at finding needs and filling them. I am right in the center of what you are doing. You use me even though I am nothing special, just your daughter, and that’s more than enough. I have seen so many answered prayers and you work in some awesome ways. Everyone I meet is made in your own image and I know that you love them, and that you died for them. Help me to see them with your eyes. Thank you so very much.
Do you take the time to be grateful?
“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have turned him over to you.” John 18:30 NIV
Jesus a criminal. Only God could have orchestrated that scenario. Jesus was a perfect human being. He lived a life without sinning. He was one of the many loving, caring, and wonderful persons ever. He never argued about being right. But he was always right. He didn’t need to get his point across. Prove himself, or defend himself. All things we do quite regularly. Somehow we see it as necessary to have people like us, agree with us, and cooperate with us. Nobody wants to be looked down on, be picked on, or bullied. We try to prove that what we do or say is right, at least to our reasoning. Jesus stated a fact. Take it or leave it. He did not need people to agree with him or to do what he said. The things he tells us to do really are the best for us and he knows that. If we don’t do them we are just hurting ourselves. He doesn’t want to see us hurting others by our choices but he has given us free will. It gives him so much more joy when we do things because we want to, our choice. He has told us what to do to be blessed. He has also shown us what will bring troubles and curses. Do you know that everything he did should have brought him so much peace and acceptance, but he came here for one reason and only one. To do his father’s will. A sacrifice had to be made, a perfect sacrifice. We are all imperfect. Not one person has ever led a perfect life, but Jesus. The only way, was for Jesus to live a perfect life and be sacrificed. He did it willingly for you and for me. He was right, never wrong, and he should have been accepted and agreed with. Instead he put up with terrible abuse. He was whipped, spit on and humiliated. Over and over he had the opportunity to defend himself but he didn’t. He could have, maybe should have. But that was not the plan. He hung there on that cross and died for you and for me. He looked to the day when each of us would say yes to the gift he offered us. It didn’t have to make sense to us, it made sense to God. He even made a point of forgiving the criminal that hung next to him when he asked. No one has ever done anything they can’t be forgiven for. He loves us. He even prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Do you want to accept this extravagant gift?