“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
This week was my yearly vacation to Special Touch Camp. Each year people with disabilities, whether cognitive or physical get to go to a Christ centered camp where for five days we get to do great things that we don’t normally get to do. If you have any handicaps and want to go where you are loved unconditionally and get to do many exciting and different things, I highly recommend it. My favorite is soaking in the hot tub and just relaxing. It is not easy getting me in or out, but whatever you want they make it happen. One year I rode a zip line through the trees and landing in the lake. This year a friend of mine went on the screaming swing, where they pull you way up in the air and let you go screaming all the way. We play games, do crafts, sing, hear great messages and eat great food. Everyone there loves God and loves to serve others. This week we talked about how we are made so perfectly and uniquely. God never makes anything poorly and we are perfect. No two people are alike and we are so loved. At one of the services the pastor gave out beautiful flowers, all different and unique. It made me remember one morning as I sat in the patio praying I had a vision, because I was awake but I saw a beautiful field of millions of different flowers . God told me that is how he sees the people he has made. It doesn’t matter if we have handicaps, addictions, or problems. No matter your color, nationality, or difference God sees you just how he made you. Whatever potential he sees in us makes him smile. Of everything he ever created we are his best work. Created just like him to think, reason and to do great things. He knows the beginning from the end. Though I once made big mistakes he saw just what I would become and do for him. We are all a messed up bunch having our own needs and wants. When we stop worrying about ourselves and start worrying about others and their needs, that’s when God can start meeting our needs beyond our expectations. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God put in my DNA everything I would ever need to fulfill his purposes for me. I may be in a wheelchair, unable to walk or stand,and to even care for myself. I can’t speak clearly but he has enabled me to do great things for him. Right where he has placed me he has given me many assignments and let me change lives.
Do you know how perfect and wonderful you are?
“I am the vine; and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit ; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
This verse has so much to say about our walk with God. Who God is and how he sees his awesome plan for us. God is the one who made us and he is apart of us. We were never meant to be apart from God. Our need of him is so very important in every aspect of our lives. If we want to be all that we can be then we need to cooperate with him. He does know what is best. He has great plans for us. To be a people for himself that will bear much fruit, this fruit is the characteristics and traits that will further his kingdom. We will be loving, joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, gentle, good, meek, temperate, and faithful. These are the fruits he desires to see in us. He uses the example of a grape vine for good reasons. If God is a grape vine then we are connected to him and will produce fruit like his. Grape vines produce grapes. We can not on our own decide to produce some other fruit such as tomatoes. We are to be more like him each day. He decides what we need to be and what is best for all. We also need to stay connected to him. He is our power source. When we do what we want and not what he has asked us to do we will be week, and ineffective . We need to spend time with him. A relationship with him is very important. Anyone you have ever had a relationship with is first, important to you. You spend time together, sharing, the good and the bad together, and grow closer to each other. Another thing about a vine is being connected, always, every day. If you are not connected to him, his vine, you are disconnected. If you are disconnected you will die. It may be a slow, miserable death, but with no nutrients you will die. When a vine dies it is cast off and burnt up. You don’t want to be cast off or dead do you? You will not be very productive if you are dead. As I was reading my Bible today I was in Deuteronomy. The Israelites had just spent forty years wandering in the wilderness and the whole time God provided for them. They were brought out of Egypt in such a mighty way. Even when they faced their first struggles God was strong. Splitting the Red Sea so they walked right through, in the mud, no! The walked on solid, dry ground. He provided water when they needed it, food for thousands of men, women and children. They demanded meat and God sent them quail. Their clothes and shoes held up for forty years and did not wear out. During this time they married and raised families. He kept them safe and strong. Because there were more people after forty years and all the original ones died in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb remained from the original bunch. When they came into the promised land God fought for them. No matter how big or how strong their enemies were, they did not stand a chance. But he warned them to leave certain people alone. Because he had already blessed them, such as Esau’s family and Lot’s family. Those who God has blessed shall remain blessed.
Do you want to be one of God’s blessed people?
“I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:32&34 NIV
When you are passionate about something you will find so much satisfaction in doing it that you can forget other things. I sold homes when I was younger and I would get so busy that meal times would come and go and what I was doing was so satisfying that I wouldn’t even notice that I had missed a lunch. I felt I was making a difference in someone’s life and that kept me going. That wasn’t anything that was life changing but it was important to someone. Right now I am so close to God and seeing him do so much. I am so amazed that he is willing to let me be a big part of what he is doing and now I am making a difference. God is so good and I want to do all I can for him. In Matthew it says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” Whenever I think of doing God’s work I get excited. I’m saying, “Send me, send me.” I want to be a part of when God is moving. It brings so much satisfaction. He is so busy in so many peoples lives and I just love being a part of it. So many people are busy worrying about what they need or want. “What about me?” When I started running after God and making a difference in others’ lives. Especially wanting to see people growing in their walk with God life got so much more exciting. I didn’t even think much about my needs but they are always being met and exceeded. So many others needs are being met and exceeded also. It is all consuming. I get so excited that I just want to see and do more. Before my stroke I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get involved and I didn’t have a special relationship with God. He might move in a service that I was in and I would see it but I didn’t really understand. Now everything is different. I will never forget the time the music we were singing just lept off the page and I saw every word and what it truly meant to me. I sit up on the front row during worship and the passion and emotion of the worship team seems to flood over me like a tidal wave on the beach. I get so emotional and God’s love is so strong. I just want to be more involved. It is never enough. If I have been praying or given money for a certain need I am so blessed when God moves.
Do you want to be a worker too?
“In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are angry, do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV
The Bible does not say don’t get angry. We all naturally feel angry when someone is cruel, thoughtless or selfish. This says when you are angry do not sin. So being angry is not the sin. But what we do with that anger can be. Holding on to anger is like tying an anchor around your neck. It will only get heavier, dragging you down as you refuse to let it go. It really seems stupid If you think about it. I watched another movie the other night. I’m sure you can see by now that I love watching good uplifting movies before I go to sleep at night. And I have had some really good nights of sleep lately. I have always had trouble sleeping soundly ever since my stroke. But not lately. The people in the movie had some bad things happen to them that really should have caused great bitterness, but instead they decided to find love and acceptance for the one who hurt them. Oh, it was not easy. One woman was shot by an attacker but he became a very close friend. Then when that friend was tragically killed in an accident his father had to learn to forgive the one who killed his son. But by doing that he gained a whole new life with this man and his daughter that was so fulfilling. Each person had to come to a place where they could see that anger was destroying them and giving the devil control. They had to make a decision to forgive. To forgive doesn’t mean you forget, but gives you the peace to move forward. To think of someone with anger is the same thing as murder to God and it harms everyone involved. Anger and hatred are wrong and damage many. The devil loves it when we are angry because it gives him control. Whatever you do as long as it depends on you live peaceably with all people. This is something Jesus said while he was alive and it’s very good advice. The world we live in has enough anger and hatred we don’t need to add to it. We need to make this ugly world better and love, love freely. The attitude you hold on to does make a difference in everyone’s happiness. Be a difference maker. Is there someone you need to forgive?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord'”Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven .” Matthew 7:21 NIV
We are all on a journey. Each and everyone of us who are alive are on this journey to discover first ourselves, then God, and the true meaning to this life we have been given. This life is but a snapshot of the long journey we are on. Our life here is approximately 80 years. Some more, some less. But it is very brief compared to forever. We all go somewhere after this life is over. That is determined by the small life we live here. To describe eternity is difficult. Throughout this life God is always calling us. Whether you were born into a Christian Family that went to church every Sunday, or were born to a Muslim family or a non-religious family who did not go to church. You are given life by God and he loves you. Everything around you tells of his glory the fact that there is a great creator is around us daily in all we do. You will know someone who knows Jesus. And will hear about him. But whether you accept or reject these feelings is up to you. You will make a decision to believe or not. If you don’t want to think about it you have already made your decision to reject Jesus. Back to eternity. Heaven will be a wonderful place. There will be no pain or trials anymore . Everyone will have perfect bodies and perfect minds able to know everyone by sight even people you have never met. Like Moses, King David, or the Apostle Paul. It will be a perfect joyous place. Where your happiest memory on earth is just multiplied and goes on and on forever. Or darkness and isolation , surrounded by flames of fire closing in on you all around. Fire that touches and smells overwhelming you but never consuming and never ending. There will be no parties in heaven and your friends may be there but you will never know because you are isolated. No one to hear your cries. How we live our lives and where our heart lies is so important. The only way to heaven is to let go of your past, your pride, your hurts, hate, anger and reach out to Jesus he is the only way. He is already reaching out to you. He knows you are lost and since all man has sinned we are separated from God. We need a savior to forgive us. He will with just a word. Then you can know what it is to really live. Blessed and loved. Forever.
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” Proverbs 23:13+14 NIV
Children need discipline to teach them respect and good character. The world has tried to tell parents that discipline is bad and can break the spirit of a child. But I see a world where chaos is the norm and respect and good values are gone. With everyone doing what they want and not caring about others. It really doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone needs guidelines and it takes everyone to be willing to help others grow in their character. We learn best by example. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I know at 45 when I had my stroke I had a difficult time adjusting to my new way of living. It has taken me fourteen years so far and I am still trying to improve my character. I like the chapter of Psalms 23 about the shepherd leading his sheep in the way they should go. Anyone who cares about people can be a shepherd. We need each other to care enough about each other to lead and encourage each other in good character. No matter how old we get there is always growing we can go through because God is not through with us till we take our last breath. When people work together they make each other better if they truly care. Children need more work, it takes a community to raise a child. They have mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents . Aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Teachers, coaches, ministers, and Sunday school teachers. As kids their greatest need is to be loved and accepted for who they are. They are wanting to be someone important. I guess that’s what we all really want. Older people get to a point where they don’t really need that validation anymore. At some point they accept who they are and why they are how they are. It’s very important to get to a place where you can love who you are and who you have become. Not needing to feel the acceptance of others to know that your life matters. Being there for others helps you get there. If a child is trained up and disciplined well by all those influencing their lives they won’t stray from it when they are older. Hopefully their character will be strong and they will help instill good character into others also. That is how this world should work.
Can you help to be a character builder in others?
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple; God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV
We are made in the image of God. Therefore we have everything available to us to be holy. This is not something we can do on our own though. It takes God’s help, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us guiding and leading us. When we let the world lead us that is where we go wrong. The world cares more about meeting and fulfilling our sinful nature rather than God’s desires. We need to remember that God is watching and knows our every thought. Do we want him with us in everything we do. If you are a born again Christian he is. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. Before my stroke I was living a worldly life. Doing whatever I wanted. I look back on my life then and wince. God was right there with me. I ate whatever I wanted. I drank and partied whenever I wanted. I hung out with whomever I wanted. I know my behavior hurt God and was not good for me. Living for the moments gratification is not good. People eat too much, drink too much, and don’t generally take very good care of themselves. Our physical bodies pay, but our spiritual bodies pay even more. I was far from God. I thought I was living. I now know that it was a shallow life. It would satisfy for a few minutes, or help me to forget my problems temporarily, but they weren’t gone just hidden. People who get involved with many addictions can tell you they help for a time. But your life is still there and the addictions can spiral. They get stronger and you get weaker. You have less and less control over your life. I also worked a lot. I would feel the need to work even on the weekends and would miss church. You think you are doing the right thing. It’s my job right? I have responsibilities and bills. I worked with my husband so I felt I needed to be there for him. These were all deceptions of the enemy. I believe my stroke was a wake up call. I almost died and I was not where I should have been. I didn’t die though because God knew just where I was headed and he knew the best was yet to come. And he knew all I would do for him. He didn’t give up on me and he won’t give up on you.
Are you living a life worthy of all you have been given?