Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

prison_bars2There was a time in my life when I questioned everything I knew about God and whether it was all worth trying so hard to be faithful in the tough times.  During that time, God gave me the following scripture to restore my faith when it was wavering:  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.  These verses confirmed for me that I could continue trusting everything I had learned about God since childhood.  We may go through difficult times that cause us to doubt, but we can lean on and trust the things that we have seen God do in the past and know that he…

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Give It Up

What is impossibleHow would you respond if you were asked to give up the one thing that matters the most to you?  Whether its family, money, health, status, career, home, or…..you fill in the blank.   Is there anything so valuable that you would be willing to give up that which you most cherish?

Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question:  “Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?” Jesus replied, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery.  Do not murder.  Do not steal.  Do not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother.’”  The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was a child.”  (Luke 18:18-21)

He was a man of the church yet he knew something was missing.  He knew he wasn’t in a position to inherit eternal life.  So he asked Jesus what needed to be done.  This was a good man who was raised with integrity and a desire to obey God’s word.  He had worked since childhood to obey the commandments.  But Jesus went on to explain that there’s more to it than simply obeying the Ten Commandments.

Jesus said, “There is still one thing you lack.  Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  (Luke 18:22)  Keeping the commandments and being a religious leader weren’t enough.  Jesus asked the man to give up the one thing that stood between him and heaven.  Unfortunately, the man was very rich and not willing to give it up.  Jesus watched him sadly walk away…away from eternal life, peace, love, grace, mercy, all that Jesus had to offer.  He rejected the opportunity to follow Jesus and have eternal life because he couldn’t give up something temporary.

I have to wonder if the man could have taken his money, would he have followed Jesus, but the fact remains that he couldn’t fully commit.  Jesus wants our commitment.  He wants our focus to be on Him and work for the kingdom.

We must be willing to give up the one thing that stands between us and heaven, and then follow him.  Maybe it’s a style of living, an attitude, materialistic objects….any number of things can take priority and lead us to walk away from Jesus just as this religious leader did.

Heaven is simply a choice away, but it’s also easier said than done.  As Jesus watched the man walk away, He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?”  He replied, “What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.” (Luke 18:24-27) 

It isn’t easy.  We can’t do it on our own, but God makes it possible to give up any thing that seems more important!  What is standing between you and Jesus?  Make the choice today to give it up and follow Him!

Photo credit:  Chance Agrella – Freerangestock.com

 

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

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Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t actually do? Maybe you were rejected and punished even though you tried to do the right things. Maybe you willingly took the blame to prevent someone you cared about from suffering the consequences of their actions or choices.  We often stand up for ourselves refusing to take the blame, but there are times in which we willingly accept the blame to protect those we care about. Whether by choice or not, it’s not easy taking the blame or punishment for something you didn’t do.  But your love for those involved causes you to understand the consequences involved if the truth were known, so you accept their punishment.

That’s exactly what Jesus did for each of us.  “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed”…

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Time with God

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

photo credit: dryiconsIt is 7:00am on a typical Saturday morning and I haven’t seen my husband since we went to bed on Monday night. He isn’t missing thankfully, but instead this is the current season of our life. He leaves going to work before I get home from work, and I’m usually sleeping when he finally gets home in the middle of the night. Our communication often consists of messages left on the refrigerator and brief phone calls. The time we have together is limited, so Steve suggested that we schedule Saturday morning breakfast dates to give us a chance to reconnect each week. That time is what keeps our relationship strong and keeps us close. Quality time is important for any relationship.

In Mark 6, Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. They had been very busy doing as they were…

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Mighty Warrior

Tresa Walker:

Posting this as I pray for a friend fighting a huge battle. God knows his name as well as yours if you are needing courage through your own battle today.

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

he will never leave youThe Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Judges 6:12

Battles are raging all around. I see many friends struggling with the distress of situations that seem too much to bear.  These disheartening battles include cancer, heart disease, mental illness, financial difficulties, addictions, lawsuits, false accusations, broken families, and fighting an actual war. Our children aren’t even immune. Their struggles include peer pressure, eating disorders, bullies, anxiety, and even terminal illness. The list goes on and on.

The Israelites experienced many difficulties. In Judges chapter six, they faced oppression from the Midianites who, during a seven year period, often destroyed the crops, livestock, and homes of the Israelites. God appointed Gideon to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, but Gideon was afraid and confused about how that was possible when his people were the weakest in the land. God assured him in verse 16: “I will be with you, and…

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Open RoadWhere do you go when Trouble comes knocking at your door?  Do you open the door and meet it head on?  Or do you run and hide, peeking through the curtain hoping Trouble will just go away?

Psalms 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear, when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam.   Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!”  You can trust God to be your protector and face Trouble head on.  He will provide the strength you need to face anything Trouble throws your direction.  God always has your back and He’s there ready to help regardless what Trouble brings.

So when your world seems to be crumbling down around you, and you just don’t know how you are going to survive, call on the name of your Heavenly Father.  He will provide a place of refuge.  You may be uncertain of the future, but there is no need for fear because God is in control.  So let the oceans roar, let the mountains fall, let whatever Trouble may bring happen with full assurance that God has got this!  Things may not be easy, but He is still in control and will provide the refuge and strength in just the right amounts and in the best time.  No matter what happens, He is with you whispering to you in the chaos.  All you have to do is trust and follow His lead.

Open Road

Photo credit:  http://freerangestock.com/details.php?gid=&sgid=&pid=7652

Get Charged Up

Cross

Our society has grown accustomed to plugging in, charging up, and moving on.  IPhone, IPad, IPod, I-this, I-that…all these gadgets must be charged.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just plug in and recharge our batteries like a cell phone?  Simply go to church each Sunday and get a spiritual recharge that would last until the following Sunday or even longer.

Unfortunately though that’s exactly what we often find ourselves doing.  Church becomes our weekly charge.  We go, listen to the music, possibly even join in, hear a few words from the preacher, and go on our way. Then before the week is over our charge begins to run low, our faith begins to fade, and our walk begins to stagger.   We often forget that that’s not how we were created.  We need more if we are to get charged up and stay strong.

How often do you charge your cell phone?  For most of us the answer is daily or maybe even several times a day.  Church meetings just aren’t enough whether you go monthly, every Sunday, or every time the doors are open.  Getting a full charge requires more than this.  Fellowship with other Christians is important, but we also need to be plugging in to God’s word and seeking His will through prayer each day if we truly want to get spiritually recharged.  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalms 91:1 NIV   There is no better way to get charged up than the sweet presence of God!

On especially long days, I carry a phone charger with me just to get an extra boost if necessary.  I don’t want to lose power before making it safely back home.  During those long trials of life that drag down our faith, we may also need an extra boost.  We may need a little extra something to remind us of the power and presence of God.   A special bible study or spending more time in prayer may give us that extra boost needed to stay charged. It may be just the thing to get us out of the valley and back on the mountain top.   As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  Psalms 42:1 NIV

My last cell phone was worn out and had seen better days, so I literally carried a charger everywhere and kept it plugged in most of the day.  When life has knocked us down and we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually worn out, it may be time for a constant charge.  This kind of charge comes from the power of praying friends and family.  Sometimes the power of constant prayer is literally what keeps us going.  For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.  Matthew 18:20 NIV   Don’t hesitate to ask others to plug in on your behalf.

So…why don’t we get charged up at church?  It’s because we aren’t plugged in long enough, but also because we need to charge more frequently.  Like our electronics, we function best with regular charging.  When you plug in your cell phone, take a moment to check your own charge.  Maybe it’s time to plug in!

photo credit:  http://freerangestock.com/details.php?gid=&sgid=&pid=33235

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