Monday, February 8, 2016

Love for thy Enemies

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

                           -Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)

This was the verse of the day from Bible Gateway and it has got me thinking that it is a shame that more Christians do not follow this verse. They will not pray for the people who have hurt them. They always talk about Karma coming back on that person who has hurt them. Some do not practice forgiveness at all, but hold people's sins against them as if they do not believe people can change. It saddens me when I hear others hoping something bad will happen to another because they were hurt by that person instead of moving on with their life and praying for that person. I, for one, do not believe in Karma; I leave everything in the hands of God. It's the one thing my mom taught me in all my years. She has had more than enough reasons to hate certain people in her life; yet, she doesn't. She just moves on with her life and prays for the people who have hurt her. She holds no grudges, but loves with a quiet love. I have also witnessed people who have done awful things in their past turn to God and change their ways-a sign of true repentance; yet, others repeatedly speak ill will of that person and bring up their past. I pray more fervently for the ones who will not let go and forgive than for the person who has repented and got right with God. They do not realize that when they hold onto grudges and talk about how Karma will get that person who did them wrong or how they just know a person will burn in hell because they had beat their wife or any other sin makes them look ugly for speaking evil on another person. Jesus tells us, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) Jesus also tells us, "And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."- Matthew 12:31 (NIV) so making the judgement that another person will not get into Heaven because they did something we believe is unforgivable than we better read the scriptures again and look at ourselves. If one has truly repented from their sin (betrayal, murder, rape, molestation, gossip, slander, perversion, addiction, and so on) who are we to treat them as an out cast and make the statement "there is a special fire in hell for that person." (Yes, I have heard that said.) 

 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." -Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) 

"And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."- Matthew 12:31 (NIV) 

Monday, January 11, 2016


I have been thinking about the movie War Room that I watched the other night. I believe it had another lesson to teach us other than making time to pray and taking your battles to Jesus in order for Him fight for you. I believe it was also teaching us about Discipleship and making disciples.

In the movie, Miss Clara, a mature Christian disciples her real estate agent Elizabeth in how to improve her relationship with Jesus, which in turn improved her relationship with her family. Elizabeth was a luke warm Christian which is on the verge of back sliding. Let me be clear,  I believe there is a difference between a back slider and someone who may have never been saved in the first place. For one, a person who once went to church and presented themselves as saved but then out of the blue (or out of a crises) denies Jesus as the son of God, may even leave Christianity all together and becoming a Buddhist, or a Unitarian, or a even Muslim was never truly saved. A truly saved person would never deny Jesus as the Son of God.

A person who back slides still confesses that Jesus is the son of God, they just no longer have a relationship with God. For whatever reason they stopped having a relationship with God. They may be angry with God for the death of a spouse or  a child, or they were young when they got saved and was never discipled and was lured away by peer pressure to live as the world lives. There may be other reasons for someone back sliding that I cannot think of right now, but as long as that person is alive we should not give up on that back slider and continue to pray for them to come back to the fold.

I know some Christians who will look at a back slider and immediately judge them as never have been saved. I am glad that when I back slid throughout my twenties my mom and church family never made that assumption; they just continued to pray for me that I repent and come back to Jesus.  I believe that one of the reasons I back slid and became luke warm was because I was never discipled after I was saved and the lure of the world became too great.  I believe if we had more disciple-making there would be less back-sliding and luke warm Christians.

All of us Christians have that commandment from Jesus to make disciples, but sadly we are ignoring that command. Even I am. Jesus discipled  Peter and Peter discipled Paul and then Paul disciple Timothy. Who Timothy discipled we do not know, but I am sure he discipled someone. One of my professors, Dave Earley wrote in his book Disciple Making Is...How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, "that disciples must be continually pushed to go to the next level: from believing to immersing, abandoning, ans serving; from obeying to multiplying" (pg 127).

We need to stop the "Now, you're saved. Peace be with you," attitude, leaving the Babe in Christ on its own and start assigning a mature believer to the new Christian and have the mature Christian mentor to the babe-in-Christ. A truly saved person wants to learn and know more about having a relationship with Jesus.  Earley also brings to his readers' attention that Jesus lead disciples through three distinct stages (pgs 126-127):

Stage 1--Declaration: investigation leading to repentance and faith in Jesus. (John 4:39-41; 10:38; 11:45; Mark 5:18-20; Matt 8:10; 1 Cor 15:6)

Stage 2-- Development: immersion, abandonment, and apprenticeship into ministry. (Luke 10:1-5; Acts 1: 18-20)

Stage 3--Deployment: intentional global commissioning. (Matt 28: 18-20)

Miss Clara did these things. She first found out where Elizabeth stood with her relationship with Jesus. When Elizabeth admitted her relationship with Jesus was luke warm and repented of her anger towards her husband, Tony she willingly stepped into the role of apprenticeship into ministry. Towards the end of the movie, the audience and Miss Clara see how Elizabeth has matured in her relationship with Jesus. Miss Clara then deploys Elizabeth to disciple others, which she in turns disciples her daughter and sister. Miss Clara asks God to send her another person to disciple.

Shouldn't we as Christians do the same? Shouldn't we ask God to send us someone to disciple?  Today, I am asking Jesus to send me someone. What about you?

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
                                           -Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

War Room

I finally watched the movie War Room that came out late this past summer.  I've been wanting to see it since I saw the previews for it this past summer. I have to wait for movies to come out on DVD before I can watch them because going to the movies is a luxury I cannot afford at this time in my life. When my neighborhood library informed me it had come in I couldn't get up to the library fast enough today. I watched it with my mom tonight and I was moved to tears over this movie.

War Room is a formidable movie. It gave me some ideas to enhance my prayer life.  For several years now,I have wanted a spare closet to make into my personal prayer room but that's space we do not have in this small house, although  I really don't think having closet space for prayer matters to Jesus. The fact that I have some where I can go and pray in private is what truly matters to Him. One day, I do hope I can have space for a prayer closet, but for now my bedroom is my war room.

We all need a war room in our lives. We need to learn to take our battles to Jesus and allow Him to fight the battles for us. I know I need to take my battles to Jesus. I try to fight these battles on my own but they always stress me out and bring me such anxiety. I know this; yet, I continue to worry (especially about needing to land a job).  Yesterday, when I was reading the Bible Matthew 6:25-30 stuck out at me.  It's a reminder, that God will take care of me. He will see that I'm clothed and feed. I need take all my anxieties into my war room and cast them onto Him (1 Peter 5:7), and so do you.

"do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you,  I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."
                    -Isaiah 41:10 (NRSV)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Addiction

I am a addicted to books plain and simple.  There are people who are addicted to something: drugs; alcohol; coffee; and TV to name a few things. Yes, there are people addicted to television. They only get a few hours a sleep at night because they need to watch TV. But this is about me and my addiction. I don't just love books I crave it like a caffeine junkie craves coffee. I'm like that man from the classic Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last."

 For all of you who do not know the episode, Burgess Meredith plays bookworm Henry Bemis.  All he wants to do is read but every thing prevents him from losing himself in his books, his job, his boss, and his wife. All he desires is time and to be left alone to read in peace. One day during his lunch break he goes down into the bank vault to read. When he comes back up after his lunch break is over he finds that he is the sole survivor of a nuclear bomb (being in the vault saved him). As he stumbles through the wreckage on the streets he sees the wreckage from the library but the books are intact. He is on cloud nine. he finally has all the time and peace and quiet to read. He starts stacking the books up in order of what books he  would read in each coming month. After he is done stacking the books up he goes back to the first pile to get the book he plans on reading first. As he bends over to pick up the book he is eager to read he stumbles and his glasses fall off and shatter on the concrete steps. Now he is virtually blind. He picks up his glasses and his joy is shattered just as much as his glasses. Devastated he cries out, "That's not fair. That's not fair at all. There was--was all the time I needed! It's not fair! It's not fair!"

I am the female version of Henry Bemis. I desire time to read all the time. I go through my daily (necessary) routines desiring for the time I can lose myself into a good book.  I even get aggravated as the day wears on and it doesn't seem I will be able to get to the book I am currently reading, especially if it is an extremely good book like the book I was reading yesterday. I was so involved in that book that I could not put it down long enough to type out a blog post, and today I am suffering from a book hangover because I had stayed up until two in the morning reading Saving Amelie.

So there I admitted it. My name is Theresa and I am a bookaholic.  What if we all were addicted to Jesus as we are to are vices? We are commanded to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV)  I may not be addicted to wine, drugs, or sexual immorality as the Bible clearly speaks about, but I am a slave to something. If I was addicted to Jesus as  I am to my books, I would most likely spend more time in His Word. I don't know how long I will struggle with my "temptation," but I know God has said His Grace is sufficient for me (1 Corinthians 12:9).  I just need to depend on His Grace and Power not to allow my addiction to completely take over my life (or my reality).

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. -- 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Rich Relationship with Jesus

This morning, as I was searching for information on Sarah Young the author of Jesus Calling: Morning and Evening Devotions, one of the devotional books I am reading this year, I came across a current Interview with Sarah Young done by BibleGateway. One thing she said in the interview that stood out to me was "A rich relationship with Jesus is much more than presenting Him with a list of requests."

What Young said stuck with me throughout the day as I ran errands. Too many of us think praying is just about asking God for stuff as if He is a genie in a bottle. I used to be that way. I thought when one prayed they had to ask for something. Growing up we are told that we had to pray every day so I grew up thinking I had to always ask something of Jesus, even if I had to think of the lamest request like, "Please, don't have Mom make peas with dinner tonight."  Over the years, I have learned that yes, we should pray continuously, but we don't have to always ask Jesus for something, especially if we have to rack our our brain for a request.

Now, I will try to sit in silent prayer at l least once a day and ask Jesus if there is anything He wants to tell me. It's not as easy as it sounds. I don't know about everyone else but I have a monkey brain that wants to jump around to tasks I need to do and I am constantly having to rein in my thoughts to concentrate only on Jesus. I know that alone will not create a rich relationship with Jesus. One must diligently read His Word and imprint it on one's heart. I, for one love His Word; its lights my path (Psalm 119: 105). I want a rich relationship with Jesus and I am striving for it. I love Jesus so much that I can't believe how much time I wasted over the years not seeking that richer relationship that Jesus wants with all of us.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.- Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" -Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Daniel Fast

Today, my church begins its annual 21 day Daniel Fast. A lot of churches do it. In a way, it's sort of like how the Catholics give up something for Lent. Church of God does not corporately give up something for Lent; Pentecostals do not practice that, but they do the Daniel Fast corporately. The Daniel Fast is taken from Daniel 10:3:

 "I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." (KJV) 

It's not mandatory. Not everyone chooses to do the Daniel Fast, for health reasons or any other reasons. Some may not even consider it a fast at all, but a change in diet. Some believe fasting is giving up a meal a day for several days, or that fasting is not eating or drinking anything at all but water for several days. It's up to the individual. There is a book written by Susan Gregory on the Daniel Fast. It's called The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body. If you're interested in learning more about the Daniel Fast, check it out from your local library.

Although my church does the Daniel Fast every January it is not the only time we fast. An  individual can choose to fast at any time they feel the need to throughout the year. It is the only time of the year we fast together, corporately, some do the Daniel Fast; or the Samuel Fast; or the Elijah Fast; or the Widow's Fast; or the Paul Fast; or the John the Baptist Fast; or the Esther Fast. Each fast is for different reasons. It depends on what you are seeking in your relationship with the Lord. I believe it is entirely up to the individual. 

Last year,  I didn't do the Daniel Fast. I would just skip lunch every day for twenty-one days and during that time I usually ate lunch I spent that time in prayer and Bible reading. I was blessed just the same. If one is healthy enough to fast, I recommend fasting. There are spiritual benefits to fasting. Fasting can bring spiritual power. It is where you focus more on your spiritual hunger and not the physical hunger. Our ears and eyes are focused on God. One can read about the different fasts in the book Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts by Elmer L. Towns. 

Will you join me in fasting for 21 days? Is there something you are seeking from God? Are you seeking a closer relationship to the Lord? We can see how we are spiritually come the 24th and how we have been blessed. I look forward to spiritual growth.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fellowship with fellow Brothers and Sisters-in-Christ

Good evening,

This morning one of my devotionals had its readers read Acts 2: 41-47. (For people who do not recall that section it's about believers forming a community.)   When I read that passage and meditated on it I recalled yesterday. A fellow sister-in-Christ had invited me and my mother over to her house for a New Year's dinner with her and her mom. It was just us four women. We laughed, we prayed, we cried, and we ate. It was awesome.

I am a believer in fellowship-ing  with others believers as the Bible is constantly telling us to do. There are over 25 verses in the Bible that tells us to fellowship with one another, some are even in the Old Testament. It has been only in the past few years that I started practicing this fellowship. I have been saved since I was 15 but for years I used to think meeting for church service was sufficient, and fellowship with a Christian of a different denomination, you could just forget that. It wasn't happening. But in the last few years the Lord has open my eyes and heart to fellowship.

I have even discussed with my one aunt (my mom's sister) about one day coming to our house and having dinner and fellowship with one another. She is a Born Again Christian, of the Baptist branch in the Christian family. She's still my sister-in Christ; we just have slightly different beliefs in theology and worship slightly different. We are still sisters-in-Christ.  The point I am trying to get to is she and I have never been all that close, hardly even spoke. I felt like we had nothing in common. (She didn't even know my mom was Saved until this year when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she had called mom and asked her if she was Saved.) But a month ago the Lord put it on my heart that we had a lot more in common and that we should fellowship together as a family in Christ. So I spoke with her about sometime after we move (my mom and I will be moving in a few months) that I make a dinner and she can come over for said dinner and we can fellowship together as Christians. I told her we can pray, eat, talk about our Lord, and just enjoy each other's company as Christians. She loved the idea and we are planning on it.

Because I reached out to a fellow sister-in-Christ who happened to be my aunt biologically it brought us a step closer. We ended up talking at the family Christmas eve party more than we ever did because we had something in common. We were Born-Again Christians and in a home filled with non-believers we found ourselves talking about the Lord and prayer requests for one another, and looking forward to the dinner I will make in the coming months. "For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them," (Matt 18:20, NIV). My other aunt did not realize it but my mom, her sister, and I caused her home to be holy ground because the Lord was there with us. This is the power of fellowship.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
                                      -Acts 2:42 (NLT)