Open Hands

What are we supposed to do when we feel that our blessings are being missed?  This is something that I talked about before when discussing being flexible and I want to continue speaking about it, but explore how we can grab hold of the blessings that are meant for us.

Too many times we get wrapped up in the world around us to see some of the blessings.  And all too often, our hands are already full when we find them.  What I am saying is that we need to let go many times to be able to grasp what is coming our way.

Try this with me…pick up your cell phone, your check book, your television remote, your car keys, and anything else that you may have around you that makes up your daily life.  Hold all of these things in your hands and now try and pick up your Bible.  You can’t do it, because your hands are so full the Bible (or in many cases, your blessings) are unattainable because there is not any room for God in your life.

We make ourselves too busy, we fill our heart and minds with the things that we think will fulfill us, and we miss what God is trying to tell us.  We are too wrapped up in the world to know what is truly waiting right there for us to take hold of and what we should be holding tight to.

We have to come before God with open hands to be able to take possession of His blessings and promises.

Look at your life; are there things you can drop to help you balance everything out?  Are there things that are taking the place of God’s blessings for your life?  What can you do about it?  How can you let go of the things that are holding you back?

I would encourage you to bury everything in prayer.  Start with a daily conversation with the Creator of life.  Secondly, set aside the time to read the scripture and let yourself hear the answers that God is trying to share with you.  We have to balance our prayer and study to fully take hold of the blessings that are there for us.

Don’t let another day go by without taking the time to thank the one who gave it to you!  Talk to God, take the time to thank Him for your blessings, and take the time to search for His answers for the problems in your life.  The Bible is our Owner’s Manual…another way to look at it is as an acronym – B.I.B.L.E. – Basic Instructions before Leaving Earth.  Read the manual and enjoy life the way that God intended – With Him!

Welcome to the Show

The beauty of life is that we all are part of a story; a story that is being written by God and we play the lead.  We are all playing a part, seeking to show the world our story, by showing the world His story.

God has given each of us a place…He has shown each of us a path to travel, and it is now up to us to take the right road.  We, as Christians, have seen what is right, and we know that God has a plan to prosper us; it is now the time where we are to step up and step out on faith.

We don’t always know exactly what God is doing, but as Christians we can rest assured that His plan will always be greater than ours…and his plan will always be better for us than our own.  Here is where life can take an interesting turn.

When we realize that we are part of the show that God is producing, we stop seeking our own gratification.  We start to put others in front of ourselves, we start to want to see the kingdom grow through the actions we take, and we start to seek the kingdom of God over everything else in our lives.  In other words, we accept that God is in control, and we automatically start letting him control the outcomes in our lives.

In our personal lives, we may be surprised by what takes place when we fully surrender to God and allow Him full control over everything (including the small things).  Something happens when we fully surrender, because we start to care about things other than our own priorities.  We start to change our way of thinking, our way of acting, and essentially start to make sure that everyone around us is taken care of.

Start today reminding yourself of what God is doing in your life and what he can do put you in the places where He can be most effective.  Take a moment to ask God to guide your path today…let Him write the story and you will be amazed at where He will take you!

Overcoming the Darkness

Darkness…

…a word that brings thoughts of despair, thoughts of being alone or even abandoned.It’s amazing how one word can bring about so much thought.Darkness has become associated with loneliness, and in the Christian’s life, most often associated with feeling distant from God.

That being said…we can do something about it. As Christians our lives are about falling in love with the God who first loved us.

When we feel distant, sometimes the ‘miles’ can overcome us and cause us to feel even farther away then we already do, but we don’t have to feel that way. Remember the story of Paul? or should I say Saul? A Pharisee, a man who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen, was one of the biggest enemies to the Cross. A man who was on his way down the road to Damascus with one motive in mind: find and arrest the Disciples. He had obtained the warrants, knew his goal…and was out to succeed.

Saul was a man who lived and thrived in the darkness.He was a man who knew nothing of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that is, until he saw The Light.

Overcoming the darkness happens on our ‘road to Damascus’ when we start to focus on things above. We can overcome by being blinded by the light, the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to the world to save it, not condemn it (John 3:16-17). Jesus was ‘the light’ that blinded Saul on his journey; and Jesus was eventually ‘the light’ that Paul used to see himself through the remaining days of his life.

In our lives, are we looking to, and using the light to guide us? Or are we trying to shade our eyes, and block out the light because of the things that it reveals in us?

Jesus may not blind us literally as he did Saul, but He may blindside us with the things that come our way in life. I’m not saying that He will give us a trial that we can’t overcome, but He might just give us something that is just big enough for us to have to trust in Him and His grace to survive.

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (ESV)

Have you ever wondered what God’s will is for your life?  Have you wondered what His plan for you is?  This verse is all we need to discern that in our lives…To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly.  That is the core of the Christian faith, the central idea to our lives in Christ…the answer to all our questions.

If we break it down into three parts we see that this verse encompasses all our doubts for the plan that God has for us.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the plan He has in our life; a plan that is not meant for our harm, a plan that is fully developed in His saving power and grace.  In this passage from Micah we see the explanation of how we can greater understand the plan of God…

Do Justice…

Justice (JUHS-tis) – noun – the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness or moral rightness (dictionary.com)

The Justice system in America was set into place to uphold the law; a law which is put into place to provide a moral code for citizens to abide by.    Someone who breaks the law has to suffer the consequences of unjust living through a system which enforces Justice.  Think about the founding of the nation we live in…The Declaration of Independence brings to light the meaning of Justice in a nation that was founded on a biblical premise of Justice…

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

— The Declaration of Independence (1776)

Equality is the message that our forefathers wanted to pass along to a nation who was looking for an identity, looking for equality in a world that was far from equal.  In the eyes of God we are all created equally…Romans 8:29 states, “And those He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.”  Psalm 134 tells us through David’s words that we are fearfully and wonderfully made…and also that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, we were known by God before the world knew us…those He foreknew.  We are the ones mentioned in Romans 8:29…we were all known by God before the world knew us…therefore, we’re the ones who were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ…so, if everyone was created in the image of Christ…doesn’t that mean that no one is greater than another?  Doesn’t that tell us that we all are created equal?

This equality is only achieved through doing justly…treating others with the respect you feel you deserve…treating others the way you want to be treated.  Jesus was asked once what the greatest commandment was…there were over 600 commandments in the Jewish tradition…600 laws that must be followed.  Jesus’ response was a surprise to everyone when he responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.”  He then followed that with a statement of justice…”and the second is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  — Do Justice.

Love Kindness…

Loving kindness starts in your heart.  Ministry organizations and missionaries are fully aware of this aspect of the Christian life.  If you look at the ministry of Jesus you see acts of kindness throughout the life that he lived…and also an aspect that is passed on to us in the scriptures.  We see this in Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus is instructing the disciples on the final judgment.  In this passage we see Jesus explaining to his followers that the way they reacted to others who were suffering: the hungry, the weak, the thirsty, naked and cold.  “What you did for the least of these you did for me.”  Whatever kindness you do for others, you do for Jesus.

The way that we can apply this to our lives is by looking at others as the image of Christ.  Applying that to our lives puts us in the mindset of doing to others the way that we would do for Christ himself.  Think about it…if you were walking down the street in a city and you saw Jesus on the sidewalk hungry, you would feed him…so what’s the difference between him and the guy that is on the side of the street doing the same?  Maybe you see someone sitting on the side of the road in a broken down vehicle, or someone who needs water to quench their thirst…whatever the case may be the fact remains that you would help Jesus if he were there, in that situation…so why is it so hard for us to reach out to others?  We’re created in the image of Christ…so in a round about way…are they not Christ?

Do justice…love kindness…

Walk Humbly…

Humble (HUHM-buhl, UHM-buhl) – adjective – 1. not proud or arrogant; modest. 2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc. or – verb – to make meek.

Think about this…think of a situation in which you realized how little you mattered to the equation…or a situation where you had your pride torn completely apart…where you realized that you had no control and even felt inferior to someone else.  Remember how that made you feel…how it humbled you.

The feeling you get when something or someone humbles you is a feeling that you never forget.  Does this mean that being humbled is a bad thing? Not at all!  What it does mean is that the feeling we felt that day we were humbled is a feeling with which we should always approach our Savior. Becoming humble in the sight of God is something that we have to learn…not just something that we can figure out all at once.

Humility is something that Christians must achieve to fully grasp all that God has for their lives.  We can love God without being humble, but in our humility is where we see God’s true grace and mercy…where we see the full spectrum of God’s ultimate plan for our lives.  Don’t believe me?  Look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, where God says:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

God says, “If my people who are called by my name…”

God is saying to each of us…if you claim my name…you are my people…this is for you, the ones that call yourselves Christians…the ones that use the name of Christ.

He then says, “…humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways…”

Basically this…humbling yourself is not seeking for your own gratification…it is seeking the face of God in all situations.  But not only seeking to know God…seeking to turn away from the wickedness and sin that keeps us captive…that keeps us from being humble.  Pride is something that can tear apart friendships, ruin relationships, and most importantly, drive us away from the God who loves us and cares for us.  We have to let go of our pride to be able to understand and accept the fullness of the grace of God.

He then finishes the statement with a promise: “then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Humbleness leads to forgiveness…being humble means we get past our pride and we let go of the things that tie us to this world…we let go of our sin…we repent.  God grants us freedom from the ways of the world, and also grants us peace that passes understanding…giving us freedom from the chains that tie us to our sin.  When we learn to be humble, we suddenly find ourselves able to let go of the things that are wearing us down, because we realized that we need help…and we realized that if we call on God we will find true freedom from those chains.

“…do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God…”

Three concepts that we as Christians must grasp to experience freedom from the chains of this world…three things that we must understand to find fulfillment in the empty life this world offers…and three simple steps that lead to redemption.  Three requirements of God for the lives of those who follow him…three requirements of upright living that is simply put in one verse in the Old Testament:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (ESV)

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