God Plans for Our Success

I have been studying the first few chapters of Genesis lately, and in studying I have come to a realization that we fail to see in many aspects of our lives today…God truly plans for our success.

In Genesis 3 we see the story of Eve and the Serpent…God had made sure that Adam and Eve were aware of the tree that they should not eat from…in fact, just as a child knows not to stick a fork in an outlet or to touch a hot burner on a stove, they took God’s word for it when they were told that if they were to eat or even touch the tree that they would die…until Satan stepped in and changed Eve’s perspective.

What we see is that Eve told the serpent that she could not eat from the tree because God had told them not to eat from the tree, but much like today, Satan convinced Eve that God was withholding something “good” from her.  We are all like Adam or Eve…we are either passive and partake because someone else is doing it, or we are the ones who know it is wrong and yet we partake because we convince ourselves that God is holding something back from us and that we need to experience the joys of life.

I challenge you today to take a close look at these “joys” of life that we believe we are missing out on…God has a reason that we should avoid certain things…It might have been the best tasting fruit in the Garden…it might have been the prettiest tree, but God’s command was clear; They were to avoid that tree…but Satan convinced Eve that she was missing out on a blessing…which turned out to be a curse.

Look at how Eve’s mind changed from not wanting to partake to seeing that the tree was “good for food” and “attractive to the eye” in Genesis 3:6-7, so she ate.  She threw away everything God had told her with His Word, and His Word should have been enough, just as it should for all of us…but, it wasn’t…she felt the need for proof, but it would be a deadly decision…and Adam went along with it.

Today, I challenge you to take God at His word…listen to what He says to you and filter it through His word…If the world tells you how God would want you to have it and how God would want you to be happy, look to His word and see what He has to say about it, it could just be the devil in snake’s clothing slipping in and telling you everything is going to be alright…but just because it looks and tastes good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  Just some “food” for thought.

God has a plan for your success…don’t listen to those who tell you His plan is simply Him holding out on you…it might be that you just don’t see the consequences until it’s too late.

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The Hope That We Have

One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is dealing with the loss of a loved one. This is likely one of the most difficult times a person can face in life and is surrounded by doubt and uncertainty.

There is a hope for those of us who know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. This hope is found in knowing that Christ died for our sins. It comes in our acceptance of what God intends for our lives can help us to reach this assurance today.

For those who pass on without knowing Christ there is no hope, their end is written and is not favorable. But we can rest in full assurance of the faith knowing that He holds our lives in his hands.

Colossians 2 holds that promise for us : “For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. (Colossians 2:5-14, 18 HCSB)”

But along with the hope that we find is also found in knowing the fate of those who have gone on before us. This hope is found In this passage:

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 HCSB)”

We will see them again if they died in Christ, but only if we follow their example by living for Christ. Today can be your day to make that decision. Eternity has two choices: Heaven or Hell, and that choice is solely yours.

Living Outloud

Over the last few years…especially the past couple of weeks…I have found myself thinking about two words that in some cases may not make a lot of sense….”Live Outloud”.

What does it mean to live outloud? I think it means for us to live a life that speaks about Christ…a life that writes our funeral when death comes our way…a life that exemplifies Christ in such a way that there is no question where our faith is…a life that leads others to Christ just because they know you.

I thought about this when my mother passed away, when dad passed…and when saints of the faith pass on…even with some who are still with us…those who live life in such a way that you can just see something different about them.

Two lives that ended on this earth recently that have brought this fully around for me are the lives of Caleb Hayes and Rita Oakes…they both lived lives that were evident of the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Both of their lives touched many, and one of the things that stuck with me from both cases was the words that Caleb and “Momma” Oakes “wrote their own funeral.”  These are words that are said when someone has lived out what they believe…when someone has lived OUTLOUD.

I can remember the impact that Mrs. Oakes had in my life over the years I had her as a teacher, and even more so as a part of my life over the past few years…always with a heart for God’s Children, always with a smile, and always with an encouraging word.  She wanted you to feel special, and you did, because she made sure you saw the love of God.

Caleb was much the same, although young, he knew the love of God and wanted to share it with anyone he came in contact with.  He had an infectious smile that just left you feeling the presence of God’s Spirit.  They both lived a life that led others to Christ because you left the conversation feeling as if you had been in contact with Jesus himself…They left you wanting more time with them.

The both embraced the scripture found in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith; There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”

Today, I challenge you to live outloud.  Live each moment as if it were the last moment you might have, and live as if you’re the only light someone may see.  Lead others with your life…live life as loud as you possibly can!

That’s When He Carries You

As a sports fan I look forward every four years to the Olympics. It is an awesome display of talent as the world’s greatest athletes gather to compete for the Gold.

I can think of a number of great performances over the years that we have heard about as well. Stories like that of Eric Liddell, the British runner who did not compete in his strongest event because of his Christian beliefs, winning Gold in 1924.

You see great performances like those of Usain Bolt of Jamaica, establishing himself as the fastest man in the world, or Gabby Douglas, who stole the hearts of America, earning Gold in the gymnastics all-around competition. But one that sticks out to me is the events in the 400m dash at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

This was to be the night for Derek Redmond, he felt great and was considered by many as a favorite to medal in the event. All started well as Redmond, who started in lane five, sprinted out past the runners in lanes six through eight and pushed to the front of the competition in the semi-final heat.

Redmond seemed in control until something popped…he had torn his hamstring, and the pain was evident in his face…all these years of training and months of preparation to get to his dream snapped with his hamstring.

An amazing thing happened when Redmond went down. His father leapt out of the grandstands and ran to his side, putting his son’s arm over his shoulder and he helped his son finish the heat. Helping him to make sure that he finished the race.

This is the same way that Jesus sees us as we are hobbling through our race, struggling along on our way to the finish. He saw us limping along with little hope and he jumped out of the stands, wrapped his arms around us, and is carrying us to the finish.

The cross of Christ gives us this hope. We can finish our race because when we are struggling along, that’s when he carries us to the finish. Today we can rest in the knowledge that he is carrying us, but we can also help carry others in the love that Christ has shown us.

Today, tell someone about the love of Christ and how he is in the stands waiting to jump out and carry them if they will just look to him.