It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

Our Old Nature

Our old nature is like the pig and the raven, always looking for something unclean on which to feed.

Our new nature is like the sheep and the dove, yearning for that which is clean and holy.  No wonder there are so many struggles in the life of the believer!

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Faith on Fire

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 
—John 20:24-25

The resurrection of Jesus was the best possible news the disciples could have received, yet not everyone was immediately on board with the story. Thomas was absent when the Lord made His group appearance on that Sunday evening, and gave a skeptic’s response to the announcement that the other disciples had been with the risen Lord: “But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’”

Some have been very harsh about Thomas’ reaction. He seems kind of demanding and disrespectful. Who does he think he is? Actually, though his words may strike us as odd, they were not prideful. Thomas wanted to believe, and he wanted his faith to be authentic.

John 20:20 holds an important detail in Jesus’ original appearance:“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” Thomas was only asking for what he had missed. He was expressing a willingness to believe based upon the same evidence given to the people around him. His request was not unreasonable. He didn’t want to doubt; he wanted to believe!

Thomas sincerely longed for what the other disciples had experienced. He was gathering the wood and getting a match—he wanted a faith on fire. Thomas named the obstacle and was looking for the reasons he too could stand on authentic faith in Christ. This is the lesson: faith is kindled when you name the obstacle.

Identify the obstacle to faith in your life. I got hurt. I have a question I don’t have an answer for. I’m discouraged. I don’t honestly understand how Christianity can be true. Now bring it before the Lord: “God, thisis the barrier between You and me.” Produce your strong reservations and give God an opportunity to put faith where there’s doubt. Once you have honestly prayed this way, give God time to answer. Wait on Him.

This is not a casual challenge. If you’re a doubter, get on your knees every night before you go to bed and bring your barrier before God. You are expecting Him to provide an answer. Pray every day for thirty days. God did not disappoint Thomas and He will not disappoint your sincere approach. Name the obstacle before God and He will kindle your faith.

Pastor James MacDonald

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Wrestling A Giant?

Have you ever found yourself fighting the wrong enemy (we wrestle not against flesh & blood), wearing the wrong armor (put on the whole armor of God) and carrying around the wrong weapons (the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual, mighty through God)?

I’ve caught myself fighting everyone around me, clunking around in Saul’s armor, and trying to destroy things with Goliath’s sword!!  How about you?

Get lined out, doing it the way the Lord directs us, and then the Lord will do it for you, in you and through you – giving all the credit to HIM.

 

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The Shade of Gray

Something to ponder:

When we speak of God’s Word, it is very BLACK and WHITE.

I’ve heard those speak of gray areas in the Word.  I believe they are referring to areas where God speaks more to “principle” verses being specific.

I’ve learned through the years of walking with Christ and studying His Word, that the more time we spend getting to know Him, the more we understand His desires for us as Christians.

I have also learned on this journey that when it comes to God’s Word, He does not contradict Himself, nor are there any “gray” areas – because gray is nothing more than a shade of black.

White is white . . . or it is not.

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Your Limitations

When you decide you can’t do something specific because you have “limitations”, then you are not living your life to its fullest potential.

We say we can’t sing because we don’t like our voice.

We say we can’t act, yet we are great manipulators.

We say we can’t teach, yet we seem to know it all.

We say we are not athletic yet we don’t have any problems putting our sibling into a “Full Nelson” headlock.

We say we can’t love our spouse, yet we CAN love our neighbor.

When we put our limitations in God’s Hands, moving forward and trusting in Him and how HE has created us, then when anything great comes from THAT, we KNOW that God used our limitations to shine brightly in our lives.

Will you stop limiting God, by limiting yourself?  Decide to live the abundant life.

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Quit Numbing it

God wants us to walk into the pain…instead of numbing it.

What are you using in excess?  Shopping, tv, movies, food, alcohol , RX drugs, sleep, computers, your job, men, women, music, busyness, etc.

Whatever you are  using to numb the pain is dulling the senses and your sensitivity to God?  You cannot help others when you are enslaved and in bondage!

Let go of and walk away from what has a hold on you, and walk into what is difficult.  When we deal with the difficulty head on, there is freedom and a peace that comes only from the Lord.

 

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The Other Side of “No”

At times, it can seem as though some prayers never get answered.  Yet, God is going to answer our prayers in a way that will glorify HIM the most!

When a prayer is answered with a “no”, there is always something to be learned.  The other side of “no” is where we begin to see God’s greater purpose.  Sometimes the “no’s” are to let us see what is really in our hearts.  Deuteronomy 8:2

What have you prayed for that has been answered with a “no”?  Look beyond the “no” and see what the Lord has said yes to!

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Sinking Ship

Are you out in the boat today?  Not sure of stepping out of the boat or whether the storm will take you under?  Do you feel like you’re on a sinking ship?

Remember that NO ship can go down with the Master on board!  Lay your doubt aside and step into the Father’s Will.

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Their Future

Our children are a PIECE of time, that we are sending ahead to a PLACE in time, that we will NEVER see! What are you doing today to prepare them for the future?  Are you making “straight tracks” for your children to follow?

Are you teaching them in such a way, that if you were to die today, that they could survive on what you alone have taught them?

Take time today to reflect on all you have taught!  Will it be sufficient?

Remember, that your actions (WHAT YOU DO), speaks much louder than anything you have SAID to them!

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Trial or Consequence?

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  I Peter 4:13-16

Difficulties provoke questions. “Am I suffering in a trial, or is my pain a consequence of something I’ve done?” You need to identify the source of a hard thing in your life because your responsibility in the matter depends on the source of your hardship. Jesus’ disciple Peter will help you understand the difference.

First Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” If you are suffering as a result of representing Christ, you are experiencing a trial. Realize you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and it leads to blessing.

Continuing is this warning of consequence: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”

Peter has listed classic “choose to sin; choose to suffer” actions.Murderer describes anyone with a hateful action or thought—who disrespects life. Thief can refer to anyone who loses his or her job for stealing time; anyone who loses his or her marriage for stealing selfish interests; anyone who loses his or her friend by stealing too much attention. All of these actions involve taking what belongs to someone else. Evildoer is a general term for describing anyone who participates in sinful activity. Meddler describes anyone who, as one translation puts it, is “prying into other people’s affairs” (1 Peter 4:15 NLT). If any of these actions causes hardship for you, you’re suffering a consequence, not a trial.

Next, Peter returns to trials: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” In His kindness, God promises that trials will come. These hardships should never cause us to be ashamed, because God receives glory through the way His people respond to suffering.

When you are enduring a difficulty, decide whether it is a wake-up call to the reality of bad choices, or it has been allowed by God to train your character for His glory. Again, it’s important to ask God for wisdom in seeing the difference between trials and consequences. Many believers are experiencing very painful consequences to sin in their lives. They may call those consequences trials, but “do not be deceived,” Galatians 6:7 says. “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

Look at the following four situations. Which is a trial? Which is a consequence?

My marriage is in trouble after many years of neglect.

 My husband lost his job because the automobile industry is suffering.

 My husband lost his job because he was stealing materials from work.

 My son has a serious illness and is in the hospital.

The answers: (1) consequence; (2) trial; (3) consequence; (4) trial for you, possible consequence for him.

When you are suffering consequences, repent immediately. Turn around and, don’t walk—run back to God. When you are suffering for Christ, seek His grace to rejoice over your participation in events that will bring glory to God.

– Pastor James MacDonald

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