It's All Grace

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

What’s tucked in your backpack?

On this journey through life, we get banged up, broken bones and hearts, accumulate scratches, marring & scars, bodies altered, cut, and lose limbs, become deeply wounded, experience death and disease, etc.  All, which come in the categories of emotional, spiritual and physical.

Some of that may come from our own doings, and some from the choices others.  ALL, which we have NO CONTROL over.  Nonetheless, God has allowed these circumstances for a greater purpose than what we realize in the moment as well as enduring our suffering.

1) to bring him glory in our weaknesses, hurts and failures

2) to establish a platform of victories, that we might reach out and help others find victory through defeat

Satan hopes our horrible experiences will cause us to live in the past.  No way!!!  This pilgrim is moving forward, but I DO keep my experiences tucked in my backpack.  It serves me along the way to be of help to another soldier in battle.

LOOK today for those in need of encouragement, as the Lord has given each one of us a platform to be HIS hands and feet!

Hebrews 3:13  “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today . . .”

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Flow through me

Lord I want to be Your witness of what I’m living here below

but words cannot express the feelings deep within my soul

so Jesus take my life today and somehow let it be

that when somebody looks at me, Your love is all they see.

 

FLOW THROUGH ME like a beautiful melody

shine though me like a lighthouse by the sea

Lord let my life reflect Your life like a mirror polished clean

Jesus . . . live through me!

 

IF I could have but one request I know what it would be

that I could show the whole wide world the picture that I see

cause if they saw You Jesus, dying on that cruel tree

I know they couldn’t help but love You if only they could see.

Forgive me for the things I do that often bring You shame

and change me into someone that brings honor to Your name

Take away all of me and fill me full of You

this is what I ask today I’m pleading NOW with You.

 

FLOW THROUGH ME like a beautiful melody

shine though me like a lighthouse by the sea

Lord let my life reflect Your life like a mirror polished clean

Jesus . . . live through me!

 

The lyrics to this song has been running through my heart and mind all day long.  I desire to have a life that reflects my Lord and Savior.  However, I am a work in progress and know that he is faithful to complete the work he has begun in me!  Let your life be a witness of what he has done and is currently doing in you!  Allow Christ to flow through you.

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What to Do When You’re Going Under

A much needed reminder as we tend to forget from one day to the next, what the Lord desires of us, and where we are to keep our eyes.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” —Matthew 14:28-31
Whether you are four or forty, there’s nothing like a familiar and confident voice in the dark saying, “I’m here. There’s no reason to be scared.” Regardless of how many times you’ve been in a dark and unpredictable situation, hearing that voice can be the difference between sinking and safety.
Matthew 14:22-33 describes a night crossing on the Sea of Galilee when the disciples got caught in a storm. Jesus had sent them out in the boat alone. Interestingly, about half of the disciples were fishermen. They knew how dangerous the lake could be. It’s hard to know who was more afraid, those who knew what could happen or those who were wondering what would happen. Either way, there was a boatload of nervous men on the water that night.
As the wind and the waves threatened to take them under, Jesus walked by—on the water! Without a flashlight on board, all they could see was a dim figure making His way through the swells toward the boat. Their fear of the storm may have paled in comparison totheir terror over seeing a ghost! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (vv.26–27).
Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (v.28). He apparently concluded, If Jesus says I can walk on water, I can walk on water. As usual, Peter’s mouth and actions were about ten seconds ahead of his brain. But Jesus said, “Come,” and over the side of the boat Peter went. Imagine his wonder when the water held him up—like a kid playing on a waterbed.
Peter was doing so well, “but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (vv.29–30). What went wrong? He took his eyes off the Lord. He forgot the reason he could walk among the waves. And when he did, fear entered his heart, and he started to go under.
Has that ever happen to you? When your eyes were on the Lord, life was good no matter what was going on around you. But the moment you changed your focus to the wind and waves, you began to sink.
Where are your eyes today?
If you’re going under, it may be because you are looking at the waves (of your health or the pitch and roll of your retirement funds). Maybe you’ve been listening to the howling wind (like the voices of doom and gloom constantly heard in our society). Possibly you have been taking your cues from what others are saying and doing instead of keeping your mind stayed on Christ (Isaiah 26:3).
But you can do better. Like Peter, if you get distracted and start to sink, it’s time to call out, “Lord, save me!”
What storms, winds, and waves in your life are distracting you from looking at Jesus?
What’s usually your first clue that you’ve taken your eyes off the Lord?
Lord, I don’t want every storm to feel like my first time out on the water. Help me remember all the times You have been faithful. Forgive me when I forget the constant demonstrations of Your care. Forgive the way I’m prone to wander. Forgive me when I am easily distracted. Thank You for being as patient with me as You are faithful to me. Continue to guide me toward greater faithfulness on my part. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pastor James MacDonald
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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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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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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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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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Take A Stand

It is EASY to stand up and teach what is right, yet it is HARD to stand up against what is wrong.

Standing up for what is right, is not all that is required of us .  We must stand against what is wrong!

Will you be a Christian that makes a difference to a lost world, by what you teach and the stand you will take?  Or will you waiver and falter in denial as Peter did when he denied knowing Christ?

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