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The sky is always blue beyond the clouds. There is always hope and encouragement here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Judge me

People tend to get real defensive when they feel criticized. And usually their first words will be, "Don't judge."
But I must tell you, we are to rebuke each other. Not in any malicious way, or the sin is within us, but with love and gentleness. Our motive should be, when rebuking, is to restore that person to the straight and narrow path.
If I become defensive, and rebellious toward someone's correction of  my behavior, then my heart becomes hard and harder until a God will just allow me to go, unless and until I become repentant and turn back to him.
 

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. 
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NASB
“Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”
1 Corinthians 6:3 NASB

Blind Betty

I remember as a child having a neighbor that we called Blind Betty. Not to be mean but because there were two ladies named Betty and we had to differentiate between them and she was blind.
In later years, during my work at a hospital cafeteria we often described patients by their ailments rather than names because it was easier to remember than their names.
Very often we know people by something that has befallen them.
Is that how you want to be known? How do you want others to know you?
I was having a pity party the other night and feeling especially lonely and craving the voice of someone other than my husband. And I said to him, I don't think anyone likes me. And he in his infinite wisdom and compassion said to me, "Go eat worms."
But it helped. It made me chuckle. I don't want to be bitter or down-hearted. I know I have friends and people that care for me.
How does God know us? What is it that He sees when He looks at us?
Well He sees us as we can be. He sees us complete and whole. 
Our circumstances are obstacles or challenges that sometimes get in the way, but we are meant to overcome them. How we deal with these things will shape us and build us or we can be bitter, give up and forever be described by what conquered us.
When Naomi returned to Bethlehem she no longer was a wife and mother of two sons. No, now she can back poor and destitute with a Moabite daughter in law. 
The women of the town asked, "Is this Naomi?" Naomi means pleasant.
"No." She said. "Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara." Mara means bitter. She felt like God had dealt unfairly with her. Self pity. 
Have you ever felt that God had dealt unfairly with you? That just goes to show that we sometimes forget that God has a bigger plan, on a grand scale, that will result in His blessing.
Embrace your challenges. And be a conqueror!

So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, "Is this Naomi?" She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?" So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. (Ruth 1:19-22 NASB)

Inspection

Yesterday at work we had a big inspection. It was a very tension filled day. Everyone was on edge as the inspector walked around with his clipboard taking notes.
He examined every area of our building and every piece of equipment. He asked some of us questions and noted our answers.
This inspection took over 3 hours.
And then he gave his report.
He had found some things that were of concern for him and brought those to our attention. We have a limited time period to bring those areas into compliance.
After he left, there were several people that were upset with  the inspection. They are content with how we do things. They didn't even notice the things that were unsafe and said that maybe he was too critical. 
But the leaders (bosses) at our job see the sense in the inspection. They understand that it is best to examine and fix things before they become a bigger problem. 

I wonder how an inspection of our hearts and minds would be? Would we be resistant to the notes and recommendations of the inspector? 
Lord, forgive me when I am content. Help me to see my errors before they callous my heart. I pray that I never become unteachable. 

“Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.”
Psalms 26:2 NASB


“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
Psalms 139:23-24 NASB

The River

Down to the River to pray or 
There once was a Ladies prayer group

Acts 16:13-15 ESV

“And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.”
The "we" in the above scripture is Paul, Silas, and Luke. Up until this time the gospel did not permit them to  go into Europe. The Spirit of God had prevented this. Then Paul saw a vision of a Macedonian  man telling him to come over. So they went. 

When they came to Philippi, there was no minion, 10 men required to be a synagogue. So Paul and his companions went outside the gate, down to the river looking for a place and people with which to worship. 

There they found Lydia and a group of women praying. Lydia was a widow, yet a very successful business woman. She was a seller of a rare purple dye. She was wealthy. She owned a large home. She had servants. She was a believer of God. She was influential in organizing this group of praying women. 

This was an organized Women's prayer group, meeting to pray, on the first day of the week. Were they saved?? No, even though they were believers, they had not followed the complete plan of salvation........Until they heard Paul speak. 

Then scripture says that The Lord opened her heart to pay attention.

She invited these men back to her home. Apparently Paul and Silas spoke and taught more because her household believed, were baptized and become a church. Thus began the church of Phillippi that met at the home of Lydia.

Let's pray for open hearts.

For discussion or your personal time:

Do you know anyone who is a believer and worshipper of God but has not completely followed the Plan for Salvation?

Let's pray for God to open their hearts to being receptive.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Faithful Obedience

This morning I was wondering about people, people who are in the church yet have no visual spiritual growth. It worries me. My heart breaks for those that don't take to heart God's words and commands. I think of the verses,  Matthew 7:21-23

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

Who are these people that The Lord will turn away?
Apparently these people believed themselves to be "known" by God. They remind God of the works that they performed for Him.
Yet, He says that He never knew them.

If people think and believe themselves to be "right" with God how is anyone to reach them? Very often they become defensive and feel that they are being judged.
People say things like, "God understands." 

And honestly, I believe that He does understand. And He pardons. And He forgives. And another new day, new chance is given.
But there will come the day when we die and all new chances are done away with.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”
Hebrews 9:27 NASB

Now what? 
Now a person is judged and will be held accountable for every word of God. We will each be held up against the measuring rod of His word and whether or not He "understands" that you believe your circumstances will exempt you, they will not. 

‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Are words that I never want to hear.

If you want to be in The Kingdom, you must obey the King.
A life of faithful obedience no matter what we go through is required by God.

Discussion:
What does faithful obedience look like?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Spur On

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

If you look up the word Encourage in the Greek language it means, Strengthen or be alongside.

I looked this word up because I have recently had someone tell me that I needed to be more encouraging and less "preachy."

I won't apologize for trying earnestly to keep those I care about on the straight and narrow road. If I care about you and recognize potential in you, then I will push you to do your best.

You must understand to strengthen may not always be a pleasant experience. Imagine a body builder in strength training. It is hard. They are pushed beyond what they feel is comfortable.
In the same way, be alongside, make me think of staking up a tall, spindly tree. We pound a stake into the ground and tie the tree to it to help it grow correctly. We train it to go against what seems natural.

To strengthen or be alongside is not pumping sunshine into someone. It's not sugar coating your words or tickling ears. To be encouraging is to push those you care for into being their best selves.

And in the above verse we are to spur one another on. Is that a comfortable term? No.
Horse riders use spurs to get the most from their beloved horse. It is not punishment or meanness. It is to encourage full potential.

I expect my friends to help keep me on the straight and narrow. And I will be spurring you and encouraging you.
Love you always.
Rhonda

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Epaphras



The apostle Paul speaks very highly of Epahras.
A. He says that Epaphras is a SERVANT of Christ.
B. Epaphras struggles in his prayers while praying for the Colossians Christians.
C. Epaphras prays for them to be mature Christians.
D. He prays that the Colossians Christians will have assurance in the will of God.

That is a good prayer. 
When is the last time you actually struggled while praying for someone else?
We do need to pray for others to become mature in Christ. We need to be always growing as well.
Do you feel assured that you are living out your purpose of God? Do you pray for others to live out God's will for their lives?

Let's pray on behalf of others.