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What exactly does an obedient Christian life look like? Deuteronomy 28 is a nice long chapter which begins with amazing blessings to those who obey, and hefty punishment for those who do not! Yet among this chapter we find a great Bible principle to live in obedience to Christ. Three important words that can be applied to our daily walk. Hearken. Observe. Do.

Step 1. Hearken

Check out this definition: “To listen; to lend the ear; to attend to what is uttered, with eagerness or curiosity.” Here are just 3 ways this can easily fit into our lives: daily Bible reading, attending a church where God’s Word is taught and we are listening with eagerness and curiosity, and utilizing our technology to listen to God’s Word being read or preached throughout the week.

Step 2. Observe

There are a few definitions of this, but many are closely related to step 3, so let’s look at this one: “To see or behold with some attention; to notice.” This makes me think of not just hearing the Word of God, but really paying attention to it. Are we attending Bible Study, or using a devotional, or really caring about the details of what God has for our lives? Are we happy to just be a church-goer? Or are we living our life fully devoted to following Christ? It is high time we fully commit to following Christ as closely and passionately as we can in these last days. As the world around us grows darker- our lights must shine brighter! Every detail of our life matters.

Step 3. Do

Do we need a definition for this one? When we know what God has for us, we need to take the action step. And to be honest, most things in the Christian walk begin with prayer, because we need God’s strength to even obey Him in the “little” areas. Many things we already KNOW are His will- yet for some reason we stumble and fumble around just not doing it. Do we know we should read the Bible? Yes. Do we know we should pray? Yes. Do we know we should go to church? Yes. Do we know we should share the gospel? Yes. Do we know we should give our time, money, and talents to be used of the Lord? Yes. Do we know our lives should be a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27), and we are to be a  testimony to this world (Matthew 5:16)? Yes.
So let’s do!

 
 
‘God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt.’ It’s a saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard so many times!  But, my reply every time I hear it said, “Well, God made rattlesnakes. And rattlesnakes WILL hurt!” Nevertheless, it is very true that you shouldn’t be afraid to work hard and get your hands dirty. In my family, mud and dirt has NEVER been a problem. And no, I don’t mean, ‘It’s never been a problem, we stay out of it.’ I mean, ‘We’ve never had a problem playing and working IN the mud and dirt.’ Some of you are probably cringing and crying right now… Sorry.  We’ve always loved being outside and working with our hands.  I walked outside a few weeks ago to see a huge mountain of dirt in the middle of one of our gardens. Turns out, the ‘three little musketeers’ had built a huge castle and dug a moat around it. It was so adorable to see them working so hard on it. I’m so glad that my siblings can always turn everything into a great adventure! They always have so much fun. And they look pretty cute while doing it too! 
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This was originally published on "A Sweet N Simple Life" blog on Wordpress. Cynthia is our oldest daughter & has a beautiful as well as inspirational blog of her own!  Check It Out Here! 

 
 
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Today marks the beginning of a new year. A fresh start, new beginnings, better choices... and resolutions. But that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be happy. Sometimes this “fresh start” hits us in the middle of tragedy. January 1, 2007, my family was sitting in intensive care while our 3 year old was on life support as she went through chemo treatments. Now ten years later I am with my sister as she strives to put together the pieces of her life after a fatal accident has left her a widow with 2 boys and another on the way. Through these hardships of life are we expected to just put on our party hats and smile for the new year?

Truth be told- no matter what day of the year it is- life can be difficult. Trials overwhelm us. The New Year is not always a happy one. I Corinthians 15 tells us “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Our hope needs to come from above, but it also needs to exceed our life on earth. We have hope because our Saviour has conquered the grave. He gives us new life and His promises are eternal. Jesus is not just a fairy tale to make us feel good. He is the true and living God. Not only is he the Creator of everything in heaven and earth- but the giver and sustainer of our very being. He gives us hope and peace and rest beyond our understanding. And when this life comes crashing in from all sides, by His strength we can look past our circumstances to see our Saviour.

So, what do we do when we are overwhelmed by a storm in life? As cliche’ as it might sound, we need to take one step at a time. Do what we know is right. Put your trust in Christ to guide you as He has promised. His Word will be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. His Spirit will be your Comforter and your strength from day to day. His love will give you a song in the night. And if He feels too far away… reach out for Him; he tells us in Acts 17:27 that He is right there. Follow and obey His will each moment as He guides you through this difficult part of your journey.

And the happiness? Yes, we are promised that too. But it might not look like the happiness that you would see on a child’s face when you pull into Chuck-E-Cheese. It may be the deep sense of peace that passes all understanding when our hearts and minds are focused on following Christ no matter what this world throws our way. It is the inner joy that we cannot explain when deep inside we know we are walking through the valley that the Lord has prepared for us. It is the comfort in seeing only one set of footprints in the sand- because we know he is carrying us.

If this new year has come upon you at a time when there is no celebration in your heart, take comfort. Stay close to the Saviour’s side. Lean upon Him. Let Him carry you into this New Year.  

Please pray for my sister Tiffany and her boys. For those who would like to help them monetarily- donations can be sent to: Tulsa Baptist Temple, (William Scott Warren Memorial Fund), 1203 S. Columbia Place, Tulsa, OK 74104 

 
 
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I Chronicles 16...  David's Psalm

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.

10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.

12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

23 Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.

24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.

27 Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.

28 Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth.

32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.

33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth.

34 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.

36 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord.

...Wow!! So many GREAT reminders to GLORIFY the Lord! I love reading this each morning as a reminder to Glorify God throughout my day.  Seek the Lord! Remember all He has done! Sing to Him!! Talk about Him to those around you each day. He is great and deserves our words of praise! 

Leave a comment below to share with others which psalms are a blessing to you in your walk with God!!

 
 
Scrolling through Facebook I came across an article that caught my attention. Scientists that have studied married couples for 4 decades to figure out why some marriages work while others fall apart (either ending in divorce or living in misery) have come to a conclusion. By scientific, I mean the whole deal: thousands of couples, multitude of researchers, electrodes hooked to the brain kind of science. Guess what they found… couples that are kind to each other are the happiest.

Now, I’m not trying to steal anyone’s thunder here- but  have you read your Bible lately? I promise it won’t take you 40 years, doesn’t require a master's’ degree, and you won’t need any electrodes!

We could use many examples, but let's just look at one.
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We really could apply this to any relationship. When we live according to God’s Word things work out. Obviously it takes two, and I’m not disputing that. So to clarify, if both parties involved are kind to each other there is a happy marriage, happy siblings, happy in-laws, happy co-workers, happy people in the world. So basically all I am saying is that we could obtain world peace (if every person in it followed God.) But let’s start here: Be ye kind one to another. Commanded in the Bible and proven by science!
 
 
PictureI fell in love with this peacemaker bracelet!
Who wants to love life? Sounds good, right? Just like we all have a natural desire to care for ourselves, look out for ourselves, and want the best for ourselves, we also desire to live a happy life. Unfortunately, life is not always a walk in the park. It can come with some pretty harsh blows. So, how can we have a life of peace, joy, and happiness? The answer is found in God's Word. His promises are true and His way is always right. God gives us the formula we need to see good days. 
I Peter 3:10 begins, "For he that will love life...." First off, there is a will, a desire, to love life. Do you desire to love life? Have you even realized that God desires for you not only to be His child, but to live according to His will and enjoy the life here on earth that He has blessed you with. God gives us a way to have a life we can truly love! Pay attention: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it."  If you and I want to see "good days" we need to lay out a game plan to make these verses a part of our daily living. We need to get serious about this and see how much we can really love our life!


1. Let him refrain his tongue from evil.


Think of a parent refraining their young one from running into the street, or of a police officer that must refrain a suspect attempting to harm another. These are not just nonchalant casual encounters. This is head to head- do whatever needs to be done- kind of action! We are told here that if we want to love life we need to refrain our tongue! If we consider those things that bring us hardship in almost any relationship, most of them, if not all, can probably be brought back to a tiny little tongue, just doing what it does best! Let's get serious and active about refraining our tongue. This little tongue is no small matter!


2. And his lips that they speak no guile. 


More about our mouth! Oh, yes. Something I find very convicting as I read these little passages in my Bible are the absolutes. "No guile." That doesn't leave any wiggle-room! Maybe we think that we are just about as good as we can get, after all, we are only human! But you see- as Christians, we are not only expected to use our mouths to bless those we love, but we are also told to bless our enemies! We are not on this earth to compare ourselves to the one standing next to us, but to Jesus Christ Himself. And chapter two verse 22 says He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to [God.]  Is this the pattern we are following?


3. Let him eschew evil.


Here we have an even stronger word than "refrain." It is actually fun to see all the ways different dictionaries explain eschew! Each of them is pretty clear- you are getting away!! // to fight off; renounce; steer clear of; have nothing to do with; shun; to avoid something intentionally; to purposely try to stay away from; to avoid using, accepting, participating in, or partaking of //  Do you really want to love life? Hey, it looks to me like we need to be making some serious actions to "eschew" those things contrary to God's will and God's way in our life! I ask each of you to set aside some time today to pray and ask God what evil there is in your life that you need to fight off, renounce, and steer clear of! Remember, there are promises ahead that we can only claim once we have followed His path.


4. And do good.


The Bible tells us to "do good unto all men" (Gal. 6:10) and to "maintain good works" (Titus 3:8,14). It's not just enough to keep the bad out of our life- but we need to fill it with good! Be good to your husband, good to your children, good to your family, friends, church body, neighbors, strangers, and even mean people! Do good.
It's not a social gospel- it's God's command for Christians. Yes, we should be good. But being good isn't of much use if we are not doing good. 


5. Seek peace, and ensue it.


This world has enough drama. Just don't get involved. You need your sanity. You need your peace of mind. Jesus says in His sermon on the mount "Blessed are the peacemakers." Be a peace maker. Seek it, follow it, make it happen. You will be blessed!! You will find joy in the simple things of life. You will love life and see good days. Take God at His Word and claim those promises that follow. Meditate on His Word and follow Him today! 



Live your life God's way- and you will truly LOVE the life you live!

 
 
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“For by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8a)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him…” (Hebrews 11:6a)

The very foundation of our life with Christ is faith. We must have faith. We are saved through faith. We must continue to walk in faith. We should pray, as the disciples did, that the Lord would increase our faith.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 17 that with faith as a grain of mustard seed a mountain could be removed, and again in Luke 17 that with that same faith a sycamine tree would be plucked up by the root and planted in the sea.

Yet I Corinthians 13:2 gets to the heart of the issue. You see, though we need faith to live the Christian life, faith is not enough. Faith without works is dead. I Corinthians 13:2 says that “though I have ALL FAITH, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

It is easy to get so caught up in our Christian living that we begin to overlook others. We may be keeping our Bible reading schedule on track and showing up for every church ministry- yet not noticing the souls that God has placed along our way. If so, our lives have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) Also, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Galatians 6 is so full of advice on how we should treat each other. Paul encourages and admonishes us, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Ephesians 6:9,10)

Charity is having a genuine and sincere concern for others. Genuine. From the heart. Sincere. Without hypocrisy.

And not just concern for “certain” others. God is no respecter of persons.

“Charity suffereth long (longsuffering), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

That’s a lot to live up to. In fact, I’ll be working on that until Jesus comes! (And I hope you are too.) Because faith without works is dead. You’ve heard the old saying, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!” It’s true.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Cor. 13:13)

 
 
So much is going on in this world we live in. One minute we are tucked away in our cozy homes, raising our children, building our marriages, striving to please the Lord with each day- and before we know it the world is crumbling all around us. Tragedy strikes and we stand in the aftershock wondering where it came from. This may come by a loss of health, the death of a loved one, or a nearby act of terror we didn’t see it coming or going. All we know is somehow we need to find a new normal and figure out how to move on from here. Do we bury our head in the sand? Do we live in denial and act like nothing has happened? Do we leave the firm foundation of our faith in God and get washed away on the shifting sands of this world’s philosophy?  How are we, as Christians, to respond when our world is tossed about on the raging seas of life? (When all we really want is to just live a quiet and peaceable life!)

Well….  I really don’t have the answer for you. (Other than to say turning our back to God is definitely NOT the answer.) But I do have a biblical example to follow. Job lost everything. And Job even had something that we don’t. Job verse one says that he was perfect and upright. Now, I am not trying to speak for you, but I can firmly say that I am neither perfect nor upright! I wish I could say that I was. And someday I hope that I am, by the grace of God. If it weren’t for all the times I continue to cave in to the desires of my flesh I would be a lot farther along than I am today.  Nevertheless, we can see the example of Job- who lost more than we can ever imagine without even a moment’s notice!!

First, let’s get some facts straight. God cares about Job. He knew what Job was going through. He loved Job. So, does it occur odd to us that when the Lord answers Job after so many chapters of silence he ends up spending an entire chapter talking about Leviathan, the great sea monster!! I’m talking about 34 verses!! I am being polite and holding myself back from using CAPS LOCK here… but take a moment to breathe this in! God Himself. Answering Job. Out of His Infinite Wisdom. And He’s talking about a dinosaur?

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This may be a bit cliche’ but, has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God? God knew exactly what was going on. In fact, He knew before it happened. He also knew the outcome. That is not to say that the way was easy for Job. Times were tough and he endured such grief that cannot be explained. Yet, God also knew exactly what Job needed to hear. Sometimes we tend to make God so personal that we lose sight of His Mighty Power!!

This great sea monster that man cannot tame, cannot subdue, cannot even hunt for its meat- God has made to play in the waters for His enjoyment! Psalm 104:24-26 “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.”

So, to all of the naysayers that tell me that this is not an important point… (you know, those “sincere Christians” who insist that we stick with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ) I would like to just point out that when God spoke to Job in his trials and hardship, he spent an entire chapter explaining, in detail, the greatness of leviathan. That was not an accident. Job saw. He got the message. Job got his eyes back on the Lord and His greatness!

How about us? I know it’s hard when tragedy strikes a little too close to home. We can so easily become consumed. Maybe it is concern for our fellow man, our country, our safety- until we become glued to the next news headline popping up on our screen. ...What will it be next? ...Where will it be next? But let me tell you this. This world is not getting any better. And it isn’t going to. Now more than ever we need to take a step back and fix our eyes on our Lord. Draw close to Him. See His mighty power! I am not suggesting that we bury our head in the sand… but it would not hurt any of us to skip the nightly news for once or give our facebook page a rest and take a look at the night sky or get up to see the sun rise in the morning. Sit a while and read through Job 41. Verse by verse. Think about those knights trying to slay the dragon, only to have their spears fall like blades of grass. Yet, the Lord watches him play in the water. And He is the same Lord Who watches over us.

"Sea Monsters … More than a Legend?"  I found this article interesting from Answers in Genesis. Go to their page here.
 
 
Seeing a bowl of cereal always brings me back to memories from my childhood on those mornings before school when most children, I assumed, were eating it for breakfast. But what I recall are Mom’s words… “If you eat cereal for breakfast- you will be hungry again before lunchtime.”  So, I grew up on eggs and toast, oatmeal, or pancakes. And of course, I thought the kids eating Froot Loops were pretty lucky. As always- Mom was right. Eggs and toast helped me concentrate more on my schoolwork and less on  when the lunch bell would ring. My hungry little stomach was much more satisfied after a proper breakfast than it would have been after being filled with brightly colored crunchiness!

I have thought about that lesson so many times. How many things in this world do we want to fill our lives with or spend our time or money on? How many things do we look to for satisfaction… even though our Heavenly Father has warned us that the pleasures of this world will only last for a season?  We go through our days desiring to be filled- to be satisfied- to feel blessed… yet we are sitting down to feast on the emptiness this world has to offer instead of the fulfillment that God promises will come from a life pleasing to Him.

Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) We have a promise from God Himself that we can be filled! Our lives can be blessed! We can have contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment! What wouldn’t anyone give for just one day filled with the peace of God on their heart? We can have a lifetime of it, and God has already given us the key in His Word: to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Think about your desires today. What are you hungering for and thirsting after? What do you desire to fill your time? What thoughts do you allow to linger in your mind? How do you spend your days, nights, and weekends? And remember this- it is not as much about what we are doing, but rather what our desires are. Many times we are going through our lives filling the roles we are expected to fill… while our mind is wandering far from it. Maybe those around you cannot see- but surely the Lord sees the smallest and deepest desire of your heart.

What are your desires? If you need to make a change- start right now. The first step is always prayer because we truly cannot  do anything right in this life without God’s help. Ask Him to show you what you are desiring now and what He wants you to desire. Ask Him to give you a hunger for righteousness. To be right with Him. To be right in your relationships. To be right with your time, your talents, your every thought! For when you begin to hunger and thirst after His righteousness- you will be filled! There is no satisfaction in this entire world that will be worth more than a life FILLED by following after the Lord. Take God at His Word and live a full life!

 
 
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Have you noticed the variety of things listed in the works of the flesh? Many of us would agree that Murder and Envy are not even close; though envy left unchecked does sometimes lead to murder… every one of us who has been envious has certainly not killed somebody!  And in our culture today we are so quick to accept people if they are “good” even though they believe a false gospel, false religion, or false doctrine- yet in this same list with Adultery, Witchcraft, Drunkenness… we see Heresy!! Can we explain that? They all have one thing in common: they are works of the flesh. “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like:”

Achieving and maintaining the fruit of the Spirit should definitely be a major life goal for any Christian. Yet… HOW?  Is it as simple as learning about “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:” and trying to show them in our lives each day?  What if we’re good in one area- yet constantly struggle in another? You see- there are many works of the flesh. We each have certain ones that we struggle against. But the fruit of the Spirit is
just one. Yes, there is a list of nine ways it will show itself- but it is just one fruit from One Tree.

You see- as much as we like to point out the grey areas in life, the truth is much more clearly seen in only two dimensions. Light & Darkness. The Works of the Flesh vs. The Fruit of the Spirit. As much as we may want to live in our imaginary 3rd dimension of enjoying our life in the flesh “as long as we aren’t hurting anyone else…” we can’t really support this with Scripture. Each step we take, each decision we make, each and every day we are either living according to our flesh or our spirit. If we are saved- we have both. And until we reach heaven’s shores it will be a daily battle.

When we are born again the Spirit of God moves within us. It is then up to us to crucify the flesh “with the affections and lusts” and “walk in the Spirit.”   You see, “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other.” And yet the Bible encourages us to, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” So many times we struggle daily with controlling our words, our temper, our attitudes, on and on… yet the only things we can truly do are crucify our flesh and walk in the Spirit. Everything on the outside will naturally follow the Spirit if we are led by the Spirit. If we are daily feeding the desires of our flesh- it is no wonder when we cannot control our words, thoughts, attitudes, or actions.

We might think we just have a little problem with patience… but we’re doing good in all the other areas. Or maybe we lack faith, but see ourselves as achieving in love and goodness.  Let’s read through Galatians 5 and 6 with an open heart and prayer towards God that His Light would shine through our hearts and show us where we need Him.  We need His fruit in our lives. And we need to acknowledge that His fruit comes as a WHOLE. When we are walking in the Spirit He gives us “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:” ALL OF IT!!

If you are struggling today with the fruit of God’s Spirit in your life- seek Him!

Crucify the flesh.

Walk in the Spirit.

 

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