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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!

I hope you know John 3:16. Truly know it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gave us the greatest gift imaginable- and He did it out of love for us. Loving us even while we were yet sinners. Sending Jesus down to pay the penalty and price for our sin. He could have left us condemned- but instead he gave us a Saviour. All we have to do is put our trust in Him, ask Him to forgive our sins and be our Saviour. John 3:16

Jesus went to the cross for us. He was crucified, buried, and rose again. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (vs. 36) Light and darkness. Belief and unbelief. Saved and lost. God has given us such a stark contrast between Light and darkness, the Spirit and the flesh, life and death… yet it seems like our lives are still so full of grey areas? We see such a wonderful gift that God has given us, yet choose to walk in darkness. John 3:19 tell us plainly, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Jesus knows us so well. He explains the reason for this in verse 20. The light shows us our true selves. It reproves us of the wrongs we have done. It doesn’t feel good to be reproved. It can be embarrassing to be corrected. If we have a big dirty stain on our clothes, we definitely do not want anyone to see it! If we can’t change… we try to cover it up! But wait… who says we can’t change?

Once your faith and trust is put in the Lord Jesus Christ- the devil knows he has lost you for eternity. The next best thing he can do is try to win over the rest of your life here on earth. It truly is a battle between Light and darkness. But, Christian, we have God on our side. And God is ready to give you the victory!  The best thing any one of us can do is to come closer and closer to the Light! Let God’s Word shine on our lives, clean or dirty. He knows how to get those spots out! If you have a stain of sin on your life today, I challenge you to step into the light. If the devil has been deceiving you and you think you are overcome, there is no hope, no way you can live in righteousness, don’t listen. He is a deceiver. God wants to shine His Light onto your life and make you clean! If you have trusted Christ as your Saviour- don’t be afraid to trust Him with your life!!

Do you have questions about salvation? www.needgod.com

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!

We all know by now that we need to “set a watch” over our mouth and be careful what we say. We ought not to be gossiping, backbiting, and slandering. It doesn’t take long to figure out a person by just listening to what (or who) they talk about. Here is a quick example of a few of the many many verses that warn us against using our words to sow discord:

James 1:26 - If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Proverbs 16:28 - A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

Psalms 101:5 - Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
But what if we aren’t the one spreading the gossip? Do we get a free pass to listen to everything going on around us? I mean… the Bible does say we shouldn’t answer a matter before we hear it. So, does that make it right to go around making sure we get the whole story from everyone on every bit of gossip that comes our way? Actually, that just might be wrestling the Scriptures to our own destruction. The Bible contains a severe warning for those listening ears as well.

Yesterday I was made aware of some personal matters that were being discussed about my family. The content really didn’t bother me because I’m not afraid to give the truth and state the facts on what actually happened. It was just a mistake. But what did cause concern was how so many people had no problem discussing our personal matters.

When one dear brother in Christ asked me in sincerity, “Aren’t you concerned about the things being said about you?” I must say I answered quite quickly- and quite frankly. No.

Why not? Because the Bible tells us clearly in Proverbs 17:4 “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.” You see, it takes two to gossip. It takes a talker, and it takes a listener. Be careful if you pride yourself in your ability to hold your tongue and speak few words- people know who the gossipers are… and they know who’s listening!

I am not concerned about my testimony being marred by someone with such a low moral character that they would go about seeking gossip and slander, and you shouldn’t either. You see, following God gives a life of peace. Even when we make mistakes. It’s okay with me to admit that and move on.

If you (like me) often find yourself “out of the loop” as to what the latest gossip is going around, count yourself blessed that the gossipers know that you are not a good listener!!
Can you imagine if someone said to you, “You can’t serve the Lord!”

I can just hear all of the arguments that would start!!

“Of course I can!”

“No one can stop me from serving God!”

“I will keep serving Him no matter what!!”

Yet that is exactly what Joshua said to the Hebrew people after that famous challenge: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Oh yes, they made a great claim! “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord!”  I mean, if you had a choice, wouldn’t you choose to serve the true God? ...Wouldn’t we all?

But there was something else… a matter of the heart. We can claim all we want that we have given God our lives and we are following Him alone, yet our actions (inside and out) speak louder than our words.  Joshua wasn’t so quick to accept their choice, but followed it up with a pretty harsh challenge. “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”

God sees past our words. God sees our heart. God sees our desires and our motives. He sees our pride, our self will, our true intentions.

The people in Joshua 24 insisted that they did choose to serve God, so Joshua gives them a challenge: “Put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”

It is good to honor God, to speak of God, to proclaim God’s goodness with our words, but if we have not inclined our heart towards Him, it is all in vain. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t just want us to fill our seat in the pew on Sunday. He wants our hearts towards Him alone. Jesus says the hypocrites “draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

When you make a choice to serve God and Him alone it is noticeable. We don’t just choose God and still keep everything else we want in this life. There are some things we must “put away” as we incline our hearts unto the Lord!  God knows the difference between heartfelt repentance and alligator tears!

Next time you see the phrase “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” take a look at your life. When God looks at your heart what does He see?

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!

All around us we hear words of peace, words of comfort, words of stillness… yet sometimes the struggle is too real, too dark, too swift… we need Jesus- and being still, waiting in quietness,  just isn’t working. That’s where Bartimaeus was- the blind man in Mark 10. He sat begging, and when he heard Jesus was passing by- he cried out. And when others tried to calm him, quiet him, he just cried out louder!  There are times in our life the struggle is so real and all we can do is cry to Jesus. And when we try to “be still” and listen for that “still small voice” we just can’t. Because the hurt is real, and the pain is deep. We just cry louder.

Jesus sees us in our struggle. He hears us amidst our deepest need.  Bartimaeus was there. He sat begging in the street. Taking whatever the world had to throw his way.  The pain. The sorrow. The loneliness. The world didn’t have much to offer him. He knew there was more- even as he cried to Jesus the world still tried to quiet him. What was he? Just a blind man? Just a beggar?  “And Jesus stood still.”  (vs. 49) To Jesus he was so much more. His needs were real. His struggles were worth caring for. He was worth cleansing and making whole. And so are you.

Bartimaeus was blind. He couldn’t see Jesus. He didn’t know where Jesus was, but heard that He was passing by that way. There are valleys we must pass through in this life. We sometimes get our eyes off the Lord and allow the storms to overwhelm us. We cannot see Jesus. Yet we must trust that He is near- for He is Faithful and True. He is always near. In faith we must call out to Him. Cry out to Him. And if we still can’t seem to see Him- cry louder.  There He is- standing still- waiting for us to come to Him. And there He stands, calling us, like He called to Bartimaeus.

Bartimaeus was comforted. He cast off his worldly garment and came to Jesus. He laid down his need at the feet of Jesus. Immediately he received his sight. He didn’t have to wait. He didn’t have to go through some type of ceremony or time of cleansing. Immediately Jesus made him whole. Jesus was ready for Bartimaeus. Jesus was willing to heal him. When Bartimaeus called- Jesus stood still. The Lord knows when the struggle is too much for us to bear. He knows when we reach the end of our resources and can do nothing but cry to Him. He knows when we can’t sit quietly and still any longer. He stands for us. He comforts us. And He is ready to meet our need. Call out to Him today. For salvation. For security. For peace amidst the storms of life. Cast away the garments of shame and come to Jesus. Follow Him in faith. For He is Faithful and True.  

Living our life to please the Lord definitely brings the most fulfilling and wonderful life we could ever experience. The joys of knowing Christ and following Him are far greater than the sorrows that would trouble our soul as we wondered what could have become of our life through Christ.  There is truly “no greater joy” than to see our children walk in truth. So… why do we sometimes feel like we are in this all alone?

This world is a big place- and with social media swirling all around us it is easy to see so many go astray and standards dropped by the wayside.  It is easy to sometimes wonder if we are the only family left adhering to old time convictions.  The world is changing- and changing fast. I remember taking multiple steps to be connected to the “world wide web” and getting my free yahoo email address. Now I have children who can swipe through a smartphone or laptop to search for a recipe, buy a new dress, find the right R.C. battery, or register online to go to camp!

Yet, Jesus Himself prayed for us. Not that God would take us out of this world, so we would be physically separated; but that while we live in this world, He would keep us from the evil. We are to be spiritually separated. In John 17:15 Jesus prays, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”  Though we are told to “come out from among them and be ye separate…”  God knows that we still must dwell in this world. Clearly there are thing in this world we are not to have a part of. We are here to be the salt and the light, to live for Jesus, glorify Him, and share the gospel so others may also come to know Him as Saviour.

As we draw lines in the ever shifting sand to keep our life separate from the worldliness that surrounds us we can feel like we are all alone. While we like to think our convictions are firmly set in the Rock- we would all be greatly surprised when we look at what the born again believers of past generations were convicted over. John Bunyan was convicted over spending a little time on a Sunday afternoon to play a game of ball. Many old time books speak out against visiting a carnival, fairgrounds, or circus show. Even just a generation ago it was common for born again believers to take a stand against movie theaters, television in the home, or mixed swimming.

Christian, do you have a line that you must not cross? Our lives are to be a living sacrifice. Is there a sacrifice in your life today? Are you striving to follow God and obey His commands? (Even if it seems a little strange in the world around you?) Do you realize the importance of guarding what enters into your eyes and ears? Oh yes, the things we see and hear do affect our thoughts, words, and actions. Maybe God has been speaking to you about an area of your life that you need to give up for Him. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to the world around you. Maybe it doesn’t even make sense in your Christian circle.

Elijah took a great stand for the Lord when he spoke against Ahab and Jezebel. At the end of a great victory he felt defeated. He felt alone. He felt unworthy. He really thought he was the last man standing for God. Yet God came and spoke to him, comforted him, fed and strengthened him. And what was the message of encouragement? He was not alone. He was not the only one left standing for God, serving the Lord, doing the RIGHT thing. God let him know before He was done speaking with him, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.”

Friend, you are not alone. Just as we do not know the sin that may be hiding in someone’s life- we also do not know the sacrifices. God has many children -following Him -loving Him -serving Him. Any yet there is so much more to do! We are to be LIGHT! Our life is to be shining for Jesus like a city on a hill pointing heavenward glorifying our Saviour! I was so blessed this week to get a phone call from a dear woman in her sixties and she was just waiting to see what the Lord has next for her. She wants to keep serving Him.  There are mothers in homes right now teaching and training their children in the way God would have them to go. There are women in the work force abstaining from the worldliness and fleshly lusts of their coworkers. There are young girls keeping themselves pure as they serve God from their homes and families until it is their turn to embark out on their own journey.

You are not alone. We are not alone. We each have a place to fill. The only true pleasure we will find in this world is in a life wholly given to the Lord, holy, acceptable to Him. Do not waste it away in worldliness. Do not listen to the devil’s lies. Pray to God as you draw your mark in the sand for Him and determine to glorify Him in each area of your heart and life.  

A new year is fast approaching.

I don’t think I have ever made a New Year’s Resolution. It’s not because I have anything against them. It’s just that I know
I won’t keep it. No matter what it is. I just don’t stick with things. At. All.

But for me- that is one of my biggest problems.
Self defeat. I tell myself I won’t finish… so why bother to start.

Yet I know that God is
so much greater than me. I need to continually be built up in His Word and encouraged in each step I take. That is one reason why it is so important to stay continually in His Word. This world, my flesh, and the devil can stir up havoc in my mind- stirring up doubt and defeat.

Just as I know my husband, my family, and those that love me would not tear me down or tell me I wouldn’t be good enough- I need to remember that
God is so much greater and loves me even so much more. Philippians 1:6  tells us we can be confident because “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it.
This New Year- I have no fancy resolution. I probably won’t lose any weight, or quit any annoying habits. Sure- I might try to get up a little  earlier… or clean a little more…. But one thing is for sure. I want to trust God to help me in every area He leads.  If God is moving in my life- I want to follow. And I know He has the strength to carry me through any path He is leading me to walk on.

So maybe I will make a resolution:
To walk in faith & follow God in the path He leads me to. God is faithful. He will lead, guide, and protect if I am keeping my eyes on Him. And He will do it for you too!!
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to understand good morals when applying them to ourselves?  You know… 
        Don’t lie about me!  
                 Don’t steal from me! 
                          Don’t cheat on me!  
Yet when the Bible tells us to love our neighbor as our self… it seems a bit harder.  In reality- if we loved others even half as much as we love ourselves and love to please ourselves… we wouldn’t have many of the daily struggles we face as we strive to live the Christian life.

And the crazy part is… that’s all God asks us to do.  He knows that if we just truly took hold of the meaning of living a life where we love our neighbor as our self… the rest of the law wouldn’t even need to be addressed! We wouldn’t be lying, cheating, stealing, envious, gossiping, or backstabbing.  That might seem a bit harsh- but even if we sugarcoat our “little sins” they are a dark contrast to God’s righteousness.

Take some time today to read God’s Word, meditate upon it, and ask God to show you what it truly means to “love one another” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” As we go about our day… let’s be mindful of our actions, attitudes, and answers.  

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”  Romans 13: 8,9,10

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