ARMED

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Gathering with fellow believers is such an important part of the Christian faith. When we gather together we strengthen bonds with fellow believers, we sing praises together, and most importantly we hear and receive the Word of God. This helps us to continue to put on the full armor of God each and every day. There was a period during the early part of the pandemic when we didn’t gather in person. We gathered in the church parking lot. We gathered on our sofas and watched the services on Facebook. But then, praise God, we finally were able to gather in the sanctuary together as it was meant to be! Gathering with fellow believers in person is truly a very special part of worship, and gathering for corporate worship encourages and strengthens our daily walk.

Consider for a moment an orange or a satsuma. It’s peeling acts as a protector for the fruit. It is the armor for the fruit. If you place that orange in a glass of water, it floats. It is protected. But if you remove the peeling and the protective coating, and then place that same orange in a glass of water, it will sink. It is not protected. It has lost the natural protection and armor of the peeling.

As Christians, we have to put on our armor daily. There will be troubles of the day that will try to peel the armor away, but if we are rooted in the Holy Word of God, our armor will remain and our protection will be guaranteed. When we continue to gather with a body of believers, our armor is strengthened as we walk through the Word of God with our pastor, deacons, and elders and those who are seasoned with the salt of the Word of God and shine a light in this dark world in which we live. We can put on the belt of truth and tighten our waistbands, keep the breastplate of righteousness in place, and as we learn and hear the truth preached and taught, our feet will be fitted with readiness to share the beloved gospel with the world. We can take up the shield of faith, and extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one, and wear the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which we all know is the Word of God. And we pray in the Spirit, oh the sweet prayers of a praying church! The armor of God protects us!

I woke up praying this morning. That’s nothing new, but my prayer this morning was that the churches across this country would have an awakening, a revival. I prayed that the true Word of God would be preached throughout our land, and that ears would be opened to hear it. I prayed that lost souls would be saved, and I prayed that those who have gotten out of the habit of gathering together with fellow believers would return to church. In this evil world that we are living in, we need the full armor of God. We need the prayers of fellow believers. We need the sword of the Spirit. We need this now more than ever. Are you ready to get armed today?

Blessings,
KK

COME HOME

Isaiah 1:3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.

Jeremiah 8:7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.

Sally Sue is a whitetail doe that we rescued a few years ago. We bottle fed her, and she took up residence down at our barn with the sheep and goats and our neutered Axis buck, Bucky. She is a typical skittish little doe, but she loves apples, and she will take us down for a bit of fruit. She allows Jeff and I to pet her, but she is stand-offish around others. Each year, she leaves for a few days during breeding season. She always comes back home to the barn after a bit. She recently had a little fawn. We spotted it in the grass outside of the barn. It looked healthy as it darted through the woods. Sally still comes home for supper. Sally Sue knows how to find her way home. She knows where the buckets of feed are plentiful and the fruit snacks are abundant. But right now she is mostly hanging out in the woods caring for her little one…until supper time!

Sally Sue is a wild, whitetail doe, but she was bottle raised by my husband and myself. She knows that we are her safe place and that our barn is her home. She will always have food, water, and shelter there. She is free to leave as she pleases, but she always knows when to come home.

God has given animals a remarkable homing instinct. Before Sally Sue, we had Ellie May. She would wander miles from home visiting our neighbors, but all I had to do was rattle the chain on the gate to the barn, and she suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Why then do we humans seem to want to rebel and not even show the good sense of an animal? Our loving Father created us and has given us every reason to want to come home, yet we drift and backslide. We try to do things on our own and under our own power and authority. We tend to forget that in Christ, we have all of the nourishment we need. In Christ, we have hope, love, joy, protection, grace, and mercy. Away from Christ, we may find temporary pleasure, but it will always be short lived. Without Christ, we are lost and alone.

In Jeremiah 8:7, we are reminded that even the birds live according to the instincts that the Lord has given them. They know when to migrate and when to return for seasons just as my little doe does. Why then do we humans have such difficulty with this? Man seems to constantly run the race of self destruction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our natural instinct or intuition tells us that we don’t want to be alone. We don’t want to feel lost, abandoned, or full of despair. We want to have fullness of joy, hope, and love everlasting. We yearn for grace and mercy. Fortunately for each of us, we have a heavenly Father who wants to give us all of this. We needn’t run from Him, but rather we should be running to Him.

No matter where you are at this moment in time, no matter how far you feel that you have strayed, no matter how big or little your sins are, Christ is inviting you to return home. He’s been rattling the chain on the gate for a while now. His buckets are overflowing with love, joy, hope, grace, and mercy. He is ready to wrap His arms around you and give you the comfort and protection in that safe place that you are seeking. Don’t keep running away. Run home to the Father! There is no better place to be in this whole world!

Blessings,
KK

REMEMBER THE CROSS

John 3:16 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Yesterday, I visited an elderly gentleman in his eighties. He is a sweet, gentle soul. He walks with a rather stiff, shuffling gait, moving slowly and steadily to each appointed destination. During our visit, he told me that he had just returned from ceramic’s class. I asked about his ceramics, and he proceeded to show me a few of his finished products. The items were lovely. He has just completed a fleur de les, but he has made several light houses, different animals and reptiles, and an especially detailed alligator. He took pleasure in telling me about each item, and explained the process of ceramics. We had a nice visit. Towards the end of our visit, he spoke of his belief in God. We shared a common bond, and that fact pleased him. Before I left, he waddled over to a beautiful old chifforobe, and he pulled out a bright green, shiny ceramic cross that he had made. He said that he wanted me to have it. I naturally told him that I could not take it, but he insisted. He said that he wanted me to keep it to remember him. I graciously accepted the ceramic cross gift, and he grinned from ear to ear. He told me that this cross (pictured here) is an Irish cross. He said there are so many different types of crosses, and many different cultures have crosses which range from very simplistic to extremely elegant. He said that he thinks this is because every culture needs to know God and know Christ in their own way. The conversation excited him, and he then said, “Come with me.” This sweet, elderly man who is stiff from arthritis, and merely getting up and down is a huge chore, waddled throughout his entire home taking me from cross to cross. He has at least one cross in every room, and every cross was a little different. He explained the significance of each one in great detail. After the tour was complete, I held my new bright green ceramic cross close to my chest, and I said, “I will hang this cross on my wall, and every time I look at it, I will remember you, and I will remember the meaning of the cross.” His eyes lit up, and his face glowed with gladness.

I told him that I would remember him, and I definitely will. The moments are etched in the cobwebs of my brain. There are so many people that we come in contact with on a daily basis who just want to share a little piece of themselves with us so that we can remember them. Just think of the memories that you have stored away from past encounters and experiences. We have fond memories of our grandparents and parents. We may hear a word, smell a scent, or even listen to an old song, and those memories flood our very core. People want to be remembered. God gave us the beautiful gift of being able to hold these valuable memories in the vaults of our minds.

We definitely want to remember people. We want to remember loved ones. But, we most importantly need to remember the cross! Yes, there are many versions replicated of the cross. The styles may very, but the underlying message is the same. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus was born fully man and fully God as prophesied over 700 years prior, and He came for one reason. God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. He came to die for us to save us! He was crucified on a cross made from trees. It wasn’t elaborately designed. The cross wasn’t beautiful. He was nailed to that cross made of trees, and He died an agonizing death after being beaten and bruised for OUR sins. That cross wasn’t beautiful at all, but it symbolizes the greatest gift that we could ever receive. For when He died on that cross and was resurrected three days later as promised and foretold, the gift of eternal salvation was given to you and to me. All we have to do is accept the gift. We have to accept with our whole heart and our whole mind that God loves us so much that He gave His Son to save us. If we only accept the gift, believe that He did this for us, and confess our sins, we receive the gift of eternal salvation. This gift is totally free for you and for me, but consider the cost.

Yes, I will hang this cross on my wall, and I will remember the sweet gentleman who gifted it to me. But more than that, I will look upon this lovely cross and remember that old tree. I will remember what it cost my Savior to save an old wretch like me. How about you? Do you remember the cross? Have you accepted the greatest gift ever?

DON’T LET THE BUZZARDS WIN

Matthew 24:28 Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

I Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

One of my favorite times of the year is calving season. It’s going on right now! The cows of Hodge Lodge have already gifted us with two beautiful bull calves and one beautiful heifer calf in the past week. I love critters of all kinds, all shapes, and all sizes, but I especially love new born baby critters. Calving season is also a great adventure. Those mama cows have their babies, and then due to natural instincts of protection, hide those babies out of site. When we go to check on the cows and the calves, it is akin to the great Easter egg hunt. We load up in the side by side and ride the pastures seeking and finding cute little newborn calves. It’s actually quite fun and something that I enjoy doing with my husband.

However, calving season isn’t always cute surprises and sunshine. There is a lot of work involved before and after, but there are also times of heartbreak. A couple of days ago, we rode over to check the cows, and as soon as we opened the gate to the pasture, a flock of about twenty buzzards flew up into the sky. That’s always a bad sign! We located the new babies and saw that they were all looking fit and fine, and we continued to ride around the pasture. We soon came upon the remains of a newborn calf carcass. The buzzards had already devoured about 80% of the poor baby calf. Our hearts sank. There wasn’t anything that we could do to save it, yet our minds still wondered what happened. We know that the buzzards are opportunists. They will feed on afterbirth left in the fields. They will even feed on a newborn calf if the mama doesn’t clean it up right away and move it out of the open pasture (thus the hide the baby part.) We began a search for the mama, and when we came upon black cow mama #2, we found a mama with a gaunt appearance. Her big belly was no longer present. She wasn’t due to deliver just yet, so it appears that she gave birth prematurely. The calf more than likely wasn’t mature enough to sustain life, and therefore, it’s demise lead to a lofty meal for the buzzards.

So, you wonder, where is this girl going with this today? I’m going to tell you. I started thinking about the immaturity of the calf and the opportunist attack of the buzzards, and I realized that this happens all too often in the human spectrum of life. Think about it friends. When we are immature in our spiritual walk with Christ, every opportunist in the world is seeking after our soul. Those opportunists are led by Satan, and we know the Bible tells us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). If we aren’t truly living for Christ, we are but a shell of a man or woman. We are no more than a carcass, and wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather (Matthew 24:28). If we aren’t maturing in our daily walk with Christ, we are going to get devoured!

I know that this is a strange analogy, but life is strange, Peeps. Life is hard. Every day can be a struggle to keep on surviving. Yes, we are going to stumble, and we are going to fall, but by the grace and strength of God, we can get up. We don’t have to lie there and let the buzzards of the world devour us. We have Christ! We can mature in Christ daily, but how? The answer is simple. Get to know Him. Read the instruction manual: the Bible. Study His Word. Pray. Talk to our Lord and Savior. Grow that relationship, and the maturity that we seek will come. When your faith is feeling weak, remember that Matthew 17:20 tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard see, we can move mountains! Don’t let the buzzards feast on you! Don’t let the buzzards of this old world win! Get up, clean up, and go rest in the safe arms of our Lord!

A SOLID OAK

Isaiah 61:3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Monday was Labor Day. What do you do on Labor Day? Well, you labor, of course! We chose that day to clean and bleach the porches and the back deck, the deck furniture, and to do a little weeding. After my husband, Jeff, had sprayed the whole world down with bleach, I looked up and noticed the gutters over the back of the house. They were so grimy and dirty thanks to all the trees overlooking the back deck. I grabbed a ladder, and Jeff sprayed the gutters down with bleach. He began washing the debris away with a water hose. After he had already climbed up and down the ladder a few times with me handing him the hose each time, he said, “When I get up there, hand me the hose.” Well, I thought, “that’s what we’ve been doing.” Jeff disappeared, and I thought that he went to get a bucket for the roof debris. BUT the next thing I hear is Jeff calling my name. I ran around outside looking for him to no avail. I called out asking him where he was, and he said, “I’m up here on the roof.” I climbed the ladder quickly. I could not see him. So, I asked where, and he said words that made my heart sink, “I slipped and fell.” He quickly added, “But it’s okay. This oak tree caught me.” He told me that he had climbed out of my study window onto the roof. The roof was slippery from the green mildew from the constant tree coverage, and he lost his footing. He fell down, and he would have fallen off the roof onto the ground below….a thirty foot drop! Jeff said that he almost cut that tree down this year because of fear of the damage it would cause if we had a hurricane. BUT GOD!

Our God, so loving and full of mercy and grace, planted that oak tree right there beside our house in exactly the right spot so that decades later it would be a strong, solid oak tree that prevented my sweet husband from falling off the roof. Being in the medical field, I instantly thought of the what if’s…if he had fallen he would have definitely sustained broken bones, possibly a broken back or neck, it could have ended in paralysis. Labor Day could have ended in a very different way for the Hodge family. BUT GOD! God rescued Jeff with a solid oak tree, and we were able to grill brisket burgers with all the kids and the grandkids later that night. BUT GOD!

I was telling my sister about our adventure, and that I was going to share it in a devotional. We talked about the strength of that oak tree and the fact that God knew exactly where it needed to be and when it needed to be there for such a time as this! But then, my sister also pointed out the symbolism of an oak tree. Spiritually, a strong, towering oak tree symbolizes strength, wisdom, and healing. They prove time and again to embody beauty and power. Some refer to someone who possesses wisdom or knowledge as an oak. In the Bible, the term oak symbolizes righteousness, righteousness as a gift from God, and therefore, life-giving and enduring, and in their beauty and strength manifesting His glory. Wow!

Most of us don’t need a literal oak tree to catch us when we fall, but boy oh boy do we need oak trees in our life. We definitely need the ever present, all consuming presence and guidance of our Lord and Savior to rescue us on a daily basis. And He knows this all too well. Thankfully, God plants oak trees in our lives. He places people around us who are righteous, beautiful, and strong. Those people are our oaks. They rescue us, help keep us on the right path, and through their acts manifest the true glory of our Savior.

Ponder on this a bit today. Look around and think about all the oaks that God has planted in your life over the years. Say a prayer of gratitude for them. Perhaps even reach out and give those oaks a big old hug. And thank God! I have said at least a hundred prayers of gratitude in the last twenty four hours. I’m so very thankful for the literal oak next to my house, and all the figurative oaks that surround me daily!

EXILED

Jeremiah 29:5-11 Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

I prefaced today’s devotional with a bit longer scripture reading than normal, but sometimes you have to read the scripture in context to absorb the meaning. And many times, we need to be fully reminded that God never fails His children. He hasn’t forgotten us! We may feel that we are in exile now, but He’s going to bring us out of exile.

The people of Jerusalem had been exiled to Babylon. They were in a foreign land with foreign people, and they must have felt so alone. I think we can all relate. Our country does not look like our home any longer. COVID 19 has wreaked havoc on the country. Jobs have been lost. Work places are more stressful. The country is divided in more ways than one. We may feel completely alone and isolated. We may feel like we are in exile. So what do we do today while we wait through our period of exile? Let’s just wallow in our grief and depression as we wait for our rescue. That’ll show them all, right? WRONG!

The people of Jerusalem likely felt a lot of the things we are feeling right now. God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, and He gave him some specific instructions. We can’t sit around and wallow in the self pity. We have to continue to live. We can live expectantly knowing that God is with us through our trials, and although we may feel isolated, we are never truly alone.

In verses 5-7, Jeremiah tells the people that God said to actively participate in life even though they are in exile. He told them to build houses, get married, have children, and multiply. He told them to plant gardens and eat the produce. He told the people to increase, not decrease, and to seek the good in the city in which they have been deported to and to pray to Lord, and they would prosper. We may feel alone and isolated right now, but we must continue to actively participate during this time of exile. We should be building relationships, constructing and not destroying. We need to plant things in our lives and nourish these things. We must increase our relationships and the depths of those relationships. And while we are doing this, we must look for the good in all of it. No matter how bad things look, there will always be some good to be found.

In verses 8-9, Jeremiah reminds the people that they must continue to pursue God. There will be false teachers and those around us that will deceive us. Have you watched the news lately? Or have you scanned through social media? If so, you can relate to these verses. There is so much deceit being spewed by public leaders and public figures, on the news, and shared on the web. We must protect ourselves from the lies. How do we do that? Pursue the truth. If we are pursuing God, staying in His Word, and asking for discernment, we will be protected from the lies. You won’t know a lie is a lie if you don’t know what is true. Learn the Word, cling to the truth. Pursue God during this time of exile.

Lastly, in verse 10, Jeremiah tells the people that they have to be patient. Oh man! That’s the hard part. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Oh, but friends, we have nothing but time on our hands while we await the restoration. Jeremiah assured the people that God would come and get the people of Israel and restore them. It was a promise from God, and we all know that God doesn’t break promises. The people had to patiently await the time of rescue from exile.

We are in a time of exile right now. We may not have been literally moved from our homes and been taken to a foreign land, but we each may feel our own particular kind of isolation. We aren’t the people of Jerusalem that were exiled to Baylon for 70 years, but we feel the weight of the wait. The wait may be long, and the extreme heaviness of the weight of the wait may seem unbearable, but Peeps, we are not in this alone. God already knew in advance everything that would be going on in our lives right now. He may be allowing these things to grow us in our relationship with Him. He may be allowing this so that we can plant more seeds. He may be allowing these things to occur so that the number of believers may increase. I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I do know with all of my heart that I am not alone. You are not alone. We can endure the weight of the wait if we continue to pursue God while we wait. Be patient. He hasn’t forgotten us. He will restore us. God has plans for each and every one of us, plans for welfare, not disaster, and plans for a future and a hope!
KK

IF JESUS COMES TOMORROW

Matthew 24:36 However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

Matthew 25:13 So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Hebrews 9:28 So also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting on him.

When I work out in each morning, I listen to You Tube videos of a variety of Christian music. This fine morning, I chose “Greatest Hits Gospel Country Songs 70s-80s-90s,” and I heard a song that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m not sure who was singing the version I heard today, but a Google search revealed that Owen Mac wrote the song. The words resonated in my mind, and I need to share them with you. The lyrics pose several important questions. “If Jesus comes tomorrow to spend some time with you, would you answer all His questions or lie to hide the truth? Would you welcome Him with open arms or even let Him in? If Jesus calls your number could you leave today? Are you ready to lay down your wordly goods and walk away? Would it take a month of Sundays just to tell Him of your sin? If the sky turns black as midnight in the middle of the day, and somehow you knew that Jesus would soon be on His way, would you have to beg forgiveness? Or could you reach out and take His hand. If Jesus comes tomorrow, WHAT THEN?”

The older I get, the more ready I am for His return. As I child, I knew Christ. I knew that I was saved. I knew I had a heavenly home, but in my childlike mind, I wasn’t ready to go there. If I were asked these questions as a child, my answer would be, “Don’t come yet, Lord. I have so many things that I need to accomplish first.” Yes, I always had things on my mind. I wanted to grow up, go to college, have a career, get married, have children, and live life. Yes, I had much to accomplish!

I have always been a “list” kind of person. Every day of the week there is list in my head, on notebook paper, or in my phone of the things I need to accomplish that day. I go so far as to set allotted times in my brain in which the tasks must be accomplished. Yes, I’m a planner. But through the years, I’ve learned that I’m not in control, and many days, the list gets thrown out because life just gets in the way. I’ve gradually learned that I’m not in control of my day. I just don’t have that much power!

BUT, what if we knew that Jesus was coming tomorrow? What then? Really, Peeps, what then? Would we be living differently today? Would we change anything about our busy schedule? Would we be reaching out to lost friends and relatives sharing the gospel like it was the last chance for a lost world to be saved…because it really was the last chance? Think about that for a moment. What then?

Fun, or maybe not so fun, fact…we don’t know when Jesus is coming back. It could be twenty years from now. It could be next year. He could come back next week. He may return tomorrow. Actually, He could call today! This thought excites me, yet at the same time saddens me. I’m ready to go. I’m ready for heaven right this very second, BUT I have so many friends and loved ones who haven’t made a decision to follow Christ. There are many who won’t share the glory of heaven with me if Jesus comes tomorrow because those people have never received the gift of salvation.

Friends, we live in a lost and dying world. If Jesus comes tomorrow, many will spend eternity separated from the Father. They will spend eternity in hell. It’s our job, our calling, to share the gospel with others. And oh my goodness, the way this world looks today, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if God said, “Okay Son, today’s the day. Bring my people home.” We need to be living like today is the last day in our temporary home. We must make sure that we are ready, and we must share this important message of the gospel as often as possible. Jesus is coming….are you ready?

WHO AM I?

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

Who am I? Why am I here? Those questions have been asked by the masses for years. I am not who the world says I am. I am who GOD says I am, and the answers to the questions are found right there in black and white (and sometimes red) in the instruction manual for life: The Holy Bible. You are not the color of your skin. You are not the product of a broken home. You are not the ugliest one or the prettiest one in the room. You are not the expensive clothes nor the rags that you may be wearing. You are oh so much more. Get your Bibles ready, Peeps. We are fixing to go for a ride through the manual!

First and foremost, I am a child of God. John 1:12 confirms this. All who received Him and believed in His name have the right to become children of God. I am God’s kid! He’s my heavenly Daddy! I have an absolutely awesome earthly daddy, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but isn’t it grand to know that we are God’s kids. The Creator of the universe, God Almighty, Maker of the heavens and the earth, is my Daddy! If that doesn’t get you excited, you better check your pulse!

Turn to Romans 8:17. This one will blow you away. Because I am God’s kid, I am a fellow heir with Christ! Say what? Yep. It’s right there in Romans 8:17. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” I’m a co-heir with Christ for the entire kingdom of God. So it doesn’t really matter that I don’t have the nicest house or car or clothes or whatever, I’m an heir to the kingdom of God! This place is only my temporary home. Jesus is preparing my heavenly digs right now. It’s pretty cool being the kid of God, huh?

Now, flip over to John 15:15. Jesus tells us here that we are His friends. Peeps, I have some pretty terrific friends, some longer than others and truer than others, but all in all, I have some great friends in my corner. I have friends that I can talk to when I’m up, when I’m down, and anytime in between, and I’m so grateful for the people God has placed in my life. But y’all, we have an even better friend than our bestest friend! We have a friend in Jesus. He is the truest friend we will ever know. He died for us. He suffered for us. He rose again for us. You are never alone in this lonely world, my friend, because there is one friend who never leaves, and He is available 24/7. He is my Friend.

I know that I’m skipping around the manual a bit, but bear with me. There’s so much good stuff in the Book, I’m trying to share a bit of it this morning. Next, I want you to read Ephesians 2:10. This scripture assures us that God doesn’t make junk. We are God’s handiwork. He created us to do good works, and in fact he predestined us to do so. God created me to do what He wants me to do, and therefore, He equipped me with the ability to carry out those tasks. If I follow His lead, I can accomplish anything! Psalm 139:14 reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. How awesome is it that the Creator of the universe thought enough about me to knit me together in my mother’s womb to be the person that He wanted me to be. He designed me specifically for His good works, and though I feel flawed in numerous ways, I know that I’m not junk! I’m God’s handiwork!

I don’t have to walk through this crazy life under my own power. Nope! I have direct access to my heavenly Daddy, and I can go to Him with boldness and confidence. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12 Think about that for a moment, and I bet you will be in awe. There are a lot of powerful people in this world, and we know who they are, but we don’t really have access to them. There are presidents and governors, prime ministers, and kings throughout the world. We know their power and authority, but we don’t know them. How great is it that we know the Creator of the universe, and we have a direct all access line to Him 24 hours a day 7 days a week? This is reaffirmed in Hebrews 4:16. We can confidently approach the throne of God everyday, all day long.

Finally, I know that I am not condemned by God. Oh, yes, man may condemn us. We may suffer long and hard as we walk through this temporary land, but I have a hope and a future with Christ in my permanent dwelling place. I have been set free from the law of sin and death. I have been promised eternal life. Romans 8:1-2 shares this truth. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” This life we are walking through now can be aggravating and stressful to say the least, but it is not the end of the story. We may feel beaten at the end of each day, but don’t forget that our victory has already been won. We have an eternal home waiting for us with our heavenly Daddy!

I’m going to close now, although I found hundreds more scriptures that tell me who I am in Christ. If you aren’t sure of your identity, I challenge you to read the instruction manual. I bet you will find out who you really are. I know for sure that I am a child of God, and I pray that if you don’t know Him, you go and meet Him today!
KK

SECRET SERVICE CHRISTIAN?

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 5:13-15 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

Are you a secret service Christian? I’m not talking about a missionary who is living and working in a country were Christians are persecuted for sharing the word of God and have to share the gospel cautiously. I’m talking about how we serve the Lord right here at home. I listen to the radio while driving, and I recall hearing a preacher use the phrase “secret service Christian,” and it got me to thinking. When I was young in my walk with Christ, I wasn’t nearly as vocal about my faith as I am now. I could give you a list of numerous reasons, or rather excuses, why I didn’t share my faith. I was very shy. I was afraid of controversy. I was secure in knowing where my final destination would be, and I thought that was enough. I had accepted Christ as my Savior, and I didn’t need to share Him. As I grew in my faith, I realized that was not enough. I was being extremely selfish. I had the knowledge of the BEST news in the world, and I was keeping it all to myself. I was being a secret service Christian. I was serving God in a very secret way. I was so secretive, I was keeping things just between Him and I. Boy oh boy, I was really missing out on the big picture. I really wasn’t serving anyone but myself.

God didn’t design us to merely come to Christ. He designed us to glorify Him. He wants a relationship with us and with others. He desires for us to share the gospel with the world. Paul reminds us of this In Romans 10:14. How can one believe if they have never heard, and how will they hear if no one shares the Word? We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. We are charged with the duty of sharing Christ with others. We can’t keep Him all to ourselves.

Jesus says that we are the salt and the light. In Biblical times, salt was used as a preservative. They didn’t have refrigerators or freezers. Salt was applied to foods to preserve the foods for future use. Jesus tells that we are to be the salt, but if the salt loses it saltiness, it is no longer good. That sounds strange to us because salt is salt. It doesn’t lose its saltiness. What did Jesus mean that salt could lose its saltiness? Salt wasn’t exactly the same compound that it is now. It wasn’t pure sodium chloride. It was a weakened form. If a rain poured over the salt, it diluted the crystals, and then the salt literally was no longer salty. It was of no use. It lost its preservative value and also its flavor. Salt that doesn’t preserve and is tasteless is of no use. If we’ve lost our saltiness, we are of no use to Christ. Can we say ouch? If we aren’t actively working to preserve others by sharing the gospel and bring in the flavor of Christ to our conversations, we are not being the people that Christ called us to be. We serve Christ by being salty. Are you a salty, showing others how to preserve everlasting life and adding flavor to the lives of those you come in contact with, or have you lost your saltiness?

Jesus also calls us the light of the world. We know that Jesus is the true light, but as Christians and followers of Christ, we are to reflect Christ. Just as the moon reflects the sun, we are to reflect the Son. We should be reflecting Christ in the way that we are living, speaking, and loving on the world around us. Many people will never step a foot into a church building. Many will not openly ask you to tell them about Christ, but we should be reflecting Christ so brightly that everyone can see Him in us. The Holy Spirit resides within each and every Christian. The light within us should be shining so vibrantly that we couldn’t put it out if we wanted to. When we realize that the light of Jesus within us is the only Jesus some people will ever see, we should glow brighter than ever. We serve Christ by being a reflection of Him. Do others see Christ in you? Are you reflecting the Son, or are you getting burned by the sin that surrounds us?

I know it’s hard to share your faith. It’s scary, but Peeps, we need to share our faith like lives depend on it, because quite frankly, they do! We can’t be happy being secret service Christians. We must be full service Christians. Be the salt and the light. Share the Good News. Don’t be selfish and keep Jesus all to yourself. Everybody needs to know Him!

GET YOUR WORSHIP ON

Ecclesiates 5:1-2 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Getting ready for worship can be compared to getting ready for a journey. When we are preparing for a trip, we pack our bags, we set our destination, and we begin the journey. Some of the travelers with you are giggly and happy, some are looking out the window bored to death, one or two may be looking at their phones, and many are looking at their watches and asking “are we there yet?” I thought about all of the things I’ve seen while traveling whether it be a plane trip with a group of strangers or a long road trip with my beloved family, and I can tell you, I’ve witnessed all of the above. Sadly, I can say that I’ve seen the same things during our worship services as well.

Don’t get me wrong, Peeps. I’m talking to myself too. I’m definitely not perfect, and I’ve been guilty of all of the things I listed above while attending worship. The reason I’m sharing this today is because I want to make sure that while I’m on my journey, I’m a little bit better prepared for the destination. For you see, when we attend worship, our destination is to meet God. We should be journeying to meet our Almighty Father, and not simply enduring the worship service.

Sunday mornings are tough. I wrote a chapter called “Sunday mornings ain’t easy round here” for my last book. Trust me, I know. There is so much to do before leaving the house on Sunday mornings from cooking to cleaning to getting children dressed, finding lost shoes, battling the evil forces that are trying to keep us home, and so much more. Sometimes just arriving in the parking lot feels like we’ve accomplished what we have set out to do. But that is not it, Peeps. We can’t just keep arriving, sitting through the worship service, and then leaving unchanged. We go to church to worship our Lord and Savior and spend a little blessed time with Him in His presence with other believers and even some non-believers.

We go to church to worship. How do we get our minds and hearts ready when we already have so much other stuff on our minds taking our focus away from true worship? We have to prepare for the journey. We first have to get ready to meet God. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes to guard our steps when we go into the house of the Lord. When we enter the physical building or even the spiritual presence of our Lord, we must be reverent and respectful. Remember Moses and the burning bush? He took his sandals off because he was standing on holy ground. He had complete respect and reverence of that place because he was in the presence of God. We also have to pray. We must pray for God to open our hearts to receive His word, and then the important part, we have to really listen to hear what He is telling us. We must humble ourselves before God, and recognize his sovereignty. We need to remember what He did on the cross for each of us. We must remember the great love that our Lord has for us. Next, is the fun part. We get to get our praise on! I love singing praise songs, hearing praise songs, and enjoying praise and worship time with our church family. I can’t be still. I move a bit here and there wiggling with the music. I get so excited singing praises to our Savior. When the praise songs end, true worship should begin. As the pastor leads in scripture reading and preaches the Word, our hearts should be fully prepared to receive the message. Our journey is really beginning now. We journey through the Word of God. We fill our spiritual bellies. We get fed in the Spirit, and oh how we hunger for the food of the Spirit. Finally, we leave that place or worship, refreshed, renewed, and ready to share what we’ve learned with others.

Worship service can either be a boring trip to church and home, or it can be a marvelous journey. We can muddle through, or we can marvel at the wonders as we travel on our great journey to our destination to have an up close and personal meeting with Christ. So what do you say, Peeps? Are you going on a mundane journey of same old same, or are you preparing for awesomeness this week? I’m not planning to just have a nice trip. I’m getting ready for an AWESOME ride!