Christian

A True Story You Won’t Forget

Once there was a very popular preacher. So many people crowded into his church services, the church had to be enlarged. He frequently preached at other churches, as is often the case with popular ministers.

The preacher wrote beautiful Christian songs, that were also popular with churchgoers.  Soon be began a series of weekly prayer meetings in addition to regular services.

What made this preacher so special? I believe it was his life journey.

All the experiences in our past have shaped us into the person we are today. This preacher, at one time, was a vile sinner, cruel and having a hardened heart; a man without compassion or mercy.

Is it possible for such a person to have a complete turnaround? Can a hardened sinner become a saint? Can a depraved evildoer become a man (or woman) of God?

Ask the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair,  anointing them with costly perfume. When an indignant Pharisee questioned Jesus about allowing this sinful woman (probably a prostitute) to touch him, Jesus said this:

 “I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.” Luke 7:47

Read the full story HERE.

Have you guessed the identity of the preacher, yet? You won’t find him on YouTube or TV. He was born in 1725.

Before he gave his life to Christ, he was the captain of slave ships. I can only imagine the horror of such ships, but it is well documented that slave ships provided such wretched accommodations that many men, women, and children died before arriving at their intended destination. In the words of a former slave, Olaudah Equiano, “The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying rendered the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable.”

Who was this forgiven reprobate turned preacher-songwriter?

His name is John Newton and he wrote these famous words:  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”

This celebrated hymn touches my soul because I know that what God’s grace and mercy did for John Newton, He did for me.

As you listen to Amazing Grace, thank God for his mercy and forgiveness. The more we have been forgiven, the more we love Him. That’s what Jesus said.

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 KJV

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:5 NIV

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

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From Amazing Grace: The Story of John Newton by Al Rogers

Christian

Where Has God Asked You to Love?

My job (and ministry) is in a middle school. You know, where kids know how to push your buttons and are exercising their desire to rebel against authority.

Maybe God hasn’t put anyone “hard to love” in your life, but I bet He has. I only know that what God has asked me to to do isn’t easy and even though I am willing – I keep failing over and over.

What is our mission?

It is to love!

Sometimes I wonder why He has called me to love those “not easy to love”. I’m not good at it! I lose my temper. I get angry. I lecture. I utter those horrible teacher words, “I’m done!”

The kind of love God expects us to show to others is not a feeling. It is an action. It can be very hard to show agape love. Where is your mission field? Do you sometimes find it difficult to show love to people there?

Over 20 years ago, God showed me something that I will never forget. At the time, I was very involved in women’s ministry, but I became increasingly disturbed by some of the teaching in my church. I asked God to show me where my focus should be.

I asked Him to show me the main idea of the New Testament. I felt like my focus was on the wrong things. In desperation, I read the New Testament through three times in a row.

In a notebook, I kept track of how often various subjects were discussed, such as hope, faith, prosperity, love, spiritual warfare, etc.

I discovered that love was the most frequently taught subject by far! There was no doubt about it. God was showing me, through my crisis, that love, agape love, was very important to Him and my focus should be there.

I began an in depth study on agape love, looking for every Biblical reference. I studied Greek and Hebrew definitions. I wrote. I read. I studied.

love is patient2I Corinthians 13:4-8

I can’t do it in my own strength. God must do it through me. Every day, I must pray for God’s power to dwell in me. Once we realize that we can’t do it ourselves, we have passed Lesson 1.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (NIV)

Lesson 2: Let our day begin with prayer. “Father, Show the Savior’s love through me today. Teach me to love.” And pray for them. Ask God to help you see the good things about them, not just what they do wrong.

Lesson 3: Study God’s Word about love and be changed. Start with I Corinthians 13. Meditate on it. Study it. How does it apply to my life?

“Love is patient.”  I Corinthians 13:4a

(I don’t know about you, but I need to meditate on these 3 words for at least a week!)

The Greek word for patient is makrothumeo. It means “slow to anger”.

“Being slow to anger does not mean that one does not care, but rather that he has his emotions under control.” (Detzler)

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)

According to Vine’s Bible Dictionary, “Patience is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate.”

Webster defines patience as “enduring … trouble with composure and without complaining; refusing to be provoked …”

Note: I wrote this post about a year ago, but I find myself once again needing His strength and His grace to do the very thing He has asked me to do – love those God has put in my path – and show them God’s unconditional love.

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

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Christian

My First Love

I was stopped in my tracks as I read the letter to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-6).

1″I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary … 6You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”

It sounds like a strong church! But one thing is going to bring them down. What is it?

4 “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

How had they changed? What things did they stop doing?

The Amplified Bible says, “… you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me].”

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” he replied,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37

I began to ponder this. How do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind? Would we even know if we, like the Church at Ephesus, left our first love? I’m sure the Ephesians thought they loved the Lord with all their hearts. After all, look at all the great things they were  doing. But something must have changed.

I have searched the Scriptures, prayed, and asked other Christians, seeking the answer to this question: What does it mean to love the Lord with your whole heart?

Is it an emotion? An act of our will? Obedience? Praise?

Is it possible that the Ephesians went about the activities of church life, minus the passion of one who has been forgiven? Did they forget how thankful they once were for His forgiveness and love?

I can only infer that as we go about the business of “church”, it is possible to do many good things, yet forget how we first loved Him.

Perhaps now we are busy doing (like Martha) instead of sitting at His feet (like Mary).

The importance  of “loving God with all my heart” has been on my mind for several weeks. I ask myself, Do I love Jesus with all my heart? And more importantly, what does Jesus think?

I started thinking about how I show love to my children. For one thing, I tell them – a lot!. So last night I started my prayer like this:

Lord, I love you. I love you with all my heart and soul and mind. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins. I remember how on fire I was for you when I first experienced the forgiveness that “washed me white as snow” and “removed my sins “as far as the east is from the west”.

 My heart was flooded with peace because the heaviness of my soul, the anguish of guilt vanished.. I remember how I devoured the Scriptures as I discovered your promises. Give me a heart like David, whose Psalms reflect his deep love for you …..

So let us think back to how we first loved Him. Let us ask ourselves, Do I tell Him that I love Him everyday? And let us ask Him to help us to never forsake the love we had at first.

Scriptures

 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:11-13

Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

realchristianwomen.blog 

Bible, Christian, prayer

Holiday Blues

Do the holidays trigger thoughts of what should have been instead of what is? Are you feeling lonely? The strange thing about depression is that it seems to take your mind captive. You may think you can’t stop the downward spiral.

The next thing you know, you’re driving to the grocery to buy food for the holidays and tears begin to well up in your eyes. You hate it. You don’t want to be sad!

I know all about it because I experienced this yesterday.

I prayed. I asked the Lord to help me.

Just a few minutes later, my daughter called. (You should know, she loves to cook. I mean really cook, like they do on TV Cooking Shows. I, on the other hand, look for the easiest and quickest recipe possible.)

Chris: “Mom, would you get me a butternut squash while you’re at the store?”

Me: “Do you mean like a real vegetable butternut squash?” (I’m thinking does that come in a package?)

Chris: (starts laughing hilariously) “Yes! A real vegetable butternut squash!!”

We both cracked up and had a good belly laugh! It felt so good to laugh!

Guess what? My mood completely changed right then

I learned a valuable, yet simple lesson yesterday about holiday blues.

  1. Always go to the Lord in prayer.
  2. Find a way to laugh!

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Mathew 6:8

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

A book could be written on this subject, and I know that, but this is what happened to me. Sometimes a person needs a word of encouragement, not the whole book.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . . Psalm 25:1-2

Merry Christmas Everyone!

(And laugh a little today!)

This is, My Journey Unscripted.

With Love, Cindy

IF YOU HAVE NEVER ASKED JESUS TO BE YOUR SAVIOR:

“IF YOU CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH, ‘JESUS IS LORD,’ AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. FOR IT IS WITH YOUR HEART THAT YOU BELIEVE AND ARE JUSTIFIED, AND IT IS WITH YOUR MOUTH THAT YOU CONFESS AND ARE SAVED. AS THE SCRIPTURE SAYS, ANYONE WHO TRUSTS IN HIM WILL NEVER BE PUT TO SHAME.”   JOHN 10:9-11

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Christian

Why Do I Blog? To Be Followed or To Follow Him?

Corrie ten Boom said, “If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following you.” And she is someone whose advice I respect.

So why do we blog? Why do we write? As Christian writers, we say it’s to tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ and His love. But we must be careful that our ultimate desire is to follow Him, not to be followed. He will guide us by His Word.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105 NIV

This is especially true for those of us who want people to follow our blog, FaceBook, or Instagram. Although we are encouraged when readers decide to follow us, that cannot be our guiding force.

What good would it be if millions followed our blog, but God wasn’t using it to speak to any of them? It would be better, by far, to reach a handful of people that God was using us to encourage and bring hope.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” –Francis Chan

Acts 20:20 states that Paul taught “from house to house”. And in verse 24, he says, “In every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

The Apostle Paul risked his life to teach from house to house. I was struck by the fact that he did not consider himself too important to reach out to a small number of people.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, He will accomplish His purpose in our lives and in our writing.

Should we develop our skills and study our craft in order to be the best writer we can be? Absolutely!  The Bible says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord … It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

I am convinced that the more closely I follow Him, the more He will use me. We must not despise the day of small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) If only one person is encouraged by what you wrote, God has used you! God cares about individual people.

Jesus said, See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. Matthew 18:10-14

Nothing thrills me more than for a reader to tell me, “I needed this!” or “This spoke to me.” Then I know that God has used me.

May we always follow Him with our whole heart and pray that He will use us to accomplish His purposes in our writing.

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

¹Corrie ten Boom is the author of The Hiding Place.

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Christian

Lord, Teach Me to Pray

Two years ago, I had no idea I was going to write a blog. I had no idea my daughter would lead worship in my church. I had no idea God was getting ready to change my life.

But God had His plan working all along, even though I was completely unaware of what He was doing! He already knew these things would happen. I have prayed frequently and asked God to do many things, but I haven’t always seen the answers I hoped for. Finally, I asked Jesus to teach me to pray.

I learned I was right to ask Jesus to teach me how to pray. He has already taught me something new! Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…: Matthew 6:9-10 NIV

What does that have to do with effectual prayer? Everything! Because, I don’t need to go to God with a list of things for Him to do. What do the words mean “hallowed be your name”? Hallowed means: honored as holy, blessed, greatly revered, respected, honored and worshiped.

Let’s think about that for a minute. When we go to the Father in prayer, let us worship Him. Let us adore Him and recognize the character of our God. Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise.

Then Jesus said, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

God has shown me that the key to effectual prayer is not about me. It’s not about my ability to pray. It’s about Him! I’ve been too focused on myself instead of on Him!  

Let Jesus teach us to pray. Let us worship the Father. Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise. Then, let us pray for His will to be done in our life, in our church, in our city, and all over the world. He has a plan that is better than all we can ask or imagine! 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Ephesians 3:20 NIV

The words of the hymn are true, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” But, let us have a new and deeper revelation of His greatness and love. Let us revere and love Him as we should. We can find words to praise Him throughout the Psalms! Here are just a few key verses:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. You have set your glory above the heavens…. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him… that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1-4 NIV

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord who is worthy of praise….” Psalm 18:1-3a NIV

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.” Psalm 25:1-2a NIV

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep…. How priceless is your unfailing love!” Psalm 36:5-7 NIV

Ask Jesus to teach you to pray!

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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Christian

When Life Isn’t Fair

Has something very unfair happened to you? It might be an unfaithful spouse, slander/ lies, you lost your job,  or anything you consider completely UNFAIR). You probably can’t believe it’s really happening to you. If your answer is yes, this is God’s promise for you:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him …” Romans 8:28 NIV

You might be thinking, “Nothing good could come from this!” But hang on….

This is one of my favorite promises. Believing the promise got me through many hard times in my life, and in the end God delivered. He worked things for good. God has done this in my life and He will do it for you!

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

While reading my Bible, I was struck by this verse. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I began to think about the story of Joseph and how there was so much to learn from his example.

Joseph was a young man who loved God, but that didn’t matter to those who hated him. They were driven by jealousy.

Because of this jealousy, the young man suffered through many great injustices. Instead of becoming bitter and vindictive, he looked to God for help. 

Let me tell you the end of the story. In Genesis 50: 20-21, Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good …” Stop and think about that for a minute!

Has someone done something to you with the intention to harm you? Remember: It isn’t over until God turns it around for good!

Insights from the life of Joseph have helped me through many trials. As I summarize, put yourself in Joseph’s place. Think about it happening to you.

Joseph’s brothers hated him, really hated him! They were so jealous of him, they plotted to kill him and and then tell their father that he was killed by a wild animal.

One of the brothers talked the others into just leaving him in an empty well. (He planned to secretly come back and rescue Joseph.) But the brothers saw a caravan of merchants approaching and decided to sell Joseph to them.

The merchants traveled to Egypt and sold Joseph to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. (Can things get worse?) Yes!

Potiphar put Joseph in prison for tying to rape his wife (something he didn’t do). After languishing in this dungeon for years, Joseph finally got out of prison. This is where things get better. Joseph was promoted to the highest position in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

When Joseph was sold by his brothers, he was 17. When he became leader over all of Egypt, he was 30. Thirteen years of unfair life events! But the Bible says that when he was sold to Potiphar, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered…” Genesis 39:2

When Joseph was put in prison, “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” Genesis 39: 21 & 23 

***************

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him …” Romans 8:28 NIV

God will work everything for good in your life “if you love him”. It doesn’t say “if you have been a pretty good Christian and always went to church. It says, “if you love him.” It doesn’t say “if you have never sinned”. It says “if you love him”. It doesn’t say “if you deserve it”. It says, IF YOU LOVE HIM”.

If you are a Christian and you love God, He will work all things for good! Trust Him.

 A PRAYER

Father in Heaven, Your word promises that in all things, you will work for the good of those who love you. I love you Lord, and surrender my life to you, for You, O God, are my refuge and my shield, I have put my hope in your word. Those who know your name trust in you, for you have never forsaken those who seek you. I trust in your unfailing love. I love you, O Lord, my strength. You are my rock and my fortress, my deliverer! To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul, in you I trust. O Lord, you are close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. How priceless is your unfailing love. I will not fear, for you are with me. Thank you, Lord, for your precious word, for your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I love you, O Lord, my Savior and my Strength. Amen

(Inspired from the Psalms – Through the Psalms, we learn how to praise Him. It will lead us into His presence. )

Read all about Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50

 There is so much more to learn! God will speak encouragement to your heart. 

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

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