Plans To Prosper You

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Abundant Fruits

In these days of political unrest, accusations, and frustrations, you’d think there would be more who look for the fruits… But I’m finding few look for the fruits of the spirit, and even fewer of the fruits can be found. Even in so-called Christians.

At first I thought I was missing something, and then I realized it isn’t just me, there are many who aren’t finding the fruits they’re looking for in others… Oh, there’s plenty of judgment to go around, several times… I’ve been judged repeatedly, and often misjudged, but still… Those who are most intent on judging me for my political choices, rail against my ‘moral ineptitude’ all while wasting their own moral choices on non-sequiturs who can’t possibly achieve the goal.

The goal being to turn our nation around without a brutal war…

“Vengeance is mine,” sayeth the Lord, and yet so many believe ‘we’ need to ignite the war ourselves. I’m not buying it…

Blessed are those who mournAs I mourn for the nation that I was born into, I hear many cry out for war against the ills that are befalling us, and yet, there is that promise of being comforted by God. We cry out for God’s blessing, God’s comfort over our land, and even more for His protection. The trouble with those prayers for comfort, blessing, and protection is that we forget what must come first. For those of you who don’t know that there’s work to be done before God will bless our nation, and before he will lift a finger to protect our nation, I’m going to share the reality here —-

Turn from Your Wicked Ways

We are called to humble ourselves before God, seek His face, and pray, turning from our wicked ways, so that he can hear us from Heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land… folks, I think He means it.

We have to seek His face and pray.

We have to humble ourselves before God.

We have to turn from our wicked ways.

That doesn’t mean we have to have been perfect for a lifetime or that only those who have been Christians for a long time can come before God. It means that all who have sinned must turn away from the wickedness and seek God’s face. It means everyone should be praying.

It means that those who are not praying, are not seeking Him, and are not living for God are going to be set as examples. All may be persecuted, but there will be many who will turn against God, and they will be shown for who they are.

Lord, I pray for those who turn against you, for they once knew better. They once knew you! Lord, I lift them up for they know what they’ve done. I pray they turn their lives back to you and seek your face. In Jesus Holy Name, Amen.

Seek God First

A Standard Will Rise Up…

friends over coffeeIn recent days, I’ve struggled with the presence of friends who are non-believers, not that they are around me, I love them dearly, but with the consistent double standard that is pushed by them. At first, I thought it was just me, that since I choose not to be offended by their demands to be ‘respected’ and frequently offer them respect, but then during a recent conversation, I realized the double standard that comes from them, always.

After a discussion where I related my view of having ‘no God’ as being ‘we live and the we don’t’, one friend shared her view that we are a continuum of existence. While she believes there is something higher – a creator of sorts – her belief that we are energy and the energy continues in nature as part of a creation that is bigger than us. We (as people) are insignificant, and the ‘energy’ that is eternal, is the important part of our existence in her frame of reference.

She said that my believe in God, and that God sent his son to die for me (salvation) is egotistical, because I think I somehow matter more than other life forms. I have no problem being called egotistical, let’s set that right immediately, because I do believe that God created in Human Beings a SOUL and that SOUL lives for eternity. If we are believers, trusting in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our SOUL will live on in Heaven. That is MY belief and I have found that belief in the Bible. I stand firm on the foundation of my faith, the BIBLE.

My problem came from her lack of respect for my belief when she then asked, “If I hadn’t accepted Christ when I was younger, believing as I do now, where would you think I will spend eternity?”

The idea that you can ‘accept Christ’ and then stop believing in Him, doesn’t work for me.

If you don’t believe, if you can’t set aside your selfish indulgences enough to have faith in the Word of God, how can you THINK on any level that you are Saved by the GRACE of God?

It may indeed be egotistical for me to think that God would send His Son to live among men, give up His life on the Cross of Calvary, and then three days later Resurrect from the pit of Hell where He, the Son of God, paid the PRICE for Man’s SIN, and assent into Heaven where He will build a mansion and await for me, once I accept his Gracious Gift. I may be egotistical to believe that God did this for ME (and all others who believe in Him, and grow closer to Him daily). And if I am being egotistical in my belief, I will accept that as my right to feel so, given that I’ve humbly repented for my SIN and accepted God’s most Gracious Gift and by Faith chosen to follow God’s Word – the Bible – as my road map to Heaven.

I’m good with the egotistical part.

What I’m not good with, is the part where she presumes she’s going to Heaven, because sometime in her childhood, or younger days, she asked God into her heart and chooses (active choice here) not to believe that God gave His Life for Her. She’s making a CHOICE not to accept the Gracious Gift of God. Out of selfish choice, she’s made to refuse trust, based on Faith in God, because she feels like she has to KNOW all the details before she can believe in something so simple as the Creation and Salvation presented in the Bible over a few centuries of writings.

My belief in God comes from choosing to allow the words spoken in the Bible to be the PROOF necessary. Not only words spoken in the Bible, but those are enough to open the door to possibilities of truths that can’t be proven wrong by any other means… Why not believe in what has all appearances of being real – including current events, hinged on Biblical truths from centuries ago?

Believing doesn’t prevent me from having an open mind about scientific research, it just prevents me from falling into every sink-hole created by a new scientific vortex or black hole of variables that don’t really make any sense, and can’t be proven.

Yeah, I’m good with being egotistical enough to believe the Bible is God’s written ROAD MAP to Heaven. Because, in his infinite wisdom, more than a dozen decades ago, He inspired this verse, that offers so much meaning and hope for me today. “The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a STANDARD against ‘him’.” (Him, being those who rise up against Christians.) I’m a believer!

A standard against them...

Seek the Light

Seek the LightSo often the day starts out shining bright and then as life gets in the way, darkness creeps in and fills up the holes. Before long our light is dim and even though it is a fact that light can chase away shadows, our world grows dark and heavy.

My grandson recently started Kindergarten, and his mommy is being challenged beyond her nature. She’s not a fan of change herself, so having to deal with his changes, and the new schedule, plus his six year old mentality of “Why can’t I just stay home and play?” the overwhelming weight has brought her down. She doesn’t like the change, and isn’t happy with taking him to school every day when she really had wanted a different kind of education, but she realizes this change was necessary. Frustration comes when the darkness seeps in…

Helping them find a way to greet the day with a cheerful smile, happy faces, and the light of Jesus is my hope, but even I feel the weight of doom and gloom after several days of battling a six-year-old to get ready for school.

By sheer accident, I found a solution. When I get up in the morning, I set Pandora to a Christian song list, with cheery uplifting songs, and hum along. I hadn’t been listening to anything in the morning, but this station offers a selection of mixed traditional hems and children’s Christian music. Two days in, and I caught the two year old humming O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E … Can’t beat that!

Seek the light. Every time.

It will outshine any doom and gloom.

God bless your day.

Seek God First

God’s Blessing is Enough

The struggle arrives on holidays, birthdays, and vacation times, but more than any other time, it arrives when I visit my children after the in-laws have been there. My daughter-in-law comes from a family who were blessed with money, and I can’t compete.

I’ve never wanted to compete with the money… I just want to love them.

babyIn her mind, if I’m not giving her ‘things of value’ I’m not good enough. And she reminds me often that I’m not good enough to be part of her new little family.

Her new little family where my gene pool is carried through my son to their daughter…

I keep remembering a woman from their church at the wedding making a huge deal out of what an amazing family my son had married into, because they had money, connections, and ‘a life.’ All while dismissing me as the lowly poverty stricken in-law… You know, the one whose son their daughter moved in with, when they booted her ass out, because she wasn’t behaving herself? The one who raised a mature young man who wouldn’t leave their daughter on the street when they put her there? Yeah, that was me… the one so casually dismissed by their friends from church as ‘not good enough’.

Their money helps them to see my son and his family more often than I get to, and even helps them to take expensive vacations with them, to exotic places, I may never go. And that’s wonderful. I’m glad my son and his family are getting those experiences. I’m happy for them, that they have money and can afford such luxuries.

I pray every single day that my son and his family keep God first, and live their lives for Christ. I know he’s joined the military to be able to provide well for his family, and his wife is even doing her part by making baked goods and selling them to make money from home while she raises their beautiful baby girl. They are working together to make a home, and I love them both more than I even know how to express. Because, I love them.

I pray God blesses them mightily, from his abundance, and I know he will.

My son calls frequently, and we skype so I can see his baby girl as often as possible. And I know she’ll grow up knowing who Grandma is, and loving me, as I love her.

My prayer is that somehow God opens up those abundant blessings to allow me experiences with my son and his family, where I’m not treated like a second class citizen because I wasn’t born to wealth, as she feels she was.

Maybe, some day… maybe?

I pray she’s never a single mom who has to work hard to support and raise four children, and earn her way in a world where single moms are rejected and scorned. And I pray that she never experiences a world where she’s rejected because she isn’t wealthy and blessed with abundance.

And more than anything else, I pray that she never is treated by anyone as she has treated me.

Right now, I just want to Thank God, and express my gratitude that God’s blessings have been Enough. Enough to keep shelter over my children’s heads, enough to provide for my children, enough to keep us warm, safe, and protected in the storms of life that I’ve experienced. I am grateful for God’s blessings, every single day. For every single blessing, I’m eternally grateful.

Thank You

Seek God First

Prayer Garden

Finding flowers in the prayer garden was a nice surprise. I’d been seeking solutions, a way to deal with current issues, and a place to find that needed peace. But I wasn’t expecting the flowers in the garden to bring this kind of peace and rest to my heart.

I needed rest for my heart.

I felt bruised, damaged, and injured by recent events, but I knew the answer would come from prayer.

New in the community, new in the house, and I felt so totally alone. I felt as if I couldn’t deal with one more thing, and every day had been one more disaster.

Until this night.

I sat in the garden, on a small bench left by previous owners, appreciating the flowers sprinkled through overgrown evergreens. I hadn’t even had time to stroll through the garden. I hadn’t known they were there.

But now… I sat quietly appreciating the aroma of pretty flowers, delightful pine scents, and slowly dripping rain.

I felt the rain.

The thought of my mother wiping God’s blessings from her face, as she rested near the window, where she passed a few days later, came to mind. Blessings. God’s blessings came as rain, dripping from scattered clouds in the sky.

I closed my eyes to consider…

missingyouI thought about those moments, remembered the blessings that had been ours during that time, and knew… I would survive these days of struggle, and once again the sun would shine. The sun would shine.

Meanwhile, in these days of learning, I needed to experience the rain.

2 Chronicles 10:6-7
Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?” They spoke to him, saying, “If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

I knew how to lead, and I had a tender heart, but how could I continue to lead, if they did not listen. I leaned back against the tree that grew in the garden, a tree dying from lack of care over the years, but a tree that still offered comfort, and a few leaves sparsely scattered amid the branches. I looked up and realized it also housed a squirrel, and provided perches for birds.

Psalm 16:11
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

There, my path was known, his presence in fullness of joy, and I knew God would provide his pleasures forever to my life. All I had to do was seek Him, and He would provide.

There in the garden, where flowers grew, a tree withered, and shrubs outlined the paths, I learned the secret of life. Seek God.

Seek God First

Before He Made The World

chosen for God

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
– Ephesians 1:4

Before God laid the foundations of the earth, before sin entered into the world, you were predestined by God. You were chosen to be his child.

In all cases, God chose us, before we chose Him.

In John 15:16, Jesus told us “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you.”

You see, being one of God’s chosen is not due to anything we have done or will do. God knew exactly what would happen in our lives, before any of it took place. God knew exactly how you would turn out. He knew exactly what decision you would make regarding Him. He knew all this and made selections which would work best in His favor for the plan and end that He had in mind. God’s choosing us had nothing to do with our own merit. He chose you from the foundation of the world.

Even though you may sometimes feel like a ‘loser’ and worry that God may have made a mistake in choosing you, you must remember that God chose you to win. If you will allow Him, God will make you into something special. God sees through all your flaws and imperfections and sees a work in progress.

God is not finished with you, yet. As long as your heart is beating and your lungs draw breathe, you can rejoice in knowing that God will complete what He has begun in your life.

After all, you were chosen from the foundations of the world.

Think about it!

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Don Stephens writes messages of empowerment based on the Bible.