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Autumn’s Last Hurrah

leavesThe leaves lazily drift from the tree branches and graciously land on the green grass; some are carried away by the lake’s water current. The wind seems to whisper autumn is coming and watching the squirrels gather acorns is confirmation that a season change is forthcoming.

The smell of fall is in the air and the crisp, cool evenings are a gently reminder that jackets, sweatshirts and hot beverages will be welcomed at the Friday night high school football games. Raking leaves, bonfires and visits to apple orchards become weekend ritual to those of us living in Michigan.

It’s the last hurrah of summer; the last boat ride around the lake, one last chance to catch that big fish before summer’s end, planting mums and decorating the porch with pumpkins and corn stalks in preparation for Halloween trick or treaters.

As I stack the outdoor patio cushions in the storage bin, I can’t help but wonder what season changes are like in heaven. Will there be seasonal venues? You know, I would like to experience summer right now and so we visit a summer venue. Or when spring strikes our fancy, we make visit to see all the tulips, crocuses and daffodils gardens.

God took great care in creating the beauty of earth for our enjoyment. I find it hard to imagine that in His New Heaven on Earth it will not be filled with the seasons we love most.  Mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, rain forests to the explosion of nature’s most intimate secrets. It is ours to discover.

You may live in a different part of the world than me. Yet, the amazing design of God’s creation allows us to enjoy a different view, different perspective and different seasons of His creative process.

So, as I experience the joys of autumn in Michigan, you may be splashing beneath a waterfall in another part of the world, swimming with dolphins, hiking a summit or snow shoeing in some remote area of the world. It’s all good.

Inhale and rejoice in the season. For me it is autumn. This means the smell of burning leaves, roasting pumpkin seeds, caramel dipped apples, hanging Indian corn on my front door and carving pumpkins…and so much more.

You will never repeat this day. Enjoy it, embrace it and make a memory.

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Maybe Later

Pop-noworlaterups on electronic devices have become a way of life. From software updates to renewal notices to you left something in your online shopping cart…the list is endless. The alerts are always followed by the question: Now or Maybe Later?

I tend to go for the ‘Maybe Later’ option. Who has time in their busy life to stop and take care of something you can postpone until another time? The alerts continue to pop-up on a regular basis, some even ask in how many days or weeks I would like to receive a reminder. I pick some date in the distant future and move on with my life.

Did you know that Jesus sends pop-up alerts?

It could happen while reading God’s Word, during a devotional, a sermon heard, words spoken or the death of a loved one. It’s a warning that tugs at the soul to get things right with God before it’s too late.

“…Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2

We believe there is plenty of time to get things right with God and ample time to ask forgiveness and accept God’s generous plan of salvation for our life. And then, without warning, the pop-up offers expires; we die.

Every minute 105 people die worldwide and those statistics are only deaths that can be documented. If you’ve been choosing the ‘Maybe Later’ option for accepting Jesus into your life, you might want to reconsider. The offer expires at death and we all fully aware that death can happen at any time without warning.

Are you ready or have you been ignoring all the pop-up messages God is sending you?

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What’s Your Ticket to Heaven?

ticket toheaven
All the love in the world cannot and will not get you into heaven. The world would like us to believe that church membership, love for humanity, devotion to humanitarian causes and good deeds will add points to gaining a ticket to heaven and eternal life.

WRONG! Sorry to burst your bubble, but only a personal relationship with Jesus will get you through the pearly gates. Oh how we like to envision that everyone who is ‘good’ and passes into the hereafter is heaven bound; but based on bible scriptures and the words of Jesus, it just isn’t true.

The enemy of this world, Satan, is a master of deceit and has convinced many that our ticket to heaven is by our good works. Our only way to eternal life comes only through our acceptance of God’s grace. Good deeds and efforts are meaningless to God if we haven’t put our faith in Jesus.

What is God’s grace?

God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and shed his blood in payment for our sin. It is that sacrifice alone and a soul stamped with the blood of Jesus that gains us entry into the gates of heaven.

“But we know that no one is made right with God by meeting the demands of the law. It is only through the faithfulness of Jesus the Anointed that salvation is even possible. This is why we put faith in Jesus the Anointed: so we will be put right with God. It’s His faithfulness—not works prescribed by the law—that puts us in right standing with God because no one will be acquitted and declared “right” for doing what the law demands.”  Galatians 2:16 (VOICE)

Say what? Let me clarify.

The above scripture and many others confirm this truth. Our good works are meaningless to God if we believe them to be a redemptive way to earn our way into heaven. Not happening!

It’s God’s grace and faithfulness, not our works that acquits us of our sin and gives us right standing before God. Grace is found in the death, burial and resurrection of His son, Jesus. Our acceptance of this grace is called salvation.

Faithfulness is an extension of God’s grace to continually work within our life to accomplish his purpose and goodwill. Only by doing HIS works for HIS purpose under HIS grace is anything we do counted righteous.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 19:21

I encourage everyone to do good works while living on earth. But if you are counting on your works to earn you a seat at the banquet table in heaven, think again.

The only way to get a ticket stamped for heaven is to accept Jesus as your savior and acknowledge that His blood sacrifice at the cross is your only redemption from sin.

Remember the thief next to Jesus on the cross?

In death he asked Jesus “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42) This thief had likely done nothing good in his lifetime, yet he was given admission into God’s kingdom by grace alone.

“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43

It’s hard for us to accept that there is nothing we can do now or ever to earn the grace of God. It goes against everything this world tells us. Yet, that’s the beauty of grace, it’s a gift.  We can’t buy, earn or barter with grace. Our only option is to accept it.

What will be stamped on your ticket at death?

Will it read Redeemed by God’s Grace or Redeemed by my own self-worth and good works? It’s probably a question you should ask yourself sooner than later. No one knows the time of their death but, today, as you read this post you have been given an opportunity to buy your ticket to heaven in advance, before it expires.

people are destined to die once and then face (God’s) judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

God’s judgment is based on your acceptance of His grace, on the salvation He offers through His son, Jesus. It’s simple, direct and without fanfare.

This simple prayer, if prayed in earnest, sums it all up:

Heavenly Father,

Make yourself real to me. Your Word says if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

I believe Jesus died on the cross for the sin that separates me from having direct communication with you. His blood paid for the redemption of my soul. I want my death ticket to be insured, non-refundable and stamped REDEEMED by the blood of the Lamb.

From this day forward, let my actions, words and deeds be counted as righteous in your sight.

Amen

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When God Lifts the Fog

fog

As the fog lifts from the lake this morning, I am reminded of how God lifts the fog from our life when we seek Him with all our heart.

What does ‘all our heart’ imply?

I believe it is a quest of the soul to discover the depth and breadth of God’s desire to lead us into a personal relationship with Him. It’s that simple. When we allow God to get intimate with our soul, He lifts the fog that hinders us from seeing the fullness of His redemptive powers.

What are His redemptive powers and how does that relate to our life?

In more ways than you might think or have considered.

Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross ransomed us from sin. It opened the floodgates of Heaven so we can stand reconciled before the throne of God. It means God is attentive to every aspect of our life because our soul has been given “sky priority” status and stamped with His seal of grace.

The heart (meaning soul) of mankind is inherently evil due to sin. Sin is our disobedience to God’s plan for us.  All the good deeds in the world will never make amends for that broken relationship. Thankfully, God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. He gifted us redemption through the death of his Son Jesus on the cross.

It is through the blood Christ shed and His resurrection that we are given access to redemptive powers in our life. They are freely given to all mankind and the only requirement is to genuinely ask Jesus to become the ruler of our heart (soul).

What does that mean?

It means God’s truth must dwell within our heart and we give Jesus full rights to call our heart His home. If you want the fog lift, you must empty your heart of ‘you’ and pursue Jesus. Only then will the redemptive powers of God be operational in your life.

To love God with all our soul requires us to relinquish all ownership of self. It’s a process of realigning our understanding to God’s understanding. That’s not easy and it requires us to die to ‘self’ daily.

How do we die to self?

Prayer and ingesting God’s Word (the Bible) are the tools needed to lift the fog that surrounds our life. It sounds easy, yet harder than you think. The opposing force of darkness (Satan) seeks to engulf us in a mist of fog that prevents us from seeing the keeper of the lighthouse.

Our soul must be replenished and realigned from our understanding to God’s understanding. To lift our spiritual fog is an incremental process and one I struggle with daily. It requires effort, desire and time on my part, but when God lifts the fog, there are no regrets.

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CHANCE MEETING or DIVINELY APPOINTED?

God has Diviinely Appointed our LifeAre brief encounters with others a chance meeting or divinely appointed? Are there hallowed moments implanted in our path of life that intersect with others for a divine purpose; moments of which we are unaware, but God-ordained to intervene and change the fate of someone else? I believe the answer is YES!

He has an appointed time to every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastics 3:1)

The key word is Purpose

God has designed a perfect plan for our life but in disobedience we follow our own ways. In the process, we end up on a course God never intended for us to pursue. We live in an imperfect world where sin entices and lures certain areas of our life into dark alleys that lead us away from the individual, perfect plan God designed for us.

Every moment of our life is chaperoned by God and He uses chance meetings with others to redirect our steps. No matter how often we deviate from God’s plan, He takes action to divinely redirect our steps and put us back on course to fulfill His purpose.

Staying on Course

I’ve abandoned God’s perfect plan more times than I care to count. There have been marriages, jobs, moves, friendships and choices that required intervention and chance meetings with others to alter the direction I was headed.

There have also been chance meetings when God uses me to unknowingly incite a change of direction for someone who has fallen off course and needs to be reconciled with their God-given purpose.

Whether you are a believer in Christ, or not, everything that happens in your life has a purpose. From the beginning of time, everything is divinely orchestrated by God for a specific purpose; a purpose which only He knows. Unbelief and human efforts won’t change those chance meetings God ordains in an effort to point you in the direction of His saving grace.

Today’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for divinely appointing a purpose for my life even before I was conceived. The greatness of your love is unconceivable. You chaperone every moment of life to ensure I stay on the path you have individually designed for me; you desire to make all my ways perfect.

“It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.”
Psalms 18:32

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What’s Your Nemesis?

chain breakerWe all have a nemesis in life; something that is very difficult to defeat or conquer. It could be anything from an addiction, to pride in our accomplishments, or shame about our failures.

We aren’t perfect, never will be and there’s nothing we can do about it apart from accepting the saving grace God imparted to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Whatever the source of your nemesis chances are good that it will eventually incite feelings of anguish, moments of regret and lead to destructive behavior. Yet, our nemesis can become a powerful tool with life changing results when placed in the hands of God.

Our faith deepens when we confess our weaknesses and genuinely seek repentance and willingly desire to change our ways to avoid a repeat of our current circumstances. As believers in Christ, we are continually learning to follow God’s ways and abandon our sinful nature.

Along the way we are pursued by and often fall prey to our nemesis. We conquer one only to find a surrogate nipping at our heels. Until our last breath, the process of ‘becoming’ like Christ is ongoing. Your nemesis today may not be your nemesis six months from now.

However, what doesn’t change is how God uses our shortcomings, failures and disobedience to reshape, disciple and create us into His likeness. The only requirement is a repentant heart, a desire to turn from sin and the willingness to seek restoration with God.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Lord, my imperfections and moments of defeat are what draw me near to you. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to redeem me from the consequences of my sin and love me as the imperfect person that I am.

Break the chains of my nemesis to accomplish a divine purpose in my life as I lay it at the foot of the cross.
AMEN

He’s a Chain Breaker song lyrics by Zach Williams

 

If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to feel the same old holes inside
There’s a better life
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all search for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
And there’s a better life
There’s a better life…

 

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Still Waters

IMG_2894[1]A feeling of loneliness seems to envelop the lake today. Except for a few lone ducks that cruise the waterways, there are no boats, no people; only the stillness of waters at daybreak coupled with droplets of refreshing rain.

Any movement on the placid waters is limited to the ripples created by winged wildlife as they paddle to their next feeding area. The calmness of the waterfront awakens my soul to a need for private reflection. I feel compelled to connect the spiritual dots of my life in an effort to reveal the hidden picture.

Fog begins to lift above the distant water’s edge and I look for God’s ordained agenda for today. Will I find still waters, or perhaps identify with others encountering the ripple effects of heartache and loss?

Wherever God places me today, I want to be available to offer encouragement to those experiencing rough waters and point them to the safety of God’s everlasting arms of mercy and grace.

Adverse waters are destined to happen in our imperfect life. They can have a profound impact and cause us to search for life survival skills that keep us buoyant and afloat.

Are you invested in the everlasting arms of God’s grace and mercy that bring buoyancy to your life? Or, are you floating along the fringe of destruction without a life jacket which will eventually pull you into deep waters.

Do you want to sink or float?

Today’s forecast may begin with placid waters, but that can change at any given moment. When gifted with moments of stillness, we need to pursue the skills needed to weather future unexpected storms that will inevitably impact our imperfect life.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God, help me to float when life’s circumstances want to pull me under. In moments of still waters, restore my soul and clothe me with a life jacket to survive future storms of my imperfect life.

He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet. – Psalm 107:29