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Category Archives: Salvation

God is the Lover of our Souls!

While reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded of how much God loves me. Interestingly enough, this early Valentine’s message came through a very unlikely passage of Scripture: Numbers 25 and 31 New International Version (NIV). The swiftness of God’s punishment came upon some of the Israelite men and the Midianites for their sexual immorality and idolatry. As I read the chronological events of this difficult portion of Scripture, the Holy Spirit helped me to correlate God’s divine love for His children with the severe penalty of sin. I concluded it is because of God’s amazing love, that He protects us from that which has the potential to not only rob us from our present blessings, but even worse, prevent us from entering the “Promised Land,” the eternal home God has prepared for those who love Him.

When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to participate in idolatrous practices (Numbers 25:1-18); thereby provoking a jealous God to anger, and resulting in the death of thousands because of their sin.  Just like those who posed a threat to the Israelites’ entrance into Canaan, sin poses a threat to us and must be dealt with—to secure our entrance into Heaven.

I am thankful God takes every precaution to keep me from spending eternity apart from Him. He does this by demonstrating His amazing love and grace…daily in my life, and at times warns me of danger, and on occasion, delivers just discipline for my sin.

Because I want my children and grandchildren to enter the Promised Land (Heaven), I want them to know the love of God that is always demonstrated through His mercy and grace; and I also want them to understand the Holiness of God, which is often upheld through His protective and corrective hand of justice. God is the lover of our souls!

When teaching our children and grandchildren of God’s love and the beautiful plan of salvation, these verses come to mind. Help your children memorize them and take time to help them understand their meaning. Pray that God will prepare their hearts to receive Jesus as their Savior if they haven’t already done so.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Children enjoy making Valentine’s cards for their family and friends. Go to the Bible Parent website to print Valentine’s Cards based on 1 Corinthians 13: http://www.bibleparent.com/valentines.asp

Valentine’s Day is a great time to tell our children and grandchildren how much we love them, and it’s also a great time to tell them that Jesus loves them even more. And that’s a lot!

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“For great is [God’s] love, higher than the heavens; [His] faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 108:4).

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 8: 49 pm - in Bible Truths, Eternal Life, God's Word, Holy Living, Morality, Salvation

 

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An Unexpected Gift

money giftI was thrilled when our eleven-year-old granddaughter placed a stack of mostly one-dollar bills and a check in my hand. She said, “Here’s some money that I’ve saved up for our mission trip.” Just returning from her birthday party, Ella gave me her birthday money, along with some babysitting money, etc. I could feel my heart welling up inside as I received this unexpected gift.

Several weeks ago, Ella and I attended an informational meeting regarding a mission trip that our church will be taking to the Dominican Republic in June. The leaders shared passionately the love they have for all the children in this impoverished area. This will be Team Mission pic 1Xtreme’s third trip to the Dominican Republic. Joining Team Xtreme, Ella and I will work on the construction of a three-story building project, and attend to the needs of hundreds of children who live on the streets in small hut-like homes. After leaving in our car from the meeting, Ella exclaimed, “Yes, I want to take this trip…but raising $14,000 is going to take a lot of time!” She originally thought this was the cost for each of us to go. (It is actually $1,400 per person). She then said, “I don’t need anything for Christmas, so I’ll just ask for money for our mission trip.” I sensed God’s pleasure in this shared moment with my granddaughter.

The gift of money that Ella placed in my hand was only unexpected in my mind, not in Ella’s. Ella planned to keep her vow all along.

As I later began to reflect on this sacrificial gift from Ella ($96), I started to think about another unexpected sacrificial gift that was given to the world, over 2000 years ago.

Although God foretold of His Son’s birth in over 100 prophecies, Christ’s birth came unexpectedly for most, but not for all.

It continues to amaze me that God chose a simple peasant girl named Mary, to give birth to the Messiah, in a humble stable that was home to barn animals. Scripture states that God sent the angel Gabriel to prepare Mary for an unexpected delivery.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (Luke 1:26-38 – NIV)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

From reading Mary’s response after the angel’s visit, we learn that she was not at all surprised when the time came to give birth to Jesus.  Others who received this unexpected gift were: Joseph, the angels, and the shepherds.  They all received the glorious gift of the Savior that starry lit night, in the little town of Bethlehem.

Luke 2:4-21 – NIV

 mangerSo Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

I love the part where Scripture specifies, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

My Prayer to God

Help me Lord, to treasure up all the unexpected gifts that you give me throughout my life, each day. I praise you and thank you, for the gift of salvation, through your Son, Jesus. And I want to publically thank you for the recent gift of money from Ella, and from others who have recently mailed us sacrificial gifts of money to go toward the cost of our mission trip. They truly are a blessing!

Parents/Grandparents: Teach children to intentionally watch for unexpected gifts, and then encourage them to give thanks when they discover them. Christmas is a great time to start! And as we give thanks, along with our children, I believe that we are in some small ways, giving Jesus a birthday gift.

Some gifts that we may receive throughout the year.

– The gift of time (given by a loved one, a teacher, pastor, friend)

– The gift of friendship (a new friend God brings into our life)

– The gift of labor (mom doing the laundry, dad repairing a toy, grandpa transporting to softball practice)

– The gift of a hug…smile…warm embrace…

– The gift of grace

– The gift of mercy

– The gift of forgiveness

– The unexpected gift of money for a mission trip!

The greatest gift we can expect at Christmas–is JESUS…and His wondrous love. Be sure to watch for this God-given gift in unexpected ways. Then be sure to share God’s gift with those you love, and the “others” who are in need of an unexpected special gift of love this Christmas.

 Merry Christmas!

To all my blogger friends…Facebook friends, and so on…

With the love of Jesus, Charmé

Ella, church Christmas program, 2014

Ella, Living Hope Church Christmas program, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 2:4-17 – NIV

 

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Are we training our children to keep or break the Ten Commandments?

Faith @ Home Moment:

Our precious three-year old granddaughter spent the night with us Friday evening. During breakfast, she randomly posed this question. “Why did Jesus have to die?” I’m not sure what prompted her to ask this question since we hadn’t been talking about Jesus at this time. My heart welled up, realizing once again, God has placed eternity in the hearts of all people, including Julia Ann.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The Ten Commandments – – Exodus 20:1-17 (NIV) 

10Commandments

 

20 And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

It dawned on me after becoming a grandmother for the first time, that I had not taught my children the Ten Commandments. As a young parent, and a young Christian, I suppose I assumed our three children would learn them at church. And as I recall, they did.

I was personally convicted to memorize the Ten Commandments, and soon after, displayed a Ten Commandments tapestry in our home. Looking closely at the Ten Commandments during this time in my life, I admitted to God, with a sorrowful spirit, that I had broken most of His laws. Within the next several years, I was led by the Holy Spirit to teach the children at our church the Ten Commandments, which included our first granddaughter.

Teaching the Ten Commandments is one thing, living them out in obedience to God in our daily lives is really where the ‘rubber meets the road’.  Idiom Definitions for ‘Where the rubber meets the road’

Where the rubber meets the road is the most important point for something, the moment of truth. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road and they’ll know how good they really are.

Back to my original question: Are we training our children to keep or break the Ten Commandments?

I was tempted to make a list of questions to serve as a personal check list, but instead, I’d like to challenge every parent to read/study God’s commandments and then take their own personal inventory.

Okay, I can’t do it! Here are just a few questions that come to mind.

 – Am I putting my personal pleasures/preferences/activities ahead of God? Do I encourage my kids to do the same? Does God get left-overs?

– Do my kids see me faithfully worshipping God with my time, talents, and treasures?

– Do I treat the Sabbath casually, like any other day? Do I allow my kids to miss our Sabbath worship observances to participate in sports or perform in their dance recitals?

– How’s my relationship with my parents and in-laws? Do my children see me treating them with love and respect, in word and deed?

I pray that the Holy Spirit will give parents/grandparents clear understanding of God’s commandments, and give them the desire and power to teach them diligently to their children/grandchildren; and with the power of the Holy Spirit, live them out in obedience in their daily lives.

The law cannot save us. The law cannot grant us salvation. The law does define sin and can condemn us, since we all are lawbreakers. (For all have sinned…Romans 3:23) God knew that no one could keep the law. God’s law does point us to Christ. The law cannot give us salvation, but it can help us see our need for salvation, and realize that righteousness must be a gift, not something we earn. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8).

Scripture also tells us that when we do sin, we have a loving and gracious Father who will forgive us.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Projects

Memory Cards:  Write the Ten Commandments on index cards and laminate. Punch holes into the corners of each card and attach the cards to a key ring.

Ten Commandments Plaque:  Purchase or make an unfinished wood plaque. Have child paint or stain the plaque (I used a light gray paint). Print each of the Ten Commandments on the plaque and then use Mod Podge clear sealer. You can also use Krylon Metallic Textured spray paint that will give it a stone-textured look.

Favorite Quote:  The following quote from Dr. Woodie J. Stevens (Global Director for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International, Church of the Nazarene) “Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t murder. Be true to your mate. It’s the only way to a civilized society.”

Resources

I Have No Greater Joy Website:

http://ihavenogreaterjoy.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/10-commandments-5-minutes-and-prep-for-sundays/

Bible Story Printables Website: http://www.biblestoryprintables.com/BiblePrintablesTenCommandments.html#.VElVpWd0yUk

Ten Commandments Jewelry: http://www.thefind.com/jewelry/info-ten-commandments-bracelet

 

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Avoid Distractions–Just Drive!

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Expect DelaysWhile driving to work the other morning, I became a little frustrated with the cars that were creeping along, potentially causing delays or even fender benders. My mind immediately raced to these typical thoughts, “Must be an accident, or someone got pulled over by a police officer.” Then I looked up and read the electronic highway sign that simply stated: Avoid Distractions—Just Drive. Now this struck me as rather funny! Yes, curiosity got the best of me as I looked around for the distraction that I should avoid. The only thing I saw was an old blown-out tire lying on the side of the road. Not much of a distraction, but sure enough, the cars all slowed down to look at a useless piece of rubber.

It dawned on me after my slight delay, that from time to time, this is what happens to me in my faith journey. All too often useless distractions keep me from moving along at a steady pace, and delay me from reaching the spiritual goals God in Christ Jesus prepared for me in advance. (Ephesians 2:10)    

See if you can relate to any of these so-called distractions in life.

  • Overlooked for a promotion at work

  • Financial setback

  • Cross words spoken in the “heat of the moment”

  • Much-needed vacation plans fall through

  • “Untimely” illness

  • Relocation due to “unforeseen” circumstances

  • Breach of confidentiality

  • Death of a loved one

  • Over committed lifestyle (busyness)

  • Divorce

My intent is definitely not meant to minimize the genuine hurt, pain, and frustration that these real life distractions can cause. Rather, my aim is to remind myself and others who may share the same goal: To leave a legacy of sincere faith in Christ to the next generation, we must “JUST DRIVE!”

This earth is NOT our forever home. Distractions happen in our fallen/sinful world all the time. We’ve been warned of this by God, so why do we always seem so surprised when we come across distractions in our lives? One of the most obvious reasons to me is that our present culture sets us up for failure (distractions intended to delay or even stop our faith journey into wholeness (holy living).

Present Weakness and Resurrection Life (2 Corinthians 4:1-18) (NIV)

4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Conclusion: I know that we can’t always avoid the deep sorrows of life or even overlook a “useless” piece of rubber lying in our peripheral vision, but I do believe that when the distractions of life come (and they will), God’s strong desire for us is to….“JUST DRIVE!”

  • Remain faithful to God’s Word

  • Pray daily

  • Surrender our will to the Lord’s will

  • Keep our eyes on Christ, not on our distractions (This takes the Holy Spirit’s power.)

  • Don’t compromise our safety (salvation) by willfully disobeying God’s laws

  • Keep our destination (heaven) in clear view

Challenge to Parents/Grandparents: When the trials or distractions of life come your way, remember, we have a responsibility to our children/grandchildren to keep driving, and to finish the race of faith strong!

In 2 Timothy Paul joyfully recalls Timothy’s upbringing:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Later in Chapter 4, Paul realizes that his earthly ministry is quickly coming to a close and exhorts Timothy to follow in his footsteps, by faithfully proclaiming the good news of Christ.

Paul then concludes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

At the end of the day, it is my hope and prayer, that our family will all be able to echo the same words as Paul.

 

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Christmas leads to the Cross….

Hello Blogger Friends,

I recently came across this video, from Billy Graham.  The Cross, a message of hope.

The Cross and the ManagerAs my heart readies for the celebration of Christ’s birth, I’m reminded of the reason Jesus first came to earth. I encourage you to pause and take a few minutes to watch this video. For Christmas truly leads to the Cross….and our Savior’s glorious resurrection.

Click on link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bba2Dqaw6SI

Merry Christmas!

P.S.  If you’re still looking for a new Christmas tradition to begin with your family, please check out this blog site from my friend in the Lord, Sharon Glasgow.  Bringing Good Tidings of Great Joy to the Brokenhearted

 
 

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Clean House — Clean Heart

window cleaning

For the past few weeks I’ve been cleaning my house. Not just a superficial cleaning, but a deep cleaning, similar to what my grandmother referred to as “fall cleaning.” Since we are preparing to sell our house, I want it to look it’s best for potential buyers.

In addition to cleaning carpets, washing windows, and touching up a few spots with fresh paint, I’ve been decluttering. Although I’m not really a pack rat, I do tend to store things that I may someday use or need. Thus, I came across several of these items (size 6 clothing, unopened bath beads, an original Cabbage Patch doll….but definitely not my husband’s 80s turntable!) So…out they went. My most recent accomplishment was completed Labor Day weekend, as I cleaned under, behind, and around my washer and dryer. Now that my house is “really” clean, I’m not too sure I want to sell it. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean house.

While having my personal devotions and enjoying my morning coffee, I began to ponder this thought. Having a “really” clean house is somewhat like having a “really” clean heart. I love my friend’s description of a clean heart: “Squeaky clean for Jesus.” (Beth Coppedge, Come To The Fire speaker — See below for conference link.)

In keeping with my life’s passion, to intentionally pass down my faith in Christ to my family, I know I must do my very best to set an example of having a clean heart.  It’s interesting that my daughters both keep a very clean house. I’m not sure how much credit I can take for this however, since their dad is really the “neat freak” in the family. All joking aside, I believe that our kids truly want us to set good examples for them to follow. With the most important example: living a life that pleases the Lord.  

Tips for Fall House and Heart Cleaning

Cobwebs (Webster) tangles of the silken threads of a spiderweb usually covered with accumulated dirt and dust. They intentionally go unnoticed, until I deep clean.  Cobwebs could easily represent those things in my life that I hope no one ever notices–fear, unresolved conflict, insecurity, un-Christlike thoughts and attitudes.  Of course, just when I think no one is noticing, the Holy Spirit brings them into the light. Now I have a choice to make, to ignore those disgusting (dirty) webs, or to knock them down, often one by one. The longer I ignore them, it seems as though they multiply.

Washing Windows: It’s very important to use the right cleaning product, so not to leave behind streaks. Just like there are a wide variety of glass cleaners on the market, there are a lot of great Christian books, authored by fully devoted Christ followers available. Many of which I enjoy reading, especially when they pertain to living a life that pleases God. However, I thankfully discovered fairly early in my Christian walk, that the only product that truly keeps my life from becoming streaked with sin, leaving behind a film of dirt, is the Bible. Daily use is advised. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”  (2 Timothy 3:16).

Oven Cleaning: Remember the day when everyone used “Easy Off” oven cleaner?  Well, there was never anything easy about cleaning my oven. Spilled-over sweet potato juice and splattered baked beans were the worst. Then they came out with self-cleaning ovens. What a marvelous invention! A self-cleaning oven is an oven which uses high temperature (approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit or 500 degrees Celsius) to burn off leftovers from baking, without the use of any chemical agents. Turn up the heat, lock the oven door, and three hours later, wallah! a clean oven.  Oh, if it were only that easy to have a clean heart, one that is “squeaky clean for Jesus.”

Similar to the self-cleaning oven, it takes God’s consuming fire to burn away the “dross” in our lives. Dross (Webster): the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal, waste or foreign matter : impurity. This definition sounds a lot like sin doesn’t it?  Just shut the oven door and no one will see the mess. That is until I let it go too long. Now the residue of the spilled-over sweet potato begins to fill my kitchen with smoke, leaving behind a stinky burnt smell. This happens in our lives when we allow sin to build up in our hearts. Unconfessed sins such as gossip, jealousy, lies, impure thoughts, sexual immorality, selfishness, pride, hatred, and so on begin to leave a foul odor to those around us, and especially to God.  

Our God is a loving God, as well as a righteous God, not wanting anyone to perish or be separated from His love. But to receive and keep a clean heart, all of our idols (anything that we put ahead of God), must be openly revealed, so that He may purify us. The Bible says “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”  (1 John 1:9).

Moses, realizing the consequence of not honoring God earlier in his pilgrimage to the promise land, gave this exhortation to those Israelites preparing to enter Canaan. “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.  For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”  (Deuteronomy 4:24).  And from the author of Hebrews 12:28-29, the Scripture says: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For God is a consuming fire.” 

consuming fire

God’s holy fire may bring judgement to the wicked, but His refining fire builds humility, faith and purity in those who seek a deeper relationship with Jesus. David, after attempting to cover up his sin of adultery and murder, cried out with godly sorrow and sincere repentance, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”  (Psalm 51:10). The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Church of Corinth, admonishes all Christians to flee from anything that might keep them from being reconciled to God: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”  (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Prayer for a Clean Heart:  Dear God, please be a consuming fire in me. Burn off all that doesn’t look like your son Jesus. And as I surrender myself to you daily, create in me a pure heart. Forgive me, Father, for any sins (name them) that are in my life. Nothing is hidden from you; so I open my life up to you, to cleanse me from all impurities that separate me from you, God. I truly want to be an example to my family–of your love, grace, purity, and holiness.

Concluding thoughts:  While you are doing your fall house cleaning, let this journal entry be a reminder to declutter your life from anything that keeps you from loving and serving Jesus with a clean heart. And remember, from time to time, it will be necessary for God to turn up the heat….in order to do some deep cleaning. As important as it is for me to have a clean house for potential new buyers, it is so much more important for me to have a clean heart, where my Jesus resides. There’s something so refreshing about having a clean heart!

Recommendations: 

Come To The Fire Conference: A conference for women seeking to have a “squeaky clean heart for Jesus.” This year’s theme is “Celebrate Your Freedom.” Dates: Oct. 17-19, 2013, Holland, MI. For more information and registration:  http://cometothefire.org/conference-registration/

Grandparents’ Day of Prayer, September 8, 2013: For more information on how you can stand in the GAP for your grandchildren, go to: http://www.christiangrandparenting.net

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 10: 54 am - in Christianity, Faith At Home, God's Word, Holy Living, Salvation, Serving Jesus

 

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A Mother’s Love

My mom, Audrey Lewis

My mom, Audrey Lewis

It will be Mother’s Day in a week and for many this will be a day of remembering and celebrating a mother’s love. Although my mom went to be with Jesus many years ago (when I was 7 years old), I continue to cherish the love she gave me.

I was able to revisit the memories of my mother while in a local Christian bookstore the other day. The owner inquisitively asked me the story behind my name (Charmé). So, I began to share my personal story of God’s amazing love, which really began with a mother’s love.

While pregnant with me, my mom received a letter from my father, who was stationed in France as a fighter jet pilot for the U.S. Air Force. He had heard and liked the name Charmé. Shortly afterwards, my father died when his plane crashed while attempting an emergency landing. Six months later I was born and my mom named me Charmé.

The next seven years I lived with my mother in the United States. We also traveled several times to visit my grandmother, who lived on Guernsey Island. While most of these memories were formed through the pages of a yellowed photo album, I have many others of my mom holding me in her arms and rocking me in a striped orange rocker. Funny how that 60s rocking chair holds such warm and loving memories for me. Sometime during the first grade, I remember having to stay with a kind neighbor (Mrs. Abel), while my mother began making numerous trips to the doctor. At this time, I had no idea that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.

Within about a year or so, the yearning for my mother’s love and tender touch increased, as I experienced fear and confusion with her increasing absences. Sadly, the last memory I have of my mother, was seeing her in a wheel chair, wearing some type of turban on her head. I don’t remember ever saying “good bye” to her; with now clearly understanding why my family tried to shield me from her pain and sorrow during her final days on Earth.

My mother, Audrey Eileen Lewis, went home to be with Jesus October 15, 1964. And this is where I love telling another love story. The story of God’s amazing love for a very sad and lonely little seven-year old. Not too long after my mother’s death, I went to live with my paternal grandparents, who raised me until I married my husband, Jeff, in 1975. Another love story for another time.

God’s love became real to me while lying in my bed at night, crying myself to sleep. I still remember the warmth and calm that enveloped me during those early days of great grief in my heart and life. As I look back upon this time in my life, I am reminded of God’s steadfast love and unfailing faithfulness in my life.

Skipping forward several years into my early married years, with three young children at the time, and being a fairly new Christian, I learned more of God’s amazing love through the discovery of an old suit case. While cleaning out my grandparent’s basement, I came across my mother’s suit case. I’ll never forget this remarkable moment in time. Opening it with Jeff by my side, I discovered many special items, her jewelry box, which held her engagement ring (that I now wear), along with some handmade gifts I had given to her as a young child, and her funeral book.

As a new Christian, I had begun to wonder about my mother’s salvation. While going through my mother’s funeral book, my question was answered. Pastor Alvin W. Mueller, who officiated my mother’s funeral, had typed his sermon and eulogy and attached it to her funeral book. As I began reading through it, tears filled my eyes and the presence of Jesus filled me to overflowing as I read these words.

“Audrey Lewis, by God’s grace and mercy had learned to know this Savior, Jesus Christ. As her pastor I had frequent opportunity to remind her of this wonderful and beautiful salvation that God has provided for the children of men, through Christ God’s Son. When she was in the hospital here in Decatur, I repeatedly spoke to her about the salvation, and we prayed together, for forgiveness and for peace with God.” (There is more, but for the sake of keeping some of the text personal, I will skip ahead to the affirmation of my mother’s salvation.) “That is the Christian Faith alone saves. The message of that faith was brought to our sister, Mrs. Lewis. Thank God, with me, that she learned how to be saved. That she learned about this wonderful Savior Jesus Christ and it is this faith that we too must have, if, we want to be delivered, if, we want to be rescued from God’s wrath and damnation. That faith we must have and keep and live, if, we want to enter into heaven. This Christian faith is based upon hundreds of Bible passages.”  Then, Pastor Mueller included several Scriptures, including:

‘We were redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot.’  1 Peter 1:18

Praise God, the One who brought love and comfort to me as a frightened orphaned little seven year-old, and who gave to me this beautiful gift. To have the assurance that I will be reunited with my mom again some day, in heaven. As, I too, received the wonderful gift of our God’s salvation by receiving Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior over thirty years ago.

A mother’s love is part of God’s plan…to give His children just a glimpse of what God’s love is like. I look forward to the loving and warm embrace of God, my Heavenly Father, and also to hug my mom again.

This Mother’s Day, be sure and thank God for your mother.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2013 10: 13 am - in Christianity, Salvation

 

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