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Friday, January 10, 2014

OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST!


There is a Scripture in Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

In today's world, the emphasis is really on how an individual looks and how much an individual is worth.  There are very few writings that focus upon the heart of an individual.  

Marriage seems to be run off the rails in today's world.  Commitment to one another is a comedian's punch line.  Love centers around Eros in these times. (This kind of love is referred to as madness.  It is erotic love.)  

People rarely experience Philia which is a friendship kind of love.  People who used to love one another were friends first.  They genuinely liked one another. How many couples (that you know) are friends?

Look around and see how many couples seem to experience Agape' love.  (The selfless kind of love.)  

If you are already married, it's not too late to hear what I'm saying and if you are getting ready to get married, please hear this word.  "It is not what is on the outside that you should be looking at, it's what is on the inside."

Here are a few insights for the single couples that are thinking about marriage.  

1. Have you sought God for your intended?  Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."  Romans 8:14 "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."

People see what's pleasing to the eye and what's pleasing to the flesh and then, BOOM, a decision is made.  "He looks so good, girl."  "She's so fine, man." And that's where it begins and ends - no wisdom, no discernment, just lust. God didn't say yes and guess what, He wasn't asked.  But we will seek to consult Him when we desire to exit the relationship!

2.  Do you know where their loyalty resides?  Genesis 2:24 - "This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."  John 15"13 - "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."   Ephesians 5"25 - "For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.  He gave up His life for her."

Not only would some people not love this way, you had better not get sick!  "I love you honey but if you need someone to be with you while you are throwing up then we are going to have to call in some help!"  "No baby, I don't clean bottoms and I'm not too keen on tops either."  "I'm sorry that you don't feel well, maybe you could call your mom to come and take you to the doctor's office."

Don't ask them to make you soup more than twice - oh boy, it's an out and out  declaration of war...  Just how much do you love that person?  Through sickness, because sickness will come.  Folk like the "and health" part but let's just not deal with the illness stuff because "It's just a little too much - I didn't sign up for this!"

If the in-laws want to straighten out the spouse (not their child), just think about where the line is drawn in that part of the relationship.  "You don't make meat loaf like my mommy!"  And the reason for that is - your spouse is NOT your mom! Cut the apron strings and cleave unto your spouse!  

"Honey, what happened to the rent money."  "Well, I loaned it to the folk because they were a little short on their vacation cruise down-payment."  "What!?"  And that's when the fight started....

3.  Do you respect each other?  Ephesians 5:33 - " So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."  If you aren't through running around - playing games and making up rules that apply to you and no one else, please wait and don't get married.  You will ruin your life, your spouse's life, your children's lives, and your family's lives.  Apparently, no one has made it clear that when you marry, there are other lives affected by your union.  If there is a mess in the mix, then everyone will be stepping in the mess.

Respecting your spouse builds your relationship - not what others think about your relationship.  Don't allow others to bring mess to you concerning your spouse, let them know that they will (to their regret) get their feelings hurt.  You may have a legitimate grievance with your boo but take that to the house and not to the multitude.  You are not Christ and you don't have to feed them - with your family news!  I'm just saying...

3. Do you want to get married or do you want a glamour shot?  Sometimes planning a wedding last longer than the marriage!  If you want glamour shots, get some cut outs and flash away; but if you want a marriage, that will take commitment, sacrifice, endurance, patience and selflessness!  You are not marrying yourself, you are marrying your betrothed...

4. Who is running the show?  Mark 10:‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  

Man cannot undo what God has joined together!  Hey, but you can run it off into a ditch because you want to run the show instead of God.  Just a word to the wise!

I could add a lot more to this list but I won't bog you down right now.  Just think about your choices.  For those who are married and never considered asking the Lord anything, it is not too late.  You may think it's your spouse but maybe, just maybe it's you.  Take a good look into God's mirror (The Word).  Judge your own heart.  Pray for your spouse and let God repair the breach.

Mark 10:They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”  “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.  Did you hear what Christ said?  The decree of divorce was written because of the hardness of that person's heart.  Oh you can love, if you CHOOSE to love.  

"What brought all this mumbo-jumbo on today, you may ask?"   Well, this month we (hubby and me) celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  If I told you that it was a piece of cake, there would be an entourage of people who would disagree with that statement.  But if I told you that it was worth the journey, there would be two that would say amen - me and my spouse!  

No, I don't like picking up after him all the time but I live here too.  I like organization.  So I do it.  No, he doesn't like to hear me talk all the time but he endures it because he likes me and he lives here too.  

We have become each other's best friends.  Friends fuss and disagree and want their own space sometimes but all of that makes up a marriage.  We have six children and fifteen grandchildren to prove it....  They love us and we love them....

Love as God leads you to love; choose as God leads you to choose, be strengthen with the joy of the Lord - and do it - Out of Reverence for Christ!  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HE LEADS


We don’t always know where we need to go or how we need to rest but the Shepherd does.  So often, if we are attentive to hear, He will lead us where we need to go, when we need to go, and how we need to go.  He leads!  If we could just surrender the reins of control to Him, life would be so much more – extra.  When we are led, we won’t have to contend with thoughts of “which way, how long, or where to.” 
Why do we hold on to leading when leading belongs to God?
The comforting word in this verse is “me!”   He leads “me!”  He stops in a moment of eternity to lead me.  It is an awe-inspiring moment in the mind to know that He stops to lead us, to talk to us, to assure us, to love on us!  God sees our moments of restlessness and stops to tell us “I need you to go here” or “I need you to do this,” or “I need you to pay attention to that!”

Father will not just allow us to go any old where, He leads us in the paths of righteousness!  He is the forerunner and He points us in the direction of uprightness, honesty, respectability, honorability, worthiness.  He shows us the paths.  He directs our steps.  He points the way. 

If we are led to a path of unrighteousness, dishonesty, unworthiness, immorality, then we know that He is not leading us and we are traveling down the wrong paths. 
Stop!  Take stock!  Get on the right path!
Why, because He leads us for His Name’s sake.  His Name is accredited!  His Name is proven!  His Name is sanctioned!  His Name has authority!  His Name is recognized!  His Name has the Glory!  His Name has the honor!  His Name is above every name!
He leads us into right living for His own Glory!
Father sat me down because He loves me.  He sat me down so that I could be led.  He leads me because sometimes as a sheep I can go astray.  He designs my paths because He knows the route that is best for me!    And He does all of this for His Glory, for His Name’s sake, and for His Purposes.

Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”  NASB

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HE RESTORES MY SOUL

He brings back my soul.  When we try to have a piece of equipment repaired, we either send it back to the manufacturer for repair or we reset the system (as in a computer)  back to restore to factory condition.

During the time that God set aside for me to heal was a time of restoration.  I was broken both physically and spiritually and I needed (unknowingly) a Potter's Wheel experience. 

A car can be running fine until it doesn't.  The key starts up the engine, the gears set the direction and the foot pedal moves or stops the vehicle but if there is undiagnosed trouble in the vehicle, the operator is not aware of a problem until it no longer functions properly.

I was running with all engines fired up but still I overlooked the hidden undiagnosed problem - stress.  I needed a factory overhaul - I needed to be restored to factory condition.  The only way a problem can be fixed is that you read the manual for instructions.  Who writes the manual?  The creator writes the manual.

The creator can have several repair shops and it's the creator that designs and sets up the shops where repairs can be made.  I was sent to an overseas shop.  A place where I only knew a few people and a place where nothing was familiar to me.  I had to rely totally upon the Creator and the helpers He sent to oversee the repairs.

There in a place of complete peace and wonder the Creator initiated His repairs.  He made me lie down.  He made me rest beside still waters.  Only the Creator knows how the creation is truly put together and what makes the creation function properly. 

He knew that I wouldn't rest on my own; He knew that I was not properly sleeping so He surround me in green pastures, drew me alongside still waters and made certain that I wanted for nothing.  (His helpers saw to that!)

When a vehicle has to be checked, it is lifted up and diagnosed to see what lies within. 

I was already broken and didn't know it so He placed me upon the wheel of repair to show me the results of the diagnosis and to make me over again - anew.  
 
I was restored.  My smile returned.  My joy returned.  My peace returned!

God knows His creation and He knows how to restore it.  We, however, have to be willing to allow Him to do what He does best. 

Are you in a place?  Let the Shepherd do His work!  Is your spirit crying out for a makeover?  Jesus is the Master Designer!  Do you feel that you have lost your focus?  Christ is the reconstruct-or. 

He not only restores us (bringing us back to our original factory condition) , He renews us with additional vigor, health and soundness of mind.  He's like that!  He knows just what's best for His designs.
 
Taste and see that our Creator is good!

Friday, November 22, 2013

HE LEADS ME


 
He leads me beside the still waters.  To get to Europe, you must travel over the waters – either by air or by water.  Usually, when I am preparing to fly I become so anxious that I am a ball of nerves before boarding any airbus.  This time, however, it had to be the Lord’s Peace that prepared me for the journey.  I could care less about the flight or how long it would take.  Mind you, our scheduled flight was cancelled only hours prior to departure.  Hilarious!  God had a plan.
By the time we touched down in Germany, I was so ready to see my family that everything  encountered was awesome to me.  I didn’t realize it until we arrived at the children’s home and I reviewed the pictures I had taken - that every few miles driven we passed over waters.  There were streams and rivers, canals - everywhere.  They were still, peaceful waters.
The morning after our arrival it rained.  That didn’t matter to us, we loved the water.  We walked in the water (rain).  We drove in the water (rain).  We laughed through the water (rain).  We were awestruck in the water (rain).  Open heavens were everywhere.  There were moments when the sun streamed down on our vehicle and everything else was cloudy.  Even while we walked down the cobblestoned streets of the town, the rays of the sun beamed down on us while everything else was covered by clouds.
Awesome God! 
He leads us to peace!   Looking at all the wonders of God leads us to peace!  Enjoying fellowship and relationship with others leads us to God’s Peace!   
He leads me beside the still waters!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN


Photo
Germany
 There are times when we have to be made to lie down.  Apparently, I had become one of those hard headed sheep that needed to be made to lay down.  I was so tired.  Life had really been beating me up.  But you know sometimes we don’t have the sense to stop and renew, we just keep pushing on shear will power alone.  Then we get into trouble.  Our bodies are saying stop and rest and our minds are shouting “You can keep going – just a little further.”

Most animals have it instinctively engrained within to stop and rest but we, on the other hand, try to reason it out that we can continue on – even though our bodies are breaking down.  I was in just that arrogant place.  I kept thinking that I could just keep going and everything would work out by my hand.  When we are extremely tired, mentally and physically, we don’t recognize how sinful that thought process is because what we’ve done is edge God out.  (EGO)

Oh, but He is such a loving Shepherd.  He stopped me long enough to make me lie down in green pastures.  He sent me all the way across the waters to a land I did not know and made me rest.   Doesn’t that sound crazy that we have to be made to rest?  When Jesus became tired on His journey, He would still away, rest and pray.  If He had to rest, I don’t know why it took me so long to remember that.  (Sheep are slow, you know.  J)

Upon arriving at our destination, our son picked us up at the airport and I was never so glad to see anyone as I was to see him.  I felt like an innocent child because I placed myself totally in his care.  God made me rest.  My spirit rested; my mind rested; my being rested.  God placed peace over me – not my peace but His peace.

The Lord IS my Shepherd.  I shall not want.  I didn’t want for calm; I didn’t want for peace; I didn’t want for rest – it was all provided.  "He made me to lie down in green pastures."  Our children’s home was nestled on the side of a farm.  Nothing but green pastures – everywhere!  God knows how to set up a resting place.  When I looked out of any window or door, there were only green pastures and meadows.  I was overwhelmed with the joy of the Lord. 

When I woke, there were green pastures.  When we drove around the country side, there were green pastures.  When we went out to sight see or eat, there were green pastures.  When we came home, there were green pastures.  Oh my heavenly Father, thank You for making me lay down.  Sometimes we won’t hear Him and our laying down comes in the form of resting on our sick beds.  Don’t be stubborn to the point that you refuse to listen to Him because you will lie down. 

He loves us enough to chastise us.  Allow Him to do it His way with the first nudging.  He knows how to make us rest…

OCTOBER 8, 2013


I didn’t know that I was going to fall on the Tuesday before our flight; but I did.  Walking and not seeing, that was my dilemma.  I was distracted and I only had my mind focused on getting my flu shot and what I had or hadn’t packed for the flight.  Then pop, my foot hit a sidewalk barrier and I literally saw myself fall in slow motion.  The old cliché about getting up quickly to see who saw you fall just didn’t work for me that day.

Oh, I looked around but I couldn’t rise as quickly as I would have liked to.  When I was falling, I saw this large block of concrete in my path headed for my head.  The only thing that I could do was fall.  In my mind, I tried to turn in order to miss the concrete but perpetual motion had taken over.  It was only by the Grace of God that I fell on my right side.  The brunt of the weight of my fall landed me on my right upper torso.  (For the past eight months, my left upper shoulder has left me with non-stop pain – but God.)

There was concrete sidewalk everywhere except where I landed.  That spot was filled with dirt.  What are the odds of me landing on the softest part of the sidewalk where no concrete was laid?  Only God can twist a body in such a manner and maneuver it to land on the portion of ground that had the least damaging impact on a body.

The only thing my husband said he saw was that I was there one moment and gone the next.  Apparently, it happened just that quickly.  I kept hearing my husband pray "Lord, help my wife; help my wife!"  The trip that we had planned could have been over in a heartbeat but God.  I only saw sidewalk coming toward me; I hadn’t seen the patch of dirt.

It wasn’t my skill in falling, nor was it my husband’s attentiveness to his wife, nor was it the technicians (that saw me fall) in the business that we were headed to – no, it was the Grace of God.  The Lord IS my Shepherd.  He watches over us when we can’t watch over ourselves.  He keeps us when we can’t keep ourselves.  He sustains us even when we can’t sustain ourselves. 

The Lord IS…..everything we need and more….

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!

I was so tired from life's challenges that I was really ready for my visit to Germany to see my children and grandchildren.  My body was worn out with the stresses of this world.  I didn't have the strength to pack a bag or create a list of things to pack. 

Usually, the packing list would be done weeks in advance but the charges of life were overwhelming - I needed a break - a real break. 

The bags under my eyes were already completely packed.  :-)

My spirit however was hearing, "You're not going to get on that flight!"  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:55 on Wednesday, October 9th, but the sound I heard was, "You won't be on that flight."  I kept rebuking that thought and walking away from the sound.  I needed a break!  Surely the Lord would not deny me rest.

I hadn't seen my family in almost four years - I wanted to put my eyes on them in person.  I needed to touch and hold them and let them know how much I missed and loved them - in person.  The urgency to cover them in prayer - in person - was overwhelming.  Surely, the Lord would not deny me that.

Over the weeks as the day approached, the sound was more urgent - "You are not getting on that plane!"  Well now I was almost defiant, "I will be taking that flight and I will get to my family."  I couldn't contribute this sound to the enemy because the voice was so familiar to me.  I knew it was the Lord but why was He speaking this to me.  I was too tired to even reason why.

I really know that I am in boot camp - still in training mode because what He allows and doesn't allow (I have learned) is all for my good.  My prayers were weak at best - I didn't have the strength to reason with Him.  "I hear You - I don't know why You are saying this but I know that I am going to see these kids."

The week of the flight, I finally started to pack.  I had my list, I had my bags, I had my travel clothing  picked out.  I slept as soundly as I possibly could with great anticipation weighing on me.  I blocked out - "You won't take this flight." 

Usually, when I am going to take a flight, I am nervous beyond compare; but my entire being was so worn that this flight was not even on my radar of fear.

At 5:30 a.m. my husband's cell phone rung.  This was the message:  "Mr. Neal, your scheduled 9:55 a.m. flight has been cancelled.  "What?"  I was devastated.  What, why?  What were we to do?  Were we to be rescheduled?  What was the plan?  I sat straight up in the bed and remembered, "You won't take this flight!"

After I calmed down a bit, I called the airline.  I had to prod the answer from the customer service person and they told us that the flight had been cancelled due to mechanical failures.  In other words, the plane had mechanical issues that would cause the customers to be in great danger.

"Thank You, Father!"  Now it was clear what He was telling me.  Don't be afraid and don't be dismayed.  I am keeping you from all hurt, harm and danger.  He didn't say that I wouldn't travel to Germany; He said that I wouldn't take that flight.  My God IS my Shepherd.

I had my usual flight anxieties as I boarded each flight but fear was gone!  He watches me!

I had a conversation with Apostle Brooks prior to leaving Memphis and we discussed what the Lord was doing in both of our lives during this season and some of the things we sensed that He was doing were found in the 23rd Psalm.

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The entire process leading up to and even toward the end of my journey is found in this Psalm.  The Lord is my Shepherd.  He watches me.  He takes care of me.  He surrounds me.  He loves me.  He covers me.  He moves me from pasture to pasture.  He protects me. He leads me!  He teaches me....

#TheLordIsMyShepherd