“A dreamlike experience.”
Darkness. Heavy. Fearful. Terrified on my left.
Sunlight. Warmth. Calm. Welcoming on my right.
I’m in the middle being pulled, like a tug-of-war rope, two steps to the right, then three steps to the left. The darkness is chilling. Sitting straight up in bed with a cold sweat beaded on my face and my heart racing, I realize it was just a dream. The same dream comes to me night after night. I just don’t know if I can take it anymore? What does it mean? This has been going on for months now, maybe longer. As a twelve-year-old girl, I do not watch horror movies. I have attended Church for as far back as I can remember. This horrible dream comes to me nearly every night. I hate to go to sleep for fear I will be pulled to the left into the darkness. What does this mean?
We are having a youth revival this weekend at an old gym. The revival team is a family from south Louisiana. There are four brothers and each one will preach a night of the revival. They all play an instrument and sing. Their mother plays the piano and their dad is the leader of the band. They’ve been to our church a few times before. My pastor is friends with them
Revival time arrives. This is so weird. Whoever heard of having a revival in an old gym? As the music cranked up, we all forgot we were in a gym. It was loud and more modern that we could ever have at church! I am sitting with a few friends who are older than me. I am really not even supposed to be here since I’m twelve. Our rules say youth are 13 and up.
One of the brothers starts to speak. I guess we are getting down to preaching now. No, he’s saying that tonight he is showing a film called “A Burning Hell”. A large screen is brought out and the film reels are set up. The lights go out and we girls start giggling. Soon, we are enthralled in the film and the room is totally silent, except for the clicking of the film reels.
My palms are starting to sweat and my heart is racing just like when I wake up from that horrible nightmare. I look around to see if people are noticing. Surely, they can hear my heart beating. It’s about to pound out of my chest! I realize that I am just like those men in the movie. I know about Jesus but I do not belong to Him. He doesn’t “know” me. Oh, no! One of the men is killed in a motorcycle wreck and he goes to hell. I can’t watch, but I can’t tear my eyes away from the screen. There is so much screaming and agony and all the people in hell can remember every time they said ‘no’ to Jesus!
The other man is back at a church and the preacher is telling him about Jesus. He tells him salvation’s more than just believing in Jesus, it’s surrendering to Him. It’s letting Jesus rule you. I don’t think I’ve done that…
The film goes off and the lights come on. Thank God for that, but why is my heart still pounding and my hands sweating. We all stand up as the music starts to play. The speaker is asking if we know we would go to heaven if we died right now? I don’t know! Oh, I think so, but am I just like that man who thought he knew Jesus? He’s in hell now, would I be? I don’t know what the speaker is saying. I’m wrestling with the chair in front of me. My knuckles are white as I grip that chair. I want to go down and receive Jesus as my Savior, but everyone thinks I’m saved. I’m not. If I died right now, I’d go to hell just like that man in the film.
Finally, I battle with myself until I step out into the “isle” of the gymnasium. Suddenly, I’m kneeling with the speaker. He is asking if I understand that I’m a sinner? Yes, I know I am. He asks if I believe Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, died for me and rose again? Yes, I believe. Then he asks if I am willing to surrender my life to Jesus, will I turn from my sin (repent) and trust Him to save me from my sin? Yes, yes, yes! He said the Bible says if we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved. Yes, yes, I do believe that! Repeating a prayer after him, I asked Jesus to save me! We stood up and he welcomed me into the Kingdom of God!
Turning, I ran up the “isle” to my brother who was in the back of the gym with the older youth and I jumped into his arms crying and laughing at the same time.
“Timmy, I’m not going to hell! I’m not going to hell!” Wailing and smiling, I shouted my announcement. For the first time in my life, I feel the ‘world has been lifted off my shoulders’. I don’t know how to describe the excitement. Somehow, I know that Jesus’ Holy Spirit entered me that night and I have never been the same!
Several days passed before I realized that tormenting dream was not tormenting me. That’s been over forty years ago and Jesus is still living in me. Never again have I had that dream. And every day, I hear my Savior’s voice in one way or another. Yes, I know Jesus, but more important – He knows me!
“Journey with Jesus”
1 Peter 1:16 “because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
What does holy mean?
We know that in the simplest of terms, it means to be set apart. Specifically, set apart for Christ.
My favorite definition comes from Bro. Jerry Price. Holy = separation; Separation is not isolation; it’s contact without contamination.
Our life is meant to be a holy example to other believers and to the lost world. 1 Peter 1:16 is an imperative, not a suggestion.
Today, we are so caught up in the world’s view of God in one or two ideas; 1. God is so loving that He really doesn’t care about sin or 2. God is so far removed that there is no or will not be a day of reckoning.
Both are WRONG. God is love and He does love us. He is always ready to forgive a repentant soul. But God demands and expects holiness from His children. There is coming a day when we will give an account of our life and the lost will be condemned to hell. This should spur us on to live holy so we hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” and so we might lead others to Christ so they don’t end up in hell for eternity.
I fully believe that we are expected NOT to sin. God’s forgiveness should never be used as a “get off the hook pass” when we want to sin.
1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And IF anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”
He said IF not when. I think so often we let ourselves off the hook because we rationalized that “well God knows we sin, He’ll forgive us.” That is NOT the way He intends our relationship/walk with Him to be.
John 8:11 ‘And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”’
I know, specifically, He is talking to her about her adulterous lifestyle. But think of your own life. If you have been convicted of a filthy mouth and you have repented of having a filthy mouth; imagine Jesus telling you, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.” You are not to have a filthy mouth anymore.
Soon you are convicted of having a rotten attitude toward a certain person, you repent and Jesus forgives and says “From now on sin no more.” That sin should also be gone from you, not to be repeated.
So often we think that we can repent, get forgiveness and repeat. If that is the case, then did we ever really repent? I think not.
Now back to holy living. Specifically, what does that mean for us? Is it a list of “don’t do” these things? It could be. But how can we not sin? First, as a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in you. He has all the power we need to live in obedience to Christ. Second, as a believer, we are to seek Him first. We are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. If we concentrate on doing this, He will help us steer clear of many troublesome things. When we seek Him and love Him with everything in us, we set boundaries for ourselves to avoid being in tempting situations.
We know temptations come. But when they do, we are prepared NOT to sin because we have sought Him and have been strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
Don’t commit adultery. (No sex outside of marriage)
As you begin to date, you make boundaries for yourself. I will only date another believer who is actively seeking Christ. I will not let our conversation go to sensual topics. I will not be totally alone with that person.
Honor your father and Mother (Respect and revere them)
You chose to be obedient to your parents, even if you don’t agree. You speak to them with respect, not sassy or mumbling. You do not talk bad about them to others.
Don’t bear false witness.
You decide you will not lie about someone. You will not gossip. Sometimes gossiping about the truth can be out of context which is a false witness. You make the decision to edify and if that’s not possible, don’t say anything.
Let’s choose to personally walk holy in our relationship with Christ.Seek Him first and love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
“Our place in the family.”
Scripture Genesis 2:18-24; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5:33 & 6:1-4; Colossians 3: 18-21
God’s first establishment was the family. This is the foundation of human order individually and as a society. The husband and wife make a family. From this point on, we are to cling to one another. After all, we became one. As one, we need to seek Christ’s direction in unity.
Husbands are told to love their wives. Men are matter-of-fact, as a general rule, so they forget that we need the tenderness of love. They set their eyes on a task/target/prize and go to it. Once they succeed, the work is over and they set their mind on the next thing. Therefore, God told them to love their wives. They have to consciously love their wives because they are, otherwise, matter-of-fact. They are focused and single-minded so as to be good providers and leaders. It’s how God made them.
Wives are told to submit to and respect their husbands. To submit to our husband is placing one’s self under God’s authority. The husband is the leader of the home. This should not drive us crazy! It did me until I learned that God holds the husband responsible for the family. Don’t be mistaken, we are not off the hook. We have responsibilities, too. God also told us to respect our husband. Men need respect. God made them to rise up to the task of leadership. They can do this better when they feel respected. Men, by nature, are providers and protectors. They will work hard if they are given respect for what they do. We have to consciously respect our men because we can be swept away with our own emotions. Therefore, we are told to see to it that we respect them. They need it and so do we.
As parents, we have a huge task! Proverbs 22:6 says we are to train our children the way they should go so even when they are old, they will not depart from it. To train our children means to live it out in front of them. Yes, we are to discipline them, but in love. We should not be a “do as I say, not as I do” parent. We are not to provoke them to anger – show love and mercy. We are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We have to live it, tell it, explain it and be the example of the way God wants us to live. It’s a big task and it’s ours! It is not up to the Church, school or others, etc., to raise our children. Children are our blessings and our responsibility.
We are all children and we’re told to honor and obey our parents. God didn’t say, honor and obey if they are good parents. Parents answer to God and, as children, we are accountable to Him as to whether we honor and obey our parents. Obey means to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes or instructions. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Honor means to hold in high respect; revere; to treat with honor. If nothing more, we should honor our parents because of their position; they are our father and mother. You see, scripture didn’t say honor and obey if you agree with them or if they are the best-ever parents. We, as children, are responsible for honoring and obeying our parents because they are our parents. There’s really no wriggle room. And He gives us a promise of prolonged days for it!
1. We are all children. We are to honor and obey our parents.
What if my parents ignore me?
What if my parents are/were mean?
What if my parents are gone?
No matter what, we can show our parents honor. That’s a choice. Be pleasant, not sassy. Be kind and courteous. Don’t “push” their buttons. If your parents have passed away, respect their memory. We are to obey them. Remember, delayed obedience is disobedience. This command is not about how they treat you; it’s about being obedient to Christ our Savior. Seek God. Pray and ask Him to love your parents through you.
2. Some of us are wives. We are to submit to and respect our husbands.
What if my husband is not saved?
What if my husband is not living in obedience to Christ?
What if I’m divorced from my husband?
God has a hierarchy for the family, for society, governments and so forth. Your submission and respect could very well be the thing God uses to win your husband or bring him back into right fellowship. (Thankfully, we do NOT have to convict him. The Holy Spirit will do that.) If you are divorced, you should show respect for him. After all, you married him once. Don’t speak evil of him to your children, family or the world. Our speech and attitude are direct reflections of us and our walk with the Lord. Still single?- Choose wisely. CHRISTIAN, same faith, actively seeking after God – Tall, dark and handsome J
3. Some of us are parents. We are to train our children in the way of the Lord.
What if my children won’t listen?
What if my children are grown?
What if my children are wayward already?
If you have young children, decide NOW to train them in the way of the Lord. Don’t be slack. Mean what you say and say what you mean. LOVE them. Show them Jesus. If your children are older or wayward, don’t waste time with regret. Start where you are today. If you need to repent to Christ, then do it. If you need to apologize to your children, then do it. Love them! Pray for them! Be a godly parent now. Demonstrate the love of God to them. Reach out to them in love.
4. We are all a part of a family. Love them and SHOW them the love of Christ.
Remember, as Christians, we answer to our Lord who redeemed us! We are to LOVE HIM and LOVE our NEIGHBOR (that includes our family). Let the love of God flow through you. Be His vessel. We are “graded” on our obedience; not the results. Never forget that! Whether it’s being submissive or witnessing. We are only responsible for our part. The other person is responsible to God for what they do with it. Focus on your relationship with Christ and obedience to Him. Leave the outcome to our Lord.
So, what’s your place in the family? In what areas do you need be obedient to Christ?
How do you see your relationship with Christ now?
Not – it’s been better – ok – good – great Explain
Where do you want your relationship with Christ to go?
Stay the same – grow deeper – intimate with Him Explain
Write one thing you can do today to be obedient to Christ in relation to the family.
Purity is defined as the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
When we think of purity, we most often think of sexual purity. And that IS VERY IMPORTANT! Scripture has much to say about it. We are to keep our bodies pure. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are not our own. We have been bought with a price – the blood of Jesus – so we should honor Him with our body.
Throughout the Bible, Old and New Testaments, we are instructed to abstain from sex until marriage. The marriage bed is a beautiful and “sacred” gift from God. There is a reason why we are commanded to keep our bodies pure. Immorality is a sin against our own body.
1 Corinthians 6:17-19 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
Purity is actually a condition of the heart. You see, the Bible tells us that the way we think is who we are. That’s why we need to seek God and ask Him to give us a clean heart and to renew a steadfast spirit in us.
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Part of seeking God is being in His Word daily. The Word of God is the breath of God to us. As we meditate on scripture, we are filling our minds with the holiness of God which causes us to live pure and holy.
As our minds wander, we are told to think on good things. See Phil. 4:8. When we have a mean, evil or lustful thought, we are to replace it by thinking on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise”, is what we are to think on instead.
As we develop this mindset AND read the Bible and pray daily, we develop purity in our hearts. With pure hearts, we live pure lives. With pure lives, we escape many sins. By not sinning, we do not have to reap the consequences of sin. Do you see how God’s commands are for our benefit?
Because we live out what is in our hearts, it is so important that we have pure hearts. Pure hearts lead to clean hands, which means our actions or deeds are good, as well.
1 Peter tells us to be holy because God is holy. We are not left to do this out of sheer will. The Holy Spirit lives in us and will help us. We strengthen our faith as we practice our obedience to Christ. That practice starts with getting in His Word daily which leads to a pure heart which leads to holy living.
Purity is a choice. It is choosing to be obedient to Christ. It’s a matter of the heart long before it manifests in our actions.
We must choose to live the Christian life that God commands us to live. WE CAN DO IT. The Holy Spirit lives within us and He gives us the power to live out our faith in accordance with the Word of God.
1. What exactly is purity?
Purity is defined as the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.
This applies mentally, physically and spiritually. While we mostly think of purity only in a physical sense, it starts with our heart and mind. Therefore, spiritually and mentally we must be pure. It’s from the inside out.
It matters what we see and hear. Our eyes and ears are the openings to our heart. If you watch or read immoral films or books long enough, then it becomes “normal” to you. We must guard what we let into our minds. We must choose to block out impure images and ideas and put in God’s Word.
2. In today’s world, is purity really important?
Yes, God’s commands for us are not based on the societal norms or the generation in which we live. It is based on HIS HOLINESS. He doesn’t change.
Today it is odder to see a person who is pure than it is to see someone who is immoral. Your being pure is such a witness to a lost and dying world and to fellow believers who are struggling with their own walk with Christ.
We are commanded to be holy because our Lord is holy. If we are to be holy, we have to be pure. No matter where you are or where you’ve been, you can start NOW with purity.
3. What if purity is not an option for me now?
Purity from this day forward IS possible for you. No matter what, starting today, you can choose to be pure. If you have already physically or mentally crossed “the purity line” and you think of yourself as spilled milk-never to be clean again, you are WRONG.
We serve a WONDERFUL MERCIFUL SAVIOR!!!!! He is ready, willing and able to forgive anything and everything that we have already done. He will wipe our slate clean and we can start over. Please understand that Christ does not do away with consequences of our sin, but He forgives us and makes us right with Him. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can once again be pure and live that way from now on.
We must repent of our sin and turn from it. That means to STOP it now. So if you are in a relationship in which you are not living pure, you can repent and STOP. Yes, it may mean an end to the relationship, but if the other person is pulling you away from Christ the relationship needs to stop anyway. Remember, you are not on your own! You have the Holy Spirit in you to give you strength, courage, and boldness to follow Christ.
Take a look at your life right now. Are there some things that you need to change immediately to walk in purity? (mark all that apply)
_____ end a relationship
_____ stop reading “those” books
_____ stop watching “those” movies
_____ change who you hang out with
_____ start a relationship with Christ through His salvation
Purity is a choice, just like everything in life. Our obedience to our Father is a choice. How can we consistently choose not to obey Him after He saved us? He saved us for so much more!
I commit to start today by (mark all that apply)
_____ reading the Bible everyday
_____ replacing bad thoughts with good
_____ seeking help
_____ choosing to trust Christ that He can change me
“All about motive.”
I recently watched a murder mystery. Don't worry, it was on Hallmark. But for every "who done it" they are looking for suspects with motive. Since we can't "know" someone else's heart, we look at circumstantial evidence to surmise a motive. Sometimes, we are WAY OFF base.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, Jesus judges the heart. He sees and knows our true motive. No guessing with Him. No saying "that's not what I meant" or "you took that wrong". Jesus reads the heart.
So what should our motive be? I Corinthians 16: 14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love." As believers (followers of Jesus) every single thing that we do should be done in love. That doesn't mean we have to be sappy all the time. Love sometimes requires us to made hard decisions that are difficult to carry out; like ending a relationship that takes us away from Christ or rebuking a fellow believer so they will repent. Love can be tough! But love is always a choice.
I have been dieting a lot lately. I think about what I'll eat next all the time. If I don't consciously think about my next meal, I will have eaten something well out of line with dieting before I realize it. Sometimes I feel like that with my faith. If I'm not consciously trying to follow Jesus, before I know it I will have said or done something contrary to my faith! And sometimes I do things that are not tempered in love. Let me assure you that I am working on that. AND Jesus is transforming me!
Trust me, if you knew me 30 years ago (like my dear husband) you would agree that I've "come a long way, baby!" A few days ago I told one of my sisters that I had learned to let go of a lot of things and not get so wound up. My husband surprised me when he said, "She sure has!" That's just one of the changes Jesus is making in me.
Back to "motive". It is my desire to live out I Cor. 16:14. My motive for everything should be love! Not selfish ambition or gain or to look good to people, but love. That love should be for my Savior first and then for my fellow man. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself." If we ever get those two things right, we will truly live the Christian life.
So what's your motive? Be honest - Jesus already knows!
“Valentine’s, love, hugs and kisses!”
What's Love Got to Do With It?
February- Valentine's Day - hugs and kisses... This is the month we think of our sweetheart, our family members, our classmates or coworkers. We think about roses and cards and gifts for those we care about. In our world today, love seems to be superficial at best and fleeting at the least.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm as sappy a romantic as they come. I love Valentine's Day, hugs and kisses, roses, cards and gifts- both giving and receiving! And for nearly 30 years I've had the same heart-throb sweetheart! (He's really had to be committed though. I'm not always so "lovable"!)
So, What is Love?
God is LOVE. That's what 1 John 4:8 says. "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." God showed His love as John 3:16 describes, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Now, that's love!
So as a Christian, is it easy to at love as God does? It would be impossible if not for the Holy Spirit living in us. I have been saved for 36 years and let me tell you, I am still learning every day what it means to love like God and be loved by Him. I'm amazed at how God loves me and you! And what truly gets me is how He is always ready to forgive me and wipe the slate clean when I repent of my sin. Yep, that's right. I still sin as do all Christians.
We must understand that we will be like Him when we see Him face to face. Until then, He is molding us more and more into His image. As we grow into His likeness, we will express His love more and more... "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;" 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
So, How Do We Get This Love?
We have to be saved to get this love. How do we get saved?
Romans 10:9-10 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation."
So, while you think of how much you love your sweetheart and seek to show your sweetheart your love, remember that we love because He first loved us. Without the love of God, we could not love. Let's seek the face of God this month and show Him our love for Him!