Are You Ready?

The Story

Today I went to the grocery store after spending time at school on our limited schedule.  I prepared myself for this trip by having a mask and gloves in a sandwich bag to avoid contamination.

After parking the car and getting out, I proceeded to put on the mask.  I felt silly, so I took it off and remembered I have a daughter at home that has asthma and she has been really worried.  So I put it back on, put on my gloves, shut the car door and walked into the store.

Once in the store, I got a cart and started shopping.  Then began to notice something, senior citizens were wearing masks and gloves, but not young people.  Some people were social distancing and some were not.

I got to the cash register and waited until the belt was clear to load my stuff, like the sign said.  I waited for the person in front of me to leave and put my stuff on the belt. The cashier got paper towels and disinfectant and sprayed the kiosk off before ringing up my groceries.  I thanked her, but she was not wearing any protection either. After paying and leaving the store, I put my groceries in the car and finally took off my protective wear and threw them away.

On the way home I was thinking about that experience and how proud of myself I felt for protecting me and my family and others from this terrible pandemic.  I was listening to the radio and the song, “How He Loves Us” by Shane and Shane was on my Christian radio station 98.3. I started car singing and began thinking about how much He loves us.  But, also, about how people don’t think He loves us because it may seem to them like he isn’t helping us at all. Then, I thought “Well maybe this IS Him loving us by giving us MORE TIME to get our lives right.  And for God’s Warriors to push for accepting Him as their Savior!” WOW! What a Revelation!  

What IF?

What if this is your last chance?  What if He’s trying to get your attention?  What if He needs you to become a Warrior? What if there is no more time?

Everyone is NOT focused on the Unseen, ETERNITY!  Everyone is STILL focused on what is seen, THE VIRUS!  But we should do this: 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 4:18

What if we’re missing the point?  In the past, God allowed things to happen when His people(Christians) and sinners (everyone else) forgot who He is!  Look around! Before this, we(all of us) forgot who God is! WE (all of us) were living like WE owned us, paid for us, were invincible.  But guess what????? We’re not! God bought all of us at a price! HIS LIFE! THIS WEEK!!!!! A LONG TIME AGO!!!!!!!! No one is paid for on their own without GOD!  We are ALL sinners!!! For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.   Romans 3:23-25a

How do I Change This?

ACCEPT Jesus as your Savior (the one who saves, the one who loves you, the one who can help you).

BELIEVE He is YOUR God in YOUR heart and LIVE IT OUT in YOUR LIFE.

CONFESS (tell God) your SINS and LEAVE them with him (don’t pick them back up and continue doing them) and ask for FORGIVENESS of your sins (anything you did wrong, even if you don’t know what it was ).

DISCIPLE others (tell them about who God is and what He has done in YOUR life!

FORGIVE others (not for their benefit, but for yours) It will set you free and you will begin healing.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  Romans 10:9-10

The Benefits:

LIVE a life free of WORRY (not trouble),The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.  Psalm 34:19

EXPERIENCE  eternal life (live with Jesus and your loved ones in Heaven)  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

NO FEAR of the FUTURE (knowing and living for God has no fear because you know when you die you are going to be with HIm in Heaven!  Praise God) That’s a GREAT feeling!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Living a life with God is the best life you could ever live.  He changes you, loves you, protects you, provides for you, heals you, saves you.  You will NEVER be without protection when you have God as your SAVIOR! Let Him in your life today!  He will lead you and guide you to safety, every time!  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

To die is gain!

I have not lost, I have gained.

Philippians 1:21-22a (NIV)

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  22a If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. 

Over the past month, I’ve encounter an end, a loss, let go, a resignation and a possibility.  Each thing representing something that I loved or wanted to love. Each thing having a specific meaning with time and space in my life.

In my singleness, I’ve learned to become independent. I’ve learned to rely on myself with God’s help.  Taking care of children, a house, a car, finances, serving others, friendships……always putting others first.  When faced with the upside downness of the past month, I realize that each of these things have taken my independence away and made me more dependent on God.

I have prayed and studied God’s word and put things aside to pursue God more and more.  I have been happier and found more joy in my sorrow and pain than at any other time in my life.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. (Philippians 1:21-22a)  I desire to be closer to God and learn how He wants me to live and who He wants me to be for this season of my life.  He has sent each of these situations to me to gain perspective, discipline, consistency, motivation and love.

I want to be wanted, chosen, cared for, loved, respected and pushed.    In each situation, God has shown me that even when something is worldly lost, gone, done or taken, He is still here, waiting, wanting,  pursuing, loving, providing, protecting. I have not lost, I have gained. I have gained more with Him than I can ever gain with another person, job, or success.  I have gained love, joy, peace, mercy, grace and everlasting life! Nothing I could ever gain with a person, job or success. Therefore, I have gained it all! I have gained Jesus!  I have won!

God’s Glory

Having to be transparent at times a little difficult for me.  I am not an open book. But when God uses my difficulties as a story for his people and those that are not His, I must be transparent to show you how awesome and loving He is.

Being a Teacher means that I only get paid once a month and sometimes that is hard. Being Single Mom makes it all the more difficult in making sure all the bills get paid and we have food  to eat and gas to go places. Sometimes everything gets paid and sometimes something get left unpaid.

Recently in August right before school started, I put off paying the electric bill because of thinking I would get paid before school started.  I used that money to buy things I needed for my classroom because Teachers have to buy their own stuff. I postponed it 10 days after the due date and then found out I was not getting paid until the day school started (27th).  The bill was due on the 24th, a Friday. I wouldn’t get paid until that Monday.

I tried to figure out something.  I felt horrible, but there was nothing I could do, but pray. I prepared for the worst (no electricity). I made arrangement to stay at a friend’s home.  I found my kids places to stay. I packed all the food in the refrigerator to take to my friend’s house.  I cleaned, took out all the trash, washed all the clothes and waited. I went to school that morning and then back home expecting the electricity to be off, but it wasn’t.  I called my friend to let her know that I was waiting for it to be cut off. So I waited and waited and waited on Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  The electric company workers can come at any time, even on the weekends to cut it off. Sunday morning, I checked my account balance at the bank because I needed some gas and I knew I had a least $10 in it.  But Glory be, my school check was in there, posted and ready to use. I immediately posted a payment with the electric company and thanked God for showing me His glory, grace, mercy and favor.

God showed me his glory.  He showed me how to prepared for things that could happen and recently for things I want to happen.  God showed up and showed out so that I could show you His greatness and love for his children. Just like He did this weekend when Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, where I live.  He show His glory by calming the storm through prayers by people who love Him and people that don’t. Think about how many people who don’t know Him saw His glory through prayer. Now they know and hopefully they will have a change of heart about him.  You can too! Just ask Him. He loves you and wants you to see his glory, too!

 

Please don’t call me a Christian!

I know this seems crazy, but after talking with a friend today I decided to let all of you know I’m not a Christian, I’m a Christ-follower!

Now I know some of you believe these are the same thing.  They used to be. But in recent generations, people have put stipulations on what Christianity is and isn’t.  People believe Christianity is a religion with rules and a set of do’s and don’ts. They believe you have to be perfect and sinless before you can join.   This kind of thinking forces people who want to believe to change their mind. They don’t want to jump through a bunch of hoops to love Jesus!

Being a Christ-follower is knowing that I’m a broken, sinful, lonely, unworthy, unwanted, never gonna be perfect person who needs a loving, caring, omnipresent, holy savior who searches and waits for me daily to ask him to help me live my life.  He is the potter of my life. He hugs all the broken pieces together. He forgives my sinful life and forgets about it with my repentance. He’s tells me I’m worthy, wanted, loved, favored, blessed; his princess. I am always, always welcomed at his table.  I don’t have to jump through any hoops to be there. I just have to believe his is the Son of God, Accept Him into my heart and Confess that He is my Savior and live for him with His help.

I still get to be me!  The one He created and knew He wanted to be here on this earth for a purpose, His purpose:  to love Him with all my heart and to love others! Simple, right? Yeah, I think so too. My Christ-follower life is my relationship with God!  It is different from yours. I’m not you and you’re not me. He created us different with different gifts and talents to love Him and reach others so they can know him too (purpose).  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV

You do this by just being you!  That’s it. No hoops, no rules, no stipulations.  Just love, his love. He will teach you how to love and live for him, just by being you.  Listen for Him! He is close by waiting for you to call to him (talk/pray). He is always by your side, whether you follow him or not.  He created you and you are His. He just wants to love you and for you to feel his love.

Don’t let Christianity scare you, be a Christ-follower and have a really cool relationship with God today!  Find a church that loves Jesus and people more than they love rules and stipulations. Read The Bible and books that teach you who Jesus really is.  And live the abundant life of love, joy, grace, mercy and peace with Him by your side. The life He created you for!

Jesus replied:  “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

Worthy

I’ve been on vacation this week and I haven’t been following my regular at home schedule.  So I have missed some of my daily devotions with God.

I had a moment this morning that made me realize that “you don’t have to be perfect to follow God”.  In fact,  God would rather us be broken, torn to pieces, battered, bruised, shaken, scared and a bunch of other not so lovely things, so He gets the glory for saving our behinds.

The story!

My grandson and I were traveling to meet my old high school friend for lunch.  We had to drive over the “Cape Fear River Bridge” that separates Wilmington, NC from Leland, NC and beyond.  This bridge has a grated part in the middle that is lifted when a big boat or barge needs to go under it.  As we are going over the bridge, traffic is heavy for two lanes on each side.  We are beside a tractor trailer at times as well as other vehicles.  As we are all on the last grated part, traffic is stopped because of the traffic light that is ahead.  We all start to slow down expect the tractor trailer who is beside us.  He slams on his brakes, skids to stop, I say, “Lord, help us” and slow down myself.  The tractor trailer comes to a stop, doesn’t fish tale into my lane or hit the person in front of him.  Praise God!  I told my grandson, “Only but God, only but God!” We thanked God all the way to our destination.

I had felt guilty for not including God in my vacation routine.  I was not consistent in indulging in His word like I am at home.  But He is not me!  Thank you, Jesus for being you!  He is always on time!  He is always with us!  He is always protecting us and loving us and providing for us.  There is no way, I mean, no way, my grandson and I and all those other people would have made it out without anything happening without God being there at that moment.

I love the way God loves me, in my mess or no mess.  He loves me so much even when I’m not consistent, not on time, not loving, not perfect!  He loves me and will always, always love me!  If you don’t know God the way I do, you are missing out on a loving, caring Heavenly Father who wants to get to know you!  Talk to Him, He is waiting to talk to you!  He created you and He knows you!  Let Him love you and feel His love for you today!

One Little Boy

During a trip to the laundromat, a little a boy approached me and gave me a card.  He said, “If you don’t have a church you go to, you can come to mine. Here’s a card to remind you.”  He gave me the card, I said,”Thank you!” and he walked away.

I didn’t tell him that I already attend a fabulous church (Revolution Church, Gastonia, NC).  I just listened to him and stood in awe as a little boy wanted me to know Jesus. He had invited me because he knows Him too and how much Jesus loves me.

As I was leaving, I spoke to his mom and said, “Your little boy has great courage to invite others to church and to know Jesus.  He will be very blessed throughout his life. Sometimes it takes a child to lead others to God. I know this to be true in my own life and my family’s life.”    I told them I would most definitely be there.

It reminded me of another little boy, Jesus, who came into this world as a baby to save it, to save us.  Sometimes, it takes a child like the little boy today who reminded me that just an invite, just a conversation, or just a reminder can lead someone to Jesus and change their life forever.  Be that little boy, be like Jesus and change the world; one invite, conversation or reminder at a time.

The card states: Good Friday at Elevation

                              Friday, March 30 at 6:00pm (www.easteratelevation.com)

                              Elevation Gaston

                             Forestview High School

                             5545 Union Road

                             Gastonia, NC 28056

Easter Sunday, you’re invited to : Revolution Church (www.RevolutionChurchNC.com)

                                                             615 W Franklin Blvd. (Central YMCA Campus)

                                                             Gastonia, NC 28054