Perceptions

 

Perceptions
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”? When you are meeting someone for the first time, how do you determine that this is someone you will become friends with? Is it their outward appearance, is that what draws you to them or is it something else? Is it a gut reaction, first instinct-yes, I really like this person or no-way can I be friends with this person?

I have met many people over the years and if I only judged my initial reaction on how they looked, I would have been sadly disappointed with what I found. Most people, in general, can dress themselves up in such a fashion, with makeup, hairstyles and clothing to make it seem like they are all put together. And if they look like they have it all together,with no problems, and appear happy, are they really?

There are so many people that are hurting and lonely and have lost hope. But there is hope, one hope that we can hang onto. That hope is that the God of the Universe, the great I AM, is longing for everyone to come back to Him. To accept His son, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to repent of their sins and to have a daily relationship with Him.

My eyes see people that love, but have not been loved. So they search for love in all the wrong places. Some search out drugs and alcohol and some have other addictions, because if it makes them feel good, if only in the moment, then they don’t feel like they are hurting. The drugs, alcohol, sexual partners, gambling, smoking, overeating..whatever it is that brings them comfort, that is what they love and that is what makes them feel better,again, if only for the moment.

The sad part is that all of the addictions, that many people face, myself include(cigarette smoking), only bring temporary relief and can bring damaging and sometimes, fatal results.
I ask myself daily, what difference can I truly make? I am only one person. And then I am reminded that with God ALL things are possible. I pray daily to the Lord, sometimes hundreds of times throughout the day, because I know that I can’t do anything without Jesus.

I remember when I have tried in the past to run my life and be in total control and didn’t have Jesus as my number one; my life was, for all intensive purposes, a wreck to say the least.

You see, we aren’t meant to walk this earth alone. We are created to worship God and to live our lives in such a manner that we honor Him and give Him glory. But if you don’t have any kind of foundation in your life growing up, or any godly examples of people that can counsel you, when life just jumps up and smacks you in the face or punches you in the gut, than you don’t know to turn to the Lord.

I was very blessed to have parents that taught me about Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit. I learned at a young age, that having Jesus to hold on to when times were tough and pray (talk) to when I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing and learning that when people need help, it’s not considered a hand out but a hand up. They modeled this in my life. I was one of the lucky ones for sure.

It makes me sad, when I think of all the children in the world, that don’t have loving parents to guide and direct them. To teach them that there will always be people trying to pull you in many different directions and stand for many things and the one thing I have always tried to impress on my own children is this:

Doing what’s right is not always popular and doing what’s popular is not always right. There will be times in your lives, where you will have to stand up for your beliefs and you may have to stand alone. Don’t ever be afraid to do that, because God will be with you.
Standing up for your beliefs or standing up for others, that are too weak or scared to stand up for themselves, shows that you have character. It also shows that there are people that are willing to stand up for them, when they don’t feel like they can stand for themselves or maybe they have no idea how to even do that because they’ve never been given the opportunity to do so.

I’ve heard a lot of people say honesty is overrated, but I totally disagree on this. I believe in total honesty. When you are honest, you don’t have to try and remember what story you told to so and so and then try to keep your stories straight. Being honest, at times, may be hard, especially if the person you are being honest with, doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.

You can be honest and loving and caring. There is nothing that says when you are honest with another person, no matter what the topic is, that you have to be brutal and demeaning.

John 13:34 NLT
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

In the dark times that we are all faced with in our world today, there remains one constant, one light, one Lord and His name is Jesus Christ. I have a choice and so do you, you can live for the Lord and be a light to others, a hope, if you will, by sharing your testimony to what Jesus has done in and for you and through your trials and joys or you can choose not to accept Him as your Savior, Redeemer, Friend, Father and live a very dark, hopeless existence with no light in your life.

When I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was eleven years old. I grew up attending a church with my parents and siblings and loved hearing and learning Bible Stories and how when people trusted God and looked to God for their everything-their food, their protection, their very lives, I wanted that too. When I read of people of Faith in the Old Testament that chose to faithfully follow God and do His work, were rewarded with abounding love and favor. They had trials, they had battles they faced, they were hungry, and lost and felt hopeless, but they trusted God to provide for their needs. And He did.

They fought evil just like we do today. They were slaves in Egypt before Moses led them to the promise Land God promised them. And for a while, they were faithful in actions and words, but then temptations and the freedoms that they had never experienced before and the waiting and wondering in the wilderness, caused them to worship idols and false Gods. This broke God’s heart and angered him. But Moses spoke with God and pleaded for their lives and God relented. He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and promised to always guide them as long as they lived by the law.
The difference in Bible times between Old Testament and New Testament is that when Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, and died a sinless death on the cross, He paid the ultimate price for redemption for ALL of OUR sins FOREVER. And the only command he truly gave us was to Love God and Love others. Repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, because that is the only way back to God and live your lives in such a manner that glorifies Him. Give to the needy, help the poor, care for those who have nothing and love one another. Forgive others, show them grace and mercy, even if you don’t think they deserve it.
Showing grace and mercy in heated situations, is difficult, but the more you do it, the more you practice to respond in a loving manner or tone, the more you are willing to reach out and be the one person that will listen and help if possible, you are learning to live like Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He is the one constant,in our ever changing times.
We live in such a broken world today, that the only hope we have that will change things is Jesus Christ. When he died and arose again, and went to be with the Father in Heaven, he left us an advocate, The Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of believers. Jesus is always with us, even when we aren’t sure. He is there.
He promised to never leave us or forget about us. When we are weak, too exhausted to hold on, He is our strength. He carries us more than we know and He does it because He loves us.
In 1 Peter 5:8-9 the Bible talks about being alert and on guard, because the devil (our enemy) lurks around waiting to devour us and it only takes a fleeting moment of fear or doubt for him to attack.
The state of our world is in sad shape and I pray daily that God will heal our nations. No viable candidate for the presidency, wars all around, mass killings, hungry people, homeless people, a great sadness. I believe we are in the end times. But we also know that no one knows the day or hour Jesus Christ will return, so that’s why we need to stay alert and continue to be the light and share the gospel with all those that will listen.
We must live our lives in a holy manner-stop the judging of others-that is not our job. That’s His job. Jesus tells us in the Word that we will be judged in the same manner as we judge others. We all have to answer for our actions when we come before the Father in Heaven.
Are you struggling right now? Not seeing anyway out of what has you mired down? Feeling like God isn’t there? Seeming like you are on a sinking life raft and you are totally alone and no one cares? That’s the enemy of our souls. That is how he wants you to feel. Do you realize that in times like these, this is where prayer and crying out to Jesus is what you must do? Talk to a pastor, or friend, seek help-don’t give up.

As my 51st birthday approaches, I look at all the things that have happened in my life and I can say with 100% assurance that if it had not been for the Lord and his unfailing faithfulness, I would not be where I am today. I have walked through many valleys and climbed many mountains and He was always there with me. Even when I wasn’t sure, he was. I have been through some terrifying times in my life where I saw no way out of them; where I felt like giving up and not hanging on, but the one go to verse, I have carried in my heart, reminded me that God has/had plans for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
“I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

There are days where I have a hard time hearing the Lord speak to me, but when I stay in His Word and walk with him daily, it’s easier to hear the whispers and know, with conviction and peace that I am hearing him correctly. Sometimes, though, what I think I heard for someone else or myself, turns out to be not the case at all and then I do my best to ask Him to reveal to me what it is he wants me to do or to know.

When I choose to trust in God and live my life according to Him, things are easier than when I try to do it on my own. Sometimes, he will allow difficulties to arise and in those difficult moments, I know he is refining me, molding me and shaping me into the person he wants to see me become. Many times the lessons, seem very painful, but when I look back, I know he was preparing me for battles I would face and building my faith.
I have always been blessed with strong faith. My eyes may not see a way, but my faith says yes-it’s possible. My mind may not be able to comprehend how everything will work out, but my faith says, my God is bigger and He will prevail!
When I see someone that is struggling or hurting, I do my best to look through the Lens of God. When I remove myself and ask God what it is that is causing them sorrow or hard times, I try to be a light to them. I share my testimony of what God has done in my life and love on them. Sometimes it is welcomed and other times, maybe they aren’t ready to forgive a trespass or maybe they have been hurt so much, that someone just loving them is scary because they have never experienced Holy love. This is so sad to me, that when love costs nothing and is so easy to share, that there are so many that don’t understand. And when I speak of love, I am not talking about romance. I am talking about loving someone because they too are my brothers and sisters and created by the One True God.

We all have different ways of looking at and perceiving things and often times, just this alone, can cause rifts in relationships simply because we only know one way-our way. Most usually this doesn’t mean one person is wrong and the other is right. Showing mercy and grace during situations that create a rift, can help propel healing on many levels. There are so many practical ways to love on others-pay for their meal, smile, give hugs, listen, empathize with them, do a chore that you normally wouldn’t do, take a burden from them. Be helpful and kind. It costs nothing but the rewards are great.
Think before you speak. Our words can bring peace and comfort or hurt and anguish. Once words are spoken, you can’t take them back and pretend it never was said. Apologize when it’s necessary, ask for forgiveness, forgive yourself. We are all human and sometimes we do not stop to think that our actions can be devastating to others that do not walk in the love of the Lord.

May God bless you today and may you know you are loved!

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Comfort Me Lord

praise the lord

Being one that has the Spiritual Gift of Encouragement, I sometimes find it difficult to encourage myself, when times are tough.  I have no problem sharing the Word with others and doing my best to lift them up, and pray for them and with them, but when it comes to praying to God for myself, I sometimes feel that I am being selfish; putting my needs above others.

Last month, I injured my knee to the degree that after a week of trying to push the pain aside, and continued to walk on it or maybe I should say limp along; I finally conceded to getting it checked out.  I have always been the one that takes care of everything, not the one needing taken care of.  But through rest and many prayerful moments, talking to God, I have come to realize that we are not meant to handle anything on our own. Anything.

I have found that when I go through struggles in life, some of my own choosing and some that Jesus lets me go through, because then it reminds me that I must totally surrender my life and everything in my life, to Him.  And going through the daily struggles of life, we face in the flesh-in the world-with His guiding, we can than comfort others because we can share our testimony with another person.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.-Matthew 11:28 (New International Version)

God reminds us through His word, that we are to come to him. He is our resting place. He is our refuge in times of trouble and he is also a loving Father, that wants nothing more for His children to come to Him, regardless of why. Many people, and I have been just as guilty, seem to run to God when life isn’t going the way we think it should, but he also wants to share in our joys as well.

Whereas, the devil wants to take our joy, our hopes, and dreams and toss us back and forth like the waves on the high seas.  Satan knows what doubts we have, and if we let those doubts become thoughts and we linger on them, it is then, that he tells us lies, lies we usually believe and fail to see what is going on, until it seems like there is no way but failure. Don’t fall for it.

In 1 Peter 5:8 this is a reminder, from the Lord:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Trust in the Lord, rely on Him.  Cast all your cares on Him. All of them. Letting go and letting God do your work and fight your battles will really improve your life. I know because I let Him fight mine. It took me a long time to learn that simple fact. And, yes, there are times I need a gentle nudge and reminder.  But God gives me grace. And His grace is enough.

May you be blessed,

Carlene