Sphere of Influence

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“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

Everywhere we go, we have a ‘Sphere of Influence.’ Wherever you are right now, look around you. A simple smile, kind gesture, motivational word, or the opposite has the power to influence someones mood, outlook, and motivation in how they approach their day, or those around them. A lot of what we value is learned by society, unless we have been transformed by the power of new thinking. The thinking that comes from the word of God.

I challenge you with this thought today, even if you are not a believer: If everyone of us said, “I will not do for others, because they have not done for me, would anyone do anything at all?” Who then would start the trend?

We as Christians are called to be set apart, and love our enemies. It can be the hardest thing in the world to stretch out our hands to the ones that we feel don’t deserve it, or those who have wronged us … but in truth; none of us ever deserved the forgiveness that Jesus showed us when He died on the cross.  We love because He first loved us. He saved us, not because we did anything special to earn it. He saved us out of a love that can only be demonstrated and taught by Him. We do not have to earn the love and provision of God, therefore, we should not expect others to earn our generosity.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

This verse simply means, that we teach others how to treat us. This won’t always work of course … there is a very present evil in the world, and it would be wise to cut cords where necessary; however, If you want kindness, show it. If you want love, show it. If you want forgiveness, forgive; and so on. Sometimes the hardest person to love, is the person that needs it the most.

Today: encourage your sphere of influence with random acts of kindness, and watch as miracles unfold. If the world could catch on to this teaching, I truly believe the world would be a better place. Be Blessed …

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He is Risen!

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Picture taken outside a church on Sunday – Easter Morning.

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46

A darkness may have come over the land at one time, and may still seem that way at times, but be assured that He has risen! He is still alive and powerful today! No matter what storm you face, Jesus is there in the midst, shining a light ready to help you fight your battles. The trouble we face on this earth – death, and sadness, will one day be non-existent.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

He has risen! (Mark 16:6)

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Windows of Opportunity

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Photo from pinterest

“When you have that window of opportunity called a crisis, move as quickly as you can, get as much done as you can. There’s a momentum for change that’s very compelling” Anne M Mulcahy

There comes a time in our lives when we are faced with windows of testing, windows of blessing, and windows of opportunity.

When Noah built the ark, there was a window of opportunity. When he was faced with adversity and doubt, there was a window of testing. In the end, because Noah held onto his faith, and the window to the ark was opened, there was the window of blessing.

“After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.” Genesis 8:6-7

I am sure there were times that Noah felt worn out, waiting for the promises from God to come to pass. He probably grew tired taking on such a big project, and dealing with opposition the entire time. Whenever a crisis comes our way God does not leave us empty handed. He gives us the tools we need to carry out the tasks he gives us, and the grace to sustain us through our trials, until we reach our promise. People may call us crazy at times for having such great faith, but faith pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Most times the windows of opportunity, that usually fall within a crisis pass by us, because we are too caught up in the moment that we forget to see the silver lining, or the opportunities for blessings that lie ahead of them.

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.” Henry J. Kaiser.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”  Malachi 3:10

God understands doubt more than we know. He instructs us to trust Him. Test the waters, and see if God will not pour out a blessing bigger than we could ever imagine. Not that we should do things for God, always expecting something in return. But, expect that if you heed the word of God, an answer to every problem is just around the corner, along with the promise of a blessing/reward for our faithfulness in the end.

 “So, she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” Joshua 2:15-16

Rahab, was in a pretty sticky position. She was taking a risk by hiding the two men/spies in her home. But, she had faith in what the Lord has already done for them, so, in faith she kept them hidden. In return, her life, and her family were spared.

Sometimes our windows of opportunity are time sensitive, and can go against every grain in us. We can either heed God’s instruction with obedience, or reject it. The choice is yours; time is a luxury that we as humans do not have, so seize every opportunity, do as much as you can to keep up momentum, because there is an opportunity for change to take place. I feel that this is the year of change. It can be change for the better, or change for the worse, that really is up to you. It isn’t always easy, but nothing worth having is going to be easy to obtain. Run as if you are in a race, and don’t give up.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

What obstacles or giants are you facing today? Daniel faced his giant with a single stone of faith. Noah faced his mountain by pressing on with the project God had given him, regardless of adversity. Rahab knew God’s faithfulness, so she did what she knew was right regardless of the risks that lay ahead. I’ve heard the saying,”The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God cannot protect you.” This simply means “God is faithful.”

“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 KJV

Trust God, and watch miracles unfold. Be Blessed!

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Life Support

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“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:5 (KJV)

Today after church a man we all held dear was in a car accident with his wife and friend. This friend had decided to come back to church with him, a week after he was saved. At the age of 76 he gave his heart to God.

Before church was out the pastor had us pray with his new friend, almost with a sense of urgency. I figured as a new christian of course that would make sense. Little did we know what was about to occur.

I got a text from a friend stating that the two men were in an accident and being rushed to hospital in serious condition. His friend made it….he didn’t. He was being kept alive by life support, until all his friends and family could come.

Life support is a measure that keeps your organs going, when you are unable to breathe or fight any longer. He died not long after being taken off life support.

His wife and friend may have made it out okay, but now they need the body of Christ to be their life support. When you feel unable to cope with the demands of life, that’s when the body of Christ rushes in. Like red blood cells rush to the site of an injury, or an ambulance rushes to the scene of a tragedy.

“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (KJV) 

The body of Christ is the best form of life support there is. The kind that knows how to pray with you, hold you up, rejoice with you, and mourn with you. The bible says that when one part of the body hurts, the whole body feels it. When your arm is broken, it affects the way the rest of the body functions. We all need one another to make it.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)

When one part of your body isn’t being fed with oxygen rich red blood cells it will die off quickly. Without the body of Christ we can quickly become discouraged when life throws us off course. We need one another to be successful and hold one another up when needed. Every part of the body is unique, and cannot survive without the other.

“Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31 (KJV)

Stay in the life boat (Jesus – the body of Christ), and you will make it to your destination. This life is just a blip on the map of what is to come. And whatever heartache or tragedy we come across along the way, know that it is nothing that Jesus didn’t already overcome through his death on the cross. His blood is our healing, our red cross in the moment of need. And there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. So let’s bind together in prayer for the rest of our Journey together. We may have to say goodbye to some along the way, but that isn’t the end. That just means they have gone before us….their work on earth is done, and the reward of retirement has come.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28 (KJV)

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Smoke and Mirrors

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Shared from pinterest

“Then the Lord spoke to the man in linen clothing and said, “Go between the whirling wheels beneath the cherubim, and take a handful of burning coals and scatter them over the city.” He did this as I watched.” – Ezekiel 10:32 (NLT)

 I had a dream that I was trapped in a room full of smoke and I could not escape. Like a scene out of a movie, where a person is waiting to be rescued from a house fire, or being trapped in a smoky room when smoking in public places was allowed.

The phrase ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ basically means that sometimes things aren’t always as they seem to be. The devil uses this as a form of artful deception. If you were standing in a cloud of smoke, it could certainly limit your vision, causing you to grab onto whatever you can find to guide you to safety. Perhaps my dream/vision was pointing out that sometimes the things of this world can appear in shades of gray, luring us into a perceived pleasurable experience, or haven of safety, but deceiving us to reality and the truth.

There are many people being led in all sorts of directions, so it’s up to us to readily share the truths and the grace God has gifted us with. For example, Hinduism believes in Karma. “Cause and effect.” Basically you create your own destiny based on your deeds, so if you do something good, then you deserve good. If you do something bad, well you made your bed lie in it. Not that justice isn’t a fair thing, it is and should be had. But what about the people that fail, yet look for forgiveness, and want to change their lives. Is there no hope? The bible teaches, that God’s grace is freely given. You need not do anything to deserve it, you simply have to ask for it. Jesus took on all of our sins and wrongful deeds, so that we may be freely forgiven. We don’t have to earn God’s love and forgiveness. Religion says – do this, take these steps, and you will be saved. Jesus says:

“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 (NIV)

The enemy is a liar and a very creative deceitful one. Making us think things are fine on the surface. There is so much hurt in this world, people that need the Love of God to rescue them. How would anyone know the Love of God unless we provide it to them? They believe the lies, that their lives are worthless, or that life is too short so live it up and then die. God’s word tells us that this life is just a blip on our journey, pick up the book again and read to the end.

When we see non-believers, who are so successful and never seem to struggle, we as Christians think gosh how unfair is that? They go about sinning all they please and never get so much as a hand slap. The enemy is not going to bother with someone who is living the way he wants them to live, and God gives us free-will to do as we please. We get to choose rightful living, or living any old way we please, but there are repercussions. These people are walking right into one of the enemy’s most famous traps, thinking they are free and there are no consequences.  But, the truth is that our lives are not our own, and there is an eternity to think about. One with God, or without. That’s why the Christian life isn’t necessarily the easiest, but it’s worth it.

In Ezekiel the Lord spoke to the man, and told him to take a handful of coals and scatter them in the city. To me the coals represent the word of God. We must keep the message burning. God appeared many times in the bible in a cloud of smoke. I can only imagine that it was because we are unable to see God fully, but we can certainly know his presence. Like a protective covering. Yet, God is never unclear in His words. His word never changes.

Perhaps the lord showed up in a cloud of smoke, to not only show me that I was covered by his divine protection, but to reiterate to me the fact that I need to keep the word moving, before it’s too late.

“Then the Lord will provide shade for Mount Zion
and all who assemble there.
He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day
and smoke and flaming fire at night,
covering the glorious land.” Isaiah 4:5

 This is the year of the lord’s restoration. The restoration of his word, his promises for your life, and divine protection from the things of this world. It’s waning worse, not better. But as people of the Lord we know that He holds our tomorrow. For the people that do not know him, we need to spread the good news so that others may know the same hope. If you have turned away from God, and want to turn back there has never been a better time than now. God is waiting with open arms ready to shelter you from the storms you face, and deliver you from clouds of confusion, giving you a pathway to the beautiful life he intended for his children to have. God Bless.

 

 

 

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Unshaken

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This devotional I wrote last January for an online publication called, Happy Sis. The magazine issue was called, Overcoming Fear. I decided to share this devotional again because we all have something to gain from it. I encourage you to go to the website and check out all that it has to offer, even freebies! Click Here To Visit Happy Sis!

Unshaken

“Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.” – Psalm 91:6

I hate to sleep in a room that is too warm.  I decided to open my window one night to let some fresh air in.  My dog likes to sleep right beside me and she seemed not to mind the fresh air.  Sometime around 3:00 am I was awoken out of a dead sleep to a deep snarling sound, followed by a super loud cat scream.  Tingles immediately went up my spine and a shot of adrenaline pumped through me, I was literally numb.   It’s very rare to have cougars in this area of Ontario, but I was sure that there was a cougar right outside my window.  It was chilling……  I had spotted one about a few months prior around the train tracks, so I knew that’s what it was.

I looked over at my little dog that surprisingly was still sleeping soundly right next to me.  I thought how in the world she slept through this, is insane!  It sounded like a caged cat fight outside. She normally is a very barky little dog, and wakens to everything.  Very overprotective of me and her home; however, somehow she was in such a position that she felt safe and – unshaken.

This is how I long to be with my God.  No matter what is happening around me, I want to be steadfast, unshaken.  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

There are many things in life that can cause us to fear; and it’s not to say we will never feel fear it’s completely normal.  The difference in a Christians walk with God is that we have the ability to overcome it through Him.  We have a God that is bigger than any mountain of fear we face.  There is nothing to hard for God.

“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

Jesus says that in this life we will endure hardships, but to take heart for He has already overcome anything in this life that we will face.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Therefore we can tell that mountain to move in faith, and it will move.  (Mark 11:23)  The devil loves nothing more than to cause us to fear, but fear is not from God.  (2 Timothy 1:7) Resist the devil and he will flee.  (James 4:7)

I’m not saying to go out and attempt to fight the cougar, we must use wisdom.  But know that God is always with you through anything.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2

I did not immediately jump up in fight mode, I simply lay there and prayed the name of Jesus, until the fear passed, then I went back to sleep.  Sometimes it’s a mind over matter thing.  The saying, “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter,” is such a true statement.

The things we give power to in our lives will have power.  Fear is only powerful if you allow it to be.  The devil has no control at all, unless we give it to him.  If we keep our eyes on the Lord through any storm, we can’t sink.  A child will look to their father or mother when they are afraid, and in that Love all fear passes away.  Perfect love casteth out fear.  (1 John 4:18)

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”  – Romans 8:37

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

James bond always had the famous saying, “Shaken not Stirred.”  In my story, the line reads, “I may be stirred, but I will not be shaken!”  In Jesus name.

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”  – Psalm 62:6

 

 

 

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This Old House

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Photo credit: Pinterest

 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)

I got married in August of last year and moved to a house about a half hour away from where I lived. It was not my first choice, since it was so far out, but also because I knew this house was old and needed a lot work. I judged it because of its imperfections much like a person looks in the mirror and judges their flaws.

It wasn’t until I dared to stop looking and dwelling on the negative aspects of things, and tried to take on a different perspective, that I saw the bigger picture. A blessing in disguise so to speak. I started reading Home and Garden, and House Beautiful magazines, and saw transformations that people had done. I was in awe. I now have something to look forward to, as I fix one thing at a time, I gain about a thousand victories. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” my husband will often say. Just think if everything we ever got in life was new and without problems…. it’s a beautiful thought; however, we would miss out on the joys of being able to re-create, and see miracles.

Jesus is constantly working on us as well. Our Christian walk is exactly that – a walk. We may not see the bigger picture right now, but we will one day. “Count your trials as blessings.” (James 1:2) We would never know victory without some struggle to obtain it.

We are born into a world of sin and multitude of imperfections, problems, and bad situations. They inevitably creep into our lives. But, it’s what we do with them that makes a world of difference. What do you do when the world throws you a lemon?

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” – John 14:2 (NIV)

Jesus prepared a better place for us, so we know that this is not forever. But we can learn to have joy and find blessings in everyday life by reading his word and being positive. I realized after I had moved in, that I really had all of my prayers answered. I specifically asked for a place with three rooms, two bathrooms, a yard for the dogs, maybe even a pool? It’s a far drive to get here, but when I get here, I call it home. Maybe not forever, but for now it’s a far cry from where I was. I simply had to open my mind and trust God, that He would lead me exactly where I was meant to go. Usually we only struggle because we are constantly fighting against God instead of trusting Him to provide and lead.

We renewed the insurance on the house this year amongst other things, and realized that the house was worth more burned down. It was a sad fact, nevertheless, I continue to see the possibilities of what could be, and keep faith that God is in control.

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.” – Henry J. Kaiser

Jesus sees past our flaws and imperfections, into what could be. An artist takes an old blank canvas, or something old and turns it into a masterpiece. Not without mistakes along the way, but consistently perfecting it until the day He is finished. He refines us like gold and silver. (Malachi 3:3)

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

We are the ones that have limited vision. So, I continue to work on this old house, room by room. As I write this I see imperfections that I have overlooked, yet I leave them as a reminder to myself of what was, what is, and what could be. Sometimes there is beauty in imperfections, it leaves behind a mark of character, and growth.

“Out with the old and in with the new,” is a common phrase used in New Years Resolutions. I dare you to take on a project – find something old, and make it new, and while you do it, give praise to God for taking your life, a life destined to sin and destruction, and making it something new and beautiful – Beauty for Ashes.

I have a bad habit of throwing things out when they become old because it just seems like a lot of work to keep. Not that it’s a bad thing to simplify your home and throw things out, but sometimes things are worth keeping. I now learn to either give some things away to someone in need, or repurpose them for the greater good. Aren’t you glad God didn’t toss you out because of your sin and imperfections? He had a different plan, that plan was Jesus. (John 3:16)

Happy New Year!

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