Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spiritual Parasites

A few weeks back I went to Honduras. It was a pretty good trip overall. However, I brought back a stow-away. A parasite. Now, if you've never had a parasite, let me just say that you don't want one. They make you seriously sick!
Anyway, I had to teach in the ladies Sunday School class yesterday, and when I was preparing my lesson, I was dealing with this parasite. And I prayed to God to help me focus on the lesson instead of the parasite. He answered by giving me a lesson about parasites. Not physical ones, spiritual ones.
He showed me just how Satan's control of our lives is like a parasite's control of our bodies. They both attack you when you are least expecting it. They disguise themselves as something good.
II Corinthians 11:14 says, "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. He wants to fool us. He wants us to think the temptations he is offering us are good. He doesn't come and say, "Get into this sin, it really isn't good for you, and it will ruin your life."
It would be a lot easier to avoid sin, if Satan told us the end result up front. But that's not how he works.
And if we allow him to trick us, he latches onto us. He wants us to fall again and again. See, when he causes us to fall, he has destroyed our testimony. A Christian's testimony is a precious thing, and Satan will do ALL he can to destroy it.
I Peter 5:8 puts it this way, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
Satan wants to devour each and everyone of us. None of us is immune to Satan's attack. But though none of us can avoid being tempted, we have all been given a way to escape the temptation.
I Corinthians 10:13 says this, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Through Christ, we can all escape temptation. We just have to know our enemy. We have to know that Satan is trying to bring us down. And we have to stay strong in God's Word so that we will know our way of escape.
I pray today that you don't let Satan control your life. Don't let that spiritual parasite destroy you!

Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The BIG 3-0-0!

Yep, you read that right. I have reached the 300 posts mark. Actually, this is post 302. And as I look back over my past posts, I can see that life has definitely been a roller coaster ride for me.
My niece has gone from being the quiet little one I pictured in this post to being a very talkative 3 year old who constantly has me in stitches with her opinionated remarks!
My nephew has gone from being the adorable 5 month old pictured in
this post to being a very active almost two year old who can melt you with one look no matter what he is doing.
Yes, there have definitely been cheerful times along this ride of life. Times of
blessing. Times of fun with friends. Times of praise.
There have also been times of
worry. Times of sadness. Times of faltering faith.
But through every situation, good or bad. God has always been there, and He has taught me much through this blogging adventure. I know that He has used all of you to help me along the way. So thank you for allowing God to use you to bless me!

Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Monday, May 21, 2007

Love Like That - Jesus

I know that I'm doing a series called "Faith Like That." But today I want to share this with you guys. It's called "Love Like That." Today's thoughts are taken from Luke 23. I hope it is a blessing to you!
Imagine this scenario. You are a thief on the cross. You hate yourself for letting it get this far. If you had it to do all over you wouldn’t have stolen those jewels from the Roman ruler’s wife, not that you really felt sorry for it, but getting caught didn’t work out so well. You never even got to enjoy those jewels, just had them ripped from your hands as you were grabbed by those cruel Roman guards. Anyway, you're furious about your current predicament, and you start to curse and swear along with the thief on the other side of Jesus.
Jesus, now he was a different sort. He didn’t curse at all. You're hurting, but you're feeling nothing compared to the pain that this man must be suffering. He’s beaten beyond recognition. The soldiers were especially cruel to him, beating him and mocking him all the way to Calvary, and the way they nailed his arms to the cross. They jerked his shoulders clear out of socket. You want to know just what this man did to deserve such treatment.
You hear the Jewish leaders talking below, they laugh and sneer at Jesus. “Finally,” you hear them say, “We are through with this Jesus, this blasphemer. Can you believe that He said He came from God? Heresy, that’s what it is. No more of this healing on the Sabbath. No more of His loving Father speeches. God is a God of judgement. He is not a personal God.”
You don’t know what to think of this. You don’t know just who this man is, but surely He didn’t deserve this punishment just because He had proclaimed that God was a God of love. You start to feel a stirring deep in your soul, deep where a conscience used to be when you were a young child. Suddenly you know that this man truly is from God. You know that He is just what these leaders were saying that He wasn’t, but you're ashamed because you've been mocking him along with everyone else. You could almost cry with the shame that you feel.
You turn your attention back to the crowds. They are mocking him again saying, “You can work miracles, why don’t you save yourself? Bring yourself down from the cross.” They laugh and jeer, and your partner in crime starts in again.
“Yes, save us too, miracle worker! They say you can do anything!”
Finally, you've had enough. “Stop it, Stop it. Leave him alone.” You say. “Can’t you see he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
The crowds and your fellow thief are in shocked silence for a moment before they count you off as crazy and once again start their mocking, but Jesus turns to you with a love in His eyes like you've never seen. You want to turn away in shame from what you have done, but those eyes are like a magnet, drawing you to look at Him to look at the pain He’s suffering, and something tells you that He is doing this to pay for your crimes.
“Lord, please remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” you beg. You know there is a kingdom. You know what this man has said is true. You know you deserve the punishment you are bearing and the punishment that was sure to come after this life. The last thing you expected to here were Jesus’ next words.
“My son, today You will be with me in paradise.”
Me, you think, I don’t deserve paradise. Look at what I’ve done. Look at how I’ve lived my life. I’m so unworthy. Then you hear a voice deep within saying, “He has made you worthy.” Once again you bow your head in shame, but you thank God for the gift He has given you at the last possible moment.
What would it have been like to really be this man? To have lived a life of shame, completely disregarding others and completely disregarding God himself, yet at the last minutes of your life, you find salvation.

Now, I don't know about you, but I tend to love the lovable. It's much easier to show compassion to those who have always treated you with kindness. But when someone who has hurt you needs your help? Now that's tough. But that is just the kind of love that Jesus had. It's just the kind of love that he wants us to have (Luke 6:27.)
The thing about Jesus is that He never asked us to do anything that He was not able to do Himself. And I think by offering salvation to the thief on the cross, He gave us the ultimate example of loving our enemies.
I don't know about you, but I want a LOVE like that!


Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Friday, May 18, 2007

Faith Like That - Abraham

Yesterday I started a series called, "Faith Like That." Our thoughts today will be based on the passage of Scripture found in Genesis 22.
Today I want you to imagine you are a young man named Isaac. You’re packing up for a journey with your father. He’s going to make a sacrafice to God, and you're going with him. You love these trips. God has always been good to your family. You've heard your parent’s stories about how you were the child God had promised them. You were a miracle. Yes, you believed God deserved your praise. You're ready before anyone else. Finally you start on the journey, and as you are travelling you begin to take inventory. There’s the wood and there’s the kindling for the fire. There are the weapons to kill the lamb, and there are the ropes to tie the lamb to the altar. Something is missing though, where is the lamb? Maybe father is planning to find a lamb closer to the land of Moriah, you think. You travel on and think nothing more about it.
Several days later you have almost reached Mount Moriah. You hear your father tell the servants to camp out there, and you and he will go on to the mountain to worship God. He comes your way, and tells you to prepare for the climb.
Suddenly, you remember the lamb. Your father forgot the lamb. You know he’s getting older, but how could he forget the most important part of the sacrafice? You think on this for a while, trying to think of how you can bring it up. You don’t want to make your father look foolish, after all you look up to him. Finally you decide to just ask him.
“Father, we have everything here for a sacrafice, but we don’t have a lamb. Where is the lamb?”
“Don’t worry my son, God will provide Himself a lamb.” He says in barely a whisper. You think you might here the slightest crack in his voice as if he might be about to cry.
You dismiss it as tiredness. After all he was climbing a mountain, and he wasn’t a young man. You start to think of how proud you are of your father. He has such faith in God. He knew that there would be a lamb there to sacrafice, sent by God Himself.
You finally reach the top of the mountain. You lay your burden down and start to help your father in preparing an altar. You glance around, no lamb to be seen, but surely God would provide a lamb at the necessary time. Everything is now in order, and your father turns to you.
This time there is no mistaking it, there are tears in his eyes. “Son,” he says. “God has commanded that you be the sacrafice. I don’t know why, but I must obey Him.”
“Are you sure, father? Is this truly the will of God?”
“Yes, son, there is no other way. This is God’s will.”
“If you are sure, father, I will lay down my life.”
You prepare to lay down on the altar of sacrafice. You think this must be a mistake, a nightmare. Surely this isn’t what God wants, but from the look in your father’s eyes. You know this is God’s will.
You lay there for what seems like years waiting. Your father finally comes. He looks at you with tears on his cheeks. He tells you he loves you, and he raises the knife above his head. You close your eyes, trying to prepare yourself for the coming pain, but it never comes. You open your eyes to peek around. You hear a voice telling your father that sacraficing you is not necessary. God has provided a ram. You look around at the sound of a rustle in the nearby bushes. Sure enough, there sits a ram, a perfect ram, one fit to be sacraficed to God.
You and your father prepare the ram to be sacraficed. You are both crying tears of joy. This is the day that you have learned what it means to sacrafice everything to God, and you have learned the joy that you feel when God provides for you when you are willing to sacrafice.
Would you have liked to have been Isaac? Would you have readily laid down your life at your father’s command? Isaac had faith because he saw the faith of his father. He knew that Abraham knew the one true God, and Isaac trusted fully in his father’s word because he knew that those words came from God. How willing are we to listen to the words of God?

The question is, do you have a strong enough faith that others are willing to follow your example? Is your faith believable? Is it something that others lean on? I don't know about you, but that is the kind of faith I want. Faith like Abraham's where I am willing to sacrafice everything to God. Faith that others know if the real deal! How about you?


Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Faith Like That - David

Today I'm going to start a series called "Faith Like That." I'll be looking at some of the heroes of the faith in a bit of a different angle. I'm going to look at their lives from the perspective of those around them. Imagine what you would have thought had you seen some of these faith heroes in action. Today we're going to take a look at David's battle with Goliath. (found in I Samuel 17.)
Imagine that you’re one of David’s brothers. He comes up to you with provisions from home, and like the pesky little brother he is he starts to pester you with questions.
“How’s the battle going, guys? Are the Israelites winning? Have you met King Saul?”
“Of course I’ve met Saul,” you might say, “Anybody who is anybody has met Saul.”
“I hope I get to meet Saul one day.”
“You’re just a kid, David! What would Saul want to meet you for?” you answer him.
All of the sudden while you are talking, Goliath comes on the scene to make his challenge. “Come on, you Israelites. Isn’t one of you brave enough to face me? Out of all of your mighty armies, isn’t there one?”
You try to hide your fear of Goliath from David, but it’s impossible. You are shaking all over. There is no way to beat the giant, not single-handedly. He’s too big, too strong, and too cruel. David starts talking again, and you try to listen to what he is saying.
“Who is this guy anyway? Doesn’t he know who he’s dealing with? Hasn’t he heard about the God that is on our side? Has he never heard about what God did for Moses against Pharoah or how Joshua destroyed Jericho without a weapon?”
Now this makes you mad. Your little twerp of a brother is over there talking big while you are scared to death. What does he know anyway? you think. He’s just a kid, just a little shepherd. He knows nothing about battle.
“Get on home, David. You’re only here to see some action. You need to get back home to your sheep!”
“Why are you mad at me, brother? Father sent me here. Is there really no one who will fight this godless Philistine?”
You choose to ignore him. He doesn’t understand, and maybe if you ignore him long enough he’ll be quiet and go home. Several minutes later you turn to find that David is gone. Finally! You think to yourself. You hunker down in your trench more, as you listen to Goliath rail on and on for several minutes. How long would this Philistine make challenges before he charged the camp backed by thousands of other Philistines? How long would you be sitting here in fear for your life. You sit for a long while until suddenly there is a stir in the crowd. Word finally reaches you, someone is going to face Goliath.
What kind of crazy man would face this giant? He will surely die. It’s suicide, you think.
You turn to see your other brothers running towards you as you try to get a glimpse of the poor mindless fellow that has decided to lose his life to look brave.
“Do you recognize who that is?” One asks.
“No, I can’t really see him yet.” You say.
“It’s David, that’s who it is. We were near Saul’s quarters, and we saw David charge in there and say that he would accept Goliath’s challenge. He’s going to die!”
“What in the world would make him do such an insane thing?” You ask of them.
Neither of them answer you, then your attention is drawn away. The giant is laughing, bent over double. Saying, “Is this your mighty man? Don’t mock me. He’s only a child!”
“Great, not only is our brother going to be dead, but we are going to be the laughing stock of the entire army,” you tell your brothers.
David was talking to the giant now. You couldn’t hear him, but he sure wasn’t making that giant happy! Suddenly Goliath starts to charge, and you cover your eyes, not able to bear the sight of your brother being slain by the giant. Then you hear those around you begin to cheer! You peek between your fingers to see what in the world is going on. Goliath is on the ground, and David is on the giant’s chest, proclaiming the victory of the Lord God Almighty.
You join the cheers, and you run with those around you to capture the retreating Philistines. All the time, you are thinking, why wasn’t my faith so strong?
Have you ever been like one of David’s brothers. You don’t hear much about them in the Bible, you only see that they were passed over in God’s choice for king and that they were too afraid to face Goliath. Not much of a legacy is it?
What made the difference? They were all raised by the same parents. They shared the same chores. What made David so special that God chose him as the future king of Israel? What gave him the courage to stand before Goliath?
The answer is simple. He had a true relationship with God. He trusted God for everything. If a bear or a wolf or a lion came into his fields to try to attack his sheep, he trusted God to give him the strength to come against them. He had learned to trust God in the small things of daily life, and when the big test came, He passed with flying colors. His faith in God won the battle that day.

Do you have a true relationship with God. Are you trusting in the God that you've heard about over and over. Or are you sitting back thinking, "There is no way God can overcome THIS giant"? Well, let me tell you, if you have faith God can help you overcome every problem, great or small. You just have to remember what kind of God you're trusting in!


Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The God Who Hears

I know I'm going to sound totally biased when I say this, but my brother preached an awesome message Sunday night. And I've heard this feedback from others who aren't related to him as well. Anyway, suffice it to say that Ben totally stepped back and allowed God to speak through him. And boy was it something I needed to hear!
He spoke from Psalm 116 and titled his message "Oh How I Love Jesus." I shared these two verses from Psalm 116 yesterday:

" 1I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."

He gave three points about why he loved Jesus, but today I'm just gonna share a little of what he talked about in his first point. He said that he loved Jesus because He has Ears to Listen.
Sounds simple enough. God hears us. God listens to our prayers. We've all heard it a million times, but have we really understood what that means? GOD HEARS US.
The same God who created everything we see. The same God that parted the Red Sea for Moses. The same God who held the sun and moon in place during battle for Joshua. The same God who raised Lazarus from the dead. The same God who rose again Himself.
And it's not just a halfhearted, "Yeah, I'm hearing you." Look at what Psalm 116:2 says. It says, "He hath inclined His ear unto me." Think about that for a second. It's like as soon as we start praying, God bends closer to us. He gives His full attention to our needs. See, the awesomeness is that He can give His full attention to all of us at the same time. So He's hearing everything I say while also hearing everything you say! The thought boggles my mind, but I'm glad to know that I serve such an awesome God.
So if you feel all alone today, remember there is a God who hears you when you cry out to Him! He has His ear inclined to you today!


Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm Baa-aaack! (Again!)

Well, I'm sitting back at my desk in Greensboro again this Monday morning. So I survived the Honduras trip. Lots of great stories there that I will HAVE to share on my other blog. I don't have much time today, but I wanted to share a passage from Psalm 116 that I'm going to be talking a little more about tomorrow! Hope you all had a great week last week. Look forward to getting caught up with the blogging world!

Psalm 116:1-2, " 1I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live."


Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Friday, May 04, 2007

And the Praises Go Up

First of all I have to say thanks to everyone who prayed for my Grandpa Smith. He had a heart catherization at 6 last night, and the doctor found no blockages, no problems with his previous stint, basically no problems with his heart! The doctor said he wasn't quite sure what had happened and listed off a few possibilities of what it might be, none of which were serious issues. Then my grandma just told the doctor that she really thought that God had just taken care of whatever the problem had been. And I say amen to that! Because countless people were praying! Thank you for your part in the prayer support!
And from what I read over at Heather's blog this morning we all have a lot to praise God for this morning! God truly loves His children. That is true whether He answers our prayers in our way or not. But sometimes I think He likes to pour extra blessings out on us just to show us how much He really cares!
I may or may not be around next week. I'm flying out to Honduras for work, and I'll be there Monday through Friday. The days get hectic, and computer time is rare, but I will try to squeeze a post in if I can! But if I don't, don't worry, I'll be back the next week! I could never leave my blogging buddies for too long!

I'll leave you today with today's Bible Gateway verse, which is once again very appropriate ('cause God's just awesome like that!)

II Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Now it seems to me that in the last 24 hours lots of us have been humbling ourselves and praying. And God has definitely heard from heaven. Praise the Lord!

Labels: ,

Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Say a Little Prayer

Hey everybody! I just wanted to ask you all to pray for my grandpa, Lloyd Smith. He went to the hospital last night for chest pains. It doesn't look like he has had a heart attack, but he will be having a lot of tests throughout the day today. I know that I can depend on all of you to pray!

Now, you aren't going to believe this. Well, you probably will because you all serve the same totally awesome God that I do. But when I went to Bible Gateway to check out today's verse, I got just what I needed. And what was that you might ask? Well, this little reminder found in Romans 12:12:

"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;"

This verse is a part of a list of things that Paul reminds us to do in Romans 12. But this verse is just what I needed to hear this morning. I needed to remember that I can rejoice. Because as I talked about last week we do have hope. Eternal hope that can't be taken away.
And I totally don't think it was a mistake that Paul mentioned hope BEFORE he mentioned tribulation. He wanted to remind Christians that we have hope even when tribulations arise. So we can be patient in tribulation because we know that WHATEVER the outcome, we can rest in that hope.
And the last part is so awesome. I mean think about it. We can go to God anytime. And not only that, He WANTS us to come to Him. Continually. So on this day when my family is facing a bit of a storm, God blessed me and gave me just what I needed. And I'm going to hold tight to it throughout the day.
I pray that someone else might be blessed by it as well! Thanks again for the prayers!

Labels: ,

Lilypie 2nd Birthday Ticker

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Goose in the City

I was driving toward downtown Greensboro this morning when I saw something that made me think. Standing in the middle of a small, grassy median was a goose. Just one random goose that watched the cars racing by with a wary look. He looked terrified. And I imagine he was not where he wanted to be.
Now I'm sure when he first spotted the grassy median it looked like a nice and inviting place to land. But I'm sure it didn't take very long for him to feel insecure in the spot.
There have been many times in my life that I feel just like that goose. I'll look at a situation and think, "Yep, that's for me right there." So I'll jump on the chance only to find that what looked nice and lovely from afar turned out to be nothing more than an illusion, and that the place I've brought myself is truly terrifying.
See, sin is like that. It looks inviting. It appears harmless. That is until we find ourselves trapped in it. And every way that we look it seems there is no way out.
I got to thinking a bit more about that goose. You see, his only way out was to look up. He had to fly above the madness that surrounded him in order to escape it.
My escape is in looking up as well. When I look up to God for help, He will lift me out of the sin in which I've surrounded myself. There is simply no other way.
I'm glad that I have a God who is willing to forgive. (I John 1:9) A God who wants to lift us from the depths of sin to the heights of heaven.
So if you find yourself feeling trapped today, look up. He is there just waiting to lift you in His arms of grace and mercy!