Until the Last

To help all of you understand before you make any important, major life changes or decisions, make sure of whose voice you are listening to and where you are getting advice from.

This will be my last entry of Java with Jesus.  Recent events in my life have severely shaken my faith and I cannot in good conscience continue to write this blog when I have been so shaken to my very core.  For those who look forward to these entries, I thank you for reading and following so loyally and I pray for the Lord to bring someone who will continue to inspire or provide insight for you.  With that being said, let’s go out with a bang.

There are a lot messages we get in this world.  Some good, some bad and some just plain nonsensical.  As Christians, we need to look at these messages with discernment and know which ones are truly from Him and which ones are not.  How do we do this?  By studying the Word of course and making sure what we are hearing, lines up with Scripture.

John 10:1-5

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

You know Catherine used to tell me and others, “He knows his Bible.”  And while I can provide analysis and understanding of the Words of Scripture, I’d rather know the voice of the Shepherd.  You see before she and I got together, I had prayed and she had been praying.  What were we praying for?  That one person with whom we could spend our forever with and walk into eternity with.  Then we met and we started talking and before I even made an approach, I searched Scripture to make sure what I was thinking and feeling lined up with Him and it brought me to Proverbs 18:22, and that is when I knew and asked her out.  I had never been more sure of anything after that moment.  And if you read the Proverb in its entirety, I did obtain favor from the Lord, through the blessing of her and continual blessings outside of her.

What’s the point of this story?  To help all of you understand before you make any important, major life changes or decisions, make sure of whose voice you are listening to and where you are getting advice from.  First, bring the issue before Him.  Second, ask Him for discernment with regard to the Scriptures and which path to take.  Last, once your decision is made, search the Scriptures and make sure the decision you have made lines up.  If it does, then you have clearly heard the Lord on the matter.  If not, then you are just hearing the answer you want to hear and not doing what the Lord wants you to do.

A little long for the last entry, but I hope it blesses you.  Please pray for me.  May the Lord bless you and keep you all.

Admitting You Are Wrong

 I would rather have a humble spirit and receive grace, than be right and have God resisting me.

I have learned over the course of my life that there are people who like to be right.  They make it their goal in life to always prove an opposite opinion or behavior wrong.  And when they are wrong, they hate to admit the other person may actually be right.  But being wrong, and admitting it, is an act of humility and God actually prefers humility.

1 Peter 5:5 – 7

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
You know there are people in life who may have gone through more than what you have and while the circumstances may be similar, they are still your “elders” with regard to certain situations.  And you may very well have more experience than someone else with regard to certain situations, which makes you the “elder” with regard to those.  My point is to give an understanding the word “elder,” as used above, does not necessarily denote age.
I started out this entry with regard to people who are wrong not admitting they are wrong.  That is what is known as being prideful.  Not wanting to admit someone else may be right and always trying to prove your own case and why you are right and the other person is wrong, even when someone who has been in a similar situation and has more experience with it may be telling you are wrong, is indeed prideful.  I, myself, have been guilty of being prideful on more than one occasion in my life.  Yeah, big surprise there.
I, unfortunately, have a 126 I.Q.  That’s the consistent number that has shown up over the years whenever I take I.Q. tests.  That’s borderline genius.  My point in telling you this is most of the time, I am right when it comes to certain things…and I hate it.  I hate it because when I am right too often, I do become prideful, don’t realize it and the Lord smacks me down.  I prefer being wrong.
When I am wrong, it gives me a sense of calm and peace and I can get down on my knees and thank the Lord.  One of the things I pray for every day is a humble spirit.  I would rather have a humble spirit and receive grace, than be right and have God resisting me.

Seek Joy, Not Happiness

So how do we achieve the contentment Paul was speaking of in his letter to the Philippian church?  Simple, get your eyes off the situation and off the people, even the ones who may be trying to help, and get your eyes on the Cross.

What makes you happy?  Is it when you get that big promotion?  Is it when people do things you want them to do?  Is it when you get a gift from someone?  What about when you get sick or lose someone?  Are you happy then?  No, of course not.  That is because happiness is a circumstantial thing.  It’s dependent upon situations.  Sometimes people will make us unhappy.  It happens.  Sometimes situations don’t turn out the way we expect them.  It happens.  So how do we deal with this emotional roller coaster?  We look for contentment in all circumstances.

Philippians 4:11

11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

Let’s start by making it clear, as I think I have already have, happiness is circumstantial or situational.  You can have happiness one moment and then in a flash, the situation changes and you can be completely miserable.  You shouldn’t be seeking happiness because then you are always wanting good news and good things, and that is not the way of this world.  This world has good and bad stuff in it, we have to learn to deal with them both.  So how do we achieve the contentment Paul was speaking of in his letter to the Philippian church?  Simple, get your eyes off the situation and off the people, even the ones who may be trying to help, and get your eyes on the Cross.

The apostle John wrote at the beginning of 1 John, his purpose for writing it was so that believers joy would be full.  He was speaking of having fellowship with other believers and most importantly, fellowship with God and His Son.  I can honestly say the moments when I am truly happiest, again circumstantial, is when I am spending time with the Lord or writing.  But what if I couldn’t write?  Uh oh, change of situation.  Would I still be happy?  Yes.  Why?  Well just because I can’t write, doesn’t mean I can’t spend time with the Lord.   See that’s where my joy comes from, spending time with Him, reading His Word and praying.  You can’t change that situation.

This world puts such an emphasis on being happy.  “If only I had [insert generic external source of happiness here} I’d be happy,” is a phrase often heard.  If it is an object, then you are hosed, because things can break or get lost or stolen.  Then where’s your happiness, gone.  If your happiness is dependent on a person, then you are equally hosed.  People will let you down, it’s a fact.  And it’s not that they are malicious, but life does happen and their own circumstances change, which then changes yours.  And if it takes you making someone else happy in order to make yourself happy, you are stuck in a vicious and detrimental cycle.  The moment that person’s circumstances change, your world goes into flux and you are not happy.  Your happiness depended on theirs and now they aren’t happy so you aren’t.  Situational, situational, situational.  We need to be seeking and pursuing joy, which goes beyond situation and circumstances and is found in one person, the Lord.

Not a Spirit of Fear

Whatever you are fearing today, or in the future, take the Lord’s name and make it larger than the fear and elevate Him in praise above that fear.

You ever been afraid to do something?  It’s not shameful, nor is it uncommon.  We all have fears.  My personal major fear is trusting people and letting them get too close.  My mind starts to go on a whirlwind of activity.  Those are the times when I, as we all should, lay those fears before Him.

Psalm 34:3-4

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.  sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
Fear is the worst thing in the world to have.  It can paralyze a person worse than any disease and can keep us from doing the things the Lord wants us to do.  And the enemy knows it.
The enemy will use our fear against us.  He will make small matters actually seem bigger than they actually are, have us jumping at shadows or thinking people that love us are actually trying to harm us.  Our greatest weapon against fear is the Lord.
Let’s do the break down for today’s verse using, guess what, God’s Word as our basis.
First off, when we are fearful, and it doesn’t matter what we are afraid of, we pray.  We pray for God to take that fear, to ease our hearts and our minds.  If praying alone doesn’t help, get a prayer partner, someone to pray with you.  For a long time, my big brother was my prayer partner and even though he’s moved, I still message him to join me in prayer.
Second, if we step away from today’s particular Scripture and over to 2 Timothy 1:7, it says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  Using myself as an example, when my fear of trusting people begins to overwhelm me and I pray, my mind settles down back to logic and objectivity.  I can tell you in the times where I haven’t done that, I’ve ended up hurting people I love with vile and poisonous words because of my fear.
Today’s Scripture verse mentions magnifying and exalting the Lord’s name with someone, as I said, a prayer partner.  David wrote this Psalm and the reason he mentions doing that is very simple.  Magnifying something means you make it larger and exalting means you are elevating something in praise or estimation.  Whatever you are fearing today, or in the future, take the Lord’s name and make it larger than the fear and elevate Him in praise above that fear.  Lay that fear down so you can have that spirit of power, love and most of all a sound mind.

Hidden Treasure

I have found things and people that I treasure, not above my relationship with Him, but that I do work on caring for and cultivating.  However, my relationship with Him is what I do my best to cultivate the most.

Do you have something or someone valuable to you?  I don’t mean a car or a house, but something of true value?  It could be something small and simple, like an old coin.  If it’s a person, then it’s a person or people who give you the strength and encouragement in dire straits.  These are the things we should hold onto to when we face difficult and possibly impossible circumstances.

Matthew 13:44

44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

This parable, one of many told by Jesus in this chapter, speaks of someone who gave up everything for a hidden treasure, the kingdom of heaven.  He valued that treasure so much, he gave up everything he had for it and made his livelihood working, because at the time buying a field meant your job was to work that field, cultivating and caring for that field.

I have done my best to cultivate my relationship with the Lord.  And I will admit, there have been times where I failed.  I make no qualms about admitting my own failures and they happen to be with regard to interpersonal relations.  But I have found things and people that I treasure, not above my relationship with Him, but that I do work on caring for and cultivating.  However, my relationship with Him is what I do my best to cultivate the most.  And here’s the reason why, He loves me unconditionally, and if you read some of His interactions with the disciples, He had trouble with interpersonal relations as well.

Please hear my heart, I am not saying I am Jesus nor God, but I am saying that I identify with Him and can kind of understand His frustrations at times in His earthly ministry.  There was a time when His disciples, after He came down from a mountain, couldn’t case a demon out of a little girl and He asked how long would He have to deal with them.  It wasn’t the people He was speaking about, it was their lack of faith.

So what hidden treasure have you found in your life?  Whom has the Lord blessed you with?  And what are you willing to give up in order to cultivate that field with?  Is it everything?  Think about that, are you willing to give up everything to cultivate a relationship with the earthly hidden treasures God has given you?  Cultivating your relationship with Him is most important, then comes everything else.

Happy 100!!!

According to the WordPress tabulator, the most recent Java with Jesus was the 100th post.

Thank You Lord for the strength and ability to write it.  Thank You for bringing the faithful readers who are blessed by it.  And most of all thank You for those You brought around me to keep me going with it.

For my readers, thank you for being faithful in reading this little corner of the universe.  It makes the early mornings worth it.  May the Lord bless and keep you all.

In His Name We Pray,

Amen

Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Sacrifice is tough, but Jesus didn’t say it would be easy.  He also doesn’t leave it to ordinary folks.

“We are the bride of Christ.”  Ever hear that phrase?  It is saying we, Christians, are Christ’s bride that He is going to present to His Father in heaven.  Now I personally don’t look good in a dress, especially a white one.  However, I digress, Christ sacrificed Himself for us and in relationships, that is what we are often called to do, sacrifice what we want for the ones we love.

John 10:11-16

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and, leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Sacrifice isn’t easy.  Giving up the things you want because you love someone else means an act of unselfishness, which we as humans are not prone to.  But here is the deal, what did Jesus sacrifice?  Well, for those who don’t know, He sacrificed His life for us.  He lived and died for us.  And that is what relationships are all about, living and dying for another person.

In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  I personally have a lot of acquaintances, but not a lot of friends.  But the friends that I do have, I consider them ride or die.  I’d give up my life for them.  And for the one who has that single special place in my heart, she knows who she is, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.  So I make conscious choices to do or not do certain things.

Sacrifice is tough, but Jesus didn’t say it would be easy.  He also doesn’t leave it to ordinary folks.  He left the ability to those truly empowered by His Holy Spirit to do it.  And the sacrifice cannot be made grudgingly, or in a way that breaks your heart, it should be made with joy.  You are following His example.  After all, He lost community with His people by saying He was the Christ, His family thought He was nuts for saying that as well, so He lost them, and He lost His life.  Think about all that the next time you become bitter about a sacrifice you make and realize, your sacrifice isn’t really that big compared to what He sacrificed for you.