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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

I’m going to share a blog post from Matt McGowen, the Senior Field Coordinator for Make Way Partners.  Please read and then share his blog post with everyone you know and let’s help them get this high school built for these kids!  Thank you in advance for reading it, sharing it, for donating, your prayers, anything  and everything you feel led by God to do for these children.

Battle Cry by guest blogger Matt McGowen 

If you’d like to learn even more about how God is using Kimberly L. Smith and Make Way Partners to bring Hope to many who would otherwise not have much, if any, please see my blog post for the contest to win a FREE copy of Kimberly’s book, “Passport Through Darkness!”  Thank you!  God Bless!

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Have you ever prayed that God would use you?  I started praying this a couple of years ago.  I just had this strong desire to be used by my Creator.  It felt like there was something important missing from my life, like I was missing the point to life itself.

Here in America, most of us are raised hearing about and being groomed for the “American Dream”.  We’re taught that success is getting in to a “good” college and then later landing a dream job and making a lot of money, getting married, buying a house in an affluent neighborhood, driving a certain type of car, having children, and even more recently having the right type of cell phone ( you know… the “smart” kind).  During all of that you’re also to begin storing up money in some time of retirement account so you’ll be able to continue having all the best money can buy even when the time comes that you no longer work.

I didn’t follow along strictly to the above guidelines in my life and for many years felt mostly like a huge disappointment.  I felt like I was less than those that did.  I wondered about that.  Somehow it didn’t seem right that money alone could make us successful or worth greater value as people.  The whole thing felt like a lie to me.

One of my parents believed in God and tried to teach me about Him as best as they knew how, while the other wanted to believe in a made up version that suited the preferred lifestyle.  And even though I’d been off and on raised in churches and knew a few things about Jesus, my teen years were sadly spent far far from Him.  Yet He was never far from me it turns out.

I believe He’s never far from any of us.  We may be running from Him at times, or maybe we’ve spent our whole life running from Him, or even have never known Him at all…. but He knows every single one of us and is with each one until the very day that we die.  He’s always there, waiting on us to “see” Him and take His hand and be led by Him to follow Him into His will.  We just have to choose to do so.

During my adult years Jesus has been right beside me, gently whispering to me to “come home” to Him.  Many times I would faintly hear Him, but then life would crowd out His voice again.  Still, He never once gave up on me.  He’s like that you know.  He never gives up on us.

A few years ago He used a woman, a friend, to show Himself to me through her and I’ve never been the same since.  She quite simply lived in a way that I’d never seen anyone else live.  His love and light shined through her, regardless of her circumstances, and I wanted that same love for myself.  I saw what being close to Jesus could mean and I craved that closeness.  His acceptance and His love.

It’s been a journey, these past few years.  I love the way He doesn’t force Himself on us, but instead is such a gentleman in the truest sense.  He courts us lovingly and waits patiently while we make mistake after mistake, wrong choice after wrong choice.  It seems that every time I think I’ve gotten it figured out, He shows me that I’m so very mistaken all over again and he beckons me closer so I can learn.

He’s now answering my prayer to be used by Him.  It’s a dangerous prayer it turns out.  He will gladly take you up on it if you ask Him.  He’s using other people who have prayed the same thing to show me, and lead, and guide me to where He wants me to be.  It’s an amazing thing to watch unfold over time.  I’m learning more and more, every single day, to be more obedient, to say “Yes, Lord” more quickly, and to see Him outside of the box that He’s put into so often here in America.

I can’t wait to see what He brings into my tomorrows.

“But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” ~ Jesus ♥ Luke 11:28

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It hurts.

That moment when you think that, for a second perhaps, someone gets it, gets you, understands where you are even,  then as quick as a lightning strike – you realize that no… that’s not what’s happening at all.

What is happening is just a little more of the same pain, just applied a little differently.

Variation.

Is it really them doing the hurting?

Or is it possible that it’s only the enemy using them as a tool to inflict damage so deep that you can’t be healed this time?

Or is it possible that instead of it being a damaging pain that it’s a healing pain?

That maybe it’s the Lord using His knife to cut from you something that has needed to go, but that you’ve been foolishly hanging on to.

Could the pain then be a good thing?

Perhaps.

Even still.

For now, it hurts.

♥  Update: I’m learning that sometimes…. sometimes….. it’s us.  Us hurting us.  You hurting you, me hurting me.  It’s good, this knowing.  Knowing helps it stop.  There’s enough out there to hurt us, so let’s not hurt each other senselessly. ♥

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Recently it was brought up at my church, and also the next day on Facebook, the question of “how do I develop a real relationship with Christ?”

Like any relationship we choose to have, it takes time.  A close friendship doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens slowly, over a period of time, as you get to know each other and as you live life, going through the good and bad times. We’d never dream of walking up to someone and just telling them we’d like to be their new B.F.F., so why would we think having a close, personal relationship with Jesus be any different in terms of how it starts out?

Jesus is totally different in who He is, because He is God. The one and only God who created our world and everything in it and because of that, He can be anywhere and everywhere at the same time.  He literally lives in the body of all of His believers. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty awesome trait for a B.F.F. to have.  If you need Him, He is as “right there” as you could ever ask for a B.F.F. to be!  Not to mention, the most important part of having a relationship with Jesus Christ, which is the fact that He took all the punishment for every single wrong thing you’ve ever done, or thought about doing, and paid the price of that for you.  I’ve never in my life had a friend that would even consider paying the price for my every single wrong doing, never mind wrong thinking.

When you first start a relationship with Jesus, there are many things you can do to build the relationship into a close one.  Anytime you meet a potential friend you want to get to know them, and the same is true for Jesus.  You can do that by reading and studying your Bible.  Really get in there and get to know Him through the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  A lot of people I’ve talked to prefer reading the New Testament part of the Bible, but once you’ve read the Gospels,  it’s important to read, and study, in the Old Testament so that you can get a better understanding of what Jesus did for you (for us all) on the cross.

People often tend to view the cross as, “Oh yeah… Jesus died for my sins, so now I’m forgiven” and don’t really understand fully, or appreciate fully, exactly what that means.  When you read about the Israelites and all the things that they had to go through to become “right with God”, you’ll begin to have a better understanding and appreciation for what Jesus did for you.

If you have a hard time reading your Bible, it may be time for a new version.  My personal favorite is the New Living Translation (NLT), but other popular versions are the Amplified Bible (AMP), New International Version (NIV), and the New King James Version (NKJV).  There are many other versions out there that you may like, so use a Bible App, such as “YouVersion“, and test them out to see which one suits you the best.  Reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis is extremely important to building up a real relationship with your Savior.

Prayer is the most important part of building your relationship with Jesus.  Prayer is spending time with Him, talking to Him, and listening to Him.  It’s how we can let Him know how very thankful we are for all He did on the cross for us, and all He continues doing for us.  It’s a time when we can bring issues up that we need His help with, and our fears, hopes, questions, dreams, and requests.  It’s also a time when we can simply sit in His presence and allow Him time to “speak” to us.  It may feel a bit strange in the beginning, but in no time at all you’ll begin to treasure this time with the Lord.

Everyone is different, but I prefer to start my day out with Jesus through prayer and reading my Bible.  I feel it helps me to get my day started in the right mindset.  What you’re thinking is very important in the life of a Christian.  In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul tells us, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (NLT)  You must begin to get control of your thoughts in order to mature in a relationship with Jesus.  Our thoughts end up being our actions.  The Bible tells us that, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7  and in John 15:15,16  Jesus tells us – No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing;  but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.    You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed  you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  (NLT)

John didn’t mean for us to become orange or apple trees.  In the Bible, when Jesus and the disciples used the metaphors comparing us to fruit bearing trees, they were teaching us that, like an apple tree bears only apples and not cherries, we as Christians should bear good fruit.  In Galatians 5:22 we see that good fruit is listed as being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:16 tells us, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”  

As a new Christian, it’s important that you learn all you can about the Lord and what it means to be one of His followers.  James, who was Jesus’ brother, writes in James 4:4-10 ~  You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?  But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.  As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”  So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. 

When you became a Christian, you became a new person.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us ~ This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  This is such an amazing truth!  You are no longer the old you, but instead are now His, and because of that, you are given a brand new life!

As you learn more about God and His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, you will be in awe of the incredible gift of LOVE that we are given.  God gives us a helper, in the Holy Spirit, who comes to live inside of you when you become a Christian and true follower of Christ.  Ephesians 4:21 – 24 tells us ~ Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy. 

You have a new life, a new nature, and a new best friend forever (B.F.F.) – Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:1-2   Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 

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