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5 Ways to Keep Your Heart

5 Ways to Keep Your Heart

Growing up I had a small group of friends that I did ways sin effects (1)everything with. We spent many summer days playing softball, football, kickball, capture the flag, etc. One summer we tried to make our own little street hockey team. We had everything we needed but one thing stopped us: no one wanted to play goalie. It’s not exactly fun to have the ball hit at you over and over again. It’s the hardest position to play in any sport (in my opinion).

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You Are Free

You Are Free

free

We are home from our travels! Thanks to all of you who kept checking in here for new posts. I am sorry they weren’t happening! I really thought I would have more time. The Lord put a lot of things on my heart in the past weeks, though, that I hope to share with all of you as time goes by.

I am so glad to have visited with so many of you during my trip to the States. I know I would have loved to see so many more of you but I understand it just couldn’t happen this time. Thankyou to those of you who traveled so far to come see my family. I know many of you sacrificed time (and gas money!) and I really appreciate it.

Before I start unpacking all our stuff and begin the never ending pile of laundry that needs washed I want to share a funny little story with you. I was driving to breakfast one morning and after I had been in the car for a few minutes I noticed a fly flying around the front. Every couple minutes he would make a mad dash for the window (which was closed) and then go back into hiding for a little while. By the third time this happened I thought, ‘Hey, I will give this guy a break and just open the window for him.’ So now my window is open and he is no where to be seen. As soon as I close it guess who comes to smash his face on the glass? That fly is back at it. I think we went through this process 3 or 4 times before I got to where I was going.

When I got out of the car I left the window open for the fly because I didn’t really want to deal with him all the way home, too. I came back after an hour or so, rolled up the window and went on my way. Within a few minutes here is this fly ready to get beat up again. Why did he not take any of the many opportunities to fly away! He was free! He could have been at peace flying around in the manure filled air (got to love Lancaster County)!

But this fly isn’t much different than me sometimes. Before I was saved I was a slave to sin. I served the devil and was in bondage. But when I got saved the Lord set me free from that bondage. I have a choice and the Lord offers strength and help to make the right choices. Yet I act like I am still bound to these sins as if I have no choice but to sin. I am free from sin! That fly in the car was free to go but he acted as if he was still in bondage. The end of Galatians 5:1 says to not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. You have been set free. Why act as if you are still bound to sin? Why go back to that life of serving self?

Because He First Loved Me

Because He First Loved Me

I remember as a child we used to always sing in the car. One song that I remember the most is my mom or dad would sing, “oh Sandy, do you love Jesus?” I would reply, “Oh yes I love Jesus.” They’d sing, “Tell me why you love Jesus.” And I’d answer, “Because He first loved me.”

calvary blog post

I grew up knowing that God loves me. I grew up knowing that He died on the cross for me and because of this I am to love Him, too. I am so thankful to have been taught the Bible at a young age. But sometimes, when you never know what it is like to not have something, you don’t realize what you do have. There are wonderful Bible verses like, “But commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 10:9) This verse is so powerful stating that God loved me when I was against Him! I was His enemy and yet He died for me! But I can’t tell you how many times I have just skimmed over this verse. I already have it memorized so I don’t need to pay attention to it when I read it. And because we skim over it we miss out on the truth of that verse- that God first loved me. He doesn’t demand a love in return. He did this for us before we loved Him.

When you come to the realization that you are doomed for hell because of your sin it should bring awful grief and heartbreak.  I always teach my Sunday School class that as a sinner, I had a problem. I had sinned against God. My sin isn’t allowed in heaven. My sins would keep me from ever entering heaven. That’s the problem. But God, seeing my problem, offered a solution. He gave His Son to die and take on my sin. He would take away my sin! So, I have my sin as the problem and Christ as the solution. When I learn what God has done for me, that’s where that love begins. Then I need to make a decision: Take God’s free gift, believe in His Son and what He has done for me. Or continue on with my sin. When I accepted God’s gift of salvation- I remember that moment- I felt that deep, amazing love for God.

Now, 14 years later, why do I not feel that same amazing love for God that I felt that night at camp? Has God’s love changed? Of course not. Like the church of Ephesus, I have left my first love. I stopped dwelling on how amazing God is and on the love He showed for me when He gave me salvation. That’s my fault. I can’t say that it’s because I have a home now that I need to keep clean, or kids that take up so much of my attention. I can’t blame it on my being too busy in church ministries or facebook or anything else.

God’s command in Deuteronomy hasn’t changed: And thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5. 

Consider now what you can do or change in your life in order to put God first again. How can you be dwelling on God and His love more? What will cause you to feel for God that love you felt when you accepted His great gift of salvation?

Encouragement

Encouragement

This past week one of the ladies from my church hosted a Bible study. We typically have a ladies Bible study once every couple months and they are always a huge blessing. I just wanted to share a few thoughts that were shared at the Bible study. It is so encouraging to study encouragement in the Bible 🙂

The main question we were asked was, “Why is encouragement so important?” The answer was found in Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  

God wants us to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to keep us and those we are encouraging away from sin. This doesn’t mean we won’t sin if we are encouraging others. But it does mean that we can “fight off” a hard heart by encouraging others. And then that encouragement helps give them strength to fight off a hard heart as well. The bottom of our handout said, “When we are encouraged in Christ, we have strength to put on our spiritual armor and remain steadfast.”

We went on to talk about many places in the Bible where God talks about encouragement.We talked about men of God, like Elijah, who struggled with staying encouraged. We talked about a famous encourager (It’s my blog, I can make up words if I want to), Barnabas.

Then the discussion was opened, inviting woman to share ways they have been encouraged. Everyone was quiet for a while, then some one said, “I know I have been encouraged by others, but the only thing that is coming to my mind right now is how I have been encouraged by Scriptures.” Then the conversation got going! Almost every woman shared how they had been encouraged in God’s Word that week. What an encouragement that was to me! God uses His Word to encourage us, then when we share it others can be encouraged by it as well!

I just have to share one of the verses that was shared that night. Exodus 20:21, “And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick of the darkness where God was.” When you find that you are in the darkness, remember that God is still there. 

So think now of someone you might encourage. Send a note or call them up. Let them know you are praying for them, tell them they are doing a good job. And when the Lord puts it on your heart to encourage someone, do it. You never know what kind of help it can be. Remember what God says in Hebrews, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”