Early Morning Reflections…

It hit me as I woke up this morning that God is always listening, always working on our behalf…essentially, God is always BEING God. He listens to our prayers…from the simplest to the most detailed. He answers them too. In His own way. In His own time. Not in a way that eliminates us of personal responsibility or free will, but in a way that reminds us from time to time that He. Is. God.

2012-13 were two of the most humbling years of my life. 2014 hasn’t brought new circumstances just yet, but it has brought a new perspective. I’ve learned that joy isn’t in circumstances or situations. Your joy is in your perspective. This morning, I woke up so grateful. I couldn’t list all of my reasons if I tried, but I am especially thankful that I have learned to choose joy. Despite every potential reason that I may have to complain, I have decided not to speak or dwell on those things and to instead just thank Him for each moment being as well as it is and to make it count for something.

I realized this morning that lately, I’ve been waking up with a busy mind. I have had so much going on inside of my head, but one thing has been constant. My simple little prayer has been a staple in my recent conversations with God. I’ve been asking Him, “Who can I help or encourage today, God?” My common sense tells me that someone somewhere is praying for help. My faith tells me that God will answer my prayer and theirs by equipping me with exactly what I need to be of service to them.

I pray that I always wake up with a mind to ask and that He always answers.

Have a wonderful Saturday, beautiful people.

Keep smiling. 🙂

-SBF

20140125-114153.jpg

Advertisements

My Crucifixion…

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. I have been crucified with Christ. I have been crucified with Christ. Wow. How have I not received this verse before now? It is true that the bible has something new for you every time you open it, I guess. Today, I cannot let go of this one. I have been crucified with Christ.

I died with Him. No, not physically. My sin…it died with Him on the Cross. My need to be right…dead. That nagging sense of entitlement…it no longer lives. Every mistake I’ve made in the past…gone. This is so powerful. Do you understand what it means?

It means that I don’t have to dwell upon what WAS. Sin no longer has a place in my life, period. It means that I don’t have to answer to titles that describe the old me. I am not damaged goods. I am made new through His love for me and the blood of Jesus. Never mind what the world thinks of me based on what they remember…God has forgiven and forgotten.

Understanding this means that I must also understand that God offers the same redemption to everyone else. I encourage you to internalize this as well. How often do we hold on to the things that God has let go? Who are we to behave that way? Who are we to judge and condem our brothers and sisters in Christ? I’m willing to bet that unforgiveness, judgment, and condemnation have caused many people to cast away redeemed spirits. Imagine what could have been accomplished in the kingdom if we chose unity instead of divisiveness!

I plead with you to be ever mindful of the purpose and the promise of the Cross. God can use anybody and has proven it time and time again. Quit condeming those who have been saved by God’s grace…yourself included.

Keep smiling,

SBF 🙂

Sticks and Stones…

One of the first lies that I was ever told went something like this:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Meant to protect me, I’m sure…it was downright false. Life has taught me that broken bones heal a lot faster than emotional and spiritual wounds afflicted through the words that we speak.

I promised myself a while ago that I would try to flood my own life with positive energy. It is easy to do it through written expression, but verbally…it is much more of a challenge. I’m getting there though. I find myself literally biting my tongue. I will get to a point of 100% positive communication and after that…I will work on my way of thinking. The power of life and death is in the tongue. We can build with our words as easily as we can destroy with them. This applies to us as well as to others. Do not curse yourself and be careful that you do not curse your fellow man by speaking negatively about him or her. The words that come out of your mouth take root. If you don’t like something about a person or you are not at peace with something that he or she did…do not focus or speak on those things as the things that we focus on are magnified. Speak positive change. Pray for them. I have always interpreted Romans 4:17-18 as a reminder to speak those things that are not as if they were and to believe in them so that they shall come to be.

If you aren’t convinced yet that your tongue is both a powerful tool and a dangerous weapon, consider Proverbs 18:21 (KJV), which tells us “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” That which you sow, you will reap. It is written. Be careful.

Nothing Before Us…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:26 KJV

When will we learn? The bible is so full of reminders. Over and over, it speaks of God’s incredible (dare I say, INSANE) love for us. He didn’t need us. He had the company of His Son and of the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:26). Yet He created us in His own image and supplied our every need. We decided that having our needs met wasn’t enough. We wanted more and as a result, we introduced sin into the world. So, what did God do? He sent His Son to die for our sin while we were still sinners. We had not committed to change. Nevertheless, He showered us with the blood of Jesus and sustained us with grace and mercy. As if that weren’t enough, He wiped our slates clean, granted us favor as if we had obeyed Him all of our lives, and *drumroll please* gave us the gift of salvation. Redemption. Through acceptance of and belief in Jesus Christ.

What did we do to deserve such things? Certainly, He wouldn’t bless us in these ways if we had not earned them, right? Tuh. As if. The magnitude and depth of His love amazes me for this very reason. The bottom line is, God created us in His image and He loves us as such. Sure, we were not the first products of His creation, but when He created us…He gave us dominion. God didn’t put anything before us. Do you understand what that means?

He entrusts us with having a fruitful impact on His kingdom and His children. He gives us each gifts that we are to use to glorify Him and bring others closer to Him. He orders our steps so that we cross paths with others who will help us to complete our tasks. Though we have disobeyed Him and disgraced ourselves time and time again, He has not given up on us and has promised that He never will.

I will never truly understand why as long as I am on this side of heaven. I am okay not understanding. It doesn’t have to make sense. I’m just grateful that it is so. I’m grateful for a God that gives His all. I pray that He will continue to work within me so that I always have a heart that wants to give Him more and more of me each day.

We are sons and daughters of a King. If you were to be judged today, would your thoughts, words, and behavior reflect your place as royalty within His kingdom. Who do you serve? Who do you represent? What do you place before Him? Are you willing to rearrange your life to elevate God to the top of your list of priorities?

In All Things…

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) instructs us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This morning as I arose from my warm bed, ate a filling breakfast, drove to work in my heated car, and arrived at my place of gainful (and enjoyable) employment, I had a song of praise in my heart and an unspeakable joy to match. Nevermind the freezing temperatures or my runny nose. I am alive and well. My family is alive and well. None of us slept on the street last night. We have sufficient clothing in which to bundle up and brave the harsh winds. Not everyone can say the same. I am blessed.

God blesses us because He loves us. However, He created us in His image for His glory and our blessings should ultimately result in garnering praise for the Most High and bringing others closer to Him. God’s blessings will not be wasted on me. Would I have enjoyed a “snow day” (minus actual snow, of course)? Certainly. However, I dare not complain. Joy is not circumstancial. Neither is my gratitude. God favors me. Sometimes I will have to do things that I don’t want to do, but I pledge to praise him for blessing me so that I am ABLE to do them. While my students and colleagues grumble, I will be the one that reminds them of how blessed we are to be able to provide a safe and warm place to learn. I will remind them of the people who are not as fortunate. I will remind them that it is only a matter of God’s grace that has kept us from being among those who are not as fortunate.

I pray that those friends and associates of mine who have found a reason to complain can open their eyes, minds, and hearts to the majesty of the Lord. I pray that they are able to recognize His majesty…His grace…His love for them. If nothing else, I pray that they praise Him for not giving any of us what we actually deserve.

Keep smiling, loves! 🙂