faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Ready for Easter?

So how do you get ready for Easter?
Do you go traditional,
with Easter baskets filled with candy?
Or maybe cook and color eggs to put on the table?
Maybe you have fun hiding the eggs or candy,
around the house or in your backyard,
for the kids to find.
I did all these things at different Easters,
when my kids were in grade school.

Do you go to church on Easter Sunday?
If you go to church,
do you and the family dress up in new clothes?
My family always goes to church for Easter,
and we dress nicely, but not in new clothes.

How about Lent?
Do you practice Lent,
and choose a food or activity to give up for 40 days?
Lent is the 40 days before Easter.
It’s a great time to use to get ready for Easter,
not just in the ways I have listed so far,
but to get ready spiritually, internally.

Easter is my favorite holiday.
Although as a kid, I preferred Christmas,
as an adult I put Easter on top.
It is not as commercialized as Christmas,
and it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
which is why Jesus was born in the first place.
Easter is the reason we get to spend eternity in Heaven.
You might say that the crucifixion is, but
without the resurrection, the crucifixion is powerless.

Easter is a joyous time!
For me Easter is a time to be thankful to God.
Easter is a time to think about the gift Jesus gave us,
through his death and resurrection,
and also His forgiveness and healing.

Easter is a thoughtful time,
or at least it is for me.
I like to read a book about preparing for Easter,
or read some scriptures.
This year I joined with Margaret Feinberg and others,
in reading the entire New Testament during the 40 Days of Lent.
I loved doing this!
It is inspiring, and opens my eyes to all the things that Jesus did,
and what the Apostles and Paul did after the resurrection of Jesus.
Somehow, reading it all in a short amount of time,
has made it more real to me, and more awesome.
I am really ready for Easter this year!

How about you? Are you ready?
If not, at least I have given you some ideas.
You still have a week to get ready.
Tell me about your Easter in the comments below.

2 Comments »

To Hear God

I have many times in the past wanted to hear God.
I thought that in order to know what God had planned for me to do,
then I needed to hear Him.
Because there are many people talking at me, including myself,
I also wanted to know God’s voice.
I wanted to know if the voice I heard was God’s.
I have read several books on one or both of these subjects,
but I still didn’t know what God wanted me to do.

I kept studying the Bible,
looking for answers.
I learned a lot, but
I still did not know for sure, what God wanted me to do.

Then recently, I had a breakthrough!
I was memorizing scriptures
last year in an online group led by Beth Moore.
I started using these scriptures in my morning prayers.
I had memorized John 10:27, which says in part, “My sheep listen to my voice”.
I repeated it many times
in my prayers, and when working on my memorization.
Then it hit me –
“LISTEN to my voice”!
I realized that I could not hear God’s voice, if I wasn’t listening.
I could not know what God’s voice sounded like, if I wasn’t listening.
Listening was the missing piece to the puzzle.

Now, every day in my prayer time, I tell Jesus that I am listening,
and I ask Him what He needs to tell me.
Then I quietly listen, and wait for a reply.
And YES, He answers me! Every time!

It is not long and complicated.
God tells us in the Bible, to deal with today only.
So what Jesus tells me is always simple,
and often just one word.

Over time, I get better at listening.
It takes practice.
I don’t always understand what Jesus says.
So I sometimes ask Him to explain,
or I mull it over myself,
or look for a Bible verse with the word He used.

Jesus will speak words to you, just for you.
He won’t tell you the same words He tells me.

So, if you want to hear God,
practice listening during prayer times.
If you want, you can comment below on how your listening is going,
and even share what Jesus tells you.

I will tell you one word Jesus tells me a lot,
rest“, but it doesn’t mean taking a nap.
You can study that word in the Bible if you want,
I did. It’s about trust, and coming near to God.
( If you want to know more about that, you can go to my post on my “one word” for this year. )

I highly recommend writing down what Jesus says to you, during your prayer time.
By afternoon, I sometimes forget what Jesus said to me that day.
Yeah, you would think I could remember just one word, but I get distracted.
I sometimes keep repeating the word to myself throughout the day.
It brings my focus back.

So, what did Jesus tell you, when you were listening?

3 Comments »

What’s a Christian?

The question “What’s a Christian?”, gets a lot of different answers.
The “Webster’s Dictionary” gives this definition –
“A believer and follower of the teachings of Jesus”. Period.
I would add this to the definition –
A person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God,
and our Saviour, because Jesus died for our sins,
and was resurrected, and sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven.

I know that some Christians would add even more to this definition, but
the more simple we keep it, the easier it should be to agree.
It is fine to add a bit to this definition,
such as “a person who believes the Bible is from God”,
but some of us add too many requirements to being a Christian.

There are Christians who believe that Christians cannot drink at all.
There are Christians who say certain Christian authors aren’t really Christians,
because they teach differently, even though they teach from the same Bible.
There are some Christians who say President Obama is not a Christian,
because of his past, even though he was baptized in a Christian church, and believes in Jesus.
Other Christians say, you can’t be a Christian if you are divorced and then
get married to someone else.
I have heard all these rules and judgments from Christians.
I did not make these up.

Now, where in the Bible does it say that we can’t be a Christian if…?

There is no sin greater than Jesus Christ.
Jesus can save anyone.
Jesus does not say that your past can keep you from being a Christian.

Jesus does not say that His followers will never sin.
Jesus does not say that His followers will be perfect.
Jesus does not say that His followers are forbidden to read certain books.
Jesus does not say that His followers are forbidden to drink.
Jesus does not say that His followers are forbidden to divorce.
Jesus does not say that His followers must be Nazarenes.

Why do some Christians try to add these rules to the definition of
“What is a Christian”?
All these rules we add do not make us better Christians.
These rules keep people out of our churches.
These rules keep us arguing with each other.
This is not what Jesus taught.
If Jesus did not put these rules on us, then we should not put these rules on others.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

Let’s keep it simple.
Let’s not make it hard for people to become a Christian.
Let’s not judge Christians by our own made-up rules.
Let’s stay with what Jesus taught.
Jesus said –
His followers must love one another.
His followers must love God.
His followers must stop being selfish.
His followers must believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him.

Let’s leave the judgment to God.

2 Comments »

Fear is the Critic

The writing assignment is to write a letter to your inner voice of fear or other critics.

So,fears, you may want to take over my mind,to criticize me or scare me, but
I say that God’s Word, Holy Scripture, has the power to resist fears, and make them flee!
I will use Scripture to answer you, fears.

For God has not given me a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)
This tells me that you fears, are from the devil.
Scripture tells me to resist the devil, and he will flee. (James 4:7b)
Surely I will resist you fears!
When you flee, I will turn away.
I will trust God, because scripture says,
Trust in God with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.
In all my ways acknowledge Him, and God will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God has plans for me.
Even if I do not know all those plans yet,

I am walking the path He shows me.
He guides me.
And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)

Who are you fears, to challenge God’s plans?
I know from Scripture, that “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31b)
Certainly not you little fears!
You cannot stop God!
Scripture convinces me that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate me from the love of God in Jesus. (Romans 8:37-39)

Oh fears, you have no room here!
You may distract my attention at times,
but I will continue to resist you.
I will pray to God for protection.
For in the Lord’s Prayer to the Father,
Jesus says, “Deliver us from evil”.
So I will pray to God for deliverance from you fears.

Your power is dwindling.
I barely hear your voice now.
Jesus has already beaten you.
I will keep my eyes, my heart, and my mind focused on Jesus.
Jesus loves me, and I know that you do not.
I praise God for the power of His Scripture!

8 Comments »

Son Of God movie review

My husband and I saw the movie “Son of God”,
produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (of the “Touched by an Angel” TV series).
Since this is Lent, and I have been doing the 40 day #LentChallenge,
I have been reading the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, which tell the story of Jesus.
What I have been reading, was brought to life on the movie screen!
It was amazing!
It was so inspiring, I found my mouth dropping open in awe,
and I gasped at how awesome the miracles were.

The movie starts with miracles from the Old Testament,
like Noah and the ark.
Then it shows the birth of Jesus,
and covers many of the miracles Jesus did.

The scenery is realistic, and the music is epic.
My husband was surprised by how good the song “Mary Did You Know”,
was performed by Cee lo Green
.
This movie is worth seeing!
I do suggest that you do not take kids under 14.
The crucifixion scenes are bloody. Although it was not as graphic as “The Passion”,
I did close my eyes through parts of it.
The rest of the movie is totally amazing!
It draws you in, like you are there in the crowds following Jesus.
I wanted to reach out and touch the hem of his robe.

The actor who played Jesus, was Diogo Morgado.
He is Portuguese, and he was a great Jesus!
Roma Downey plays Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Amber Revah plays Mary Magdalene, and has a major part in the movie.
Darwin Shaw plays Peter, and also has a major role in the film.

I always wondered how the people could turn on Jesus.
They begged to be healed, and followed Him everywhere.
Then in front of Pilate, they choose to save Barrabas,
and yell “Crucify Him” for Jesus.
The movie showed how this might have happened.
I won’t tell you how they portrayed it,
but it does help me understand this scene better.

If you have not seen the movie yet, I recommend you see it.
If you have seen it, please leave a comment below.
If you would like to see clips of the film, and hear some of the music,
see my comment below with links to videos about the movie.

2 Comments »

It’s Lent! (with a free Bible)

I know that not all Christians practice Lent.
I grew up Catholic, so back then I would give up something for Lent.
Usually I would pick a food to give up.
Traditionally, Catholics give up meat.

I left the Catholic Church a long time ago,
and I was baptized into Christianity when I was an adult,
and a mother of 2 children. I found out that some Christians do practice Lent.
For me, EASTER is so important to my life,
that I want to make it special.
Lent does that for me.

I don’t give up a food.
I read a book. It could be devotionals specifically for Easter.
It could be a Bible study.
I choose something that will put my attention on Easter,
and prepare my heart and mind for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
and my thankfulness for being saved.

This year, I am doing something a little different.
This year I am reading the entire New Testament,
during the 40 days of Lent.
This is not my idea.
I am joining Margaret Feinberg in her 40 Day Lent Challenge.

I started reading a couple days ago.
I am still reading in Matthew, but I am already blown away!
I am reading the New Testament in The Message version.
I have not read The Message before, which is why I chose it.
I wanted this experience to bring me to a new understanding of Jesus, and the scriptures.
I think I am in for a wild ride!
I love it!

If you would like to read the New Testament between today and Easter,
you can join us.
We just started last Wednesday,
and since we only are scheduled to read Mon – Fri,
you can add in a Sunday reading and catch up in a few weeks.
You don’t need to be reading the same passages we are.
In fact, you can read more on some days, and skip a day here and there.
It’s flexible.

I provide a link below, to Margaret Feinberg’s website.
You can learn all about it, and get your free Bible download from YouVersion.
In YouVersion, you can choose any Bible version you want.
You can read the Bible from your iPhone or IPad, Android device, or your computer.
This will really make your Easter special!
Don’t wait. Use the links below, and get started getting to know Jesus all over again!

This link will give you the free Reading Guide (about 7 chapters each day you read)

http://mar.cta.gs/09r

This link is where you can download your free Bible from YouVersion
Just click the phone icon (bottom left) of the YouVersion page to download the free Bible App.

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/867-the-40-day-nt-challenge

This is the link to Margaret Feinberg’s website for more details about the Lent Challenge.

#LentChallenge
1 Comment »

Jump In With Both Feet

I have really been enjoying writing posts on the church service I attend the night before.
It gives me a chance to think about how the sermon relates to me.
I think about what are some of the deeper meanings I can pull out of the sermon.
Last night was an amazing sermon on Noah! … But…
it left me feeling like something was missing.
So I had to figure out what that was.
God didn’t let me down.
He gave it to me. So I am sharing it with you.
God has saved us many times.

The Bible tells us about the many times God bailed us out before.
God saved us through Noah building the ark.
Otherwise there would be nothing left on this earth.
God saved us when Adam & Eve disobeyed.
God gave them clothes and sent Adam & Eve out into the world — a second chance.
God saved us through Jesus Christ.
Otherwise we would all be dead in sin, with no hope.

God gives us second chances, even now.
Has anybody been given a second chance by God?
I have, many times.

So now what? What will we do with our second chances now?
God saved us, so we can show our love and gratefulness.
We need to jump in with both feet,
and do something for God!
Look for an opportunity. Pray for an opportunity.
Be ready for an opportunity.
Then jump in and do it!

Want some examples? Some things I am doing
Sponsor a child in Haiti or Guatemala or some other country with needy children.
Lead a Bible study or host a small group in your home.
Attend a Bible study and really participate.
Encourage other Christians, with a hug, a compliment, a thank you …
Donate food to a food pantry.
….. fill in the blank with something you can do now.
Don’t wait. Jump in!

If you want to share ways that you Jump In and work for God,
please leave a comment below.
I would love to hear about it.
By the way, I also leave encouraging comments on blogs, too. ;)

I will be linking up to

3 Comments »

Bonus Post

 

(This is a special writing assignment, so it’s an extra bonus post on my blog, just for today.) ;)

Taking a Risk

 

I am usually a very careful person.  I like to think things through, make plans ahead of time, research the options, and discuss it.  Sometimes it’s amazing I get anything important done at all!  Every now and then, though, I take a risk.  Those were times, I knew that it was the right decision; I had no doubts, and when the opportunity came, I jumped!

One of those times came nine years ago.  My husband and I were living in Illinois in a large more than 100-year old house.  We enjoyed living there, but I dreamed of moving somewhere warmer.  Every winter seemed to get colder, and I was hating the cold more and more. 

We had taken a vacation to Florida several years before.  Like many people going to Florida for a vacation, we went to Disney World and the beach.  After four whirlwind days at Disney World, we crashed for a few days right on the beach near Daytona Beach.  We found a small hotel on the quieter end of the beach.  We enjoyed the views from our room facing the ocean.  We enjoyed the sunshine.  We found some great restaurants with delicious fish.  We talked to people who lived and worked there.  We knew we wanted to come back again.

When we had the chance again, we took another vacation to the same beach and hotel.  Everything was wonderful!  We dreamed about how nice it would be to live here near the beach, but we thought it would never happen.  The sounds and scenes of the beach stayed with us.

One weekend back at home we were just talking about all our kids being out of the house now.  Our youngest was away at college.  The rest of the “kids” were married with their own kids.  We said that we could move somewhere now, nothing was keeping us here.  We both thought of the beach in Florida.  On a whim, my husband called a Florida branch of the company he worked for.  The first call he made, that branch was not interested in hiring him.  He tried another branch, and they said that they didn’t need anyone right now, but they took down his information.  Then a few days later, the manager of the second branch called back.  He offered my husband a job if he could move in 2 weeks.  We looked at each other in shock!  How could we sell our home and move all the way to Florida in 2 weeks?  They explained that a hurricane had caused a lot of damage, so they were really busy, so they needed help right now.  We finally agreed to come in 3 weeks.

We laughed and hugged and kissed and were really excited!  We had made a huge decision in just a few minutes, over the phone.  We started making a list of all we needed to do.  We contacted a realtor to put the house on the market.  We searched for a hotel with a good deal for a one week stay when we got to Florida. 

Our plan was to have a garage sale in Illinois, rent a dumpster for most of our junk, rent a moving truck for the rest, pack what we needed and move to Florida.  Once there we would have one week to find an apartment.  Then we could take our time finding a house.

We never hesitated.  We did not know who would help us unload the truck when we arrived.  We had never been to the store where my husband would work.  We did not know one person in the area where we were moving.  Looking back, we know that God was leading us every step.  There were too many details that just fell into place.

Now we have been living in Florida, in the house we bought, for nine years.  We have loved it all!  We even survived several hurricanes.  We know this is where we belong.  This risk paid off in so many ways, but that is for another story.

6 Comments »

No Matter What

Every once in awhile,
my husband and I will have a difficult argument.
I will still reach to hold his hand,
and tell him, “I love you”,
and give him a kiss.
He has asked me, “How can you do that?”
I say “I always love you, no matter what.”

At church this weekend,
the sermon was about how Jesus loves us.
The pastor said, “Jesus loves us no matter what.”
It’s an unconditional love,
and it feels so comforting.

Jesus love us, no matter –
if we fail,
if we get angry,
if we make a mistake,
if we are selfish,
if we forget to thank Him…

His love is always there.

We might say, “How can Jesus love me?”
I have made a mess of my life.
I have made so many mistakes.
I have said the wrong thing.
Jesus forgives it all,
because He loves us, no matter what.

My One Word for 2014 is Come — “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8a)

6 Comments »

Can You Find Peace and Quiet?

The actual question I want to ask is too long for a title –
“Can you find peace and quiet through Jesus?”
Jesus promises He brings us peace,
(John 14:27 NIV) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…”
So if we put our mind on Jesus, we are given peace,
but quiet I think is our responsibility.

“Quiet” is nearly absent of sounds.
We need to find quiet by looking for a place with less noise.
We need to make it quiet by closing windows and doors, or
by wearing noise cancelling headphones or earplugs.

Once we find peace and quiet, what do we do with it?
We say we want peace and quiet, but then we get restless or bored.
So what do we do with it?
Peace and quiet, allow us to listen to God.

Can you remember a conversation you had with someone who would not stop talking?
They didn’t give you a chance to talk.
When you could say a few words,
they did not listen to you. They were distracted.
Isn’t that what we tend to do to God?
We leave Him out of the conversation.
Peace and quiet bring Him back into the conversation.
We listen for what God will tell us.

Lately God has been telling me to find more peace and quiet.
It’s not easy. There are so many distractions.
When I find peace and quiet,
the first thing my brain does is think of things to do.
I could check emails or get on Facebook.
I could watch a movie. I could make something to eat.
I have to tell myself, “No, God wants me to find peace and quiet!”

Peace feels good, but the quiet part makes me nervous.
We are not used to quiet.
Without quiet, however, we may not be able to hear what God is saying.
Do we really think that we have something more important to say than God?

4 Comments »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers