faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Give What You Can

We all have different ways we can give back to God, and help people.

Some of us have money we can give.

Maybe it’s a little each week.

Maybe it’s monthly.

For years, my husband and I have given extra money to charities at Christmas,

instead of buying gifts for each other.

There are many charities that need extra money at Christmas.

You can look at your finances and find a way to give just a bit more than you are now.

My husband and I switched to basic TV.  No movie channels.  No sports channels.

This allowed us to give more on a weekly basis to our church.

You can look through your stuff that you don’t use anymore.

Can you sell something, and give the money to a charity?

I sold some old jewelry and gave the money to an orphanage in Haiti.

Or maybe you can give your extra stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

What if you don’t have much money to give?

Some of us have time to give.

Maybe you can work at church in the children’s area.

Maybe you can visit the sick.

Maybe you can volunteer for a clean up day in your church or neighborhood.

You can look at your schedule, and find some time spent watching TV or playing video games.

Use some of that time each month to volunteer.

Maybe you can give up 1 week of vacation, and go on a mission trip instead.

Some of us have a useful skill.

Maybe you can coach kids on a team.

Maybe you can fix bikes to give to kids who don’t have a bike.

Maybe you can make a repair in an elderly person’s home.

Maybe you can tutor kids.

If you are thinking that you can’t do any of these things,

then try encouraging others.

This is something that requires little or no money or time or skill.

Give someone at church a compliment about what they do.

Tell a church greeter they have a great smile.

Tell a piano player that you enjoyed their playing.

Give your waitress a thank you for being attentive and refilling your beverage.

Send a card to someone who is sick, and tell them you are praying for them.

You can probably find one person who you can encourage this week.

Maybe you will find several people you can encourage.

Giving, is something Christians do that set them apart.

Whether you give money, time, skill, or encouragement,

you are showing you care about people.

In John 13: 34-35, Jesus said, “Love one another.  As I have loved you…

 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples…”

This is why we give.

We don’t give just because of rules.

We give because Jesus loves us.

We all have something we can give.

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I Learned Something New This Easter

I have heard years of sermons about Easter.

Most of them have been similar,

on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and saving us all from sin.

I love the message, even having heard it so many times.

But this weekend, I heard a sermon that was new to me.

This sermon was about Psalm 22.

If you are not sure which Psalm that is,

it begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now that is probably familiar to you.

Many Christians know all the words Jesus Christ said on the cross.

But why did Jesus say those exact words?

He knew that by the age of 12 – 14, most Jewish boys,

would have memorized Psalm 22,

because in fact, in Jesus’ day, boys in school memorized the entire Old Testament.

When they were told what Jesus said on the cross,

they would have immediately known it was a quote of the 1st line of Psalm 22.

They would then have gone over in their mind,

what the rest of the Psalm said.

Jesus was pointing out that the prophecy in Psalm 22,

was about him, the Messiah!

Many of the Jewish people have missed the connection,

between Old Testament prophecies, and Jesus Christ.

Jesus was asking them to have ears that hear and eyes that see.

If they did actually see and hear,

they would know that Jesus was the Christ, the long awaited Messiah!

Here are portions of Psalm 22:

1) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”

6) “But I am a worm, not a human being; I am scorned by everyone, despised by the people.”

7) “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.”

8) “He trusts in the Lord, they say, let the Lord rescue him.

Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

9a) “Yet you brought me out of the womb;”

10b) “From my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

14a) “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.”

15b) “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;

you lay me in the dust of death.”

16) “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;

they pierce my hands and my feet.”

17) “All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.”

18) “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”

19) “But you, Lord, do not be far from me.  You are my strength;

come quickly to help me.”

20a) “Deliver me from the sword,”

23) “You who fear the Lord, praise him!…

Revere him, all you decendants of Israel!”

24) “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;

he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

27) “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,”

30) “Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.”

31) “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn;

He has done it!”

And here we hear an echo of three more words Jesus spoke on the cross,

“It is finished!”

Jesus said from the cross both the 1st line and the last line of Psalm 22.

Over and over again in the short life Jesus had on earth,

He pointed to Old Testament Scripture,

and said it was about Him.

Not many listened.  Not many had ears to hear, and eyes to see.

I am thankful for those who did see and hear and believe,

so that I have heard also.

This Easter, I have learned something new, and something old about Easter,

and it is Psalm 22.  

Thank you God.

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Do You Need Encouragement Today?

Do you feel sad or discouraged, confused or disappointed?

It is normal for us to feel this way sometimes,

but we don’t like to feel this way.

Even happy, confident people feel this way sometimes.

God knows how you feel.  Do you believe this?

You can know this, because God created us all. 

He knows everything about you, and every one of us.

He is our Father in Heaven, and He wants to bless you.

Do you have trouble believing this?

It’s true.  He wants to bless you.

Thank God for ways He has already blessed you —

  • Do you have food to eat? Thank God for this blessing.
  • Do you have a place to live? Thank God for this blessing also.
  • Do you have clothes to wear? Thank God.
  • Do you have friends or family who care about you? Thank God again.

As you notice everything God has already given to you,

you will begin to believe, that He wants to bless you every day.

Believing that God wants to bless you,

pray for what you need. 

Then pray for what others need, for God wants to bless them too.

If you are a person who believes in God, and wants to follow Jesus,

then you have an advantage.

You can pray to God in the name of Jesus.

In Luke 11:11 Jesus says,

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”

Jesus is telling us, that God the Father wants to bless us with what we need and ask for.

If today, you are still discouraged, confused or disappointed,

then pray now for truth, wisdom, and hope,

and believe that God will bless you with each of these.

If tomorrow, you still feel discouraged, confused or disappointed,

pray again for truth, wisdom, hope, and peace.

Pray each day, for we need these things every day,

and we can feel discouraged any day.

In order to turn away from discouragement,

ask God, “Who needs my help, Lord?”

Someone will come to mind. 

Choose a way to help them, just one thing.

Can you do yard work?  Cook a meal?  Drive them to the doctor, or grocery store?

Knock on their door or call them, and offer to help.

If they don’t want help, then go home and pray for them.

Maybe the next time they need help, they will ask you for help.

Helping others or praying for them, is a good way to feel encouraged. 

Do these things, and you won’t be discouraged, confused or disappointed for long.

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Can’t Sleep?

Can’t Sleep?

Do you ever find yourself awake in the middle of the night?

Your mind keeps going, and you can’t get any rest?

That happened to me last night,

and here is what works for me –

When I am awake and I need to sleep,

I ask God, “Who should I pray for?”

The first name that pops into my head,

I pray for that person.

I may not know what prayers they need,

but God does.

So last night a missionary family that I met at church came to mind.

I prayed for them.

I prayed that Jesus would protect them,

and clear their way as they travel to their new missionary home.

Before I knew it, I fell asleep, and I awoke in the morning,

remembering that I had prayed for that family.

I have no doubt that they needed those prayers,

and I have no doubt, that God heard my prayers.

I believe this works in two ways:

1 – I wake up and am worried about things,

things that happened that day,

or things that might happen tomorrow.  I can’t sleep. 

By focusing my attention on someone else, I forget whatever I was worried about.

It has been proven that praying relaxes people, similar to meditation.

The people get prayers, and I get some sleep.

This is a win-win situation.

God is blessing both of us.

2 – The second way this works, is when God wakes me up during the night,

because someone needs prayers.

If I realize I am wasting my time just lying there awake, and ask God who to pray for,

then that person gets their much needed prayers,

and once I am done praying, I fall asleep again.

This has worked very well for me.

I trust that God uses these prayers to help people who need it.

I pray for basic things we all need,

like healing, protection, peace, and whatever else I think of.

One time, the person I prayed for during the night,

posted on her blog, that she had been struggling with an issue that night,

and by morning she had peace about what she needed to do.

This gave me encouragement to continue using prayer when I can’t sleep.

My advice is — The next time you are awake,

                        and you want to get to sleep,

                        Try asking God, “Who should I pray for?”

                        Then no matter what person comes to mind,

                        pray for them, and God will bless you both.

If you want to share a story about how you helped someone,

by praying for them during the night, please add a comment below.

We would love to read your story.

Also, if you have a prayer need, please share it in the comments,

and I will pray for you.

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Christian Benefits

Whether you are a Christian or not,

it is helpful to know what Christian benefits are, and are not.

You might be surprised.

Many people incorrectly think that Christians

have health, wealth, no problems, and an easy life. — NOT!

God does not promise any of these to Christians.

If you think you should accept Jesus for the gifts you will get,

you would be disappointed.

I have been reading the book “Jesus > Religion” by Jefferson Bethke.

The book has a section on this topic of Christian gifts,

which has me thinking…

God does promise Christians God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

Those are huge promises!

God also promises us to share with Jesus His inheritance in Heaven,

and eternal life with Him.

Amazing!  That is “Good News”, as the Bible says.

God does also promise Christians to rest in Him,

which is good because we all tend to be too busy and tired all the time.

God gives us the gift of keeping Sabbath as a day of rest.

This is a much better gift than you might think.

Just start taking your Sundays as a day of rest.

If you do, you will be amazed at the peace and rest and contentment you will find.

In Acts Chapter 2, verse 38, Apostle Peter tells us,

if you repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,

you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We also then benefit from the Fruit of the Spirit,

which come from the Holy Spirit,

and grow as we mature as a Christian.

These fruit are —

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

humility (also called gentleness), and self-control.

By now, you should be realizing that the benefits of being a Christian are top notch!

By now, you probably also noticed that God does not promise things —

not cars, big house, nice clothes, not money, nor fame.

Some of these things might be given, and also can be taken away.

The author of “Jesus > Religion” says that

1 thing that cannot be taken away from a Christian is —

           your identity in Christ as a child of God!

The Apostle Paul, (in Romans Chapter 8, verse 38) tells us another–

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Where else on earth are we guaranteed to be loved?

Guaranteed love is found only in the heart of Jesus Christ for one of His followers.

Right now I am a bit overwhelmed by these promises from God.

I had to stop and catch my breath, and blink the tears away, and thank God for loving us.

Thank you God for forgiving us, and for all you do give us every day.

Your generosity, Lord, is overwhelming.

 

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Book Review — The Day I Met Jesus

Janet BookReview DayIMetJesus

“The Day I Met Jesus” by Frank Viola and Mary E. Demuth

Have you ever felt invisible?

Most women have at least sometime in their life.

In this book, are the stories of five women from the Bible,

told as if from their own lips.

These women were treated as invisible,

but found guilty because they did not behave the way others thought they should.

They were judged, criticized, and even ignored.

Five women who met Jesus face to face,

and their lives were changed by it!

Don’t you want to know how?

Don’t you want to know these women?

What I most liked about this book,

 it gives these women a voice.

They are finally heard!

And it is because of Jesus.

Frank Viola and Mary E. DeMuth have done a wonderful job on this book.

Some of the gems of truth I remember from the book –

“It’s hypocritical for sinners to want to harm other sinners…”

“If this Jesus could befriend thieves, would He be my friend too?”

“Being a disciple isn’t about serving or keeping a spiritual to-do list.”

You won’t regret reading this book. 

These women will stay in your thoughts,

 because they met Jesus face to face,

just as we wish we could.

I found this book to be very encouraging,

as well as enlightening about women’s lives in the days when Jesus walked this earth.

You can get this book at 50% off at Parable.com  Use the link below —

The Day I Met Jesus

This offer ends March 17.  It includes some free downloads.

The book is also available at Amazon and Christian Book.com

The authors also have a website – www.TheDayIMetJesus.com

You can read a free sample from the book at the website,

and read an interview with the authors.

For another opinion on the book, read Pastor Jack Hayford’s article at Charisma News —

www.CharismaNews.com

(I did receive a free preview copy of this book from the publisher, so I could read and review it.

These opinions are my own.  I really did enjoy reading this book, and I think you will too.)

One more opinion on this book from a blog —

A great new book, The Day I Met Jesus

If you have read the book, I would love to see your opinion in the comments section below…

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Book Review — Whatever the Cost

I am reviewing the book “Whatever the Cost” by David & Jason Benham.Cover WhateverTheCost1

I was not sure about this book at first.

It is by 2 brothers (twins),

highly successful businessmen, and former professional baseball players. 

I thought it might be too much macho stuff and sports talk.

I was really surprised,

because first, these guys are Christians who follow Jesus every day. 

Sports and business were secondary. 

The Foreword is written by Dr. Tony Evans,

who says that the Benhams are “beacons of light in the midst of cultural compromise”.

They give a listing of their Christian business principles in Appendix B at the back of the book,

so you can easily see what they believe and how they live.

I really appreciated their straight forward honesty about their Christian principles. 

These principles are described throughout the book,

and they talk about how these principles line up with how they live their lives every day.

These principles are for Christians, and can work just as well for women, as for men.

These guys make a lot of sense!

Their principles helped them succeed in their Real Estate business. 

Although they are both married and have children, the book does not cover their home life.

It focuses on how they lived out their Christian principles in high school and college.

Then the book continues to show how these principles were used at work,

in professional baseball, and then in real estate.

They cover both successes and failures in their lives,

as they believe they can learn and grow from both. 

They show that God can use our failures.

Nobody has successes every time!

They support every endeavor with prayer first. 

They believe in treating their employees as potential talent.

They work at training and shepherding new employees,

and hire based on character more than experience.

Isn’t that a refreshing idea!

They look at work as a way to glorify God.

You can read the book and get an overview of how their principles work.

You can then pick two or three of their principles, as areas you need to develop,

then transfer those principles over to your own life.

For example, one of their principles is

“We are human beings, not human doings.  In Christ, we are a new creation, so being faithful no matter what we do for a living gives us the ability to live powerfully for Jesus because our identities are found in Him alone.” 

Isn’t that a great principle to remind us what is important in our life?

They are saying that we should not get our identity wrapped up in our job or ministry,

but in our relationship with Jesus. 

They also talk about waiting on God, and letting Him lead.

This book was worth reading! 

Christians can learn a lot from these two Christian men,

no matter what work you do.

This book is easy to understand and has a lot to show us.

— A lot of Christians are looking for a way to serve God while working a regular job,

and these guys show that your work can be your ministry too,

if you put God first.

See Amazon listing for this book!

(I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers, so I could review it.

The opinions are mine alone.)

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Do We Really Do What Jesus Would Do?

Remember the WWJD bracelets?  I have seen WWJD on t-shirts, tote bags, hats, and more.

It was supposed to be a coded reminder to make decisions based on “What Would Jesus Do”.

I saw a WWJD tote bag recently, and it started me thinking.

We call ourselves followers of Jesus – Christians.

Do we really follow Him?

The more I thought about it,

the more I realized that for me, the answer is “no”.

Jesus was homeless.  I own my home.

Jesus walked everywhere (except for some boat trips), and sometimes for very long distances.

I have a car.

Jesus depended on the kindness of friends and strangers, for food and a place to sleep.

I go to the grocery store and bring it home, where I eat and sleep.

How did Jesus spend his days?

He walked from town to town,

talking to strangers he met along the way,

 to teach them about God,

preaching to whoever gathered to hear him,

healing people who asked to be healed,

bringing people who died  back to life,

praying to his Father in Heaven,

arguing with the religious elite, and

a couple times he fed thousands of people.

So, no, I don’t live like that.

I pray to God, but I don’t do anything else on this list.

So maybe to be like Jesus, we really do need to sell all we own.

I’m not ready to do that.  How about you?

So, how can we be Christians, and follow Jesus then?

We can use something our parents taught us growing up –

Do what we say, not what we do —

You know, things like, “Be quiet, don’t yell”,

“Go outside it’s too nice to be inside”,

“Never lie”, “Don’t hit your brother”.

If we read what Jesus said, what he taught his disciples and all the people he met,

and try to obey his teaching, then we would be Christians following him.

Jesus said things like,

 “But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 6:44)

That is still really hard to do,

but I like that idea better than selling all I own and being homeless.

So I propose that we need a new acronym – WDJS,

What Did Jesus Say?

Do what He said, not what he did,

because we are not sinless,

we are not a miraculous healer,

we are not a savior,

but Jesus is !

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Choices

The choices we make every day, matter.

Some choices are ok, some are bad, some are good and some are even better.

Sometimes you won’t know what to do.

I was there a few years ago.  I was working in a difficult situation.

Some of the people I worked with were negative toward Christians.

Some of the people cussed a lot.

I could have quit, but I liked the work and the hours, and I needed a job.

Not knowing what to do, I decided to do what I knew would result in something good.

I prayed.

On the way to work each day, I would pray for a fresh start for everyone working there.

I would pray for God’s light to fill the building.

I would pray for darkness to be blown away.

By the time I got to work, I was feeling more optimistic and encouraged.

By lunch, I would be in turmoil again, so I chose to focus on positive, peaceful things.

At lunch, I would sit near a window, so I could enjoy the view of a river, with trees and birds.

After eating, I would stand by the window and in my mind, I would sing –

“The whole Earth is filled with your glory.

The whole Earth is filled with your glory, Lord.”

And then I would pray.  I thanked God for the beautiful view.

I thanked God for my job,

and I asked for help to know what to do about the problems at work.

After lunch I returned to my desk.

I had a desk with a divider behind it, facing me.

I decided to make my work space more encouraging.

I put up a calendar that had a biblical quote at the top of each monthly page.

I also tacked up a quote from a Bible study class I was taking one night each week.

I would choose a quote to encourage me.

Something like, “God is my safe place”.

In the afternoon, I would take a short break, and go for a walk outside, for fresh air.

All these things were good choices, so I knew they would help.

I continued taking these small positive steps.

Eventually, people began to stop and comment about the calendar, saying they liked it.

People would stop at my desk and talk with me.

The attitudes of some of the people changed toward me,

and I had a more positive attitude at work.

There were still some problems, but I did my best to focus on the good things.

After several years, I left due to an illness.

That business ended up closing.

Now the building is used by a college.

I believe that my prayers were answered.

God filled that building with light,

and blew away the darkness.

Now students are learning music there.

I think my choice to focus on God and prayer,

helped change my attitude, and made working there easier.

I also believe it changed the use of that building to something better.

Now I can smile when I drive by.

I have no bad memories of my work there.

I remember God answering my prayers.

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Dizzy

There is so much confusion and changes in the world now.

It leaves me dizzy.

As we start the new year, we look back and review the last year.

There was so much change, terrorist attacks, disasters, dangerous viruses…

and these all continue to come.

It leaves my head swimming.

As believers in Jesus, however,

we have a solid foundation.

We have the love of Jesus.

We have the hope of salvation.

In fact, 1 Corinthians 13:13 says,

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.”

Our world keeps spinning at 1,040 miles per hour.

(No wonder I’m dizzy.)

But we stand firm on faith, hope, and love, through Jesus.

I need to hold on to this, to stop my head from spinning.

I need to focus on what never changes –

the love of God!

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