Beloved, All Things Work Together For Good…

Friday Reflections

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Can sickness, death, homelessness, financial hardship, lost friendships, and traumatic experiences lead to anything good?

As I’m entering into my 5th day of juice fasting Romans 8:28 has come alive for me in a way I had not considered before.

Back in October after some troubling health news, I began to incorporate daily fresh vegetable juices into my diet at a whopping 80 to 100 ounces a day and 5 days ago I decided to consume only vegetable juice for as long as my body can tolerate it. I’m fasting mainly for health reasons but I am also using the time to pray more and hear from the Lord.

During my fast, I’ve had moments of wanting to give up, especially in the first three days. Having to cook meals for everyone including sweet treats has been hard. Working and dealing with the kid’s schooling has also been hard as I am low on energy. All in all, it has been quite the struggle but I know that what I’m enduring right now will only have a good impact on my overall health in the near future.

The idea of suffering in a small way during my fast made me realize that in God’s kingdom our spiritual lives are a bit like my fasting journey.

At times we face what seems like an unbeatable odd, a mountain too high to climb, a problem too big to fix and yet the Lord God Almighty whispers, “All things, yes all things work together for good.”

It is for his Glory that we are often thrown into the furnace so that in our obedience his name may be glorified. God desires that all of his children would learn to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it is hard and even when we see no end in sight. Because he is the master planner. He sees beyond the pain and frustration and when we seek his kingdom first, all things work together for good.

Although we cannot see through the stormy clouds we are enduring, although the sound of thunder seems threatening and never-ending, the Lord our God is seated above the clouds and he knows when the sun will shine again and when quiet streams will flow near barren valleys.

So let us take courage, for God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Mariana

Who Are We Devoted To? A Look Into How We Are Doing Things At Home

Friday Reflections

Who are we devoted to? Are we devoted to things and systems that oppose God?
Whose standards do we live by in our home?
Do we have high secular standards for our kids or high heavenly standards?
Do we pray about everything and seek Gods best plan for each and every area of our life?

Recently I was talking to someone about homeschooling. They said that I should meet a mother they know but they added that this mother had very high standards for her kids.
I asked the person what they meant by “high standards”.
“Do you mean that they invest thousands of dollars in expensive curriculum or do they work their kids for hours and hours a day to master pre-established academic goals? Do they have high spiritual standards?”
This conversation got me thinking.

So what exactly does having “high standards” mean?
What does it mean to the disciple of Christ specifically?

The first verse that comes to mind is in 1John chapter 2 verses 15-17:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

➡️Do not love the world…
➡️not in him
➡️the pride of life…
➡️is not from the father…
➡️the will of God…
➡️abides forever…

These snippets above jump out at me especially “the pride of life”.

The pride of life. Ah yes.
All the things we want and desire to have for personal gain and fulfillment.
Status, recognition, education, success, beautiful homes, enchanting gardens, fancy clothing, picture-perfect children, money etc. The things we pride ourselves upon.

But God’s standards are way higher, they are not of this world, they are not created in a university or in a laboratory.

His standards are simple and can be found countless times in his word. From the sermon on the mount to the apostolic exhortations throughout the new testament.

➡️We are called to NOT be conformed to the patterns of this world.

➡️We are called to NOT love what the world says we must love.

➡️We are called to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

➡️We are called to train up our children with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

➡️We are called to pray about everything and at all times.

➡️We are called to apply Gods standards to everything we do, not the world’s standards.

Within the chaotic movement and blinding noise of everyday life, we can lose perspective and begin to slip into worldly conformity.

Conforming to the world’s standards relinquishes the guiding of Gods Holy Spirit and puts us in danger of hearing “depart from me…I never knew you.”

➡️Remember that the son of man, Jesus Christ had nowhere to lay his head at night.

➡️Remember that many of his followers were uneducated men who did not even wash their hands before eating, who could not read or write. Most of them did not have a formal education but God used them in a profound way.

➡️Remember that Jesus turned away the wealthy man and praised the widow who in her poverty gave all that she had.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, please consider who’s standards you are following and why.
Please open up your bible to find out what God really expects of you.

And please don’t frown upon others who don’t meet worldly standards but are close to the heart of God.

In closing, I want to share a short story from a few years ago when I had the opportunity to work alongside a native South African missionary friend who ministers to orphans in East Africa.
I invited her out to eat lunch with several employees. She sat at the table and laughed while she ate. She chewed with her mouth open and savored everything even to the point of licking her fingers.
A few of the staff members commented afterward of her lack of manners and table etiquette.
I sat back and listened and I remember thinking to myself: “She is so precious in Gods eyes who cares how she eats.”
This woman missionary has endured several beatings, one that left her hospitalized for weeks yet she returned to her beloved orphanage and continues to work there until this day.
I believe she will be one of the great ones in Gods kingdom.

I can only hope and pray for Gods Spirit to lead and guide us every day so that we can bring him glory in the way we train up our children and in the way we honor and obey his holy word.

Set us apart Lord so that we may be acceptable in your eyes.
Mariana

“Devotions” or Devotion?

I just had to share this amazing video teaching by the late Keith Green. It is based on teachings by Charles Finney on what true Devotion looks like. The video is really great and below is a summary of the video teaching taken from the Last Day Ministries website. May you be blessed. by Charles G. Finney Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -I Cor. 10:31

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father… whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. -Col. 3:17,23 “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” -Rom. 14:7-8

These Scriptures reveal the true nature of what devotion to God really is. In discussing this subject, I propose to show: I. What true devotion to God is not. II. What true devotion to God is. III. That devotion, and nothing short of devotion, is true Christianity. IV. Several mistakes commonly made upon this subject.

I. What True Devotion To God Is Not.

  1. Devotion does not consist of reading the Bible, nor praying, nor attending meetings. These may or may not be specific instances of devotion, but are not to be regarded as devotion itself.
  2. Devotion does not consist of a private or public commitment of our lives to God. These are to be regarded as special acts – pledges or promises of devotion – but not as devotion itself.
  3. Devotion does not consist of individual acts or exercises of any kind. These may indeed be devotional acts, that is, “acts of devotion,” but let it be remembered that no acts or exercises in themselves constitute devotion.

II. What True Devotion To God Is.

Devotion is that state of the heart in which everything – our whole life, being, and possessions – are a continual offering to God, that is, they are continually devoted to God. True devotion must be the supreme devotion of the will, extending out to all we have and are – to all times, places, employments, thoughts, and feelings. Let your own ideas of what a pastor ought to be illustrate my meaning. You most likely believe that a pastor, in preaching the Gospel, should have only one purpose in mind – to glorify God by the salvation (and later the sanctification) of sinners. Since he professes to be a servant of God, you feel that he ought to study, preach, and perform all his ministerial duties, not for himself, not for his salary, not to increase his popularity, but only to glorify God. Now you can easily see that if he does not have this singleness of eye, his service cannot be acceptable to God. For it is not an offering to God, it is not a devotion to God – but a devotion to himself. Devotion then, in a pastor, is that state of mind in which all his pastoral duties are performed for the glory of God and where his whole life is a continual offering to God. Again, you feel that a minister ought to be as devoted to God in everything else as he is in praying or preaching – and in this you are right! For he not only ought to be, but really is only as devoted in the pulpit as he is out of the pulpit. If he is influenced by selfish and worldly motives during the week, then these same motives are surely in his heart on the Sabbath. If during the week his thoughts are centered upon his own interests, endeavoring to promote himself, you can be sure it’s the same on the Sabbath. You most likely also feel that if a minister’s devotion is merely an outward farce – that he preaches, prays, visits, and performs all his duties mainly for the purpose of supporting his family, or to get honor and attention for himself – you would say that he was a wicked man, and unless he is converted he would inevitably lose his soul. If these are your views on the subject, they are undoubtedly correct. Here, where you have no personal interest, you form a right judgment and decide correctly concerning the character and destiny of such a man. Now remember, nothing short of this standard is devotion in you! Bear it in mind that no particular acts or zeal or gushings of emotion – or resolutions to change, or promises of future obedience – constitute devotion. For devotion is that state of the will in which the mind is swallowed up in God as the object of its supreme affection – in which we not only live and move in God, but for God. In other words, devotion is that state of mind in which the attention is diverted from self and self-seeking, and is directed to God – the thoughts, purposes, desires, affections, and emotions all hanging upon, and devoted to, Him.

III. Devotion, And Nothing Short Of Devotion, Is True Christianity.

Devotion and true religion are identical.

  1. It is impossible for us not to be devoted to the object of our supreme affection. If we love God supremely, He will be the reason for which we live. If an individual loves God supremely, he will be as conscious that he lives for God as that he lives at all!
  2. Nothing short of this can be acceptable to God. Unless devotion be a habit or a state of mind, unless the whole being be an offering to God, He must have a rival in our hearts. This He will not endure. And to attempt to please Him by isolated acts of devotion (when it is not the habit and state of our minds) is far more abominable than for a wife to attempt to please her husband with an occasional smile, while she lives only to please and gain the affections of another man.
  3. A departure from this state is heart-apostasy. Whatever a man’s outward behavior may be, the moment he turns aside from sincere devotion to God – from a supreme consecration of his whole being to the service of God – he has, in his heart, renounced true Christianity. He is no longer in the service of God, but is serving the object upon which his heart is set; and this is the object of his devotion – that is, it is his god.

IV. Several Mistakes Commonly Made Upon This Subject.

  1. Many imagine that there is a real difference between “devotional” and other kinds of duties – as if a man could be “doing his duty” in that which is not devotion to God. The duties of devotion are generally supposed to be prayer and reading the Scriptures, together with singing and praying in the fellowship of God’s House. On the Sabbath, men imagine themselves to be devotional, while on weekdays (except for those few acts they call their “devotions”) they are serving themselves and are supremely devoted to their own interests. Now all such ideas arise out of a total absence of true devotion; and individuals who entertain such views do not yet understand what true Christianity is. Nothing is “duty” if it is performed for God. A man that is truly religious is as devotional in his daily business as he is on the Sabbath. The business of the world is performed by him with the same spirit and purpose as he prays, reads his Bible, and attends worship on the Sabbath. If this is not the case, he has no true religion.
  2. Now there are some people who really live for God and are obviously in a devotional state of mind, who do not seem to realize that every act devoted to God is as acceptable to Him as prayer or praise. If by necessary responsibilities they are kept from spending much time in prayer or going to a lot of meetings, Satan takes advantage of their ignorance and brings them into bondage. He tries to persuade them that they are neglecting their duties to God by attending to other things.  Now you who are devoted to God, should understand that if His providence should confine you at home to nurse the sick, or prevents you from observing those hours of secret prayer that you are used to keeping, you are not to be brought into bondage or condemnation by this – if you are conscious that these other duties are being done for the Lord.
  3. Others think that devotion can be sincere, but yet extend only to certain duties. That is, that a man may pray sincerely and from right motives, and yet be worldly in the transaction of business. Now a little reflection will convince any honest mind that this is naturally impossible. Devotion to God cannot be sincere any further than it annihilates selfishness. Devotion and selfishness are eternal opposites.
  4. Many mistake the religion of emotion for that of the will. You can see this from their lives – they weep and appear to melt and break down. They promise to change and offer entire consecration to God. But attempt to do business with them the very next day, and you will find them supremely selfish – they are not devoted to God at all, but to their own interests. They are ready to take any advantage, even of their brethren, to benefit themselves. Now it is obvious in this case that their melting and breaking down was merely a gushing of their emotions – not a will surrendered and devoted to God.

Some Helpful Remarks

  1. A spirit of devotion will turn the most constant cares and the most pressing labors into the deepest and most constant communion with God. The more pressing and tedious our duties – if they are performed for God – the deeper and more continual our communion with Him. For whatever is done in a spirit of devotion is communion with God.
  2. They are not Christians, who do not hold communion with God in their ordinary employments. If you do not hold conscious communion with God in your ordinary business, it is because your business is not performed in a spirit of devotion. If not performed in a spirit of devotion, it is sin. For “whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
  3. They are certainly not in a sanctified state, who cannot attend to the ordinary and lawful business of life without being drawn away from God.
  4. Whatever cannot be done in a spirit of devotion is unlawful. If you feel the inconsistency of performing it as an act of devotion to God, it is unlawful – you, yourself being the judge.
  5. Anything not right or wrong in itself may be either right or wrong, according to whether or not it is done in a spirit of devotion. Therefore…
  6. A selfish man may condemn a godly person for doing something that would be sinful if he, himself did it – because the motives of his heart are all wrong. The selfish man assumes that the other person’s behavior is also wrongly motivated. On the other hand, a sanctified person may give credit to a selfish person when it is not due, taking it for granted that, “when the act is right, the motive is right.”
  7. There is no peace of mind but in a state of devotion. No other state of mind is reasonable. In no other state will the powers of the mind harmonize. In any other state than that of devotion to God, there is an inward struggle, and mutiny and strife in the mind itself. The conscience rebukes the heart for selfishness. Hence, “‘There is no peace for the wicked, ‘says the Lord.”(Isaiah 48:22)
  8. They have “perfed peace whose minds are thus stayed upon God” (Isaiah 26:3) in an attitude of constant devotion. It is impossible that they should not have peace, for devotion implies and includes peace.
  9. And now beloved, do you have the spirit of true devotion? Do not reply, “I hope so,” for nothing but a conscious awareness should satisfy you for a moment. If you are devoted to God, you know it – and if you are not conscious of being devoted to God, it is because you are not devoted.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

(Article Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green) ©Last Days Ministries. All rights reserved.

A Prayer for Weakness – Upon the Waters -& Amidst the Desert

Today I wanted to share a prayer I wrote for when I cannot see nor know what God is doing in my life. May you be blessed and your spirit made strong.

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown.
You called me apart to the desert…….to experience the arid climate of the human soul.

You called me to set my feet firm on sinking grounds.
To look up to you,
to keep my eyes fixed on you
regardless of the ground beneath me.

My heart yearns for you so
and is so heavy that I cannot sing my worship to you
only pray silently, that your spirit would govern over all the unrest,
weakness, fear, and uncertainty that has woven webs around your servant.

Hear your servant oh Lord, Let your glory shine down from heaven.
That this broken vessel would be filled with your power and made whole in your sight.

“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown
Yes, you called me to wander in the desert,
to witness your great hand at work.

And although the heat may wither a thousand flowers
and there may be no water to drink
I know that I am safe
under the shadow of your wings.

Although I cannot sing, your praises are in my heart
although I cannot see what you are doing
I know your spirit goes before me

Hear your servant oh Lord,
let your glory shine down from heaven.

Amen
(©)

What is Pure, True and Good


It is the begging of a new week, new endeavors, new accomplishments, new struggles, and new ideas. My prayer for my friends and family is that we will be aware of those things that keep us away from what is pure, true and good.

Today is a big day for millions of sports fans and there will no doubt be many parties, drunken stupors, and bets all the while little eyes watch and record what is seen, heard and felt.  At the same time in various parts of the world, both women and young girls are being sold into sexual slavery.  Thousands of these poor souls will be exhibited and sold today while many drink their beers and cheer for their team.  My prayer? That we will see the evil and expose it. That we will protect our children from sick ideals brought to us by the local media, the popular clothing lines, and Hollywood.

You see people just don’t wake up and decide they are going to work in prostitution or become sex traders, criminals, and drug abusers.  There is a slow ripping away of what is pure, true and good, the degradation of the human soul and eventually this pushes away God’s love and truth, and before they know it, the enemy of our souls envelops the innocent and the willing and pushes them into some of the most heinous and sick crimes known to humanity.

Going back in history we can read that Hitler was not born a wicked man. He was made into one.  He was actually baptized and confirmed in the Catholic faith as a child in Austria. But through a series of events, he grew up with a twisted view of what was pure, true and good. He sought to eliminate the God of the Christian and Jewish faith. To create his own ideals, to impose them on others with abuse, tyranny, and consequence.

When I look at mainstream media and at some people in power I scratch my head as I see their distortion of what is pure, true and good and as I read about their laws on how we should educate and raise our families.  Next to these outfits, the Political puppets, AKA the media continues to offer and embrace marketability of sex appeal by which they seek to indoctrinate our young children into liberal lifestyles and distorted sexuality.
Artists such as Jay Z teach our youth to adore money, crave for sex and mistreat women.  Don’t even get me started on Eminem, Madonna, and Katy Perry. There are too many to name but you get the point.Now I ask you, what are you allowing the world to teach the precious minds of your young ones?  Are they being robbed of their innocence by video games, music, and mainstream media? It saddens me to see all the young teenage girls completely engulfed in the fashion industries idea of fashionable.  Showing butt cheeks and cleavage because they want to be noticed and because they are hurting inside.  And what the heck are we doing about it?  Not a darn thing.

My prayer? That we would wake the heck up before it is too late for those we know and love. That we would seek to protect the minds and hearts of our family. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 That when we sit down and watch TV or movies we would be selective and diligent on what sounds and images we allow to come into our brains and be embedded into our hearts forever. Yes, my prayer is kind of long but a needed one.

So today as you come back from church, the park, the store or get ready to go to a Super Bowl Party be mindful of what you do and what you are teaching your family by your actions.  Standup for what is pure, true and good. For me, that means holding fast to my faith because it is the only thing I have proven in my life and the world to be true.  It is what guides me and shapes me day by day.  And although this vessel is lacking and imperfect I know that the redeemer of our souls is with me.  He waits patiently for his beloved people to turn their eyes away from evil and run towards the truth.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13

Take All that I Am

What a Beautiful God we serve!
Let His praises be heard all over the earth and let every weary soul know the greatness and vastness of His love .

The more I know Him the more I want to love Him.  Yet at the same time it seems like the more I search for Him the more He undoes me.
It’s like trying to look straight at the sun and having your eyes burn.
Your Glory is far more powerful than my limited mind can comprehend.
In only ask of you that you would heal my heart daily, renew my mind every moment and that your word would always be the lamp unto my path.

Take all that I am Lord, that I may love you and you alone.
Teach me to walk diligently, trustfully, and humbly in your site.

Oh that my mouth would say only those things that bring you praise.
That my heart would mourn for those who don’t know of your endless mercies.
That my hands would work at helping others find you.

Be the light in me that quenches all my thirst and removes all the darkness that seeks to destroy me.

Amen!
Mariana

Come Lord Jesus – A Prayer

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and reside in my heart.
Come and dine with your servant.  

Behold I lay at your feet, holding on to your garment, waiting for a release of your power in my life.

I lay at your feet, humbled and with a contrite spirit, asking for your covering.
Come and cover your servant as Boaz covered Ruth.

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and cleanse me from my sin
Come and bless your servant.

For I am here awaiting your call.
Let the power of your Spirit be restored in my broken heart.
Let the joy of your salvation be evident on my lips.

Come Lord Jesus,
Come and reside in my heart.
Come and dine with your servant, for I am ready to break bread with you,
now and forever.

Amen
Mariana