Jun 4, 2017

Bad Guys Can Be Redeemed Too...


In any story, movie, TV show (& even in the Bible) there are GOOD GUYS and there are BAD GUYS. As a teacher/early childhood educator we are taught (and also believe) that there are no bad children, only good children who make bad choices.However, if one continues to make bad choices and follow that path, I guess you would become a 'Bad Guy'. But bad guys can become good guys, when they make good choices. 

In the Lego Batman movie, Batman thinks he is a bad guy because of some bad choices he makes, but when he meets a computer system that scans him to see his 'badness', he finds out he just made some bad choices, and that he himself isn't bad. Some of the 'bad choices' he made are out of the love he had for his family and friends. He wasn't a BAD GUY.

In the Bible there are several cases of 'BAD GUYS', and we have been studying some of them in our Children's Church program, as some of our kiddos have had problems with some bullies and 'bad guys' at school. So this week, we are learning that even bad guys can be redeemed. What a great reminder of God's faithfulness and mercy. Although someone has made the choice to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, the Lord still looks down on them and loves them. 

Some verses on redemption that I have found in the Word are;

Isaiah 44:22 "I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free."

Luke 1:68 "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and redeemed His people."

Job 33:28 "God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light."

The 'Bad Guy' of our lesson is Saul. His story is found in Acts 9:1-28. 

SAUL -- a man who made threats and was eager to kill God's people and Christ's followers, was a guy who made bad choices, so was seen as a BAD GUY of the Bible. He tried to have Jesus' followers arrested too. However, one life-changing moment happened on the road to Damascus. A light from Heaven shone down around him, and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"He asked "Who are you, lord?" The voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now, get up and go to the city and you will be told what you must do." Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. The men with him had to lead him to Damascus, and he remained there blind for three days. He didn't eat or drink anything either. (v.1-9)

In Damascus there was a believer named Ananias whom the Lord spoke to in a vision. He was told to go tho the house where Saul was and speak with him. So he went to the home of Judas on Straight Street. (You could say that God set Saul STRAIGHT). He was to lay his hands on Saul so that he could see again. Ananias had heard all about who Saul was, and was worried as Saul could arrest him. (v.10-14)  God told Ananias "Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take My message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name's sake." (v.15-16)

So Ananias went to the home just as God asked him to, and prayed for Saul, that he might receive his sight and be filled with Holy Spirit. "Instantly something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized." (v 17-19)

The people around knew who Saul was before his conversion, and wondered how this man who hated God's people and wanted to arrest them, or even kill them could now be preaching and teaching about Jesus the Messiah. Even the believers were afraid that he wasn't truly a believer. "When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!" (v 26)

Acts 13:9 - Saul also known as Paul... God changed Saul's name to Paul.
Saul - Meaning: Asked for or prayed for (Roman name)
Paul - Meaning: Small or Humble (Latin/Jewish name)

Even BAD GUYS can be REDEEMED by God. God has a plan for ALL of us. ALL OF US have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) 

This is definitely why Jesus says in MATTHEW 5:44 "But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!" The BAD GUYS in our lives can be saved and redeemed too. They don't always have to be BAD GUYS forever. God can change their hearts just as he changed the heart of Saul. Saul's transformation into Paul reminds us that no BAD GUY is so bad that they can't be redeemed.

Psalm 107:2 "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!" (KJV/NKJV)
"Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story --" (NIV)
"Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you from your enemies." (NLT)

Because of God's great grace and mercy we can all be saved. Man's one sin does not make him any better than one man who chooses to continuously sin. Sin is sin in God's eyes, and we cannot live with God and hold hands with the devil. So we need to continue to pray for those who curse us, who persecute us, or who are 'bad guys' in our eyes. Because God does still have a plan for them, and can change their hearts. Hallelujah! 

Be blessed to be a blessing!

Apr 1, 2017

God Takes Hold of Us... We Gain Confidence!

As a childcare worker (a Registered Early Childhood Educator, not a babysitter) & someone involved in Children's Ministry (KidMin), I find myself in the presence of young children frequently. I am a Toddler teacher in my M-F job, and there I teach little minds more about themselves and the world around them. Thankfully, it is also based in my church, so we teach them spiritual truths too!

We are blessed to have our childcare in our church building, as the presence of God follows us up to the 2nd floor where the main part of the childcare is. There are a couple sets of stairs that we have to take daily, either to get outside, or to get to the 'gym'. Some of the Toddlers can do the stairs with ease, some still hesitate and take them slow, whereas some have difficulty & like to hold hands with the educator. On one occasion, last week, a thought came to me inspired by Holy Spirit. The Toddlers can do it on their own, and like to use autonomy and say "I do it!" So we let them hold the railing and walk down the stairs without assistance. But on this day, a little boy was going slow and taking small steps, so I offered him my hand, and he confidently took off down the stairs with a spring in his step and he even jumped from the bottom step to the landing. I reached for the hand of a child behind him, and the same thing transpired. A confidence was built. They put their trust in me, and when they took my hand, they had no fear. They trusted that I would help them down the stairs and not let go. Holy Spirit showed me this is the same with our walk with God. God allows us to 'walk unassisted', but He is still right there with us. But when we allow Him to hold our hand, we can go forth confidently with no fear! 

This led me on a verse search, and I came across one found in Isaiah 41:13 "For I hold you by your right hand -- I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you'."

Such a simple but true promise that removes fear and brings confidence! If God is holding our hand, nothing can snatch us from His grip.

That leads to the story that I have shared here before... except earlier the lesson had a father and daughter/son, this one has a mom and son.

If we hold onto God, challenges come and we might let go, but if God holds onto us, there will be nothing that can separate us.

Are YOU letting God hold onto your hand? No one is too far out of His grasp. Just reach out today and call on Him, and He will hold you.

No God - Know Fear
Know God - No Fear

Be blessed to be a blessing,

Mar 19, 2017

Forgiveness & God's Grace...

Did you know that the times that you wake up from your sleep can be super important? Especially if you are waking up each day at a specific time. (My Pastor has told us this a lot as its one of his challenges.) We went to a Conference and we have been challenged to PRAY MORE and GET INTO THE WORD more. Time with God is important, and sometimes (not always) the times that you get up correspond to a Bible Verse that is meant for you to read, meditate on or live out. Maybe God is trying to talk to you, but you are too busy sleeping, so He wakes you up to get your attention. If you are anything like me, you wake up, check the clock (too early) and roll over & go back to sleep (maybe get up to the washroom if necessary LOL). But at these times God may be calling you as He did to Samuel. If it is the same time every morning, then obviously you need to get up and search the Word. Thankfully we have GOOGLE and the BIBLE on our phones, so technology can be used to our advantage to find the verse that is meant for us. Sometimes there will be MANY Bible verses with the address of the time you wake up. (IE 3:16 AM could be John 3:16, but there are also Mark 3:16, Revelation 3:16 and more... even 1 Kings 3:16 LOL!! So clearly its not all the verses that God is speaking to you, but maybe it is John and God is reminding you of His love, or maybe it's Mark and God is calling you like Jesus called His disciples, or even Revelation, which would be a conviction, as He says "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you our of my mouth". Hopefully its not 1 Kings 3:16 -I'll leave you to read that one ha ha!)

So I have been challenged to write down the times that I get up and to find a corresponding verse that I believe that God is speaking to me. It has not been everyday at a certain time, so I am starting to use this blog again as a 'verse of the day' devotional. 

Somehow I have been searching for Chapter 7, verse 42... however I woke up way before 7:42 today. LOL... not exactly sure where those numbers came from (but of course God). There are a few books of the Bible that have this chapter and verse, and the one I found that speaks to my heart today is Luke 7:42.

"But neither of them could repay him. so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?" Luke 7:42 NLT

This verse speaks of God's forgiveness and His grace on us. Like the man in the 'parable' or story that Jesus told, Jesus cancelled our debts. We are like the two debtors who owed for our sin. Jesus took our sins, and cancelled them by dying on the cross for us. Death is the only thing that cancels sin. However, He rose again triumphantly, and we can have that resurrection power through Christ too, so that we may live eternally in Heaven one day. Our love should not be conditional to what the Father has done for us. But our carnal bodies love conditionally. Our spirits love unconditionally like the Father. His grace that He bestows on us is what gets us through each day. No matter how small or big our sin is, we are carnal bodies who are born into sin. It is only by His grace that we are saved. He loved us even in our sin, and continues to love us even when we sin again. We cannot repay the debt on our own, only through the precious blood of Jesus are we saved.

In this Bible account, Jesus was sitting with his disciples and others, when Mary came in and sat at his feet. She annointed his feet with precious perfume, and then proceeded to wash them, and wipe them with her own hair. She broke her precious alabaster jar, and poured out all she had in worship to the Messiah. She was then forgiven that day, and Jesus said she had many of them. In verse 47, Jesus says, "I tell you, her sins - and they are many - have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."

During the Conference, our friend was also challenged to have more 'Mary' moments than 'Martha' moments, and this is so true. (This Mary is a different Mary than the one mentioned above. This Mary is Martha's sister. The one aforementioned is Mary Magdelene). There is another Bible account (Luke 10:38-42) where Jesus and his disciples came to visit at the home of Mary & Martha. Martha busied herself preparing food, etc for the visit but Mary just sat at the feet of Jesus listening to all He was doing & saying. Martha got upset that her sister left all the work to her and was just sitting at Jesus' feet. Jesus told Martha that she need not be upset over so many things, but that Mary had chosen what was better. Jesus' love could not be taken from her, but the material things of this world can be gone in a minute. A 'Mary' moment could then be defined as 'sitting at the feet of Jesus'. 

As a teacher and one who is passionate about children, I always picture sitting at the feet of Jesus like the kids sit with us when we read stories or sing songs. I enjoy sitting on the floor with them, and even having them sit in my lap to read. Being one who's love language is 'Physical Touch', I always picture sitting in Jesus' lap. Since a small child, I have been very affectionate, and am drawn to worship songs that mention physical touch of some kind. These moments of togetherness with Jesus and God are what draws you close to Him. Maybe your love language is different (maybe you have no idea what 'love languages' are - google it. Dr. Gary Chapman 'The Five Love Languages') - it could be 'Quality Time' (which is another of mine), 'Receiving Gifts', 'Acts of Service' or 'Words of Affirmation'. Whatever your love language is, is also how you receive love best from God. He of course shows us love in all the ways possible (even more than we can dream or imagine). It's in these intimate times with God that we can continue to grow closer to Him and grow in our faith. Times with our fellow believers at church is a time of growing too, but we grow the faith we have from our intimate times together. We have rivers of living water inside of us, and they can be overflowed to the world.

God's grace is an unbelievable thing to our carnal minds. His grace and mercy are amazing. Grace - God giving us what we don't deserve
Mercy - God not giving us what we do deserve

We have to then show grace and mercy to others around us. When we walk in forgiveness, we walk in His grace, mercy and love. Shine the Love to everyone. 

Enjoy this song by Gateway Worship and let God's grace flow through you!

Be blessed to be a blessing,

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