Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fleeting Pleasures

Growing up in our home was a bit different than some folks.  Dad & Mom spoke both English & Italian and of course it wasn’t long before us kids understood Italian.  However, since Mom was a native from Italy, she spoke English with an accent.   It was a natural way of life; nothing out of the ordinary to our family. It wasn’t until a few years ago that our daughters noticed a trait they claim I have acquired thru the years.  Apparently, after a visit back home; especially after being around Mom, they claim I have an Italian accent.  I suppose that’s possible because it’s easy to fall back on old habits & distinguishing traits from those you’re around the most.  And it’s always easy to slip back into what you used to do; even if it’s been awhile since you’ve participated. 
One of Mom’s favorite sayings as we grew up was, “You tell me who you hang around and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Boy was she right.  But she wasn’t talking about speaking with an accent.  Her intent was for us to understand that whoever we hung around; eventually we would become just like them.  

Before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I used to go out partying until all hours of the night; hanging with people I considered my friends.  At the beginning, I was having a blast; convinced life was good.  Everything and just about anything was fun!  Didn’t have a care in the world; seriously didn’t even care if I lived or died.  I was living for the moment.  After some cousins led me to the Lord, in my na├»ve 19 year old mind, I honestly thought I could still hang around my old partying friends.  However, it wasn’t long before I took my eyes off of Jesus and fell flat on my face; right back into a carefree life of sin.   A short time after, I was evicted from my apartment, (close to all my favorite hangouts), forced to find a place I could afford; about 10 miles away. But the partying didn’t stop.   
Then, one night as I sat at a table with my friends, an older female “acquaintance” sat down with us and said words that would shake my world.  In her drunken stupor, she smiled at us young girls and said, “I used to be just like you when I was young.” As I looked at this woman who was known to frequent the local bars by taxi; completely drenched in her own urine, I can remember thinking, “Oh my goodness; I don’t want to be like you!”  Soon after, I stopped hanging with my friends; just didn’t fit in anymore.   

But that wasn’t the end of what God had planned for my life.  Oh contraire, my friends!  I ended up losing my job as well. However, what seemed at the time to be detrimental ended up being a turning point in my life.  God immediately showered me with His mercy & grace as He allowed me to be completely alone; nothing left… but His presence.  I was finally in a place in my life where I had nowhere else to turn; but to look back up at Him.  I remember the day I rededicated my life to Him; as if it were yesterday.  As I lay on my bed, in my quiet, lonely apartment, I looked up and said, “God, I don’t know what you want with me; but here I am.”  Wish I could say I changed all my sinful habits overnight. However, truth is; Jesus accepted me just as I came to Him; as a filthy, wretched sinner. Day by day, the Holy Spirit would convict me on sin that was still prevalent in my life. 

On December 25, 1981, I remember looking up and promising the Lord that I would never smoke or drink ever again.  I FINALLY understood that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, I was bought with a high price; the blood of Jesus; and I needed to honor God with my body.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV  

He helped me understand that I am His daughter and no matter what sin I committed, He still loved me. He also helped me understand that sin is what kept me separated from Him. Bottom line; I needed to choose between the pleasures of a life of sin that would lead to death versus a relationship with Him that would lead to eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 ESV

SIN - at its best is fun; but only for a season.  Hebrews 11:23-26 ESV describes it as “fleeting (short-lived) pleasures”.  Truth is, when I was living a carefree life of sin, I didn’t stop to consider the cost or end result of it.  

With sin; there is always a cost. Unfortunately, sometimes the price we end up paying is higher than what we could have ever imagined. 

So, in the words of my beautiful Mom, (Ma as we call her) – “You tell me who you hang around and I’ll tell you who you are.”   But honestly folks, you don’t need me to tell you who you are or what sin may be prevalent in your life.  Search your own heart and allow God to show you. Are you happy with the choices you made in life or do the pleasures of this world not seem so fun anymore? 
Remember - Sin at its best is nothing more than fleeting pleasures and eventually the fun will go away. 

Question is - What price are you willing to pay?
Maybe it’s time for a “Fresh Start with God”. It’s not too late!  Choose right now to flee from the pleasures of a life of sin that will lead to death and accept a relationship with God that will lead to eternal life.
He’s patiently waiting for you. 
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
It’s that simple folks!
Be blessed my family & friends and walk in the Lord’s total favor!

Love you all!
Cyndy

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I’ve been studying all the old Leviticus laws and all the different sin sacrifices that had to be offered up to God.  Can't figure out how they could have kept all the laws straight back then.  It makes me wonder how many times they would break one of the laws while trying to perform another one. The sacrifice offered up had to be without spot or blemish and only certain animals could be used and accepted; depending on the type of offering it was going to be.  To be honest, I was completely overwhelmed just reading about all hoops people had to jump thru just to be forgiven of sin and then to “hope” it was acceptable in the presence of God. 

But then I thought about how God, in His love for man, decided on one final Sacrificial Lamb for the ultimate offering; His One & Only Begotten Son!  That is indeed the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE; a love so pure and selfless; a characteristic I do not have within me.

You see, God made forgiveness or a fresh start with Him so simple and it's free for all of us; even though it cost a high price on His part; the death of His Son, Jesus.   

Romans 3:23-24 NKJV clearly states “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. So if you think you are without sin, think again.  “All” means everyone.  None of us can escape this truth.

But be encouraged and remember what it says in John 3:16 NKJV, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"  

Any person that believes that Jesus is the Son of God and accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior will have ever lasting life.  Now that’s a long time….forever!

If you don’t have Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it’s as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner.  But in order to do that, you have to admit it to yourself first, which is sometimes the hardest part.  Don’t know about you, but there have been times I’ve personally denied that sin was prevalent in my life simply because I didn’t want to give it up and I found ways (and sometimes scripture) to justify my actions.  But manipulating scripture to appease or justify myself doesn’t change God’s Word and what it actually means.  Just doesn’t work that way.
 
But once you are able to admit it to yourself that you are a sinner, accepting Jesus is as simple as saying, “Jesus, forgive me of my sins; come into my life and give me a fresh start with You.  Today, I make You my Lord and Savior; trusting that You will lead me on Your road to everlasting life.”

And folks; it really is that simple!

Be blessed my family & friends and walk in the Lord’s total favor!

Love you all,

Cyndy  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

To Fetch a Pail of Water

Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.  Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

Although there are several theories and complicated metaphors about this old nursery rhyme, I have to admit that I started picking it apart using biblical principles. I mean, seriously, check this out and see what you think. 
Here we have two people (characters) walking up a hill together; aiming for the same goal or prize; a pail of water.  Then for no apparent reason, Jack takes a complete nose dive downward in the opposite direction of where he was originally heading.  I couldn’t help but think that maybe on the way up, something distracted Jack causing him to take his eyes off his original goal.  Was there something more tempting to Jack or was it simply that he was running so fast that he aimlessly forged ahead without paying attention to what might have laid in his path; causing him to trip & fall?  Maybe the hill was too steep and Jack got tired.  But then I wondered - Why did Jill fall soon afterwards; right behind Jack?  Were her eyes fixed on Jack and what he was doing or did his fall somehow cause her to fall as well? 

Sort of like us and sin if you think about it for a moment.  Yes. Maybe a little farfetched, but walk with me thru my analytical observation.
Look at Adam & Eve; given direct access to God and placed in the Garden of Eden to work it and take of it.  They were given dominion over the land and all the animals and told by God that they could eat from any tree in the garden; except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:15-17 NIV

Then one day, along came Mr. Serpent; sneaking up on his prey; seeking whom he may devour.  Low & behold, Eve was standing by; aware of his presence, but did not discern his evil ploy. He tried to convince Eve that she should eat from the tree of life.  But Eve told him how God had warned her & Adam; telling them that they shouldn’t eat the fruit from the tree or even as much as touch it or they would die.  Genesis 3 NKJV   Nevertheless, the serpent was very sly and explained to Eve that God didn’t want them to eat the fruit because their eyes would be opened and they would know the difference between good and evil.  And as we know, Eve ignored God’s direction and ate the forbidden fruit. And with a little persuasion; she convinced Adam to eat the fruit too; and he did; even though he knew what God had commanded them. Their eyes were immediately open and they were aware for the first time that they were naked and hid from God.  Even though they were honest with God, it didn’t change the fact that they took their eyes off of what they were called to do and they turned towards sin instead.  And there began the fall of man.
Now fast forward into our century where we aren’t any different than Adam & Eve.  I can honestly say that if I have my eyes are fixed on Jesus and His direction, the hill may be steep, but I keep going forward with every ounce of strength within me; trusting that the Lord will sustain me when I’m too weak to move another step.  However, I must also admit there are times when I lose my focus; take my eyes off of Jesus  and do something I know goes against God’s word or His leading.  And just like Jack, I take a nose dive down the hill.  Unfortunately, there’s no doubt in my mind there were times that my fall caused others to tumble right behind me.  How many souls could have been spared if only I obeyed the voice & direction of the Lord?

So I ask you, what goal or prize are you aiming for today?  Are your eyes fixed on Jesus; on His clear direction?  Or has something jumped in your path that could cause you to turn and a nose dive downhill?  What about those around you; a spouse, your children, lost loved ones & friends that don’t know Jesus?  Are they possibly watching every move you make to see if you really live the way you talk?  When you get to the well at the top of the hill, what is the end prize or goal you eyes are fixed on?  
Be encouraged with Philippians 3:12-14 NIV, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

Remember; your prize or goal should be more than just a “pail of water”.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14 NIV

Don’t seek after the worldly well; seek after the living water that will quench your thirst; a well that will never run dry!
It’s that simple folks!

Be blessed my family & friends and walk in the Lord’s total favor!
Love you all!

Cyndy