There is much going on in the world today. Your world; my world. The world that neither of us are in. It’s all changing and the time is now to be prepared. The time is now. Apostle Paul makes it clear that we must be prepared. We must be prepared in and out of season; but what exactly is the ‘in’ season? What is the ‘out’ season? If you look carefully isn’t any season you are in the the ‘in’ season? Therefore by deduction you must be prepared at all times in all ways for all things. You must be. But in what way? All ways.
We must first prepare our hearts to live in love and forgiveness. There is no way other than this. You cannot wait for a disaster to strike to love and reach out to your neighbor. You must now. You must fill your heart with love and forgiveness overrunning.
We must stand firm in faith. If you struggle ask for more faith. The disciples did. They knew they needed an increase in measure. Why? Because in order to forgive they would need faith. Luke 17:4-5 is clear: Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (NIV) Ironic too that they needed faith to forgive. Do you? Ask and receive!
Now while standing firm in faith in the Lord is one thing; it too requires action. Remember that faith without works is dead so when it appears the world may be falling apart around you what are you doing to be prepared so that you can stand and not fall faint of hunger? You must be able to stand as how can you help your brothers and sisters in need? It is not time to be dependent upon others but upon the Lord so that you can be of service to others on His behalf.
It got me thinking to say the least. How prepared am I? What do I need to be prepared for? What is my faith level? What is in my heart? Not only this; what is in my pantry? You see; we must be prepared and in all ways. Winter is here are you ready?
In Colorado growing up people were prepared for winter. It was normal life. People had gardens and the crops were canned for winter. It was life. That was the norm. Those of you who grew up in climates similar can relate I’m sure. The blizzard of 1982 was one such example. It came on Christmas Eve. It’s not one people soon forget. The other ones that people still talk about are 1997 where in Coal Creek Canyon 56″ of snow was reported in less than 12 hours. In 2003 people were snowed in for at minimum 5 days. Because some cities outlawed driving people skied to the nearest grocery store; before everything was shut down. How ingenious right? Yep wear a backpack and ski to the market. You do what it takes and have what you need in order to complete the task. You can’t drive and for me that year I didn’t get out for more than 5 days. Nothing like being snow bound!
Living in climates like Denver people have 4-wheel drive vehicles- and they moreso know how to drive in the conditions too. In most cities across America; people aren’t equipped for such weather as snow and ice; or even cold. We can look around and see the weather changing and vastly. Many talk about global warming yet it’s been the opposite so figure that one out. So are you prepared? Some say living in Texas the weather is changing daily. At least it’s daily. Other places it’s hourly! I remember in Denver laying out at the pool in the morning and by evening experiencing 2″ of snow. In other words have sunscreen and hot chocolate handy every day. Even in July you can get snowed in the foothills in as I’ve experienced that too.
In reflection of a few things that would be necessary for survival is one that has thinking I need to step up my game. Dallas is different and regardless of where I live or where you live; you must be prepared. You don’t want to be cold and bitter now do you? See; grocery stores only have supplies for three days. Three days! What if the weather is so bad that the power is out longer than that? Or what if where you live the weather is ok but where the goods come from the weather isn’t? What if the weather is so bad that the trucks can’t even get to your city to deliver the products you need? What then would you do? It occurs to me that there are some things I need to take care of. It’s not like I will be able to just use my cell phone and order pizza. And if I could the two hour wait for it to arrive cold may not be the best either. So it’s best to just be prepared. Love, forgive and have extra toilet paper.
A few things to think about to be prepared are:
1- Water. Of course everyone needs water so this goes without say. If you start now stocking up on water then you are set for drinking but what about the other areas of your life? What about showering, cooking, or anything else. Don’t you need to be able to flush the toilet so you may need more water? It takes about one gallon to fill the tank so keep some on hand just in case. If you have the drinking water do you really want to pour that down the toilet? The large blue containers you can fill up with a few gallons of tap water and then store them in the garage so you have something. You wouldn’t want to store your drinking water in the heat in the garage as it will only take more like plastic than it already does. One thing I do is fill a gallon of water from the shower while I am waiting for it to heat. Yes it’s that much! The other thing I do is keep another gallon jug by the kitchen sink so that while I am waiting for hot water I collect all the cold water. I use that to fill my dog’s water bowl and to water plants. Why pay money for it to go down the drain?
2- Food. Of course you have to eat and because you may not have electricity or know when it will be restored you definitely have to plan. I remember during the Superbowl when Green Bay played in Dallas during that week I had no electricity for a day. Needless to say it was cold from the ice storm. No one can drive on ice and keeping warm is obviously priority along with eating. Think about what you would eat for more than just one meal. What is your daily food consumption now? How long will the food in the refrigerator and freezer last? How would you prepare it? During the aftermath of Hurricane Ike many people grilled all their meat from the freezer since they had no electricity. I was told years ago to take old water bottles and fill them with water but not all the way full and then store them in the freezer for occasions just like this. Perhaps a few MRE’s and other items should be accounted for before it’s too late. Foods high in protein and require no cooking are the most obvious. Plan for additional foods for the children and infants in your family. Not only this; how often do people eat out of boredom? Planning now will help you know what you have so your level of irritability won’t be so high. The last thing you want is to get stuck with a Costco size container of old stale cheese balls.
3- Paper items. Toilet paper, napkins and other items are good to have on hand. Nothing would be worse than the last roll of toilet paper! Because water supply is limited doing dishes won’t be easy using paper products can serve the purpose. Count for how much toilet paper you use per month then perhaps an extra month supply would be good. Obviously if you are single you use less than a family of five; but still that is the last thing you want to run out of. One opened item of anything is never enough!
4- Protection. It’s wise to be able to defend yourself in all seasons. Bad guys are everywhere. While we must walk and live in love and forgiveness we must be wise too. Keeping current with firearms training and having ammunition is just prudent. My CHL is current and being proficient in using it doesn’t take much time out of my life. It’s just one of those things that is no different than taking care of the laundry or baking cookies.
5- Toiletries. As I said before an opened anything is never enough. Are you at the bottom of the shampoo bottle? Last roll of the toothpaste? What then if you run out before the weather clears and your store is restocked. How terrible would it be to not be able to brush your teeth for a few days or weeks?
6- Lighting. Candles of course can work just great; but how many would you need to use for light and warmth? When I look around my town home I see 20ft ceilings with an open floor plan which means all the warmth going everyone else except to me. I would need to get creative with where I would spend my time because I obviously don’t want to waste my candles. My personal idea is pretty simple. My bathroom is a decent size and is closed in so it would make the most sense to set up shop in there. I would set up an air mattress in the bathtub and that room would be the warmest with less heat escaping. I would roll a towel in front of the door so that no heat could escape; or at least very little. Sitting on the air mattress also gets me off the floor where it isn’t warm. Because my dining room, kitchen, living room; and bedroom all have windows using candles simply would be better in the bathroom. GE sells the LED lanterns that take D batteries so for 20 bucks I have light and with my candles have warmth. Don’t forget the matches or lighters. I have a fireplace that was one thought although the bathroom would still provide better options for longer warmth because the heat could be contained.
7- Pet food and supplies. You can’t let your pet go hungry now can you? Of course not! My Olive needs her food too. How much does your pet consume daily? What about flea, tick or heart worm medicine? Having these items on hand will only help you better protect your animal. Perhaps a few extra treats or raw hide bones would serve as a distraction from the situation. You may also think about a dog sweater or sweatshirt. While most with the purse dogs spend more on these items; your lab or Great Dane may need one too!
8-Prescriptions. While it’s easy to call the pharmacist to place the prescription order on most days; you most likely wouldn’t have phone service to make the call or be able to get to that location to purchase it. Having enough supply on hand is wise as you would have to have your mother or child suffer those consequences! Or better yet; have essential oils and recipes on hand. Sure it may be great to think you can hop online to find those recipes; except if you have no power for any length of time is this realistic?
9- Extra glasses or contacts. If it’s dark and you lose a pair of glasses now you are stuck. Stuck using your light to go search in the cold of the night to find them when if you had an extra pair in an easy to find location you would be just fine. You would hate to harbor unforgiveness toward yourself for not taking care of this oh; years ago when your spouse mentioned it. You don’t want to hear the proverbial ‘I told you so’. This is one thing on my list without a doubt! I’ve never lost a pair but that doesn’t mean an extra pair wouldn’t be beneficial. I’m also learning that too many things that can be done tomorrow can wreck havoc on it too! Tomorrow eventually becomes today so why not just do it now?
10- Blankets & Down Comforters. If you happen to be like many bachelors you may just have your sheet and comforter that you sometimes use; or even perhaps you have the old quilt from someone years ago. Having enough blankets to keep you warm is a definite! If you hold up in one room you can always use one at the base of the door to keep any heat from escaping; or the towel as I mentioned. My favorite is my down comforter; although I have two other bed sets and numerous other blankets that I have picked up along the way. When buying a down comforter buy the one that has the most ounces of down per square. It may cost more although it is the best purchase you can make! I have had mine for almost 20 years and it is one item I don’t ever see myself parting with. This one item that can definitely serve it’s purpose. Of course if you have the sleeping bag that you use for those hunting excursions those will work just fine. Always keep blankets on hand because you can use them to create a bed in case and that will generate heat as well for you. You can also use the blankets to cover windows in addition to draperies as that will help keep the warmth in.
11- Generator. Sure you may not want to spare the expense of a few hundred bucks and no one blames you; except for someone who told you to buy one years ago. For those who like to really be prepared it may be the best way to go. While others may be suffering; those with the generators wouldn’t lose any power so perhaps it is something to consider.
While there are many other items to include like salt for the driveway or front steps, sturdy ice scraper; and a prepared mentality this is a good start. More people die in the cold of winter and the number of people who die from unforgiveness is evident too. Just be prepared by forgiving, loving and ensuring that you are able to take care of yourself. When that day comes you will be glad you did!
The most important command in the Bible is clear; and it’s serious. The command to love they neighbor it is written in Mark 12:31 ‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Interesting isn’t it? You may have grown up hearing it but not now where it comes from. I ask again- do you really love your neighbor? It seems in our society that we love twitter, we love a great shoe sale or Duke basketball; even when they miss a championship here or there. But do we love the obese man next door? Do we love the African American across the? Do we love the homosexual couple? Or do we just think we are speaking a good idea in theory?
See; all too often we interact with people and base whether we like them on political stances instead of the people themselves. You like more Democrats if you are one and well; Republicans too like their kind. The Bible is clear to love and missing that means we miss the entire point. Remember it was Jesus at the well speaking to the woman out of love. It was Jesus that died for your sins and for mine; and if you ever claim to be a follower of Christ but have no love then are you truly His follower? Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are and right where they are. Don’t you? The good news is that you are if you merely look to Jesus.
Today I ask you: “Are you loving your neighbor?” Are you living in the land of love or are you too busy judging others because they are not the size 2, driving the vehicle that you think is cool, or drinking your favorite beer? They don’t agree with your stance on refugees or Donald Trump and therefore you are just not ok with them. Are you forcing tolerance in the name of tolerance while being intolerant yourself? Are you looking down on someone because they don’t attend your 40k member mega-church? Or better yet; judging those ministers publicly because of something you think they stand for instead of realizing that in love you cover a multitude of sins? It is simply not the place of any of us to judge anyone as that in and of itself is sin. Who is anyone to look at the life and path of another and condemn them? Am I not just as guilty for the sins I have committed? Sin is sin and we have to remember that. Sure the outcome may be different but that simply is not the point for this moment.
It’s amazing how many don’t realize the magnificent and the magnitude of the words Jesus spoke before His death: ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34) and how true it is! People are hurting by their sins so why judge them even more?
I remember a few years ago I was walking out of a store and a strange gentleman asked me my plans for the evening. I replied ‘none’ and his reply was ‘oh another beautiful lady home on a Friday night.’ Ouch! What I saw though was that the pretty ladies are judged for their looks just as much as the not so pretty ladies; whatever they even look like. In the end- all are home alone on a Friday night and still be judged. And that’s not cool!
We are only called to love our neighbors. It’s that simple. None of us know the specific path that someone has been through. We just don’t. Know one has walked my journey with me except for Jesus and the same is for you. I will be dealt with on Judgment Day as will all of us whether we believe it or; like it or not or want it or not. Through all of this so long as we hold over those who we believe are more sinful than ourselves we are simply playing God. It is not up to any of us to place ourselves in that position as what we think today may be different tomorrow. It is only our responsibility and duty to reach out and love our neighbors and demonstrate that love so that others can see the light and forever be changed. It is our duty to love. And through forgiveness more love will come.
Forgiveness is not a game. Many toss it around like bocce ball on a Sunday afternoon. It is seen as something to do just to placate others in an attempt to have them believe that you are holy; oh so holy. It’s like those who want you to believe because they go to church that they are better than you. Yet those who know forgiveness will know that the life changes that come through forgiveness either will or will not be evident. When you forgive there is evidence of it; there is fruit. This would make sense as obedience to God’s Word does that-produces fruit.
How you change when you forgive is something that 1) most don’t know, 2) haven’t experienced, 3) is not really talked about. This makes sense because it’s hard to talk about and share an experience that never has been. And so this is why it is important to share how people change when they forgive; and forgive to God’s Word and not mans idea as they are two entirely separate things.
You see; forgiveness first and foremost is about obedience to God’s Word. One may be of another religion and forgive to the words although while good and appearing noble is not the best nor complete. Anything without God let’s just be real- is death and terrible. God’s Word is clear that ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5. So in other words- if you do not have Jesus you are not in the realm of 1) grasping forgiveness to the full, 2) being forgiven, 3) forgiving, 4) bearing fruit. It’s all clear. Whether you like or not or disagree does not change anything. God’s Word is true yesterday, today and forever. And thus; as you forgive in accordance with God’s Word you will change because your obedience to it bears fruit.
When you forgive you are removing your self-focused, narcissistic tendencies and strongholds behind you. You are no longer focusing on the outward appearances and actions of others or even of yourself. No you have graduated from that. You see that the selfie-stick too can be sold in the next garage sale- or given to the neighbor. When you forgive you will see beyond where you were to that the Lord Almighty is who redeems and restores. You; through forgiveness, will recognize that you are not your own savior. This is why this requires explanation. Someone who believes he or she is his or her own god typically is challenged to recognize 1) the need for a savior, 2) that he or she is not the almighty thought to be. Forgiveness opens the eyes to the reality of what once was to what is and to what can be. If only we grasped that much sooner and didn’t spend decades living in unforgiveness. Or perhaps that was just me.
When you forgive you recognize that there never was a need to focus on such things that were meaningless It is not to state that there was no reason or time to not grieve or experience righteous anger; but let it be clear that bitterness is poison that rots the bones. Anger, resentment and separation from God are all ploys o the enemy are are traps. King Solomon states it clear in Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 Vanity of vanities, say the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?’ (NIV) One needs to reflect for a moment about exactly how much vanity comes with being unforgiving? Isn’t really the focus of the unforgiver on self? And isn’t that focus meaningless when Jesus is the One who paid the price for our forgiveness? The focus of the unforgiver certainly is not on that of Jesus which therein lies the problem! And what comes with the wrongly placed focus? Vanity and toiling of course. It’s a downward spiral to the grave. It is when you recognize that allow your mind to get involved with anything destructive will destroy; your life will change.
Your life changes when you forgive. You are not the same as you were the moment before. Your ideas, thoughts, mannerisms, responses and interactions with people change. Your relationship with Christ changes. You change. Your life as a whole changes. The meaning and purpose of your life changes. Nothing is as it was nor will be as it is and it cannot be what it is at this very moment. This ministry would not be in existence because the very foundation of it required forgiveness. You, when you forgive, are a new creation in Christ simply be making the choice to be obedient. It is not about lip service for self glorification. People see through that. And that; is easy. Forgiveness is not; until you master it.
Bottom line is this: if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to stop playing church and appeasing people. It is time to stop looking in the distorted mirror and seek the Truth. The truth is that there is a full life waiting for you. There is everything you could ever dream of and when you forgive; your life will change. You will move toward who you were created to be to do what you were created to do and for His glory. And that beloved; is how you change when you forgive.
Forgiveness should be the lifestyle of everyone; and especially for those who are followers of Christ. After all; it is Jesus that set the example. What must be understood is the importance of forgiveness in the life of a Believer so that in turn; the relationship with Christ that he or she has will be able to develop into what it should be and for His glory and Kingdom.
When viewed in its purest form forgiveness is only able to be given when the heart and mind are focused in the right arena. It is when the Believer says I will obey all of God’s Word; and not just what I want for today that fits how I feel. See; it is written clearly, ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ in 2 Corinthians 10:5. (NIV) You will not find where it is do it sometimes or when you feel like it. For forgiveness to be what reigns; it must be through the application of a right and sound mind and decision of obedience to God and His Word with a willing heart.
When unforgiveness is the lifestyle for whatever reason; all people miss out. Individuals, families, communities and even nations miss out. Unforgiveness keeps people focused on themselves and not on the larger picture or even the fact that Jesus died on the Cross for each of our sins. Whether you like Jesus or know Him not; He still died for you. Any and all unforgiveness keeps people living in sickness, disease, turmoil; and torture. To stay living in unforgiveness simply means living in obedience, selfishness, and a myriad of other things with the foundation sin purely being rebellion.
Please understand that forgiveness is 1) a process, 2) not for the weak. It is for those who recognize that people are people and none are any different. It is for those who wish above all to be obedient to God for the expansion of His Kingdom. All make mistakes and all fall short of His glory. The important factor to recognize is that forgiveness is a pathway for restoration and reconciliation to Christ and that should be the most important focus for any Christian. Forgiveness may or may not lead to reconciliation and restoration with people; however, through obedience to God the way will always be made for what God intends.
As a result; not only does forgiveness heal and restore it is a demonstration of healing and obedience but also love toward oneself, for Jesus and for others. See, in Mark 12:30 it reads, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ If you live in unforgiveness you clearly are not demonstrating your love for Him because unforgiveness is the opposite of that. We continue to Mark 12:31 where it tells us, ‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’ It is not possible to love others if you are not loving yourself. Unforgiveness not only limits your relationship with others, but yourself and obviously with Jesus. So long as there is a block within you- the block will be out of you as well. This hindrance is what reduces blessings from God but also any internal healthy relationships that are vitally important to growing God’s Kingdom.
It is vitally important that your life become one of forgiveness. This is not to say that what others may have done or not have done that wasn’t pleasing but rather harmful to you is acceptable. No. What it means is that you are demonstrating your love for Christ through forgiving. You are demonstrating your strength by living out in full what it means to be a Christian.You are being an example for others and that is vital for Christians to recognize. You are recognizing that while others are not perfect; neither are you. You are recognizing that not only has God will never leave you nor forsake you; He will give you the strength to do all things through Him who gives you strength. And that means you have it within you to forgive. You simply have to recognize the strength you have and the importance of what you give and receive when you forgive.
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