Posted in bible verses, christian living, christianity, Faith, Jesus, love

The Cost of Following Christ

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16:24-26

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a persons cannot be my disciple

Luke 14:26

Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

HATE our parents? HATE our siblings? HATE ourselves? Did Jesus really mean that? Does Jesus really want us to HATE? Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Especially since one of the 10 Commandments tells us to “Honor our father and mother”

 

No, He doesn’t really mean for us to hate our loved ones. What He is trying to say is that our love for Him must be so much stronger than our love for family. Our love for Him must be so strong that it SEEMS like we hate our family. That we aren’t paying attention to them because we’re so devoted to God.

Today marks the 11 year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. Among one of those killed was a young woman named Lauren McCain who was a devoted follower of Christ. She was a woman of faith. She kept the faith and ultimately lost her life. But she is now in Heaven, face to face with our Savior. She is reaping the benefits of having kept Christ #1 in her life. There is a great book written about her life called Lifting Our Eyes: Finding God’s Grace Through the Virginia Tech Tragedy I highly recommend it.

Rachel Joy Scott @karlafabiolaOn April 20, it will mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shootings in 1999. There was a young girl named Rachel Scott who was the first person killed that horrific day. It’s been said that when Eric Harris approached her after having already shot her, he lifted her by her hair and asked her, “Do you still believe in God?” Rachel responded, “You know I do.” and Harris said to her “Then go be with Him.” and he shot her in the head. Rachel Scott never backed down from her faith. She remained faithful even at the point of her death.

In a booklet from the Discovery Series called Keeping the Faith: The Cost of Following Christ, we read about how following Christ will not be easy but it’s so worth it.

Jesus wasn’t asking his disciples to hate their families in the literal sense. He was challenging them to weigh the cost of discipleship and ask themselves if they were ready to make Him the Lord of their lives.

Basically, Jesus was asking this of his disciples, “How far are you willing to go to follow me? Are you ready to put me before your family? Are you prepared to give up everything you hold dear, including your life?”

Following Jesus won’t be easy. Jesus, himself, tells us this.

But in the end, it will be totally worth it when we come face to face with our Savior, who died a horrible death for us so that we might have eternal life.

Paul tells us in Philippians that “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed but that you will be saved–and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:27-29)

“Not that I have 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.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

A person wearing jeans and a yellow coat holds a book while sitting on a wall in the snow.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I consider following Jesus to be an honor and privilege. He lost his life so that I may receive life. He did it for me. He did it for you.  He did it for everyone!

 

Are you willing to sacrifice your life for Jesus?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in bible verses, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, grace, Jesus, love, redemption

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Image result for jesus friend of sinnersGod’s been working in me lately about being more compassionate towards certain people. You see, I have issues with certain people in my life due to unfortunate circumstances and I tend to have a bitter attitude towards them. That’s NOT something Jesus would do, this I know. And so I’ve been convicted of my sin.

There is a line in this song by Casting Crowns that says: “The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me.” WOW! Powerful, right? How many people are on their way to Jesus but because I’m in the way, pushing them away from the Lord they may not come to know Christ?

Another line from the song:

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
Yeah…
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

I hear God telling me, “Leigh, I love so and so just as much as I love you. I died for you just the way I died for them. OPEN YOUR HEART to them! Share me with them!”

“I will choose to listen to the Voice of Truth.” (another great song by Casting Crowns, by the way! It literally was the next song that played as I was writing this! How great is God?)

Image result for jesus friend of sinners bible versesWill my relationship with these certain people in my life change overnight? No, I doubt it. But slowly God is working in me so that I can be a witness to them and stop being a hindrance. And my prayer is that I will have stepped out of the way just in time for them to come to know Christ. Because let’s face it, we live in such a fallen world these days. Christ could come back ANY MINUTE! We must stop wasting time and lead people to Jesus!

Jesus, Friend of Sinners–Casting Crowns

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

CHORUS:

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

CHORUS:

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

‘Cause You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever
You are good, You are good and Your love endures forever

CHORUS:

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause and I was the outcast
Yeah…
You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

 

Posted in bible verses, christian living, christianity, Faith, giving, godliness, grace, Jesus, love, peace, song lyrics

Fix My Eyes

Image result for fix my eyes on jesusHave you ever just stopped and listened to this song? I hear it all the time but never truly paid attention to it until today. The message is a powerful one. We need to fix our eyes on our Creator who gave us life and longs for a relationship with us.
He loves us that much! So much that He sent His only Son to die for us. To die so that we might have life! That’s LOVE, y’all!
I especially love the line, “Find faith in the battle, Stand tall but above it all, Fix my eyes on You.”
Life is going to hand us trials and tribulations. We’re going to meet hardships throughout our life. But through it all, we must fix our eyes on Jesus! He knows what’s best for us and He is the only One who can get you through life’s trials. You may think you can handle it all on your own but you can’t. Only Jesus can and will carry you through life’s storms if you will just surrender to Him!
We can be confident that if Jesus did not leave us in HIS darkest hour, He won’t leave us in OUR darkest hours.
J. D Greear, Not God Enough
So when condemnation whispers “You are finished”, we need only look to the cross to hear Jesus’s triumphant answer: “No! IT is finished!”
J.D Greear, Not God Enough
(Y’all, I really recommend this book by J.D Greear. It’s AWESOME!)
For King and CountryFix My Eyes
Hit rewind
Click delete
Stand face to face with the younger me
All of the mistakes
All of the heartbreak
Here’s what I’d do differently
I’d love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you, on you
I learned the lines and talked the talk (Everybody knows that, everybody knows that)
But the road less traveled is hard to walk (Everybody knows that, everybody knows)
It takes a soldier
Who knows his orders
To walk the walk I’m supposed to walk
And love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you, on you
The things of Earth are dimming
In the light of Your glory and grace
I’ll set my sights upon Heaven
I’m fixing my eyes on you, on you
I’m fixing my eyes on you, on you
I’m fixing my eyes
Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you, on you
I fix my eyes on you, on you
I fix my eyes on you, on you
Image result for fix my eyes on jesus
Posted in books, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, grace, Jesus, love

Migraines

I suffer from migraines. Last Tuesday I started feeling one coming on and so I took my prescription medication for it. However, it didn’t do the trick like it usually does and as of yesterday, I still had the migraine so I decided to go to the ER. They gave me a cocktail of medications that did wonders for the severity of the headache. As in, I went from a 10 on the pain scale to a 4.

Today I woke up for the first time in a week without a headache. Yay! Praise the Lord!

Image result for not god enough jd greearI was feeling pretty good today so I decided to go out to LifeWay to look around. I found a book by J.D Greear called Not God Enough that seemed really interesting so I bought it.

Your God is too small.
We like God small. We prefer a God who is safe, domesticated, who thinks like we think, likes what we like, and whom we can manage, predict, and control. A small God is convenient. Practical. Manageable.
The truth: God is big. Bigger than big. Bigger than all the words we use to say big. Only a God of infinite power, wisdom and majesty can answer our deepest questions and meet our deepest longings.
Ironically, many today seem turned off by the concept of an awesome, terrifyingly great God. We assume that a God you would need to fear is guilty of some kind of fault. For us, thinking of God as so infinitely greater and wiser than we are and who would cause us to tremble in his presence is a leftover relic from an oppressive, archaic view of religion.
But what if this small version of God we’ve created is holding us back from the greatest experience of our lives–from genuine, confident, world-transforming faith?
In Not God Enough, J.D. reveals how to discover a God who:

  • is big enough to handle your questions, doubts, and fears
  • is not silent
  • is worthy of worship
  • wants to take you from boring to bold in your faith
  • has a purpose and mission for you on earth
  • is pursuing you right now

God is not just a slightly better, slightly smarter version of you. God is infinite and glorious, and an encounter with Him won’t just change the way you think about your faith. It’ll change your entire life.”

I’m already on Chapter 3! It’s AMAZING!

Some quotes I found to be thought provoking:

Most Christians haven’t rejected God; they have just reduced Him

True worship is intimacy grounded in awe.

His love at the cross didn’t move me because his magnificence in the heavens hadn’t humbled me.

A God we can predict, instruct and control is not a God who will captivate our affections or command our devotion.

I haven’t even finished this book and I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite!

What’s on your reading list?

 

 

 

 

Posted in christian living, christianity, Faith, grace, Jesus, love

Sunday is Coming!

Image result for good fridayIt’s Good Friday.

Why do they call it Good Friday? Nothing about it is good when you think about it. Christ was nailed to a cross, taking on our sins. He suffered an excruciating death. And all of it was for us! I guess that’s where the good comes from. He saved us from dying a sinful death.

I don’t know about you but every time I think about how Christ took my sin upon his shoulders, I get chills. Who am I that Jesus would die for me? I mean it, who am I?

Well, without Christ, I am nothing. Without Christ, life is meaningless.

But WITH Christ, I am FREE! God loved you and me SO much that He sent His ONLY Son to the earth to die a horrible death so that we wouldn’t spend eternity in Hell.

Today we remember the day Christ was crucified for our sins. He was beaten, mocked, tortured. It was a horrible day.

“It Is Finished” were Christ’s last words. But what many didn’t know was that in 3 days, Christ was going to rise again and prove to the world He is who He says He is!

Take a moment to listen to this song by the Gaithers. It’s such a powerful song!

There’s a line that is drawn through the ages
On that line stands an old rugged cross
On that cross, a battle is raging
To gain a man’s soul or it’s loss
On one side, march the forces of evil
All the demons, all the devils of hell
On the other, the angels of glory
And they meet on Golgotha’s hill
The earth shakes with the force of the conflict
And the sun refuses to shine
For there hangs God’s son, in the balance
And then through the darkness, he cries
It is finished, the battle is over
It is finished, there’ll be no more war
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord
Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn’t know that the war had been won
Oh, but then I heard the king of the ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And that victory was mine for the claiming
And now praise his name, I am free

Related imageBut Sunday is coming, you guys!

Sunday is coming! Christ rose up from the dead!

He conquered death and we are FREE!

Praise His Name, I AM FREE!

 

 

Posted in christian living, Faith, Jesus, love, peace

Seeking God

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

First PlaceI grew up in church. I participated in church functions. But I never searched after God. I never actively read my Bible as a teenager. I THOUGHT I was a Christian because I went to church and participated in events.

I was just going through the motions, however. And when I was 19 years old I finally found God. We had an evangelist come and speak at our church and it was a statement he made that got my attention and made me realize I was not who I thought I was. He told us, “You can be 99% sure about salvation but you’re still 100% lost. Right then, I realized I had all the head knowledge of God but no heart knowledge. And on March 16, 2003, I gave my life to Christ. I sought after God.

It will be 15 years on March 16th that I gave my life to the Lord. My spiritual birthday.

I’ve had my moments of weakness, however, and did stray from the Lord for some time in these past 15 years but last July I finally got serious and finally realized it was time to stop playing church. It was time to get serious about following the Lord.

God doesn’t hide from us! He wants to have a close relationship with us if we would just seek Him. And if we seek Him with all our heart and soul, we will find Him!

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

And so I rededicated my life to the Lord and have been in His Word ever since. The thought of living a life separate from God absolutely terrifies me. I don’t want to be anywhere where God isn’t.

Y’all….God is so awesome! I fall in love with Him every day. He has ways of showing Himself to me that just make me stand in awe of Him.

I want to be in God’s will. And I know that I must pick up my cross daily. I must deny myself and follow after Him. I know that I will have struggles. I’m currently in the midst of a struggle but I know without a doubt that the Lord is right here beside me and is in control.

Jesus is becoming my best friend. He is my Protector, my Prince of Peace, my All in all. He’s my Shepherd, my Comforter. He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is worthy to be praised! He is my GOD!

Who is Jesus to you? 

 

Posted in bible verses, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, godliness, grace, Jesus, love

Stop Remembering What God Has Forgotten

Amen!Do you have a tendency to remember your past sins that the Lord has already forgiven? Do you tend to harp on them?

I know I do. Sometimes I will harp on them, wondering how in the world God could forgive me. But here’s the thing: HE HAS!

If you have asked God to forgive you of your sins…..He has and He forgets them!

Psalm 103:12 says,

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.

And look at Isaiah 43:25!

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and remembers your sins no more.

Why harp on something that has already been forgotten?

I tend to harp on my past sins, thinking to myself “how could God forgive that?” I’m slowly learning to stop doing this. I’m slowly learning that when God has forgiven me of a sin, I am to do what he does: put it in the past and forget about it.

Is it hard? Well, yes, of course. It’s in our human nature to dwell on things. At least it is for me! person-clinic-cross-religion-54333.jpeg

But once God has forgiven our sins, we are FREE! Free from the bondage of sin. There is NO condemnation!

Romans 8:1-2 says:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you FREE from the law of sin and death.

What can separate us from Christ once we become a believer?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?……….No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Simply put, God loves you. And He longs to have a relationship with you. But until you confess your sins and become a believer, that sin you are harboring is separating you from Him.

Won’t you come to Him today?