Guardrails

Road along the lakeIn Kentucky where I grew up, some of the roads had these white posts that we placed every 3 or 4 feet along the road and they served as posts to keep you on the road. You can imagine that they didn’t do much to contain a car that was a bit out of control. Later, the steel guardrails that we have today came along. These guardrails are tough, they are meant to keep a car that loses control from going into the ravine or over a cliff.

I was reading Galatians this morning and Paul was describing the law that was given as a guardian and I thought about the guardrails as a guardian of sorts. Over the years, I’ve needed some guardrails placed on each side of the road I was traveling. I see them as boundaries for protection as well as direction. I think the law did this. Paul is trying to introduce the work of Jesus who came and freed us from the law and introduced us to faith & grace. The law required works to be saved, Jesus only requires faith. Check this out…

23 Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:23-26 CSB)

My faith serves as my “GPS” (Global Positioning Satellite or God Positioning Savior) and keeps me between the ditches and ravines. The Law instilled fear and faith introduces us to grace. I am a child of God, not because of what I did, but because of what Christ did. I am an heir to the promise of eternal life, not because of what I did, but because of what Christ did. I follow the Lord because He is my Lord. My life has been profoundly changed since surrendering to Him daily.

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan & Melissa Helser is really blessing me and reminds me not to fear the guardrails, but to walk daily with the Lord seeking His wisdom, guidance and direction for each step.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Excel

square grunge red no limits stampThis word carries with it the intent to surpass or do extremely well in whatever activity I’m involved with. It is part of the word “excellent” as well. I believe that those who give their very best end up excelling. In the sporting world, there are some sports where a gifted athlete combines his/her gifts with the discipline of preparation and they are crowned champion, whether it’s the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA championship, etc.…

Paul, in writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, puts a strong challenge out there for them to give to another church that has been struggling. Giving is one of the biggest blessings that I can do for others. Paul makes an incredible appeal to give that really challenged me even this morning. Check this out…

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving advice because it is profitable for you, who began last year not only to do something but also to want to do it. (2 Corinthians 8:7-10 CSB)

He approaches the subject of giving by linking it to grace. If I give from a grace-filled heart, my gift will be generous.

I believe my giving reflects my faith.

I believe my giving reflect His Grace in me.

I believe my giving reflects the genuineness of my love for God. Talk is cheap – obedience is expensive.

I believe my giving profits me with blessing upon blessing.

When I committed to being a giver, I became a receiver of the blessing.

I believe that the Lord wants me to excel in my love for Him. One of the ways I can express my love for Him is the discipline of giving. I give before I invest. I give before I spend. I give before I eat. I give to Him first – period.

I am never more like God than when I give….  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wishful & Hopeful

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetWishful involves want and desire. Hopeful also involves want or desire, but has the ingredient of expectation. Optimism involves both words. I am generally an optimistic person, but I also try to be a realist. I don’t have to be hopeful about doing something I already know how to do – I can be hopeful about improvement. I play guitar, for example – there is always room for improvement and I’m still growing with my instrument. Hopefully I can get better, but it’s wishful thinking if I don’t even attempt to improve.

I wish everyone could know the Lord and walk their life out with Him. I want others to know the peace that His Presence brings. I know that there are some who’ve “written me off” for my faith. I’m ok with that. But I hope that they will one day see that this is not just some goofy idea that I or someone else came up with. There is a Creator and He loves His creation (all of us) and He longs for a relationship with us.

Paul makes a passionate plea in his second letter to the church in Corinth. Check this out…

14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 20-21 CSB)

While I wish, everyone knew the Lord, it doesn’t work to push my faith “in their face”. I’m always happy to discuss why I believe in the Lord. I am not ashamed of knowing the Lord and I don’t make apologies for my belief. My code of behavior comes from Him. My kindness comes from Him. My integrity comes from Him. My love for people comes from Him. My journey in His Word has helped put my convictions in concrete. I put these words from my journey because I’m hopeful that others will investigate this Love that God has for all of us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Suffering Struggles

quarreled couple in their living roomWhen I think back through my life at the struggles, I get a bit tired, yet inspired. I can now see the hand of God through the struggle. At the time of struggle, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t see His perspective. I could only muddle through the suffering. I think suffering is one of the hardest realities that everyone battles – both the Christian follower and non-believer. Suffering is not a respecter of my faith. I believe that suffering is a result of a fallen world. I do not subscribe to the angle that God causes my suffering – for me that just doesn’t fit with what I know about Him. I do believe that could prevent or stop my suffering, but He doesn’t always choose to do that. This is a hard topic because when I revisit my struggles – even though they are in the rear-view mirror – it brings up a lot of painful memories.

Paul speaks about suffering in the opening chapter of his second letter to the church at Corinth. His writing has helped shape my view of suffering. Check this out…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 CSB)

I know people who have suffered more than I have. I know people who are in the middle of suffering right now. I don’t have all the answers for people in the middle of suffering, but I do know that the Lord never wastes times of suffering. I’ve learned more about His heart in the middle of my past experiences with suffering. When I’m on this side of suffering, it looks so different.

I know that one of the big wins in my personal sufferings is my ability to help others who are suffering. I have learned some life lessons in my suffering that I’m not sure I would have learned any other way. I started spending time in the Word of God many years ago and the Lord built into me some perspective and inner strength that I didn’t even know I had. My beliefs in Him are more solid today because of my sufferings in the past. I choose to trust Him with today and every day. During suffering and struggle, I choose to trust him. When I can’t see a good outcome, or ending to my suffering – I will still choose to trust Him.

This is not all that easy because suffering and struggle take its toll, but I will still trust Him with whatever comes my way. My faith is stronger because of struggle and suffering in my life. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. He never leaves me or forsakes me in the middle of struggle and suffering.

Pressing On

Dwayne

No Strings Attached

 

I am always suspicious of an unsolicited phone call announcing that I’ve received something for free. I realize that there is a “catch” to things like that. I have won 3 days and 3 nights at a nice resort only to find out that I had to go to a meeting where they try to sell you a time share in that resort. I’ve also been offered a free 6-month subscription only to find out that they will start billing me automatically after that first 6 months. There are many gimmicks that promise something Free that I am a bit jaded about it. I usually say that something that is free to me always cost someone else something. There is no such thing as a free lunch. After reading in the Word this morning, I realize that there is something that is free. Check this out…

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13 CSB)

I have not done anything to deserve the love from God that I’ve experienced. He doesn’t love me because I love Him. He loved me first. He loves me even when I don’t love Him. I can’t quite wrap my head around that level of love. I have accepted Him as my Lord. I do believe in Him. I don’t deserve His love. I don’t deserve to be saved, but I am profoundly grateful.

I used to think going to church made me a Christian.

I used to think that not cursing made me a Christian.

I used to think that obeying my parents made me a Christian.

That could be a long list of what I used to think. I understand now that I go to church; guard my tongue, honor my parents BECAUSE I’m a Christ follower NOT to become a Christ follower. I am a Christian because I have surrendered my heart to the Lord. I believe in God. I believe He is the ONLY ONE Who can save me.

Nothing I can do contributes to my being saved. He did it all. I honor Him BECAUSE He has saved me and promised me a future. My life has been different since I figured this out. I can’t do enough or not do enough to be saved. He has that handled. There are no strings attached to my salvation. I see life different since He’s saved my soul. I want to live for Him. I want to live in honor of Him. I want to trust Him in obedience. I want my surrender to Him to continue today not out of fear, but in faith that He will continue to walk with me through this life.

He saved me with no strings attached.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope Is Here

 

Hope word with shadow, backgroundI’ve been in plenty of situations where there seemed like only one way out and it felt quite hopeless. I know the struggle of a sleepless night. I know the paralysis that worry delivers. I also know that when the Lord enters the room of my life, HOPE flows from Him. He gives me strength and wisdom to navigate any and every situation I’m faced with. Paul speaks very clearly about the hope we have no matter the situation. Check this out….

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 CSB)

This passage has much depth to it. This is a snapshot of life:

  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Access
  • Grace
  • Rejoice
  • Afflictions
  • Endurance
  • Proven Character
  • Hope
  • Love

I’m trying to wrap my mind around these 10 profound pieces of the journey with God.  It starts with Faith and ends up in Love. The journey with the Lord always goes through the tunnel of affliction and suffering. It’s during those dark nights of the soul that the light of hope in Him is real. The Lord never wastes a dark night to show off His Heart for me. He brings such hope and clarity to most confusing circumstances. He builds my character from the inside out and not from the outside in. My salvation journey begins with faith in Him.

When He enters the room of my heart, there is NOTHING else like it! He brings HOPE and it is a Powerful Presence. #thankful

All My Hope

By Crowder

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

(C)All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same (C)

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man come on and sing (C)

_____________________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne