Tuesday, January 31, 2012

But Why Do You Believe?

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"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled"  -  Matthew 5:6

Why are you a Christian?  To avoid Hell, you put a checkmark in the box and move on with life. 
Did you become a Christian because of an emotional response to a problem you were having in life?  Many of us come to that point in life when there seems to be no other way to make it through the struggles of the day.  So we give our life to Jesus.
Or are you a Christian because your parents were and their parents were?  It is often something that becomes a part of our character simply through association with others that have gone on before us.
Do you recall a point in time during your Christian walk that you were actually hungry for the Word of God?  When there just wasn’t enough time in the day to take it all in, when you just didn’t want to put it down and walk away.
Most of these questions, if not all, should be leading you to the root of your Christian faith.  We are called to be more than followers of Jesus Christ.  In this life we are called to be His ambassador, His servant and disciple.  We are to learn more and more each and every day as we walk this earth, and then share that with those we meet.  Take the challenge of standing up for Jesus Christ in situations at work, school, play groups or at the grocery store.  His righteousness is our goal and there is nothing that should come between us and the pursuit of that goal.

You see, we are all comfortable in life.  Many of us accepted Jesus because we knew that if there is a heaven and hell, we surely don’t want to go to hell.  Well, that was a good choice, because there is a hell and you’re right – you don’t want to go there.  But that is not what being a Christian is about.  Committing your life to Jesus Christ involves much, much more.  It means He becomes Lord of your life.  He is the One in charge, the leader and the director of your life.  This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, all throughout scriptures the disciples who walked daily with Him referred to Him as Lord.  In Acts 2:36, Peter says to those in Jerusalem, ““Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 

We hunger for His love and His guidance in helping us find our purpose in this life.  Today, I want to ask you to actually consider making Jesus Christ the Lord of your life and all that this implies, and then you will begin to see the path which He has for you.  A path of righteousness and hunger for His word to be made known to all mankind.  Seek Him today.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Humble Thyself

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“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

When you close your eyes can you see Your Savior standing on the rolling green hills along the Sea of Galilee?  I can imagine His strong voice booming as He walked amongst those who were gathered on the hill that day, seated on the ground.  These children of Israel from the land of Judah had gathered that day to hear His words and get a glimpse of this man who spoke wisdom with authority beyond anything they had heard from the Scribes and Pharisees of the day.  He spoke with love, gentleness and confidence; but without the pride and demeaning tones of others.  He was not placing demands on them as others had done, but rather educating them to a different calling.

He was advising them to be humble, peaceful, patient and willing to serve others.  A complete contradiction to the lives of those in authority, that they were used to.  In today’s world the word meek implies weakness, timidity and cowardness – a state of near helplessness.  Jesus was telling us that the opposite is true.  His words were that acts of authority and strength should be rooted in love and humility.  Time has proven that those in positions of true authority and power, gain the respect of others through serving and struggling alongside of them.  We observe the life of King David or Moses, Joshua or Paul the Apostle and see men who humbled themselves before the Lord to achieve that which the Lord had planned for and through them.

The inheritance of the earth can only be given by the Most High, the owner and creator of the earth.  For one to receive an inheritance the owner must choose to give it.  In this particular case I believe that Christ is describing the ultimate inheritance possible.  For who could give anything greater than the whole earth?  At the time of this sermon on the mount though, the term earth would have represented land, and more specifically the land God had promised their forefathers – the Land of Canaan.  This land represented the perfect Kingdom of God, promised to the children of Israel.  By stating that they could inherit the earth, He was actually stating that they could inherit the Kingdom of God by being humble, loving, peaceful, patient and by serving others.

This opened the door for all mankind to receive the inheritance, not just the select few in authority at the top of the hierarchy.  From the smallest child to the oldest fisherman in the village along the Sea of Galilee, the Kingdom of God was made available.  Walking amongst the people seated on the grassy hill, He reached out to them with a calmness, truthfulness and authority beyond Himself.  His life had demonstrated this before their very eyes for that brief few years of His ministry.  He had not come violently, full of pride and taken this position of authority.  No He had come in love, a bond servant to mankind and filled with peace and humbleness before God Almighty.  In doing so they found Him approachable, lovable and filled with a spirit unlike any other that had ever come through their cities.  His meekness was intoxicating and His authority was believable because of this character trait.

We all need to learn this lesson as well.  Through pride, arrogance and selfishness one can achieve great things in this life.  But all of that is fleeting and means nothing when life comes to an end.  The call of Jesus Christ is to live in meekness in this life and plan for the rich inheritance in the life to come with Him and the Father through eternity.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Friday, January 27, 2012

It Hurts to Breathe

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“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted..” – Matthew 5:4
Helplessness, empathy, grief and sorrow are all feelings that envelope someone when they discover that someone they hold dear has loss a family member.  What are the words that we are supposed to have to comfort them during this time of mourning?  Most of us have been there; struggling to find the right thing to say, only to realize that there are no words that can make the hurt go away.

Death is an inevitable reality that must be faced head on by every one of us.  It is, by no means an experience that can be described as joyful, but rather the exact opposite.  The finality of the life of someone close ushers us into an experience of mourning, as we struggle with the emotions and cherished memories.  Despite our knowledge that death is coming our preparedness is never complete.  In these moments, there is often times a brief encounter with God which includes anger, blame and selfishness.  We all look for answers to the why question, and in most cases there are no answers that bring comfort. 

In our humanity we look for the cause, to reach closure we must justify the death in our own mind.  By doing so, we can rationalize the event and in many cases find a state of peace with it.  When there is no justification, we look to the Creator, as Sovereign Lord and Omnipotent Father, and find Him to blame for the death of a loved one.  He, who controls all things, must have been able to control this situation. So why would He allow this?  Did you know this reaction is actually captured in scripture?

John 11:17-43, we read of Lazarus’ death and resurrection at the calling of Jesus. Before Lazarus died his sisters had asked Jesus to come and heal him.  Jesus did not.  Then after Lazarus death and upon Jesus arrival at the grave site, they actually chastised and accused Him of not coming to save their brother.  In verse 37 we find others also accusing Jesus, “But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?  The same way many of us accuse God when our loved one’s aren’t healed, they accused Christ in that day.  What is captured in verse 40 though is the key: “Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?  The death of Lazarus gave Jesus Christ the opportunity to demonstrate His divinity and authority over even death, by bringing Lazarus back from the dead.

Just like Mary and Martha, we cannot always see the reason for the unexpected death of a loved one.  We will not be able to make sense of it, to justify it or to reconcile it.  Mourning, grieving and the selfishness of wanting that person alive is inherent in all of us and must be expressed.  The message though, is that God the Father loved that person as much or even more than you did.  He knows the pain, hurt and suffering as deeply and intimately as you do.  Most times we turn away from Him during these moments and in doing so, shut out the only One who can help us overcome our grief.  From the pain and hurt we often feel, He can do great things, if we are able to open our hearts to His love and quit blaming Him. 

Accept the fact that His love endures life and death.  Accept that He will give you comfort in these times, and knowledge that eternity is real and that life on this earth is but a spec on the infinite timeline of existence.  Draw close to Him and trust that there is a future for you with that loved one, and this time without them is but a very short moment.  In the mourning and grieving period we must learn that God is our strength and that we do not have all of the answers in life.  Recognize His love and grace as the source of your comfort, for there is nothing on this earth that can ease the pain.
If you feel led, please share this with those who may be grieving at this time.  Be there for them, not to solve their problems, but just to be there.  Love them, comfort them and renew their confidence that God is a loving Father.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What if He Meant It?

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“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” – John 14:6

I was 18 years old, a Senior in High School, and unteachable.  It was a Saturday afternoon and my parents were working, as I sat in the living room looking out the window as the rain continued to pour down.  It had been one of the coldest winters I remembered as a child, so the rain was actually welcome as long as it the temperature stayed warm.  Spring had officially begun and I was counting the days to Spring Break, Prom and then Graduation.  My ’73 Buick Lesabre was in the repair shop, so I was stranded unless I wanted to walk to my friends place. 

I recall the moment the rain stopped, because this was the moment the temptation set in.  As the sun broke through the clouds and the skies actually started to clear, a newness fell upon my eyes as I looked out the front window.  I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it earlier, but at this moment it seemed completely logical.  I walked to the kitchen, rummaged through the drawers and found what I was looking for.  I grabbed my coat and threw on my favorite baseball cap and stepped out into the sunshine.  As I looked around, I saw no witnesses, glancing at my watch I realized I had a few hours before my parents would be home, so the decision was quite simple.  I put the key in the opening and unlocked the driver door of my brothers 1969 Camaro SS that sat quietly in the driveway of my parents home. 

Steve was away at college and his car had sat idly in the driveway for months untouched per his distinct instructions that “No-one was to drive his car while he was gone.”  How would he know, I’d be gone and back before my parents ever knew and I’d park it right back where it was.  Just a little tour around the city, maybe stop by Paul’s and we could cruise Main Street for a little while.  As I started the engine, it was hypnotic and addicting.  A 350hp, 8 cylinder, American muscle car in unbelievable condition.  I eased it into reverse and backed out of the driveway.  I had only driven his car a few times in the past with his approval and him in the passenger seat.  This time was different.  I had control of an amazing vehicle without anyone telling me to slow down or be careful. 

I drove away in my brother’s car and slowly tooled around the neighborhood, then opened it up when I got onto the main road.  Unbelievable power under the hood and all of a sudden my boring, raining day had become exciting.  I turned into a subdivision to make my way back to Paul’s house, and as I came around a corner I failed to see the standing water that covered the road.  I hit the 6” deep pool of water doing 35 mph as water sprayed up on both sides of the car.  Then the car died in the middle of the road as the water came back and settled around the wheels.  Despite my numerous attempts to restart the car it wasn’t turning over.  Then the thoughts of regret came crashing in.  What would my parents say, what would Steve say when he found out, how would I talk my way out of this one, what if I had damaged something beyond repair, how could I be so stupid?  Just as I stepped out of the car into the small lake in the middle of the road, a wonderful man from our church walked up on the situation.  It just so happens that the car broke down right in front of his home, and he knew a lot about the American classic cars.  Within 15 minutes he had taken a few things off the engine, dried it all up and put it back together.  The engine started right up, purred in perfection and my mind was put at ease.  With a heartfelt thank you, I was back on the road again and headed straight back to the house, putting Steve’s car right back where it rightfully belonged. 

It is a simple example of decisions we make in life for the temporary pleasure without consideration for the long term impact that may result.  Jesus Christ walked this earth and gave us examples of how to love one another, serve God and live righteously.  By his life we were given the instructions we need to make a difference in this world and build up the Kingdom of God.  The scriptures are filled with God’s expectations, examples of His grace, love and mercy; yet we still struggle accepting it as truth and direction in our life.  We chose the parts we like and ignore the parts that interfere with our comfort or lifestyle.  It isn’t a menu at a fast food restaurant, and the sooner we figure out that Jesus meant what He said, the better off our society becomes.  Over the next week or so I will be discussing the Sermon on the Mount and hopefully will shed some light on what is expected of those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Please join me and share it with your friends as we take this journey together.

I am a sinner, kneeling before You with a heart filled with shame and broken dreams.  I am sorry for the choices I have made in life that have drawn me farther from You, Lord.  I know Your desire is to work through me and change the world one person at a time and I long to participate in Your plan without abandon.  Free my mind Lord from the distractions of this world that separate my plans from Yours.  Help me to fully grasp the reality of Your truth and live within Your will.  In Your name I pray – Amen.
© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Get Out of the Way

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Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” – Numbers 22:28

How many times have you looked at yourself in the mirror and sayed, “I can’t do this?” or “God can’t use me because of __________” or “I’m too _______ to serve God, there are plenty of others who can do it.”  You fill in the blank.  It is our nature to look for excuses as to why we can’t serve God.  This is inherent in all of us, because we look at our history and our shortcomings in life.  God looks at our potential and the reason you were created in the first place.  There are no limitations to what He can do through each of you, but we must first put our own preconceived ideals away, in order to pick up His.
One of the most wonderful stories in scriptures is the story of Balaam’s donkey.  Balaam was summoned by Balak to come and put a curse on the Israelites so Balak could defeat them in battle.  Balaam was known in the region to have prophetic powers and sought the will of the Lord before accepting Balak’s request.  Eventually Balaam comes away from counseling with the Lord and accepts their request to meet with Balak.  On his journey an angel appears before him with a sword, but was only visible to the donkey.  Balaam’s donkey reacts in a protective manner to keep his master safe.  Balaam beats the donkey, not knowing the situation with the angel.  This happens three separate times, and then the Lord opens the donkey’s mouth to speak.  At this point the angel becomes visible to Balaam as well, and he comes to realize the donkey was actually saving his life.

What is the message of this story? 
Why would Moses have include this story in his writings as led by God the Creator?

The essence of the story is so that we all might realize that God can use anyone or anything He chooses for any purpose He chooses.  God used a donkey to get the attention of Balaam.  He used a Rahab, a harlot to save the life of two Israeli spies sent by Joshua to observe the land of Jericho.  He used a tax collector, a fishermen and a shepherd boy to change the course of history.  He used a young woman to bear the Savior of the world, and provide salvation for all mankind.   

What can He do with your life if you truly wanted Him to use you?
Do you realize that you are the only one standing in the way of God doing something amazing in your life?  You should not be waiting for Him to reveal His plan to you.  No, you should be eliminating the confusion from your own life to truly see what He can do with you.  Think on that for today.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Monday, January 23, 2012

An Esther Moment

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" – Esther 4:14

One of my all time favorite scripture verses is Esther 4:14.  Esther was a Jewish woman who found the favor of the King of Persia and was made Queen at the perfect time in accordance to God’s plan.  For at the same time there was a conspiracy in the land to destroy the Jewish faithful.  In her place of authority and favor with the King, Esther spoke up against the edict putting her own life at risk to save the lives of her brothers and sisters.  In the end the Jewish faithful were spared and given full authority of their own destiny from that point forward. 

God’s plan for the Jews has been a journey of millennia and continues to this very day.  His children, have fought battles and been provided for over all of history despite the many attempts to abolish them.  If Esther had not been willing to step up at that point in history would the Jewish population have ceased to exist?  I dare to predict that God would have found another way.  But Esther did have the courage to stand up, do the right thing and overcome the evil in the world and set her people free from their bondage at the time.

Each of us have these same opportunities available to us each and every day.  We are given opportunities to do the right thing and enhance the Kingdom of God on this earth, to live within God’s plan.  The real question comes down to this, what are we holding onto that is preventing us from actually stepping forth and doing what we are asked to do.  You see, we are all choosing to stay in our place of comfort and complacency while the world is turning against the Christian church.  There are daily records of Christians being murdered throughout the world for their faith, yet we don’t get involved.  There are children sold into slavery all over the world, yet we don’t stand up for their rights and do something about it.  People are following the leaders of the world rather than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in making decisions every day.  It has become acceptable to sit on the sidelines and watch, while someone else takes on the big problems in society.  That is not what we are called to do by God the Father.  Seek first the Kingdom of God…” 

We all need to ask ourselves this very day, “What is my Esther moment?  Why was I put on this earth in relationship to God’s plan? “  Take a stand for righteousness and God’s love, and trust that He will use the small talent, knowledge and heart that you bring to the table.  It’s time to get up and make a difference.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Friday, January 20, 2012

I’m Not Worthy

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Pass it on, so the world may know that He is God.

“Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?” – Proverbs 20:9

“Well, at least I’ve never done that.”  I heard the young man say as he and his friends were debating the character of another classmate.  How often have you’ve been found comparing yourself to those around you?  It is not uncommon for mankind to look at his/her own life and conclude that “I’m not so bad” based on their unrighteousness compared to the unrighteousness of others around them. 

Hypocrisy is alive and well in the Christian community.  We are all guilty of looking down upon another’s transgressions without taking our own shortcomings into consideration. 
1 John 1:8 tells us “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  It’s much easier to look upon another’s life and see the sin that comes from their words and actions then it is to look in the mirror every morning and realize that we ought to be on bended knee asking the Lord’s forgiveness. 

If we were truly held accountable for our unrighteousness there is not one of us that would be worthy of God’s glory.  For you see, even in our most holy moment, filled with the Holy Spirit and love of the Lord, we are still unworthy of the requirements to enter God’s perfect and Holy eternity.  Paul tells us in
Romans 3:10 – “There is no one righteous, not even one.”  Accepting the fact that we are incapable of living a righteous, truthful and pure life opens the door for the reality of God’s grace.

Knowing you are incapable of perfection and holiness, He sent His Son as the mediator between you and Him.  With an acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we receive God’s blessings, not because we are worthy or deserve it, but because Jesus in all of His perfection and glory stands before God on our behalf.  When judgment day comes and you stand before the throne of God Almighty, all the good works, loving actions, kindness, knowledge and wealth you bring with you will mean nothing when it comes to your salvation.  Only the declaration of your unworthiness and profession of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior will be adequate to receive God’s grace and mercy.  Take this moment to get right with God and receive His grace, not because of anything you have done, but because He has given it.
© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Say You

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” – John 11:27

I was five years old and I remember Ms. Sebring teaching me about the books of the bible.  We spent 45 minutes each Sunday at church memorizing the order from Genesis to Revelations.  On the wall was a picture of Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath and a large framed picture of Jesus Christ.

Like most of the kids in the Sunday school class I loved singing the songs Jesus Loved Me and This Little Light of Mine and hearing the Bible stories of His birth, life, death and resurrection.  I couldn’t grasp the fullness of His grace and understand what it all meant, but I knew at an early age that there was something special about Him. 

I was taught early on to respect the heroes of history for the freedoms we have, and not to take it for granted.  History is filled with men and women who gave everything and sacrificed much so I could have the freedom in my life today.  I heard stories of my American forefathers who fought gallantly and courageously for the liberties and opportunities to become who ever I wanted to be.  Unlike the legacies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and the other American leaders I learned about as a boy, I found myself continuously drawn to the man God sent to provide a way for me to get to heaven.

There was no revelation and miraculous scales falling from my eyes to see Him as my Savior.  At a later point in my life, around 12 years old, I knew without a doubt the Jesus Christ was the Messiah, He died for my sins and was raised again from the grave as my Savior – to allow me acceptance into eternity with Him in heaven one day.  For the last 35 years I have been continually maturing as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.  Every day, I am amazed at how much more I learn about His love for me and how He can use my servant’s heart to help others. 

It’s no longer just about believing in Him in order to get to heaven and avoid Hell, it’s now so much more about serving others and helping spread His love to others.  Having discovered the depth of His loving grace for mankind I am continually in awe of how much Jesus Christ’s sacrifice meant.   Ten’s if not 100 billion people have been born and have died in the last 2000 years.  His life, death and resurrection was intended to bring every one of these people to heaven.  My heart is broken realizing that the majority of these people have not accepted Jesus Christ and as a result will not enter into His peace in eternity.  There are 6.5 billion people on the earth today, and I want nothing more than to help as many of them as possible discover the love, grace and mercy that I enjoy. 

That’s my story – that’s who I am and that’s what I believe.  So do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world?  If so, what are you doing with this knowledge? 

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Who are you talking to?

“All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”"  - Luke 19:6

The sound of steel sliding on the linoleum floor, hinges squeaking, long over due for some WD-40 and then the ominous sound of metal on metal as the door slams behind you. You stand before a tall man carrying a sidearm, who says nothing but motions for you to step into the side room and you oblige. Here you take off your coat and remove your shoes. You place your keys, wallet and anything else in your pockets other than coins into the small locker. After your feet have been inspected and you've been patted down you're allowed to re-dress yourself and take a seat in the visitor’s area.

Once inside the walls you hear the screaming and the yelling. When you walked through the gates at the entrance, they threw bottles and pamphlets at you, all the while carrying on about how "bad" the man is that you have come to see. Now as you sit alone in the cold grey room, staring through a plexi-glass window, you begin to question if this was a good idea or not. Before you have the opportunity to reconsider the heavy metal door on the other side of the room opens and there he is.

Dressed in orange, with shackles on both feet and both wrists, secured to a chain that surrounded his waist and ran down the backs of his legs. His beard was overgrown, yet his head was still bald. His eyes were bloodshot and he looks peaceful not mean and angry like he looked on the cover of the newspaper. His opening words through the small hole in the middle of the window, "I'm sorry, please forgive me." stumbling through his words, he begins to cry. "I can't bring her back to you and I know you hate me, but I need you to forgive me so I may die tonight in peace."

Well, there you have it. Based on this small picture of the situation at hand, is there any love deep enough within you to forgive this person for the crime that has been committed against a loved one of yours. We are all inherently sinful at birth. Choices we make in our lives push us down a path filled with righteousness or evil, and the several shades of grey around it. Many have discovered the narrow path provided by a single man dying on a cross to open our eyes to our sinful nature and bringing us to the point of redemption for our sins. This man, Jesus Christ, gave us the example of forgiveness and grace, and made that available to every one of us, should we accept it.

Back to the story, however heinous the crimes were, he has that same opportunity for eternal life in heaven. Whether he accepts Jesus Christ before he breaths his last is not for you to decide.  But, the opportunity is there, as difficult as it would be, to share Jesus with this man. Jesus did not come to preach to the saved, but to the unsaved. We are asked to carry that message forward and share it also with the unsaved. It's easy to share Christ with someone wearing a cross or kneeling next to you in church. Being a Christian is not an easy path though, and we are His arms, legs and voices in an evil world. Think about it my friends and act if you are able. Be blessed.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

He’s Always Right and You're Often Wrong

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” – John 8:10

As the needle penetrated the skin a soft tear sat just at the corner of her eye, on the precipice of breaking free from the lash that held it in place.  Once it had began it’s decent, she was sure that other’s would soon follow, and her emotions did not fail her as she began sobbing.  How had her life come to this point?  As a young girl, she wanted to be a teacher, a veterinarian or a nurse.  She had never sat in her bedroom and dreamt of being an addict, strung out on heroin and doing whatever it takes to get her next hit.  Sitting in the darkness, alone, her finger ready to press the syringe once again, she recalled the song her Grandmother sang to her as a toddler – “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His wonder and grace.
Her hand feel, and the syringe dropped to the ground in the darkened room.  Her body convulsed with emotion as she poured out her anger and fear of rejection.  Why would Jesus even consider her after everything she had done with her life?  Then behind the darkness of her anger was a faint light.  In her heart she felt comfort and warmth.  The words echoed through her mind – “You are mine and nothing can separate you from My love.  I created you and you are worthy of the Lamb.  Now is the time to get up and go, you are more than what you have become.”

Regardless of what brought you to this point in your life, God is saying these same words to you.  “Get up,  you are more than what you have become.”  He created you for so much more in life than what you have chosen to do.  Satan will whisper in your ear that you are not worthy, that you can’t do it, that you’re not prepared or ready and God can’t use you.  God tells you just the opposite.  The question is who are you listening too? 

If you are arguing with God about who you are, where you are or what you have become; don’t you realize that He is God and is always right.  His word says you are accepted, loved and forgiven; just turn your eyes upon Jesus.  He is truth and despite how long you want to debate with Him, He is always going to remain consistently in love with you and right in His assessment of you.  You just need to grab ahold of the person He created you to be.

Almighty God,
What can I do that You do not see?  Where can I go that You do not go before me?  Who am I to correct You for who You have made me to become?  Lord; forgive me for my arrogance, stubbornness and self righteousness.  Grant me the blessing to see who I am through Your eyes.  Protect me from the worldly perspective and let me see the man You have created me to be.  I ask these things in Your Holy name – Amen.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Think Big

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

When I was a small boy, like many other young children, I had hoped for a pony.  My Great Grandpa owned a farm out in the country and they had horses, and I think it was when I formed this dream of wanting my own.  The thing is though, I was 8 or 9 and I couldn’t really fathom the responsibility or cost of taking care of a pony, but I knew it would be fun to ride.  Over time of course the reality of life has taken over and the dream and hope for a pony has long since dissipated, and has been replaced with dreams to provide for the dreams and hopes of my children.  As children, there is much more freedom to dream and hope for big things in life because they have an unencumbered faith that all things are possible.

When December 31, 2012 rolls around (and it will) what will have accomplished this year, other than aging 365 days.  You have the opportunity to do amazing things  if you can once again put aside the inhibitors and remove the obstacles that traditionally halt your dreaming.  Do you believe that all things are possible through the Lord?  Really?  Because if you do, then why aren’t you pursuing your dreams.  We tend to allow society and worldly thinking to limit our capabilities in life and establish how far we can go. 

Most of us have dreams and desires to impact the world for God, but get out of bed each morning and march through the day doing the same old thing day after day after day.  Is this the cycle you wanted to be on when you were younger and had a plan for your life.  When the younger generation are looking at the differences you have made in this world, are they dreaming of following your footsteps.  Nothing separates you from becoming more for God’s Kingdom than your desire, commitment and choice to take a step.  This year I’m asking you to dream big again. 

If you had no limitations (financial, physical, family, work) what would you do with your one and only life to expand God’s Kingdom on earth?  Seriously think about this, without throwing up the typical resistance and excuses.  Would you serve God wholeheartedly if you had nothing standing in your way?  My hope for you this year is that you can become the servant that God has designed you to be, and that you are able to break out of the monotony of your daily rituals and dream big things for His Kingdom. 
Leave your thoughts or comments on my blog or facebook .

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who Am I?

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter;  we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8

Sometimes it’s hard to accept who God has made you to be.  Do you remember, as a child, perhaps you had a shape box.  This was the cube which had a different shaped hole on each side, and it came with 6 pieces which would each fit in only one of the provided holes.  There was a star, a circle, a square, a triangle, a rectangle and a diamond.  Despite how much they try to force a piece into the different openings, over time a child will figure out that the pieces only fit in one unique opening.  Each piece had a specific place where it would work perfectly.

You have been designed the same way by the Master, the Creator of the Universe.  He has placed unique ambitions, desires and talents in your heart and mind that will best fit in His overall plan for mankind.  The things you love to do were placed there by the One who wants you to use those things for His gain.  Some love to sing, to write, to cook, to care for others,  to clean, to play music, to be creative in art and so on and so on.  These passions, these talents that fill your thoughts and bring joy and peace to your life are gifts from God almighty.  It’s time to put them to work for His cause.

Take some time this week to carefully examine who God made you to be.  What is it that drives you, what brings you joy and peace, what do you love to spend time doing?  Once you have discovered the inner you, now you’re ready to earnestly go to the Lord in prayer and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to use that gift for God’s kingdom.  Make this one of your resolutions this year – to better use the gifts you have been given to further the message of the Creator.

Almighty God,
We have read in Your word of the gifts You have bestowed upon mankind.  The fruits of the spirit, the gifts placed within each of us.  I ask You to open my eyes to see these gifts as You intended when You created me in my mother’s womb.  I seek the help of Your Holy Spirit to further my ability to use these gifts for Your Kingdom and to spread Your gospel.  I ask these things in Your Holy name – Amen.

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

God is Love – period

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2

As he got out of the car and grabbed his luggage from the trunk, he kissed his wife goodbye and waved to the kids in the back seat.  He started toward the airport, stopped, turned and called back to the car as it pulled away – “I Love You.”  The day had started like any other day of travel.  Get to the airport early, get checked in and grab a sandwich and coke while waiting to board the plane.  He boarded the flight to Portland for a quick customer meeting and then driving down to Seattle for a training event.  Upon arrival in Portland, he arrives at the hotel and turning on the television discovers that there has been an airline accident.  It seemed that there had been many more than normal that year, but it’s still a tragedy every time it happens.  Going about his business he leaves the hotel and meets with the customers that afternoon as planned. 

Returning to the hotel that evening, he calls his wife to see how things are back at home.  He is surprised to hear her voice completely distraught.  He can definitely hear the anguish and sadness in her voice as she breaks down sobbing.  Through the crying she tells her story of thinking he was on the plane that went down.  She was confused about his destination and this led to her hysteria for an entire day that day, believing she had lost him forever.  It brought to the surface the depth of her love for him.  The thought of living life without him was unbearable, yet that very morning it was something that had been completely taken for granted in the busyness of their life raising kids. 

In life, we are all running extremely fast.  The pace of life has increased exponentially with the improvements in communications, social media and technologies.  In the midst of our desire for more and more have we lost the simplicity of loving one another.  God has demonstrated His love for us by walking amongst us and sharing with us what true love is.  He has provided a plan of salvation for all mankind through His loving grace and the provision of His Holy Spirit to guide us along the way.  We have allowed the complexities of life to get in the way and distort the simplicity of loving each other as He has loved us.

Over the last week I have expressed that God is Love.  We are constantly looking for the presence of God in our daily lives, through actions, a divine experience or miraculous acts.  Some have asked God to prove His existence by solving a problem or appearing again in the flesh.  When we need to set back and realize God is all around us and within us.  He is the air we breathe, the water that nourishes our bodies and the love that fills our heart.  He is more real than we could ever imagine and yet we take His love for granted every day.  You’ve often heard the cliché that it is better to give than to receive, and so it is with love.  If you are looking to find God, look no farther than your own ability to love others.  Reach out to others today and express love unconditionally to those who may not deserve it based on their actions.  In doing this, you have fulfilled the scriptures found in
1 John 4:7-16; and trust in the words that clear state: “God is Love.  Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them.”  God need not do another thing for you or I to demonstrate His love.  He has done all that was necessary through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of our sins.  Trust in that and you will find God.

Loving God,You are Love.  The purest form of love that is available.  Unconditional, binding, immutable love that surpasses anything that man can demonstrate back to You.  A love that can never be returned is a selfless and giving love that cannot be fathomed within the mortal man.  I thank You for  
giving us Your love and plan of salvation that we might rest with You one day in eternity.  Fill me with Your love so others might see You through me and I might be a blessing to those I meet.  I pray these things knowing that You are my God and I am Your child.  Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Why Does God Love Me?

God is Love (5 of 6)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16

We are wandering with one foot on the ground and another in motion as the steps we take lead us from one place to another.  In our mind is an abundance of thoughts, distractions, worries and concerns.  Held in the reserves of our memory are the joys of days gone by and experiences that have shaped who we have become at this very point of our walk.  To which of these do we give credence when we are searching for love on a daily basis, and to which portion of our life do we hold dearest and close as a benchmark of what true love is?  We feel love when you look into the eyes of a homeless man or a widow or an abused child, yet what is it that takes this emotional feeling and turns it into action?  Why do we walk past the prostitute on the corner or the man with needle tracks up his arm and not stop to ask why or how it came to this?  Do you really care or have we become complacent to the needs of our fellow brother and sister, crippled by the walk that has brought them to this place in life?

When the dawn breaks and we place our feet upon the floor, the day has begun and you are faced with decisions that will add to who you are becoming.  These decisions will require you to think about others and the impact that your actions will have on others around you.  Your life is not meaningless if you have chosen to walk in the light of the One who gives us hope.  The overwhelming compassion that drives you to even consider creating a better life for the one outside of your front door is the same compassion that is so lacking in the world today.  We question and seek the love of others to fill the void that is ever present in our heart and soul.  We worry that it doesn’t exist because we haven’t found it through the depth of our searching of our own memory.  If we can’t love another being completely and without abandon, how can we ever expect that one of the other 6.2 billion people in the world could love us the way we need to be loved?

I propose to you this morning that if you are seeking the wholehearted and comprehensive love of the Father and not finding it in the world, you are living in it.  God’s love is not of this world.  We do not experience it through sweaty palms, skipping a heartbeat, the warm afterglow or a full embrace.  God’s love is experienced through the realization and acceptance that He walked amongst us because we are a stubborn and arrogant lot.  He came to us because we refused to come to Him.  The God of the Universe and all of creation looked down on mankind and through a heartbroken spirit knew there was only one way to save them from an eternal Hell with Satan and His demons.  How do you know that God loves you, because He intentionally put a salvation plan into action through the death and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus Christ. 

Look at your life and you know without a doubt, we do not deserve His love.  We continually turn our back on His call upon our life to serve Him and others through Him.  At the heart of mankind we are self-centered, pride filled and worried about ourselves in a world that needs Him.  Yet, despite our actions, words, perversions and thoughts; He has provided a redemption that allows for our transgressions to be washed clean.  We have muddied the message, molded it to fit our lives and distorted the truth of His love because it’s hard to accept that it’s real.  His decision to love us and desire to spend eternity with us is unimaginable because we don’t deserve it.  Yet, in all of His glory, He still made it possible and available to each of us – all 6.2 billion walking the earth this very moment. 

It’s called grace.  Mercy is when you receive reprieve for something you did wrong.  Grace is when you receive mercy and additional blessings despite doing something wrong.  Say you steal from someone and are caught red-handed.  The owner chooses not to press charges and you are set free.  This is mercy.  Now, what if the owner dropped the charges, invited you to live with him, paid all of your bills and ensured that all of your needs and wants were met.  That is grace.  We live in sin, God forgives that sin by His mercy, but He goes one step farther and grants us the eternity in heaven with Him because He loves us that much.  It’s not for some of us, it’s for all of us.  So despite how despicable you believe your life is and how unworthy you believe you are, He still loves you, and offers this grace to you abundantly.  His love is the only thing that is sufficient to fill that void in your heart and soul that keeps you from experiencing joy in this life.  Today is the day to get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, accept His love and share it with the world.

Eternal God,
I accept Your love for me.  I don’t fully understand how You could love me, but I trust in Your redemption and plan of salvation to fill me with Your glory.  I don’t know how to share Your love, but I know that You can use me if I am willing.  Lord, I am willing and long to be used by You to share Your love with others.  Put the words upon my lips and the compassion in my heart for those that need to hear from You.  Help me to see them with Your eyes and use my hands to help guide them back to You.  Convict me by Your spirit Lord to see the world with love and an eternal perspective, that all may be reached with Your word of grace.  I pray these things knowing that You are my God and I am Your child.  Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do You Agape Me?

God is Love (4 of 6)

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."  - John 13:34
Now there is a challenge if I have ever heard one. To love others as Christ himself loved us. How are we supposed to manage that? I have a saying in my household and with my friends and family and one day I intend on it being inscribed on my headstone in my final place of rest.
“I Love You More”
I say it to others and I watch their face. Generally there is a competitive streak that surfaces with the words. Most of the time I get, “No, I Love You More.” right back from them. The natural competitive nature of mankind comes out in even these 4 little words. Now take my words and put them in the full context of my belief:
“ I Love My Friends,
I Love My Family More,
I Love Lisa Most,
But none compare to
My Love for Christ! ”
This removes the competitive nature from the same statement, "I Love You More". In Greek there are different words to describe love:
Storge – meaning affection, “I care for you.”
Philia – meaning friendship, loyalty, equality and virtue between two people
Eros – passionate love, sensual, romantic and sexual in nature.
Agape – Love in it’s richest form between two individuals, or between man and God
In Hebrew, which much of the Bible originated in, the word was Ahava. This can be translated to mean “I give” or “to give”. So as we think about Christ’s statement in John 13:34 to love one another as He loved us – it comes down to serving others and giving to others. In John 21:15-17 we find Jesus asking Peter 3 times: “…Do you love {agapas} me?...  to which Peter replied “...Yes Lord, I love {philia} You…”  Loving others as God has loved us is nearly impossible.  It requires completely giving of one’s self and giving for another’s gain without condition.  Only God has that capability, yet we are asked to pursue this “agape” love, by taking our eyes off of ourselves and seeking those opportunities to serve and help others in all we do. 
Loving Father,Lord, I love you and long to worship You.  I thank You for loving me unconditionally, despite my shortcomings and my transgressions.  You know my heart and You know my desire to serve You more deeply.  Help me Lord to put You first in everything I do, and to demonstrate Your love to those I come in contact with.  Let others see You through me, this I pray today.  Amen

© Sondove Enterprises, 2012
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