Archives for February 2017

Jesus, Come Into My Heart. Amen.

    “Jesus, come into my heart. Amen.”

   That was the prayer I prayed about twelve years ago on February 28, 2005, two months before I turned three. It changed my life forever. Now, you might be thinking, “Huh? Why would Alyssa want someone to come and live in her heart?” And, that’s what I’m going to tell you in this blog post – why a girl of 2 would want someone to live in her heart… 

   Our world is amazing. God created everything just by speaking. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
~ Genesis 1:1-3
   God is holy. This means that He is perfect and never does anything wrong.

 “The Rock [God], his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he…” ~ Deuteronomy 32:4

   Also, He wants us to live with Him in Heaven forever.

   But, we break God’s law and disobey His commands. We are all sinful. Sin is anything we think, say, or do that breaks God’s law in any way. Exodus 20:1-17

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:20

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ~ Romans 3:23

   “Wait a minute,” you might say, “I’m a good person. I hardly ever do anything wrong.” 

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. ~ James 2:10

    This verse means that if you break one law, even a so called “small sin” such as a lie or a mean thought, you are guilty of breaking all the laws.

   This creates a big problem. Because God is holy, He cannot stand sin. He must punish it. And, the punishment for sin is death. 

For the wages of sin is death, ~ Romans 6:23a 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins ~Ephesians 2:1

   We are spiritually dead in our sin. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. 

   Do you know what? God loves us even though we sin. God loves us so much that He made a way for us to live with Him in heaven forever. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. He took the punishment that we deserved. He died in our place.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8

   How could Jesus do this and how is He any different from you and me? Well, Jesus is God incarnate – God in human flesh. He is totally  God and totally man. He had a body just like us, yet he never sinned. He lived the perfect life we could never live. This allowed Jesus to take our place. God punished His Son instead of us. 

     Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again three days after He was buried. He defeated death and conquered the grave! 

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures
~ 1 Corinthians 15:4

   What do we do with this? Jesus died on the cross in our place so that we can live with God forever.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  ~ Romans 10:9

   We need to confess our sins, repent (turn away from them and toward God’s ways), and trust in Jesus’ work on the cross to save us.

  “What must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ~ Acts 16:30b-31

    So, when I said “Jesus, come into my heart,” I was, in a way, saying, “Jesus, I believe that you are God’s Son. I believe that You died on the cross to save me from my sins. I can’t save myself. Jesus, I put my trust in you to save me. Please come and be the Lord of my life. I put my life in your hands, Jesus.” 

   Now, I have told you why I asked Jesus to come and live in my heart. But, I have not explained how or why this decision changed my life forever.

   When I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior, God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of me. He does this for all believers. 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. ~ John 14:26

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” ~ Acts 2:38

   The Holy Spirit reminds us of different things that we have been taught about God and His word. 

  One of the other ways that my life was changed is a sense of peace and God’s presence in my life. When I am afraid, I can pray to the Lord and read the Bible. This peace that the Lord gives is nothing like you can ever have without Him. It is the kind of peace where even if you are to die in the morning, you aren’t scared and you know you are in God’s hands.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~ John 14:27

  This is why, after I gave my life to Jesus, I was able to say “I have Jesus in my heart!” As a two-year-old, I could know that Jesus was really alive and that He was my Savior. He gave me joy, joy that only those who are saved by Christ’s blood can experience. He gives us joy and peace in all circumstances.

   So, through moving, missing friends, and loosing those whom I care about, Jesus sustains me and gives me the strength to live for Him. 

   And, this is why and how my life is changed by Christ’s sacrifice for me.

Great Christian Worship Songs

   Listening to worship songs throughout the week has been a great encouragement to me.  Whether I am tired or discouraged, these songs point me to Christ and keep me focused on Him. There are a lot of great worship songs to choose from.  Here are ten of my favorite ones listed in alphabetical order.

(I have made it so that when you click on the name of the song it will go to the YouTube video for it.)

For All You Are – Casting Crowns
 
Have You Heard – Mandy Confer
 
Hosanna – Christy Nockles
 
Master Artist – Eric Anderson 
 
My Savior My God – Aaron Shust (This exact song is not sung by him.)
 
Never Once – Matt Redman
 
Psalm 100 – Chris Tomlin
 
Revelation Song – Keri Jobe
 
Scandal of Grace – Hillsong UNITED
 
Your Great Name – Natalie Grant

What is the 10/40 Window?

   Have you ever heard of the 10/40 Window?  

The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt”… The original 10/40 Window included only countries with at least 50% of their land mass within 10 and 40 degrees north latitude. The revised 10/40 Window includes several additional countries that are close to 10 or 40 degrees north latitude and have high concentrations of unreached peoples.  ~ Joshua Project 

Facts about the 10/40 window

  • The 10/40 Window is home to the majority of the world’s unevangelized countries.
  • The main religions that are in that area are
    •  Islam
    • Buddhism 
    • Hinduism 
  • There are a good number of non-roman scripts in that area.
    • A roman script is like the characters that we use in English. 
    • A non-roman, or complex script is like Arabic or Thai. 
    • If you are interested in how computers handle complex scripts click here. (This presentation will need flash.)
  • The 10/40 Window is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world.

10/40 Window – Joshua Project – The Joshua Project has an article that goes further in depth about the 10/40 Window.

 

 

For His Great Name

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.  ~ Psalm 29:2

   Many people have traced the story-line of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, showing God’s great plan to redeem His people. But, what if that’s not God’s ultimate mission? What if He has a bigger plan in mind than saving us? What if, His plan is to glorify Himself? 

   “Wait a minute!” you say. “What do you mean? Do you mean to say that God’s sole purpose is to glorify Himself?” Here are a few verses in which God says this

For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.  ~ Isaiah 48:9-11

    (When God talks about His namesake, He is referring to the glory given to Himself. This can also be thought of as making His name great or famous.)   

   Ok. But, what about all those stories in the Bible?  What about the ten plagues – especially the tenth one? What about Pharaoh and all his men who drowned in the Red Sea?

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. ~ Exodus 14:4

Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. ~ Exodus 14:31
   Through the exile of the Jewish nation, God was also glorified. How did this happen? God tells Ezekiel why He was ending the Jewish exile … 
 
 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.         ~Ezekiel 36:22-24
    All the miracles Jesus did – those brought God glory as well. We can’t forget how God was ultimately glorified: through Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. 
 
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” ~John 12: 27-28
   So, now we have come full circle. Why did God save us and is that His ultimate mission? Why did God save sinners and adopt us into His family?
 
   Was it to save us from hell? Was it to restore our fellowship with Him? Or to allow us to live with Him forever?  No. Although these things do happen when we trust in Christ, He saved us to bring Himself Glory!
 
Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  ~ Ephesians 1: 4-6
    Now, you might be thinking, “Is God being selfish in wanting all this glory? Is it wrong for this to be His mission?” The answer to both of those questions is NO. He is God. He is holy. He is perfect. So, first of all, He can’t do anything wrong. 
 

And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” ~ Isaiah 6:8

   Second, He deserves all the glory and praise we can ever give Him. He created the world out of nothing! He is the rightful ruler of all.

Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, Lord, and you are exalted as head above allBoth riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.  ~ 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

   What do we do about this? He has saved us in order that we might bring Him glory. What a responsibility that gives us. We should live our lives with the purpose to glorify Him and to make His name great! Our reaction to God’s grace should be a deep desire to tell others about Him and to spread His fame around the world. Jesus said … 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20a
 
   What a huge and brilliant task! How will we ever get this job done? 
 
   Thankfully, God has not given us an impossible task. I left off the last part of the verse from Matthew 28:20. It says, 
 
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
~Matthew 28:20b
  God will give us the strength to finish the race He has set before us. He will always be with us no matter what. We can trust Him! He will win! 
 
 They [the beast and the ten kings] will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
~Revelation 17:14
 

Identity – A Battle Fought and Won

Around church, youth group, and youth bible studies you hear a great deal about identity, why it’s important, and who or what we should put our identity in.

When I was in middle school, I wondered, “Why does everybody make such a big deal out of this?” I knew it was important, but growing up in the church I had always known that my identity should be in Christ – why stress the fact now?

So, I went to Sunday school and listened to people talk about identity. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was storing away in my mind the verses and thoughts that the leaders were bringing up in class.

One night, about a quarter of the way through ninth grade, while I was getting ready for bed, I looked at my face in the mirror. I really looked at it. Now, that might seem strange to you, but I did. Then I wondered,

“Is this who I really am? What happened to the little girl I see in my pictures from a few years ago? Am I still that girl? If I’m not, then who am I?”

And then it came to me – all that I had been taught at church and in Sunday school.

“I am a child of the King. I was bought with a price. It doesn’t matter what I look like or how old I am – God loves me just the way I am. He sent His son to die for my sins.

“I can find my identity in HIM and not anything else I do. I don’t have to put my identity in the sports that I play, the way I look, or even the talents that I have. All these things will, eventually, fade away. But, Christ will never fade away – He will last forever!”

“God has a plan and a purpose for me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. I am His and He is mine. I was bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

All that crossed my mind. Then I smiled,

“Thank you, Lord, for impressing Your word onto my heart. Thank You for those whom You have put in my life to teach me what Your word says.”

I wrote this poem because of that wonderful experience I had and I hope that it is encouraging to you as well. (Note that although this poem was written from a young woman’s point of view, it can be applicable for people of any age or gender.)

The Woman I Created You to Be

Who is that in the mirror,
Staring back at me?
She looks familiar, yet a stranger.
Is it me? It can’t be.
I’m not that old…
Am I?

It’s not who I remember being.
Not who I once was.
But now I’ve changed, matured,
Different from that little girl
Who I was before.

Yet, I still have my dreams,
My passions, my doubts,
And my fears.
But even those have changed,
Throughout the years.

Am I young, or am I old?
This question can plague
A person if they let it.
If I’m not like the little ones,
Who am I like?

But, does it matter,
In light of who I really am?
No, it does not matter!
I’m a child of the King!
Bought with a price,
My identity is in Christ!

Part of me says
“I don’t want to change!
Wasn’t it nice being young?”
But God says
“I’ve got you. Trust me.
I will use this time,
In your life, to make you
What I designed you to be.
A witness to the world
About my love to all the nations.

“If you put your hope, your trust,
Your identity in Me –
I will fulfill you more than anything
This world can offer.

“I want the best for you.
Put your trust in Me.
I made you.
I love you just the way you are,
And nothing in this
Universe can change that!

“If you trust me,
I can grow you,
Change you into the woman
I created you to be.”

 

For His Great Name
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