Sunday, October 24, 2010

Is That Real, Momma?

Psalm 111:9-10
He provided redemption for His people;
He ordained His covenant forever—
holy and awesome is His name.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow His precepts have good understanding.
To Him belongs eternal praise.

It really is all black and white.

Our God, and His world, is of absolutes.  Always.  Never.  Beginning and End.

As we walked through the theme park, every ride, every aspect invoked questions of reality.

"Is that real, Momma?"

I heard it over and over again, until I was worried they weren't enjoying themselves.  So I started to divert the questions.

But then I realized, they are discerning.  The very thing I want them to hold on to, to learn, to develop.  Discernment.

Is that Real?  'Cause I need to know.  That question applies to all things in my life, just as it applied to my children walking through the wonderful make-believe world of Disney.  No, that's not really real.  Yes, that IS real.  You will fall out of the ride if you don't hold on.  No, those flying elephants, crocodiles, evil spirits, skeletons, (add noun here), aren't real.

As we laughed at my children's need to know, and how they see everything in black and white, I began to ask myself.  Where's our moral compass?  How do we know which way is true North?  Are we even paying attention and making sure of it?  How often are we distracted with whether or not we are enjoying ourselves  so that we are not evaluating the situation for all it really is??  There is a better response.  I need to know.  "Is that real?"

What really matters?  How do I respond?  How do I discern the meaningful and leave the rest?  Where's the line between reality and non?  There is no gray.  Stop trying to interpret and explain.  Is it real, or isn't it?  Because, if it's real, then maybe I need to be scared out of my mind, and if it's not, then I needn't worry at all or give it a second thought.  Tell me.  Secure my heart and my steps.

I need to know.  And so, instead of chuckling at my children for being so dogged with their hard and fast rule of 'is it real', I adopt it myself.

Look at the world around you, in the situations you find yourself in throughout your day to day, and ask, "Is that real?"  What really matters where I am right now?  Eliminate the distractions.  I can not think of a more applicable question nor a more needful answer.

And my kids got it right.  They teach me every time.  My Father is the one who knows.  He is the maker of this place, and He leads me through it.  So, I run to Him.

Psalm 119:124-126
Deal with Your servant according to Your love
and teach me Your decrees.

I am Your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand Your statutes.

It is time for you to act, O LORD;
Your law is being broken.

Lord, lead us aright, according to Your Word.  May we walk in wisdom and confidence.

Glad to be home,

Carmen Sunshine

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Learning to Learn

Matthew 18:2-4
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

My daughter came out with her jacket and asked if she could try it on...  "Let me do it, Momma." she said, as I tried to zip up the zipper for her.

"Nah," I thought, "let's just get this done."

"Wait," said the Lord, "Listen.  She wants to learn."

For a child, every action, happenstance, every thing, is an opportunity to learn.

Let me do it.  Show me how.

When did I become such a grown up?  So busy with 'responsibilities'.  You know, the world says that it's when we think we know how to do everything already and we just have to get the thing done, that we are 'mature'.

But that's not what Jesus is saying here.  We, as children of the kingdom of heaven, get to learn how to learn again.  It's a whole new way of life.  And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Try, try again.  Be ready to listen, watch and learn.  How am I to do this?  What is God's trying to teach me?  How do I apply His Word here in my life.  How does this zipper go again??  Now, let me try it.  Let me see myself as a little child, Lord.  Yours.  There is so much to learn from you.

I am so small God, and you are so big.  I know so little and yours is all wisdom.

Help me to be childlike; do not let my presumptuous heart deceive me.

Thank you for eyes to see myself clearly.

In Jesus,

Carmen Sunshine

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Our God Himself is a Consuming Fire.

Heaps of burning coals come from a long tended, well fed fire.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

2 Corinthians 4:7
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

We are His temple.  His fire dwells within us.

How do we keep the fire, the light of the worship of God, burning?  Fuel it with the pruned branches of our selves.  Be cleansed, giving yourself to His flame for His glory and your benefit.  If you find it is not from Him, toss it in.

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruitHe prunes it so that it may bear more fruit."

John 15:6
"If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

Fire is a defining source of light, warmth, protection and provision, of life.  Like a fire, we must tend our relationship with the Almighty God daily, diligently feeding the flames.  Take all of your failings, all of your fears, all of your concerns, misunderstandings, rebelliousness, desires, thoughts, and even dealings with others, to Him constantly.  He is faithful to cleanse you, to prune you and to keep His Spirit burning within you, to take your inability and make it glow with His ability because you have given it over to Him for His glory. Then you will have fed the fire with sacrifice and the offerings of your heart.  And from it, you will have a large and brightly burning bed of coals, one that will not easily go out.  One that can minister to others.  

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:  "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord.
     On the contrary:
     "If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
      if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
      In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.""

When we have taken our selves to the Father, trusting Him with the outcome, He allows the relationship a fresh start.  We stoke the fire of relationship with what we have receive from Him, forgiveness.  This blesses us and those around us with the flames of the presence of His mercy and righteousness.  We give ourselves over to Him that we might diminish and He might increase.  It is amazing how much of 'me' is flesh.

If your offender is a fellow believer who carries this flame of the Lord, your offering of burning coals will be provision for cleansing and refinement, refreshment.  But if your offender does not share in the same Spirit, the burning coals may be offensive to them because they are fueled by repentance and humility.

The condition of spirit determines the coals.  Your offender will either gladly accept your offering and be blessed.  Or they will scorn it, unable to receive it.  If theirs is a fire that burns with the offerings of the Lord, if they are alive, their Spirit will be rekindled by your forgiveness.  But, if theirs is a strange fire, one that burns for self instead of self, and they are dead within, it may burn as burning coals on dead branches for it will be a living fire.  Beloved, these are the results you have left in the hands of the Lord for His glory and for the salvation of many.  It is for us to make sure we go through this process of trusting Jesus with all of who we are.

Be sure you are cleansed and obedient, witnessing to the Lord's mercy and thus, blessed and able to bless.

Lamentations 3:22
"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail."

You must keep your home fires burning, taking your mistakes and trespasses to the Lord and being cleansed and forgiven.  Stoke the fire of God in your heart with all that you perceive of your flesh, and is not of Him.  It will burn mightily.  Then you will have fueled the fire of the Spirit and will have more of Him and less of you, resulting brightly burning coals to offer others.  

Tend and nurture your relationship with Jesus constantly, as a fire that needs tending so that you may burn brightly and be equipped for every good work.

In the Fire and Of the Flame,

Carmen Sunshine

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just If I'd?

When you stand alone before the Lord on that final day, will you know that you are Justified by the righteous satisfying sacrifice of Christ?

Or will you be trying to enter eternal glory with "Just if I'd..."??

Take care how you are standing before God and others.  Who are you standing on?  Jesus?  Or you?

This is a daily question.  How are you living Today?

1 Corinthians 3:10-20 (New International Version)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

Escape from the deception of the devil and face the throne of Grace head on today and be Justified.  Do not, under any circumstances, seek your own glory.  How do we do this?  

Revelation 3:14-22 (New International Version)
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Today is the day of salvation.  Escape the gilded cage of self, see the door is open.  His name is Jesus.

In Him,

Carmen Sunshine

Less Is More

Exodus 16:16-18
This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.' "  The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.  And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.

Romans 12:3 
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

James 1:9-10
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

1Timothy 6:17

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Luke 8:14 
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

2 Corinthians 12:9 
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Philippians 4:19 
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

You can not add to Christ's work, nor can you take away from it.  You can simply be a part of it.  
God gives the increase.  

In all your dealings, leave room for Jesus to satisfy your needs. He is able.

In love,
Carmen Sunshine

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Who's Your Sweetie?

Proverbs 25:27 (New International Version)
It is not good to eat too much honey,
nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor.

Satan hands us a bag of whatever we think we want or need and says, "Here kid, make yourself sick."  As if he's doing us a favor.  We've all done this, and may still be doing this, over indulging in self.

If you pursue yourself, you will only make yourself sick.  Trust me.  As it is true with honey, it is true with me.  Only the Lord satisfies, only His glory ever increases.  Of Him, I can never have too much.  He knows my dearest desires even more than I know them.  Do not be deceived.  Pursue His righteousness alone.

Psalm 37:4 (New International Version)
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

You can not serve two masters.  Choose this day whom you will serve.

In the Love of Jesus,

Carmen Sunshine

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Me First?

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path."

The bright beacon of God's Word is for personal application. 

Luke 6:42
"How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

The application of truth only to others, and not to one's self, is hypocrisy.  If you do not apply what is true personally, can it be asserted over someone else?

My husband was directing me from a afar on how to train our 17 month old, being more diligent in his assessment and demands than I could possibly hope to actually be in the fray.  Finally my heart said, "You get down here and let's see if you can uphold your own standard!!"  And that's when the Lord, whispered, "I did.  Because you believe me, so you can."  Whoa, Lord...

The Word has come to us.  He achieved it, for me.  Self is where the application must start.

Romans 1:16
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

First for the believer, the one in relationship, then to the one who is not.  The Word is for me first.

Romans 9:8
"In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.

Why has He called us out, established this relationship with us?  Given us the revelation of His Son?

Isaiah 43:10
 "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD,
"and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe Me
and understand that I am He.
Before Me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after Me."

The only place we should be 'self-centered' as Christ followers is in the application of the Word.

John 8:31-32
"To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, "If you (1) hold to my teaching,  you are really my disciples. Then (2) you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Free from what?  The tyranny of self.  Free to do what?  To be His witnesses, to serve the Living God in truth and love.  The Lord said to Pharoah, "Let My people go that they may serve me."  We follow the same Passover.  First we believe.  If we believe then we must apply.  Faith without works is dead.  From application then comes personal experience and growth.  We know the truth in our own lives.  Then comes daily reapplication, living in the truth.  Only then we are equipped and rightly positioned to minister and witness to others for God's glory and the salvation of many.  When you live out your faith, you become a living epistle to give an effective witness to salvation in Christ.  If it is so effective, so useful, so true, it must be for me first.  Every day.

Why am I given all this to 'see' and to 'know'?  Because I am in need of it, desperately.

I just have the privilege and responsibility of sharing it as I apply it.

Help me to apply it Lord,

Carmen Sunshine

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Dependence

Isaiah 29:19
19 The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD,

      And the poor among men shall rejoice
      In the Holy One of Israel. 

Who has the joy of the Lord?
The poor, the humble.

They can't avoid their need.

If you feel your joy waning, or your courage failing, resume your dependence.  

Ask, am I poor?  
Am I meek?  
If the answer is no, get there.  

Recognize your poverty, your absolute dependence on God.  See yourself rightly before the throne of grace.

Because the Lord doesn't forget those who don't forget Him.

Isaiah 40:31 
"but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

Nehemiah 8:10
 10 "... for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

In humility,

Carmen Sunshine