Are you a Sheep or a Goat?

When I get the mail, I usually go through it right away. Sometimes I can tell by the envelope what’s inside. I immediately separate the mail into two groups; one group is to throw away and the other group is to keep.

The process of separating my mail reminds me of a couple of parables Jesus told. One is the parable of the wheat and the weeds [Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43]. The other is the parable of the sheep and the goats [Matthew 25:31-46].

In both parables, the wheat and the sheep represent those whom Jesus calls righteous. The weeds and the goats represent the unrighteous.

Two scriptures that explain what it means to be righteous or unrighteous are:

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

According to the two parables, there are two kinds of people in this world; the righteous and the unrighteous. Right now both are mixed together. But there is coming a day, judgment day, when the two will be separated into groups.

One group will spend eternity with the Lord and the other group will be separated from Him forever.

Jesus says that on that day, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father inheriting eternal life. But the unrighteous will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth; eternal punishment.

But wait! There is good news! Today we get to choose which group we will be in on judgment day; group righteous or group unrighteous.

2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Today is the day of salvation because we do not know what day the Lord Jesus will return as He said He would. Jesus said in Matthew 24:44 to always be ready for His return because He will come at an hour when we do not expect Him.

This blog is not an attempt to frighten anyone. It is, however, a wake-up call.

Jesus Himself said that He is returning and on that day there will be a judgment. The unrighteous will be judged for their sins and the righteous will be judged for their works and rewarded accordingly [2 Corinthians 5:10].

God has done all He is going to do to provide us with eternal life/righteousness. The wage of sin is death. He paid the price for all sin for all time with the sinless blood of His own Son Jesus Christ [Romans 6:23, 1 Peter 3:18]. Refusing to accept His gift of salvation is a choice to stand before Him in judgment for our own sins.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Let’s seriously consider our two choices today; eternal life or eternal death; separation from God.

At creation, God gave us free will. What an amazing gift! We get to choose our final destination while there is still time.

Let’s not get to judgment day and find ourselves in group weeds and goats. Let’s not choose an eternity of regret.

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

If you are unsure about whether you will inherit eternal life, I invite you to pray the prayer at the end of this post and mean it with all of your heart.

There is no access to God or eternal life except through Christ and His sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is the only way!

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

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

You are More Valuable Than Grass

I recently had a conversation with someone about the rising cost of freshly delivered flowers. It seems as though the price has gone sky-high. I was shocked!

Don’t get me wrong. I love fresh cut flowers and think they are beautiful and a thoughtful gesture as a gift. But, I’m also very frugal and logical and can’t justify paying a small fortune for something that only lasts a few days then will be thrown into the trash. That’s just me.

I told my husband a long time ago, “If you want to send me flowers, I’d rather a plant. They last longer.” Well, let’s just say I try to make them last longer.

As I thought about the short life of a flower, not just cut flowers but also those still rooted in the ground. I was reminded of familiar scriptures.

Matthew 6:27-30 Jesus said, “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?”

I believe Jesus is saying the grass is so valuable to God that He dresses it in beautiful flowers. We are more valuable, being made in God’s image, than the grass of the field. If God meets the needs of the grass, how much more will He meet our needs? Therefore, it is pointless to worry about anything.

I often refer back to these scriptures when I catch myself starting to worry. They really comfort me.

What are you worried about today?

Have you lost your job with no prospect of another one in view? Has a sickness left you unable to work or pay the medical bills?

Has your spouse left you with children, no money, and a pantry that’s going bare? Is your car on its last mile or your home in need of repair but you can’t afford it?

Is a loved one lost in a world of addiction and sin? Are you worried about the state of our nation and the world?

The list of things we worry about is endless. What should we do?

First and foremost we should always put our trust in the Lord who cares for us and loves us.

1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Then we should ask God for help. A lot of times the Lord will send someone to help us. Other times He will open a door of opportunity for us to afford the things we need. He always comforts us and assures us that He is in control and is working things out for our good and His glory.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

While we are waiting for God to meet our needs, we should encourage ourselves daily in His word by searching for and reading the scriptures about trusting Him and His unfailing love for us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

It always helps me to remember who God is and all that He’s done throughout scripture and in my own life over the years. If He’s done it before He can do it again. If He’s done it for others He can do it for me and for you.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

We should also surround ourselves with positive, Bible-believing people who will speak the life of God’s word into us and our situation and not doom and despair.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Remember, we are so valuable to God and so loved by Him that He gave His one and only Son as a sacrifice for our sins so we can be in relationship with Him forever [John 3:16].

We are much more valuable to God than grass. He cares! He’s got this!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Good Then There’s Better

Some of you may be wondering what my hobbies are. One of them is playing Scrabble. I discovered the game in my teens and have loved it ever since. Back then the only way to play was with a game board and tiles. Which I still own by the way.

Now, thanks to technology, I can play using the Scrabble app on my phone, anywhere, anytime. I can play with people I don’t know or with people, I do know. I always choose to play with those I don’t know. That way there are no weird feelings about winning or losing between friends.

I first started playing Scrabble online back in 2010 after surgery. My husband surprised me with an IPad and downloaded the Scrabble app on it for me. It helped pass the time as I lay in bed recovering. So thoughtful!

I’m not that bad at the game but I’m not that great at it either. My winning average is 60%. I enjoy the challenge and it keeps my brain active.

One of my favorite features of the online game is the teacher. The way it works is after I play a word, I can press the teacher at the bottom of the screen and it will show me the highest scoring word I could have gotten.

A lot of times I think I have a really good word and then the teacher tells me there was a much better option. I may have gotten 50 points when I could have gotten 90. I hate it when that happens. I feel like I really missed out.

A lot of times in life, we choose the good rather than the better. God has plenty to say about choosing better over good.

Success in all areas of life is always good. But not if it’s at the expense of others or if it requires the compromise of our morals or God’s standards. Success is good but just gain is better [Psalms 37:16].

Financial wealth is good but wisdom and insight are better [Proverbs 16:16].

Sacrificing our best to God is good but obedience to Him is better [1 Samuel 15:22].

Serving God and others is good but sitting at the feet of Jesus; listening to His teaching is better [Luke 10:38-41].

Living a thousand days is good but living one day worshiping in God’s presence is better [Psalms 84:10].

Receiving is good but giving is better [Acts 20:35].

These are just a few of the many examples in God’s word of choosing better over good. I encourage you to search the scriptures on your own to see for yourself what God says about choosing that which is better.

Climbing the ladder of success, financial wealth, sacrificing our time and energy, serving God and others, living a long life, and receiving things, are all good.

But God is telling us that just gain, wisdom, obedience to His word, slowing down and spending time with Jesus and just being in His presence worshiping Him, and giving, are all far better choices.

Why are these choices better? Because they lead to peace, joy, spiritual growth, and abundant life.

Are you choosing good things or better things? Let’s not get to the end of our life and realize we really missed out by choosing good rather than better.

God’s word says in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. He wants to teach us to recognize better choices and then empower us to choose them. All we have to do is ask.

Let’s ask together:

Lord, help us to consider every choice that we make. Reveal to us the better choices You desire us to make then help us to make those choices. We can’t do it on our own. We need the power of Your Holy Spirit to guide us in making better choices; choices that are pleasing to You and a greater benefit to us and others. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

Open Doors

Followers of Christ should all know that God has an assignment or purpose for our lives. Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation [Mark 16:15]. That is God’s general-purpose for every believer.

But we also have a specific assignment or way God plans to use us to grow His kingdom. Some of us may know what that specific assignment is. While some of us are still trying to figure that out.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Those who do know what their God-given assignment is, the door to that assignment may be closed at the moment. What should we do while we wait for that door to open?

As I ponder this question, I’m reminded of King David. I had the amazing privilege of studying the life of King David last year with my bible study group. You can read all about his life in 1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2.

In summary, David was the youngest of 8 sons. He was a shepherd. At a young age, David was chosen and anointed by God to be king of Israel. But he didn’t become king overnight.

David had to pass through many doors before he reached his ultimate God-given assignment.

He remained a shepherd for a while until God opened a door for David to service King Saul by playing music for him in his palace. The next open door was an opportunity to help King Saul and his country by killing Goliath.

The results of that open door led to his popularity and King Saul’s jealousy. Saul tried to kill David several times. David ended up running for his life and living in caves but he managed to attract a small army of men and became their commander. Another open door.

David and his army fought and won many battles along the way gaining him notoriety as a leader and a warrior. David also had a few opportunities to kill his enemy King Saul but he didn’t walk through that door. He wanted to do things God’s way and not take matters of becoming king into his own hands.

Between the time David was anointed to be king and actually becoming king was about 15 years.

David had to go through many God-ordained doors to prepare him for the ultimate door of becoming King David. God was preparing David for his assignment.

As we read about the life of King David, we also notice many open doors that were not God-ordained but that he walked through regardless. Such as the door that led to an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and doors that led to poor parenting decisions and division in his family.

But, the good news is that God used all of the doors that David went through, good and bad, to prepare him for his purpose and to change David’s heart and draw him closer to Himself.

And that’s the same good news for you and me today. God uses the good, the bad, and the ugly, for our good, the good of others, and His glory. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

Believe me, I know all about walking through wrong doors that have led to heartache, disappointment, and regret. But I’ve also seen how God can take all of my sins and mistakes and use them for a greater purpose.

Are you walking past open doors in search of the door to your God-given assignment? Are you waiting at the closed door to your assignment missing out on the open doors that God intends to use to prepare you for that assignment?

My prayer for you and for me is that our eyes will be open to all the opportunities God is providing to prepare us for His assignment for our lives. I pray we do not despise open doors and do not despair over the wrong doors we’ve gone through as we wait for our ultimate assignment door to open.

Isaiah 46:10-11 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east, I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.”

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Worship Amid Pain and Opposition

As I was doing my bible study in the book of Acts, I came to a familiar passage of scripture. I’ve read this particular account several times in the past but this time the Lord took me a little deeper. He made it personal.

That’s what I love about studying God’s word. Reading the bible is great but when we take the time to reflect upon it and respond to it, the Lord reveals things to us that we’ve never seen before and the results are life-changing.

Acts 16:16-34 tells us about Paul and Silas being stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison for casting an evil spirit out of a girl who made a lot of people a lot of money by predicting the future.

Paul and Silas were accused of being trouble makers and advocating unlawful customs. Their response to false accusations, beatings, and imprisonment was to worship God.

At midnight while in pain, shackles, and chains, Paul and Silas were worshipping the Lord. What??? That baffles me!

What was the result of their worship in the face of pain and opposition? There was a violent earthquake. The prison was shaken, the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Notice, not only did Paul and Silas’ chains come loose and their prison door opened but all the prisoners were set free.

The jailer had been asleep but was awakened by all the commotion. When he saw that the prison doors were open he was going to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Did the jailer order that all the prisoners be locked back up? No! Instead, his response was to fall at the feet of Paul and Silas trembling and ask, “What must I do to be saved?”

The jailer had recognized that the whole incident was an act of God.

Paul and Silas’ answer to the jailer’s question was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, then you and your household will be saved.” The Jailer took them to his house, Paul and Silas spoke God’s word to the jailer and his family, they were all saved and baptized that same day. The jailer treated Paul and Silas’ wounds and then they all shared a meal together.

Wow! God really turned that whole situation around. It was a miracle! Not only for Paul and Silas but for the other prisons, the jailer, and his whole family.

Worshipping God is a catalyst for miracles.

Today, in America, we may not face beatings and imprisonment because of our belief in Jesus (many Christians around the world do) but we do face other types of pain and opposition.

Some of us are ostracized in our homes or workplaces due to our beliefs. Or maybe even fired from our jobs or divorced by our spouse. We may even be abandoned by our closest friends.

Some of us are taken to court for our stand on God’s word or our spiritual and moral convictions. Maybe we are laughed at and mocked for our faith in Christ. Pain and opposition come in all shapes and sizes. We could even be experiencing physical pain.

But, this passage in Acts 16 gives us hope for what the results could be if we respond to pain and opposition with worship.

Think of the lives that could be affected around us and our own when we live a life of worship no matter what hardships we face.

When Paul and Silas worshipped while they were bloodied and in pain, shackled and chained in the middle of a prison, people were set free.

People were convicted of their sin and brought to their knees in repentance and set free from slavery to sin. Whole families were saved. Lives were completely transformed.

As the Lord was revealing these things to me, I asked myself, “Do I worship when I am in the midst of pain or opposition?” And, “Do I notice the open doors to share the good news about Jesus in the midst of my pain or opposition?” How would you answer those questions for yourself?

The Lord can do amazing things and turn things completely around for our good, the good of others, and for His glory. He’s just waiting on us to give the right response to our pain and opposition. He’s waiting for us to worship Him!

Have you ever experienced positive results of worshipping God in the midst of your pain or opposition? Could you share your experience with us so we can be encouraged and praise God with you? Share in the comments below.

Thank you and God bless you!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Too Good To Be True

Do you ever take time to actually listen to and watch commercials on tv or social media? They are all offering us something that they claim is sure to change our lives.

This anti-aging cream will take 10 years off your face. This pill will take 10 inches off your waist. This food will add 10 years to your life.

If you buy this car, this vacation package, this house, you will be happy. If you have this job, this education, these clothes, these shoes, you will be important.

If you take this drug, drink another drink, have more sex, eat more food, all the pain will go away.

Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. How do I know? Because I’ve tried them. They only left me wanting more and never lived up to their claims.

What are we all searching for? The fountain of youth? A trouble-free life? Purpose? Happiness? Peace? Love? Hope? Security? Acceptance?

We are all searching for something that’s real and lasts forever. Some of us are willing to pay any price to get it.

What if I told you the most important things in life are not for sale? What if I told you that the most important things in life are free for you and for me? They’ve already been paid for.

We can live forever. We can have peace, love, joy, and purpose. There is hope. And it doesn’t cost us a thing.

God gave us eternal life. The definition of eternal is ageless, dateless, everlasting, immortal, imperishable, timeless, undying. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s ours for the taking!

John 3:16 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.

Jesus gave us His peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

God gives us unconditional, complete, unchanging love.

No one will ever love us like our heavenly Father loves us. He is love. People can only give us as much love as they have in themselves to give. They can’t give us what they don’t have. Human love is imperfect but God’s love is perfect and nothing can separate us from it.

Romans 8:39 Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God gave us joy.

Joy is not happiness. Happiness depends on what is happening in our lives. So we can be happy one minute and sad the next. Happiness is fickle.

Joy doesn’t depend on what is going on around us. It has more to do with what’s going on inside of us. Joy is a calm consistent delight.

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy.

God gave us hope.

Joy and peace are a result of hope. God fills us with hope. Hope is always looking forward and expecting better. God always keeps His promises and this alone is our source of great hope.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God gave us purpose. Life without purpose is meaningless. Life without God is meaningless.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

All we have to do is accept the gift of forgiveness for our sins through Christ Jesus to enjoy all of the amazing benefits of the cross; eternal life, peace, joy, love, hope, and purpose.

You may think that this offer is too good to be true. It is the one thing that will ever be offered to you that is not too good to be true. How do I know? Because I live it every day and so can you.

It is so good and so true! 

How have you experienced disappointment in what the world has to offer? How have you experienced the amazing benefits of the cross that God offers? Share in the comments below!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Mending Power

Recently, my oldest son introduced me to the mending power of Gorilla Glue. He helped me fix a dining chair with a wobbly leg the week before Thanksgiving.

Then, when one of my new Christmas Santas was knocked over and broke in half, I knew that Gorilla Glue was what I could depend on to put it back together. It’s proven to be very reliable.

A few days ago, one of my flip flops broke. The little piece that fits between my toes snapped in half. That was the third flip flop I had broken in the last two months. I guess I’m pretty rough on my flip flops.

I was about to throw the flip flops in the trash and then I remembered the mending power of Gorilla Glue and wondered if it could fix my broken shoe. So, I decided to give it a try. I mean after all, what did I have to lose?

To my surprise, the glue worked and I am wearing my flip flops again. Gorilla Glue works great!

But what should we do about those broken non-material things in our lives? Is there a reliable mending source for those intangibles that are far more valuable than chairs, flip flops, and Santa figurines?

Yes! God’s word is the number one reliable mender of all things broken.

Do you have broken relationships? Any scripture about love and forgiveness will mend relationships if applied as directed consistently.

Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Is your heart broken?

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Are you crumbling under the weight of debt?

Luke 14:28 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

Hebrews 13:5a Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

Is your reputation broken?

Acts 24:16 “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and men.”

Is your career broken?

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Maybe you had plans for your life but something happened that was out of your control or you made mistakes that broke your plans apart.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

The list of broken things in our lives could go on and on. But the good news is that the Lord addresses all of those broken situations in His word. All we have to do is find the scripture that pertains to our particular brokenness and apply it.

What do you depend on to mend the broken things in your life? Alcohol, drugs, social media, complaining, or advice from others who are just as broken? Those are all temporary fixes that will only leave us more broken.

The mending power of God’s word is always reliable and lasts forever!

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

I have personally experienced the mending power of God’s word in my own life. I was once bitter, resentful, angry, and had trouble forgiving others blaming them for my problems.

Through the daily application of God’s word, prayer, and reliance on the Holy Spirit, those broken areas of my life are now mended. Now I live a life full of joy, peace, compassion, and love for others.

God’s word works! We just have to use it.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you with whatever is broken in your life. Then go to God’s word to find the solutions and do what God tells you to do.

Luke 11:28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Believe me, I know it’s not easy to do God’s word all the time but I also know that it is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to help us obey God’s word, so ask Him to help you. He will!

John 14:16-17a Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever–the Spirit of truth.”

I’d love to hear the go-to scriptures that God has used or is using to mend your brokenness. Please share them so we can benefit from them as well. Thank you and God bless you!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay Close

At the end of 2019 and the very start of 2020, the questions, “What are your goals for 2020?” and “What is your “word” for this new year?” were all over social media. If people weren’t asking about our “word” or goals they were telling us what their goals and word for the new year are.

It makes me feel a little pressured thinking I have to come up with these goals and words. Don’t get me wrong, I am always wanting to improve on the previous year. Therefore, I pray for direction from the Lord about what action to take if any.

This year, as I considered some changes and improvements I would like to make in different areas of my life, the Lord has been showing me one thing; “stay close.” My two words and goal for 2020 are to “stay close” to the Lord.

John 15:4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can bear no fruit unless you remain in me.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to be in 2020 is unfruitful or unproductive.

To remain means to abide, dwell, hang around, stay, stick around, and to tarry. [Merriam-Webster Dictionary App]

How can we stay close to the Lord?

We can read and study God’s word daily getting to know Him better. When we know God better we will trust Him more.

We can also spend time with the Lord every day in prayer. Not just talking to Him but also being quiet and listening to what He is speaking into our spirit.

You may say, “I’m too busy to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible.”

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We all get to choose how we spend those 24 hours. If spending time with our Creator and Savior is not a priority in those 24 hours then those 24 hours will have been unproductive and unfruitful.

“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will, in the end, make no difference what you have chosen instead.” ~ William Law

It’s our choice! We get to choose how close we will be to the Lord. He doesn’t move away from us, we move away from Him.

James 4:8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.

What are the benefits of staying close to the Lord?

  • Lack of fear
  • Spiritual growth
  • A greater understanding and knowledge of God’s word
  • Increased wisdom and discernment
  • Increased love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
  • Increased faith
  • Eternal assurance
  • Increased hope
  • Increased obedience to God’s word
  • Decreased compromise of God’s word
  • Not so easily deceived
  • Direction

The list could go on and on.

The sky is the limit for those who stay close to the Creator of heaven and earth. To the One who knows the beginning and the end. To the One who is in control of all things. To the One who loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Whatever your “word” or your goal for 2020 is, I encourage you to stay close to the Lord. There is no safer place to be. There is no more productive or fruitful place to be.

Colossians 1:9-11 … that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow the Leader

You may know by now that my husband and I have a dog named Autumn. She has been the subject of a few of my blogs. Maybe you’ve read some of them. She definitely has some interesting behaviors.

Autumn’s newest interesting behavior is that she follows my husband everywhere he goes in the house. When he moves, she moves. When he is standing still, she stands still keeping her eyes on him and waiting for his next move.

Sometimes I’ll say, “Autumn is playing follow the leader again.” We laugh, but in reality, we know that she just loves my husband and feels secure in his presence.

Autumn’s behavior reminds me of a time when the nation of Israel was in the wilderness. God led them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.

When the fire or cloud moved, Israel moved. When the fire or cloud was still, Israel was still. The fire by night or the cloud by day was always in front of them. [Exodus 13:21-22]

The fire and the cloud were the presence of God. He was always with them. Leading them, protecting them, and providing for them. As long as they followed the Lord, they were safe, secure, and always headed in the right direction.

Israel was following the Leader!

Today, God doesn’t lead us with pillars of fire or clouds but He does still lead us. He leads us through His word-the Bible-and through His Holy Spirit.

Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

Maybe you have accepted Christ as your savior but you feel afraid, insecure, alone, and confused. You’ve lost your peace and your joy. Get back into the presence of God!

Keep God’s word before your eyes and in your hearing. Spend time worshiping the Lord, even when you don’t feel like it. Fellowship with other believers who will encourage you and pray with you and for you.

Maybe you are not a believer or follower of Jesus and you feel afraid, insecure, lost, alone and confused. You are not in the presence of God because your sin separates you from Him. I invite you to pray the prayer at the end of this blog.

There is only one access to God’s presence and that’s through Jesus. Jesus paid for all sin for all time when He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. When we accept Jesus’ payment for our sins we have full access to God, eternal life, peace, and joy.

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

There is no excuse for any of us to not be in God’s presence. He invites us to be with Him. He’s made a way for us to be with Him. In His presence, we are safe, secure, and never alone.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Likewise, there is no reason for us to feel lost or confused. God has given us His word and His Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth.

Let’s follow the Leader. Let’s follow the Lord into the new year. Let’s resolve to stay in His presence and to allow His word and His Spirit to lead us and guide us into His purpose and His plan for our lives this year and every year.

I pray you all will have a safe and happy 2020. God bless you all!

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Important Choice You Will Ever Make

This past week there were two accidents on the road that runs in front of our house. Well, two that I know of. One resulted in injury and a totaled car. The other resulted in death.

I was talking to one of my friends about the two accidents and she commented, “Things happen so fast that can change lives forever.”

That got me thinking about the person that died in the accident. They woke up the morning of the accident thinking that day was going to be like any other day.

They probably had a particular plan for that day. They were obviously headed someplace and may have been planning what they would do once they got there.

In a moment everything changed.

Psalm 146:4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

We never know what is going to happen from one moment to the next. The fact is we go through life thinking we will be here another second, another minute, hour, day, month, and year but in reality, we don’t know how long we will be here.

For the person who died in the accident, they had no idea they would be standing in front of their creator that day.

Was that person ready? Are you ready?

Hebrews 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory [Romans 3:23]. But on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for all sin for all time. It is God’s gift to us.

1 John 2:2 He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

If we do not accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrificial payment for our sins, we will be charged for our own sins.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is physical death and there is spiritual death. Spiritual death is eternal separation from God.

2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

The good news is that we get to choose. We don’t have to be separated from God’s love, joy, peace, or light forever. We can choose to live in the presence of God for eternity starting right now.

Revelation 7:16-17 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The most important gift that you could choose to receive this Christmas is the gift of eternal life; the gift of forgiveness of sins; the gift of Jesus.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

You may be wondering, what do I have to do to receive this most important gift?

First, you have to realize you are a sinner in need of salvation from sin. Then Pray the prayer at the end of this post and mean it with all of your heart. That’s it!

Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

What’s next?

Start reading your bible. If you don’t have one, get one. The book of John is always a great place to start.

Find a bible-teaching church. Get involved in a bible study. Surround yourself with bible-believing people.

Pray every day asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you read in God’s word and to live according to what you read and understand.

We don’t know how long we will live on this earth but we can have peace in knowing where we will spend eternity when our time here is up.

Don’t be caught dead without Jesus. You get to choose now. If you wait until tomorrow, it may be too late. Jesus is the most important gift you’ll ever choose.

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

~Patrice Maguire

Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.