Challenged to be Bold

How bold are the prayers we pray?  In  Christ, do we truly pray with the realization that the creator of the universe calls us sons and daughters?  I just finished watching a video clip  by Lisa Bevere. Speaking at the Love Life Women’s Conference, she said: “The world needs you to pray scary prayers instead of scared prayers!” Another quote was: “If you are not praying the kind of prayers that scare you; believe me, they are not scaring the enemy!” That is challenging just by itself.  Then I laid down my Bible and it opened to Isaiah 45 and my eyes were drawn to this passage…

 “Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it.  I, the Lord, have created it.  “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!” Isaiah 45: 8 & 9 NASB

 Now that is a powerful prayer!! 

 This passage is talking about a King named Cyrus who is appointed by God to set His people free from exile and return them home to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple so they could worship God freely as free people once again. Verses 1-8 were a commission by God to Cyrus rather than a prayer. However, if you have been even somewhat keeping up on the political scene or even have just perused the social media scene for a few minutes; I am betting you have seen some of the craziness! If you ventured to watch one of the many debates, I know you’ve personally witnessed it yourself.  The debate last night was a very loose interpritation of the rules of debate at best. Three people competing to all talk at once, over and over again. There were times I just wished the moderator would speak up or the sound tech would cut the microphones to stop the chaos. Alas, this is the nature of political debates today.

    The people across all races and all belief systems in this country are worried about the course things have taken or will take over the next years. What will we be leaving behind for our children and grandchildren to clean up with the great debt this country owes? How can we bring back balanced spending and get rid of debt? Is our military strong enough to protect us? What about the economy? Borders? Will the Constitution and it’s amendments including the 1st and 2nd be upheld? The questions just keep coming and many Americans whether or not they will admit it range from concerned to flat out scared of the course that seems to be played out before us. People want answers. They want to choose the right leader.

     Maybe it is time; perhaps past time, for believers all across this country to lay down our concerns, fears and questions down at the feet of our Creator and begin to pray bold prayers.  Our God hears His kids when they cry out!  We can vote; we can speak out about injustices, freedoms, rights; we can educate people; we can be an informed and educated person; all these are important! But it is He Who: “removes and establishes kings and rulers.”  Not sure or unconvinced? Do your remember the ‘hanging chads’ and the declaration that Bush would not have a second term? Or the declaration that the little known candidate Obama would not get enough votes?? 

Daniel’s prayer – Daniel 2: 19- 23  The mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a vision at night, and Daniel praised the God of heaven and declared:  May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.  He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  I offer thanks and praise to You, God of my fathers, because You have given me wisdom and power.  And now You have let me know what we asked of You, for You have let us know the king’s mystery.”

 Maybe, just maybe it is time to we make sure our hearts and motives are right and find some great scriptures and pray some very bold scary prayers for our lives, for the lives of those we love, for our country, and even for those who are against us!  Our battle is not with flesh and blood…Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”  

Brothers and Sisters;                                                                                                                                       May grace, peace and boldness be multiplied to you! 

 

 

 

 

 

Courage to be Unoffendable Part 3

     As I pushed the publish button on WordPress yesterday, I uttered a thank you to Jesus, feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Thinking that this was the end of the instruction on being unoffendable but the practice was really just getting started. This journey had begun a couple of years ago when Pastor Tony taught on the need for us to become unoffendable and has continued over the time that has elapsed.  Before I even took a breath after the prayer of thanksgiving, I felt a nudge or a check in my spirit. I could almost hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Not Quite yet!” My quick reply was ok, Lord I am listening because I am learning quick obedience always works out best. 
This verse is what I felt or heard in my spirit…
 
 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
      
I meditated on the verse for a time before responding in a whisper; “yes He did, thank you for reminding me. Guess we are back to the classroom.” 
 
       My heart was overwhelmed with thoughts. Jesus Christ, God’s Son had every reason to feel offended throughout His life and especially on the cross! Yet He remained unoffended even to the very last breath and prayed for the forgiveness of the people despite the agony in His body, soul and Spirit as He hung there. He also lived His life this way.
 
      Let’s just look at a few reasons Jesus could have found place for offense.  He was targeted for death before the age of two and His parent forced to flee the country.  His temptation in the wilderness brought mocking words as He was tested.  In Mark 3:21 His family set out to restrain Him and said this about Jesus,”He is out of His mind.”.  In the following verse scribes accused Him of being possessed and that the miracles were done by demons. He healed three leapers from disease, two showed no appreciation. He was betrayed by one of HIs twelve closest friends. Jesus was falsely accused of blasphemy. The community choose to release a violent criminal over His release. He was beaten, whipped with a nine tailed whip, each strand covered with small sharp pieces of broken pottery tearing and shredding His skin until He was unrecognizable! He was made to carry His own cross to the place where He would die the most humiliating death hanging naked upon a cross; struggling for every single breath until death came. These are just a few of the injustices Jesus suffered on our behalf yet He chose to love and forgive rather than being offended. Jesus had His face set like flint on the task set before Him. He kept His heart right before God and kept His mind on the purpose He was sent for which was to… 
 
           “…bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭61‬:‭1-3‬ NIV)
 
     Choosing to let go of or refuse to take up offense may be a difficult task for us but Jesus set a great example and Stehpen followed in that example when they stoned him. As he neared death and saw Jesus seated at the right hand of His Father; full of the Holy Spirit he proclaimed  “Lord do not hold this sin against them.”  Note it was through the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that lives inside every true believer in Jesus Christ. He empowered Jesus and Stephen to let go of offense and forgive and He is waiting to give us the strength we need to do the same. The question is am I willing to allow Him to work in this way? Are you? Carrying offense is a weighty thing! It weighs heavy on our hearts; our minds. It robs us of precious time; opportunities; sleep; relationships; hinders our prayer life, social life, worship; hardens our hearts; quenches the work of the Holy Spirit in our life and grieves the heart of our Heavenly Father. These are heavy prices to pay for the ‘right to be offended’.
 
     One question I have to consider now when offense is knocking at my door is “Is there something in me that is making me over sensitive or makes me feel offended?”  God clearly teaches in His Word that we are to examine ourselves and that He is the judge for only He knows the intent and motives of each heart. If there is nothing going on in me at the time making me insecure or over sensitive then perhaps I should choose to overlook the offensive behavior. After all is said and done, I have no idea what is going on in the other persons life that may have resulted in careless words or behavior on their part. Only that person and God know the trials, stresses, pressures, losses, fears, and insecurities they face. I can remind myself to look at the great suffering of Jesus all so He could extend salvation to me with extravagant sides of mercy and grace. And with that in mind, I pray that I will choose to let go of offense or better yet never take it up to begin with! Lord, please keep me teachable, humble, and grateful. Please strengthen me to trust You more, to have me where I need to be and to let go of that which needs letting go. Help me not to gorge on the extravagant mercy and grace You have provided for me; but through the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to let the grace and mercy You show me flow through me to others in my life. As it has been freely given to me, help me to freely give it to others. May all the glory and honor beYours, In the Mighty and Merciful name of Jesus, Amen!

     Could it be that this is the only way to be truly free and experience the freedom available to us In Christ? Please grow us Lord into the image of Jesus, who considered it  joy to humble Himself even unto death for our sakes.
 

May mercy, grace and peace mark our lives in a fresh way!

Just What is this Wonder?

Just what is this wonder that you speak of? Miriam-Webster online ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wonder ) defines wonder as something or someone who is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, hard to believe. The verb is described as to have interest in knowing or learning something, to think about something with curiosity, to feel surprise or amazement.  Now, if you will, let me describe wonder through my eyes…through what I observed watching this little grand-daughter of mine and through the eyes of her siblings and cousins over the last seven years when they were awestruck.

My definition:  Wonder is an amazing, stop dead in your tracks, jaw-dropping, surprising and beautiful sight. It takes your breath  away; makes your heart beat a little faster in awe and excitement. For a moment or two everything stands still and pales in comparison to what your eyes and senses are beholding and you feel just a bit more alive. It brings a smile to your face and to your heart. You just want to linger in the moment and never forget it. You are captivated, feel like you have a great blessing before you and have no desire for the moment to end!

Wonders are all around each of us all the time. Many times we fail to see them for the cares of our world can be great and the demands all around us can keep us too busy to see what is right before us. I have been on a journey over the last ten years or twelve years to force myself to be more aware of the wonders that this world holds. As I said, it began around ten or twelve years ago. A well-known Bible study teacher in one of her studies was teaching on The Patriarchs, specifically on that day the story of Moses when he asked God to let Moses see Him. God’s response was to hide Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him and then God would walk by and show Moses His glory for man could not see God’s face and live. She suggested during that video session that we pray for God to reveal His glory to us in our daily lives.  I did! Day after day, I was aware of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, a rainbow, a majestic deer standing on the side of the woods as I drove by, shooting stars, a beautiful moon and the list could go on. Each time even if for a moment, it took my breath away, brought a smile to my face and reminded me of God’s love and majesty.  It reminded me I was not alone, God was with me and He was honoring my request to show me His glory. It became my habit to whisper as I gazed in wonder at  His latest example, ” You did that just for me, Thank You, Lord!”

Alas, even after learning such a great lesson in slowing the pace and looking for the wonders in life, life happens.  Schedules try to take us over and keep us from seeing the beauty, wonder and grace that is all around us. Burdens and circumstances try to rob us of the simple joys found in a child’s smile and laughter, in their hugs and kisses, in taking a break from the cares of life and just sitting along side a fire, a lake or river and just being.  Since that time, many times when I am feeling overburdened, overwhelmed, and in need of something or longing for something but I just can not put my finger on that need; I repeat that prayer. “Lord, please show me your glory.” He has always answered in some meaningful way. Whether it was small or grand, a whisper to my heart or a beautiful night sky filled to the brim with twinkling stars-one shooting across the sky; He always hears and draws my attention in some way.

You may be skeptical, I was too at first. The first few time the answers were blatant and easy to see, but they aren’t always so. Sometimes we may have to be a little more tuned in and attentive but they are no less wonderful. Like a grand game of hide and seek, just when you are about ready to “give up” and suddenly you find what you are looking for! Some call it practicing His presence, taking time out even if just for a moment.  In one of these times in my life, I felt a gentle whisper to my  heart. “I created you, you are a human being, (emphasis on being) not a human doing!”  You see, I was an avid perfectionist and a full-fledged people pleaser. If you are one or have been one, you are well aware what impossible burdens we place upon ourselves when we live this lifestyle. Thankfully, His words gave me the freedom to break from this lifestyle permanently.  Oh temptations still arise occasionally, but freedom is much more desirable! All it takes for me to say no now is to remember all the wonders of life I have missed trying to do the impossible on my strength. How much better is the freedom to just “be” at times.  To be still and know… to take time out and rest in Him, wonder at His creation and at His glory!

 “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Grace, peace and joy to you!

Why Do I Love the Word?

What an interesting question that was posed today in the current Bible study I am doing! Why do you love God’s Word? It was followed with this proposal…consider a friend or acquaintance asked you this question because they did not understand your love for the Bible and you were too taken off guard to respond at the time. Now, you sit down to write a note or letter to explain… How would you explain? So here goes lets give it a try…

 

Dear Friend,

I was taken aback a bit by your question today and needed a little time to process

your inquiry because many emotions rose up within me at that moment. Too many to

put into words immediately.  God’s Word is life and health to me! Without it, I would

not be the person I am… I probably would not be alive and certainly would not even

resemble the person you know.  His Word has been the source of strength to carry on in

the darkest of days, when sorrow, grief and loss were so very overwhelming that easily I

could have crawled into a dark hole, given up and disappeared. It has brought comfort

and peace in the most frightening of times; it has been my source of encouragement

when all seemed lost and I felt totally alone; it has been a well of hope springing up in

the driest of deserts; a balm to heal my heart when it has been wounded or too heartsick

to even move. His Word has been freedom to a soul held captive by her circumstances

and it has flooded joy into a heart teaching me that joy is available even in the times

where happiness is elusive and circumstances are challenging. When I have been wise, it

has offered me the keys to navigate through every passage on this journey of life. When I

have been foolish, He has drawn me back to it to lovingly shine light on the areas that

could have been better navigated and teach me better ways for the future.  Yes, it is life;

strength; comfort; peace; encouragement; healing; freedom; joy; direction; and

instruction. God’s Word also displays my Father’s character, shows the greatness of His

love, and tells me who I am In Christ. In Him, we are called friend; son or daughter;

beloved; accepted; redeemed; justified; set apart; precious; blameless; chosen; and

kings and priests…just to name a few. It contains everything needed to live a victorious

life and to avoid the pitfalls life tends to throw our way. It is a precious gift and a much

needed tool for my life.  Dear friend, I hope this at least in part answers your question

and thank you! for challenging me with this question. It is good to be challenged; to be

able put words to such deeply felt emotions and beliefs and to bring to remembrance

why we hold something or someone so dear and precious. It keeps it fresh to us and

prevents us from taking it for granted!

 

Grace and peace to you my friend!