Be Encouraged

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This scripture is one of hundreds of favorites! It is a reminder that our Heavenly Father does not miss a thing. Just as He chose Israel, we are also told we are chosen. He has a purpose and plan for every one of our lives but when difficulties and trials come along we can forget. Sometimes we will wonder; does God see what’s happening? Does He hear our cries? At times it may feel God is far off and distant; He is not! Sometimes when He is silent we can wonder if God is still near; He is! More times than not when I feel any of these, the truth is I am tired or impatient. I want things to happen in my timing rather than in God’s timing. I want to know what I don’t know about the situation. I just want the difficulty to be over.

Thankfully, God knows our hearts. He also knows we are humans and we have weaknesses. Psalm 3:14 reminds us, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” His Word also reminds us that even when we are faithless; He is faithful. Paul told us in 1 Coriinthians 12 that God’s grace is sufficient and in our weaknesses, He is strong! Jeremiah 29:11 and the verses following are a great reminder that our Father knows us; He loves us. God has good plans for us and for our future! He’s not sitting up there idle even when it might seem that way to those of us down here. His timing is perfect and God is always working things out behind the scenes. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Notice it did not say all good things but that all things (even the bad things) can be worked for our good and His glory.

We will always have trials and troubles as long as we walk this earth BUT God is able to help us whatever comes into our path, if we are patient and allow Him to work. In the end, He will redeem it and use if for our good and His glory. Does that mean we will like what we sometimes must walk through? No! What it means is we will not have to walk through it alone and He can and will redeem it and use it to refine us into a better person in the long run. It may not be in our time frame, but it will happen in His perfect timing. I can say with complete honesty, every trail I have struggled with (in hindsight) has worked to make me who I am today. There have been many struggles that I just wanted to go away. There have been great, seemingly senseless losses of loved ones. There have been trials that if you’d asked me then my remark would have been, “I will not survive this!” Do I want to repeat them? NO! I can say with all certainty and confidence looking back on those times that I NEVER walked alone even when it felt as though I did. God never abandoned me even if it felt like it. Lastly, everyone of those experiences have culminated in who I am today and have solidified my faith; taught me to face my fears; and given me hope to go forward and walk this path no matter what the world or the enemy throws my way!

Our God is faithful! He will never leave or forsake His child! Feelings lie and say He has, but He will not!

An Unexpected Reminder

It is a gorgeous day! I sat at my desk this morning enjoying some quiet time; just me and the Lord. I opened the drawer and ran across a small journal.  I opened to the first page and began reading and I was taken aback wondering how on earth I let this little gem get away from me.

Very early last year I heard a lady mention she had would ask one simple question during her morning prayer times. “What is on your heart, Lord?” Next, she would sit quietly and wait before the Lord. Whether it was a scripture reference, a scripture, or hearing the Lord speak quietly to her heart, she would journal her experieince.

As 2015 begin, I set this in motion as part of my quiet time. Today, I looked back on those first few days.  I was amazed at what I found there. I’m not exactly sure what happened in the first weeks of 2015 that became such a distraction, but I didn’t keep it up long enough for it to become a habit. I dropped the ball and did not pick it back up. I fell back into old routines and never looked back until today.  It’s hard to believe that I let distraction detour me after seeing satisfying results.

After reading a few entries, I am amazed what I had written.  Looking at those insights, I am deeply grateful to have found them.  To have a reminder and an opportunity to begin this practice again is execting.  I cant’t wait to see where it will lead.

Taking time to listen more and speak less during prayer, my focus was more on God and His heart and less on myself and my needs. I would read a scripture or Bible passage followed with the question, “what’s on Your heart, Lord?”  Some days a scripture would be impressed upon my heart; sometimes I was prompted to pray for someone in a specific way.  One particular day, I was encouraged by to seek Him first, focus, and trust; He would fill in the blanks and empty places in my life. Other times I was given personal, encouraging words that were very on point for where I was that day.

Example:

Jan. 4, I heard:

Excellence- Not perfection

Excellence =  Your best for where you are.

Your best you.

Ask yourself, Is this my best?

Excellence is equally defined for all…it’s your best, not someone else’s.

It never looks the same on any two people because

We are all different; different maturity levels, talents, gifts, and different stages of life.

I do not want you to be someone else; but to be uniquely who you are.

Verse:  “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness,”John 1:16

I believe finding the journal was a divine appointment; a reminder. Many doubt and question does God still speak to His children today. All I can tell you is He speaks to me. Sometimes it is through His Word, other times it is a nudging, prompting, a well timed word from someone unexpected, and sometimes it is a still small voice only heard by my heart.  His Word says God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, so if He spoke to His people in ancient times, surely He still does! The question is are we ever still and quiet enough to hear? I sure hope so!!

Grace, peace and blessings to you!

Are We Really Who We Think We Are?

 

Have you ever considered how we develop our worldview?  The formative years of our lives are considered to be between birth and age five. What we are exposed to and taught during early childhood has great influence on who we become, how we see ourselves, and our motivation in life. That, however, does not mean we are limited by those influences and mindsets; yet is can be where we get stuck in our thinking.

In John 3, Nicodemus, a prominent leader of the Pharisees, came to Jesus at night to ask Jesus about His teaching on second birth.  He is seeking to understand something physically, “how can I again enter into my mother’s womb to be born again?”  Rebirth is not a physical phenomena, Nicodemus is looking from an earthy perspective not from a heavenly one.  Jesus explains:

“Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:5-8 (MSG)  

     Jesus describes rebirth as our submitting to God and His original plan for us. He is speaking of us placing our faith and our lives in Jesus Christ; accepting His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for our short-comings, mistakes and rebellion against God and His Word. Salvation covers our faults by Jesus sacrifice on the cross. His resurrection conquers death and gives us new life. When we make the faith decision, we then become part of the Kingdom of God. We are now born from above. But what does that really mean?

Imagine for a moment growing up in a very small village in a meager household with only one parent, an aunt, or a caregiver.  Suddenly, when you’re almost grown, two people come into your life and claim they are your long lost parents. You were taken from them when you were quit small. It is apparent that they have been searching for you, they love you, and missed you very much. They sweep you back to this grand palace with everything you could need at your disposial.  Might it take a while before you actually are comfortable with your new situation and what is available to you? Are truly ready to step into your new role? Are you up to the challenge of what is expected and how you are to act in your new role? Would it be east to fall back into the ways of your old life? How do you break the old mindset? Can you fit into this new place?  First, you have to want it. Even so, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, it is a transforming process.

Stepping into a new role effectively requires a new mindset; a renewing of one’s thinking and perspective, otherwise we will be less than effective in our new life.  We must know who we are and what is expected of us.  Mastering this requires us to be intentional, surrendered and patient because it is a process. It is possible as believers in Christ, for us to be quick to enjoy the benefits of being part of the Kingdom; yet be much slower to renew our thinking and become Kingdom thinkers. We must desire and seek Him and His wisdom. As we walk by His Spirit, we begin to look more Christ-like and be transformed from glory to glory.

“To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”            2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NABRE)

God has call us kings and priests and ambassadors. (Revelation 1:6) (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) How do we renew our thinking to think and act from the Kingdom perspective in order to represent Him will?  When in a pinch, do we respond as Jesus would rather than from our nature? Have we learned to respond in love, rather than defend ourselves or retaliate when pressed?  Most of us know that His Word is part of the transforming answer but do we understand the Holy Spirit’s roll in the transformation? Do we believe 1 Corinthians 2:16? We can have the mind of Christ in our situations!

For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ. “ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (HCSB)

Lord, give us grace, strength and desire to: Make our own attitude like that of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 2:5)  and “Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15)

 

It Started in the Garden

The search for wisdom is an age old search. In fact, we are told it began in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 tells us, ” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” NABRE   The search for wisdom is apparently as old as mankind itself.  His Word tells us that “He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB  Is it possible that our need to learn and grow, to seek wisdom, is innate to us? Could it be that this is just a part of that eternity that God has placed in our heart? A yearning to know more about God? To seek and understand Him? It certainly seems reasonable to me. God created us for relationship; with Him and with others and if there is one thing needed in relationships, I submit to you it is wisdom! Wisdom when to speak and when to keep quiet; wisdom in decisions that must be made; wisdom to know and understand each other; and wisdom to know and understand ourselves.

Where does wisdom originate? According to scripture, wisdom or more specifically the spirit of wisdom comes from God. “You are to instruct all the skilled craftsmen, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron’s garments for consecrating him to serve Me as priest. Exodus 28:3  Also, “I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft. Exodus 31:3 (Also, Exodus 35:31; 36:1 & 2)

Wisdom is sought after, it’s not automatic. We must desire and seek after wisdom. Here’s an interesting example. When King David, known as the man after God’s on heart, died; his son, Solomon began his reign as king. One night God appeared to Solomon in a dream telling him He, God, would give Solomon whatever he asked. This was Solomon’s reply: ““You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:6-9

God was very pleased at Solomon. Not only was he granted wisdom and discernment beyond any man prior to Solomon or after; but because of his unselfish request, God also gave  him riches, glory and a long life. Not only proving God as the source of wisdom but also wisdom is quite important to God! There are many things recorded about the great wisdom of Solomon through his reign.

Job tells us this about wisdom: “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life. Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His.” Job 12:12-13  HCSB  “When He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it. He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.” Job 28:26-28 HCSB

Psalm 111:9-10   “He has sent redemption to His people. He has ordained His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.”  

We learned with Solomon and Job that wisdom is a gift from God and begins with the “fear of the Lord”. What is the fear of the Lord?  The original word for fear in this verse is yir ‘ah, meaning fear, terror, awesome, terror (object causing fear), respect, reverence, piety, and revered. It’s root word, yare, is an adjective meaning fearing, reverent, afraid.  Basically, God wants us to have an understanding of who He is; His sovereignty, character, goodness, and power. Our job is to view Him appropriately for who He is and have reverence and respect for who He is and consequently see our selves in comparison to His greatness and might. In our culture that is often hard to do. We have been programed over many years to think of everyone as equals and no one greater than another. In a democracy, we are encouraged to think this way.  Even in the Word we are told: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28  We are equal in Christ, but we are not equal to Christ or to God.

If you are in a conflict of opinion, action or ideas with an equal, compromise or a meeting of the minds may be in order; however, if it is with a superior, most likely the superior will prevail because of his or her place of authority.  Typically, authority comes because of a measure of wisdom that has been gained bringing recognition to our abilities in a particular area. God, as the Creator and Designer is the ultimate authority and expert. Wisdom belongs to Him and it comes from Him, there is no greater authority; therefore with great respect and reverence our job is to acknowledge His position and seek His wisdom.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Blessings, Grace and Peace to you!

Psalm 90:12                                                                                                                                                    “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

When Life Sends a Detour-Wisdom

Life certainly has a way of getting in the way of good intentions! That said, 2016 has not been as productive so far as I’d imagined it would. All the plans of productivity for the year came to a delay by the end of the third day. It all started off great! A quiet peaceful beginning on Friday, and enjoyable gathering with some church family who love to write on Saturday afternoon and an amazing first service of the year on Sunday. A few of us girls get together on Sunday afternoons to catch up and study the Word together and that is when it started…a nagging tickle in the throat with a few coughs…really only an annoyance, honestly. Otherwise, we had a very nice time.

Monday morning was pretty typical, just taking care of routine stuff like making phone calls and making plans for a carpet cleaning on Tuesday. Afternoon, I began notice the tickle turning to a cough and allergy symptoms but this is no time to be feeling bad; accessories and small furniture must be moved out of the way for the carpet cleaners. Sounds productive enough…healthy dinner prepared… Tuesday, yep it’s a cold!  Still no time for this; carpet must be cleaned, dry, and furniture returned to it’s proper place!!  Ok, maybe I can finish tomorrow, I’m beat. Wednesday it hit full force, not allergies or a little cough; but a full fledged, two week long head cold with a deep cough that continues to linger despite the vitamins, medications and home remedies!  Enough! Fourteen days just basically gone. I am declaring war on this detour hijacking 2016 and saying NO MORE!

Today, as I began getting back on track with my morning study/quiet time, I read Proverbs 8. No rhyme or reason, it was just where I landed. It is all about wisdom so maybe that is where my 2016 studies should resume. We certainly can use all the wisdom we can get; especially when  coming off a two week detour from where you thought you were going in 2016!!

Just a few words about wisdom:

Wisdom (Biblical) is defined according to christainbiblereference.org as “the ability to judge correctly and follow the best course of action, based knowledge and understanding.” quoted from Lockyer Page. 1103

Webster’s defines it as “knowledge gained by having many experiences; natural ability to understand things that most others do not understand; and knowledge of what is proper and reasonable.”

Cambridge Dictionary says “the ability to make good judgements based on what you have learned from experience or the knowledge and understanding that gives you this ability; the quality of being a good judgment.”

  •  James 1:5-6  “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.  But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.”  NABRE
  • Proverbs 8:12-14   “I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence and useful knowledge I have. [The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil;]Pride, arrogance, the evil way,and the perverse   mouth I hate. Mine are counsel and advice; Mine is strength; I am understanding.”  NABRE
  • Proverbs 8:17-21   “Those who love me I also love, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, wealth that endures, and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield than choice silver. On the way of righteousness I walk, along the paths of justice, Granting wealth to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.”  NABRE
  • James 3:17-18   “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”  HCSB
  • Proverbs 4:5-9   “Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth. Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
    Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.
    Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you.
    She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.”
  • Ecclesiastes 2:24-26   “There is nothing better for man than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,  because who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from Him?  For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.” HCSB
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-25“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.  For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts. Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar?  Where is the debater of this age?  Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?   For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.  For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”  HCSB

 

Just in the above verses, the Word of God tells us that wisdom is much more than knowledge, intelligence, understanding, experience or experiences. Proverbs 8:21 tells us God is the source of wisdom:                                                                                                                                                 ““The Lord made me at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago. I was formed before ancient times, from the beginning, before the earth began. I was born when there were no watery depths and no springs filled with water. I was delivered before the mountains and hills were established, before He made the land, the fields, or the first soil on earth.  I was there when He established the heavens, when He laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean, when He placed the skies above, when the fountains of the ocean gushed out, when He set a limit for the sea so that the waters would not violate His command, when He laid out the foundations of the earth. I was a skilled craftsman beside Him. I was His delight every day, always rejoicing before Him. I was rejoicing in His inhabited world, delighting in the human race.”

    Perhaps wisdom in the greatest sense of the word is the compilation of knowledge, intelligence, understanding, experience of both successes and failures, what we have learned from those experiences and from our study of God’s Word; generously mixed together and submitted to God in prayer. It is in His hands that  it can be sorted, tested and tried while we patiently await the true wisdom we so desperately need. He alone is the sure source of true, impartial and untainted wisdom.

Grace and Peace to you!

“Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn more.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:9-10

 

 

Welcoming 2016!

The last day of 2015 has been an interesting and challenging day. I’ve had the opportunity to be in God’s Word several times. Challenged by Proverbs 31 and Philemon as I drove to lunch and my husband read his portion for today. Both were inspiring and Proverbs 31 is always challenging.

Next, I had the opportunity to watch the first lesson of Beth Moore’s Inheritance Bible Study; a great reminder of who we are in Christ and that In Him we are sons (daughters) of God and co-heirs with Christ. Also, that as co-heirs we share equally with Jesus in His inheritance of the first born Son and not just the leftovers! In fact, she challenged us to allow our life to be a “wild ride”followed up by:  “it can’t be a wild ride if you are in the drivers seat”. ( A challenge to let go of control issues and allow God to be in the drivers seat of our life.)

Next came our New Year’s Eve service with great music and another challenging message to ponder from Daniel. Challenging us to begin this year with fasting and prayer like Daniel did during his three year training period under the King of Babylon. Because of his faith and commitment to keep to the tenants of his beliefs and to the dietary guidelines, Daniel and his friends rose in favor with the king. When all the ‘wisemen’ could not interpret the kings dream, Daniel asked for a reprieve from their death sentence; he prayed and that night received both the dream and the interpretation from God. Because of this lives were saved!

Finally, I was able to have a quiet celebration at home with my beloved. As I ponder the events of the day and getting ready to say goodnight, my mind is still whirling! Today we begin a new year full of possibilities and opportunities. We don’t know what it will bring, but as for me, I plan to hand the wheel over to my Heavenly Father, my Savior and the Holy Spirit. Enough of trying to control things that are out of my hands, none of my business and outside my expertise. Does that mean I am going to be passive? Absolutely not! But let’s look at some scripture…

Romans 8:5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what He is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.           9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!                                                                                                                       12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!                                                                                              15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”  God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!  -Message Translation (emphasis mine)

Wow, this gets my heart pumping! My prayer for 2016 is to let go of the past, forgive others and myself and start fresh with a clean slate. I pray I’ll have the courage and strength to depend less on myself and my own understanding but go deeper in my trust that God has a better plan for me and it is a good plan. Lord, help me take my hands off the stirring wheel of my life and let you take me on the ride of my life; trusting you every step of the way!

Like most people, I pray that a better year is here and that the struggles of the last few years do not follow us into this new one; acknowledging that our God can do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond anything we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work in us! Because of this promise, no matter what this year holds, we can find our way through as long as we seek Him and trust Him to work things out with our cooperation. My prayer is that no matter what this year holds, in the end we can declare boldly that this was my best year ever! May His Grace and Peace surround us and the Fruit of the Spirit be abundant in each of our lives as we seek to trust God completely each step of this year! In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen!!

Happy New Year!!

 

Courage to Expand Our Thinking

Good morning friends!

This morning my scripture reading was Isaiah 41 and last night Job 38. This morning as I pondered the passage in Isaiah and thought of it in context of Job 38’s questions that God posed to Job; my mind kicked into high gear. Both of these passages are great examples of the absolute greatness of our God. We as humans tend to place God in a box with limits on what He can do or what He will do. Many see Him a a harsh Heavenly Father either because that’s their impression from the Old Testament or because of a less than positive experience with their earthly Father. Others tend to see only the merciful and grace filled Heavenly Father. Yet others believe in Him but do not think He is actively involved in out day to day lives but see Him as a distant observer.

There are as many differing ideas of God as there are people who walk this earth! As human beings, some deny Him all together; and those who believe in God tend to limit their belief based with their own experiences with Him or what they have witnessed in the lives of others to whom they are close to. Yet and still we are human and most of us have a preconceived idea of God; if you will a nice tidy box that we relegate Him to in our lives. Whether it is as simple as not bothering God with the small stuff with which we struggle or perhaps being focused on our circumstances or world events to the point of being overwhelmed into believing He can’t or won’t help; God is bigger than the box we try to put Him into!

Consider that many see God as angry and punishing in the Old Testament, but what about His graciousness and His great patience found there. Example: consider Abrahams inquiries to God about Sodom and Gomorrah Not only did he ask about relenting in His wrath once, but Abraham began with “Would you save the cities for 100 righteous men? 50? 25? And finally, 10? There are many examples of patience, grace, mercy and all God’s attributes found all throughout the Old Testament and the New. So today, I am challenging myself and you, if your game, to spending this Christmas season and 2016 considering what kind of box you may have placed God into? Isaiah 41 and Job 38 is a great place to ponder His greatness. What is His true characteristics? What does He think about us? What is the true depth of His love for us? His forgiveness? I submit to you that He truly cares about His creation, His children. Yes, even the small stuff. He sees every smile and every single tear. May we be able to say with great confidence in 2016 that there are no words to completely describe our God and continue to expand our thinking to a greater understanding of Him in this New Year and every year to come! Our God is limitless!

“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.””

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:8, 20-21‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

 

Grace and Peace to you!!

 

 

 

Putting Feet to It

Today a band of believers from Lifegate Church in Villa Rica, Ga embark on a time of fasting and prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. I tell you this not to brag about our church; I am writing about this because when I last blogged, I had no idea that this was in the works. I also would like to invite you to join us in prayer for those suffering and persecuted. My last blog was motivated by the realization that 21 had been murdered because of their belief in Christ and the very day it posted another forty plus Christians were burned to death. Learning this was heart wrenching. The internet is a huge resource to find out about this topic. I will share a few links here:

Over the years I have learned just how powerful a thing prayer is. Prayer is also very personal, at least in my thinking. The Word of God is very clear that we are to go into our ‘prayer closet’ and pray.

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.…Matthew 6:5-7

Maybe you can imagine my surprise, even angst, this morning as I prayed when I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit nudging me as I finished my time of prayer. I felt Him guiding me to blog about this subject again and to include my morning prayer for His people. “But Lord, what about Matthew 6?” was my response…the nudge was stronger still… so here goes, we just talked about little acts of obedience in our small group last night. Perhaps someone is wondering how they can pray for those who are suffering for their faith and that is His reason for asking me to share; or perhaps it is for someone out there who is being persecuted for their faith to find and be encouraged that people care and God is leading us to pray for them. Also, before I begin, let me share with you the link we are using where there are additional suggestions to pray if you are interested:

Dear Lord,

You are my Lord and I praise you and lift up Your Holy Name. Father, I thank You for Your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness; Your salvation, provision and watch care! Today Lord, we begin a time of prayer and fasting for the persecuted church around the world. Your Word says in the last days this will happen and it will increase.. More and more people around the world are suffering for their faith; men, women, and even children.. Lord, I pray for their strength; to hold fast to their faith. I pray Lord that they will actually grow even deeper  in their faith and trust in You, and in Your love for them and in their love for You.   I pray for their release  Lord, but if not I pray for a supernatural move of God upon this planet. I pray that Your Spirit will be poured out and visions and dreams will visit  those who are responsible for  the torture and  death of Your children   I pray that the  reverential fear of the Lord will come on people like never before!  I pray Father that you will raise up prayer warriors all over the world to  pray like never before and that our united voices  for these precious people will make a difference; that they will know that they are remembered and loved.   May revival start one  by one in and through Your people, Your church  and spread all across this planet. May Your people  awaken too what is going on and rise up in prayer.  May Your Holy Spirit rule and reign in each heart that follows You and may He rule  and reign across this earth. May revival break out  as we take a stand on our knees!!  May  Your Spirit penetrate to the farthest nations around the globe  and be poured out on every person  spreading the love of Christ, His saving power and HIs love and grace. Spirit of Truth,  I pray  for revelation of every false god and every spirit of darkness and evil  to be seen for what it truly is. I  pray for increased wisdom and understanding for all Your people. Reveal things that help us know how to pray so that we can move to deeper levels of prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Father, I pray  that the yokes of bondage be broken off  and Your people set free.  I  ask that those responsible will be set free from the kingdom of darkness and come into  the knowledge of truth. May they come to know the true God of Creation and His Mighty and loving Son. I pray that You raise up Your children in the spirit of 2 Chronicles  7:14,  humbling ourselves and uniting in prayer before You crying out for forgiveness, both personal and for our nations; seeking Your face; Your leadership;  Your will;;  lifting up those being tortured and killed and lifting up each other. One by one as we seek You, may revival come and people be saved,  delivered, set free and healed.  May lives be forever changed as You move and answer our prayers.  May we be Your humble and obedient servants. In the mighty Name of Jesus  te Name that is above all others I pray, Amen

Your Kingdom Come

     Today, while reading Revelation 5, the following scripture was the focus of my study:  “They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (‭Revelation‬ ‭5‬:‭9-10‬ NET)      Because I have been researching on our identity in Christ a lot lately, these two verses stood out among all the others. Why? In these two small verses we learn that Jesus’ obedience to His Father cost Him His life, which He willing laid down; His blood has purchased people from every nation, language and tribe; Jesus has appointed those people (His followers) as kings and priests to serve God; and lastly that His people will reign on earth.  We have been commissioned to represent Jesus on the earth by making disciples. (Matthew 28:19) What did this look like? When John the Baptist drew the people, he would call out repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand. When Jesus began His ministry, that Kingdom, though not what the world has expected had come. (Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20 tell us this.)       Acts 10 tells us this about Jesus: “…37you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39“We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross”      Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and went around doing good. Full of the Holy Spirit, He walked in and by the Spirit. This tells us according to Galatians 5 that His life looked like this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Then goes on to tell us:  “Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-26‬ NET)      Isaiah 53 tells us this about Jesus… “He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; He had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow Him. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭53‬:‭2‬ NET) I mention this to point out that it was not Christ’s looks that drew them to follow Him according to scripture. Based on Galatians; it was His personality as He submitted His life to the Holy Spirit and walked in the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus went about doing good; teaching; making disciples; healing; bringing deliverance; exemplifying the character of God by walking in the Spirit exuding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! He showed mercy, grace and compassion when interacting with people. Consider the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan and a woman. She came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid towns people because of their treatment. Jesus shows her kindness and compassion and strikes up a conversation; a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan! A woman! How could this be? By the time the disciples were returning, He had confirmed her truthfulness of her lack of a husband and had lovingly pointed out her past. Why do I think it was done in love and compassion? She went back to her town, to people who disapproved of her, and she told them about Jesus and her encounter. They all came to see Jesus. Why would she do this unless it was the fruit of the Spirit is His life and in His conversation with her?  He responded a little differently with the religious leaders who knew God’s Word and taught it, yet did not observe it themselves He was less gentle and more to the point because they knew the Scriptures.      Jesus set the example of what the Kingdom of God looks like and entreated us to walk as He walked.  He set an example of being loving and compassionate with people gently teaching them and speaking the truth in love. This is why they followed Him!  Based on this, I am positive beyond a doubt His success was because He exemplified the fruit of the Spirit! There is absolutely no indication that Jesus used guilt, fear or shame, those are tactics of the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) Jesus came to give life to us! Kingdom life. He came to purchase us for God, bring us into the Kingdom, empower us with the Holy Spirit and infuse us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.      Can you just imagine what would happen if all His people choose to walk this way? It seems a little to hard to believe that we could but if we had a revelation of our true identity in Christ, who God says we truly are and walked in that, I believe we would live in a noticeably different world than the one we often see around us. Grace and peace to you! Blessings

Days of Grace-Day 11

     We  have now spent ten days focusing of the Grace of God. I don’t know about you, but His grace never ceases to amaze me! Sometimes it seems to show up at the very last possible moment, just when you think you can not make it another day or another step. Other times it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Sometimes it comes before you even realize you need it; or right in the midst of something; then He reminds you… remember, I have already made provision for that.  I don’t know about  you, but sometimes for me grace can be as simple as a glimpse of a rainbow that brings a big smile to my face and child-like joy and wonder in the middle of an ordinary or complicated day. “Why is that grace?” you might ask. These are just a few examples of things I just delight in: a rainbow; a beautiful cardinal or blue bird that lands on the rail of my back deck unexpectedly while I am studying or writing; a child’s laughter or children running and playing; a beautiful sunrise or sunset; a beautiful blue sky filled with fluffy clouds that form all kinds of shapes gently blowing over my head. Again, “why?” You see, I am one of those people (you might know one or be one,too) whose mind runs constantly full speed ahead and  rarely slows down or  takes a rest from thinking. Seriously the wheels are always turning! Even in my sleep, I have vivid dreams. It is always nice to get unexpectedly surprised by one of these grace moments when the glory of God shows up and my mind just takes a few moments to pause and relish in the moment of glory rather than rushing around and missing them. His glory is  all around us if we just take the time to notice!

     The scripture for grace today is a prophetic word from Zechariah found in chapter twelve. It is a prophecy for a future time. Commentators aren’t completely in agreement or completely convinced when it will take place but let’s look at it anyway and then we’ll talk about it just a little.

“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced ; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.  “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.  “The land will mourn, every family by itself ; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. Zechariah 12:10-14

     I don’t know about you but the Spirit of grace and supplication seems to refer clearly to the Holy Spirit because He is the one Who draws into belief in Jesus, the One they pierced. This gives us a good indication that the prophecy takes place in the future and after the time of Christ’s birth, death, burial and resurrection. Other than that, it could be hard to pin point. Many believe that this referred to the time in AD 70 when the Romans sieged Jerusalem and the second temple of the Jewish people was destroyed. Still others believe that it is a future event, and some believe it is a double prophecy depicting both.

     Since our focus is on grace and the Spirit of grace (Chen, meaning grace, favor, charm, elegance and acceptance) and supplication ( Tachanuwn, meaning supplication, supplication for favor with God or man); I think we can say for certain that this prophecy would take place after Christ’s return to Father God’s right hand and after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to all believers in Christ. AD 70 seems like a definite fulfilling of this prophecy, because there certainly was great mourning in the land over the loss of their homeland and the loss of their temple. Will we once again see it fulfilled, in our lifetime or the future? Who can say but our gracious God.

     This I do know, both from personal experience and based on the history we have traced over the last week and a half: God has this and He will provide His people every ounce of grace and mercy needed if there is yet another fulfilling to come!  His grace is sufficient for everyone; His love is unending; His mercy endures forever; and He is enough for any and every situation that we face in our life! Skeptical? Just give Him a try! He is who He says He is! He is faithful even when we doubt Him and when we are not faithful. His promises are true even when they are not in our timing and His timing is always right on time because He sees things from a much bigger perspective than we do. In every trial, difficulty or loss that I have experienced in my life, He has proven this true. It may have taken more time for me to see it than I would have liked, but never-the-less it is true!

Grace and blessings to you, my friend! Until next time…