Are We Awake and Alert ?

     Just a glance at the headlines around the world is enough to strike fear into the heart and cause us like the ostrich to bury our head in the sand! Gaza has been fiercely attacking Israel for years, escalating in 2012 and almost non-stop in 2014; Israel is rightfully defending her land and it’s people; Christians all over the world are being tolerated less and less, in many areas they are put into prison for their beliefs, still others they are being executed. Children being beheaded by ISIS. Threats also from them to kill every Christian they see. Genocide; 250 Nigerian girls abducted; persecution in Ukraine; speculation over Russian bomber flying in U.S. Air space…just to name a few headlines. No wonder so many people today avoid watching the news and many news stations are reporting little more than blips of these stories. Wars, threats of wars, nation rising up against nation and double standards within the national community. Comments like “you should just leave them alone and let them have their land ignoring that they are constantly bombing you.” Yet that very same people group would defend themselves to the hilt!

Interestingly, it sounds a lot like what Jesus said should happen before His return in Matthew 24:

3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of My name. 10 Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, 12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

 

     This passage makes it clear, if you read further, that no one knows the time of His coming but we can know the signs and we can be educated and informed. You might wonder if you are like many of us, why be informed and aware because we think there isn’t any thing we can do about it. First let’s look at Revelation 1:3 for a minute…I know we avoid Revelation, it’s hard to understand and scary… But just hang in there this verse isn’t and it is very interesting…”Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!” Now think about this, whether Jesus return is imminent, twenty years away, or 2,000 more years away; one thing is true. We are closer today than we have ever been and we are not powerless nor helpless. If we are awake, alert and watching we can make a difference in our world today! Jesus Christ did not leave His people here powerless! He armed us with the Holy Spirit and power, with God’s Word and with Spiritual Armor so that we could fight. There is great power in our bending the knee in prayer and petition, interceding on behalf of Christian and Jewish believers around the world and on behalf of our own nation.

    “and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14   

     Prayer is powerful! Elijah prayed down rain from Heaven, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.” James 5:17 and “Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:41-45. 

     Many other examples include the prayers of Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus…just to get started. There are many powerful examples of prayer in the Bible and the power of prayer has not diminished in our day!  God has also given many promises in His Word that we can hold on to. Let’s just look at one for now. In Leviticus 26, this is His promise to those who were obedient to Him…”

“‘If you walk in My statutes and are sure to obey My commandments, I will give you your rains in their time so that the land will give its yield and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Threshing season will extend for you until the season for harvesting grapes, and the season for harvesting grapes will extend until sowing season, so you will eat your bread until you are satisfied, and you will live securely in your land. I will grant peace in the land so that you will lie down to sleep without anyone terrifying you. I will remove harmful animals from the land, and no sword of war will pass through your land.You will pursue your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. I will turn to you, make you fruitful, multiply you, and maintain my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating stored produce from the previous year and will have to clean out what is stored from the previous year to make room for new. 11 “‘I will put my tabernacle in your midst and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from being their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and caused you to walk upright.”

     Our God has provided everything we need for life and godliness, He has placed within us His Holy Spirit and He will guide us and help us deal with anything that comes our way if we trust Him, hear. His voice, seek His face and learn to surrender our lives to Him. For He is humble and His yoke is easy, His burden is light.  If we allow Him, He will direct our prayers, our words, our ways and our paths! I love how The Message words this passage from 2 Corinthians 2:

14-16 In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. “

 

► 4:40► 4:40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1xvoD-sP3k

Jul 7, 2009 – Uploaded by whitestone84

A Hero comes from the wilderness to cry out to the captives, pleading for them to awaken. This …

Days of Grace-Day 23

     Just a few days ago, we hinted at some division in a small portion of the early church. It seems that there were some from the Pharisees among them that were convinced  that the new Gentile believers were to be both circumcised and follow the 613 laws of Moses.  The apostles and elders came together at the Council of Jerusalem to address the matter.  Peter went before them reminding them of his call to take the gospel to the Gentile people and how God, who knew the hearts of these folks, had given them the Holy Spirit and had made no distinction between the Jewish believer and the Gentile believer. God cleansed them all by faith.  Then Peter asked the question, “why put God to the test by placing on them a burden that neither our fathers or we could bear?” Peter continued, “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”  All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were  relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” Acts 15:11-12 (NAS)

     James, head of the Council, agreed with Peter citing the words of the Prophets as proof. How could they place a heavy burden on these believers? God had already given them the Holy Spirit upon their believing without condition. Next, James sent Paul and Barnabas along with Judas and Silas to the Gentile followers with a letter with the following message:

“The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your soulsit seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essential that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”   Acts 15:23-29 (NAS)

     The body of believers at Antioch was gathered together when the men arrived and the message was read. The fellowship rejoiced and were greatly encouraged.  Paul and Barnabas stayed at Antioch for a while preaching and teaching, then Paul began his second missionary journey.  Paul and Silas left together to return and revisit all the cities that he had previously taken the gospel message. Verse 40-41 tells us Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the LordAnd he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia.”

     There is so much to be said for wisdom! When questions and differences of opinion arose it appears to have been handled swiftly and with wisdom. They took into consideration the testimony of the witnesses, the prophets teaching in Word of God and they prayed. The result was a response based on both the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The bottom line for both groups of believers was that it was through the grace of the Lord they were all saved, because of His favor, goodwill, mercy and love.

       Two of our other grace verses are also found in Acts. Both were spoken by Paul on his missionary trip to Ephesus; the first is Paul speaking about his life and his mission. He says in Acts 20:24,“But  do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Paul is totally committed to complete the work that was begun in him and the purpose that God had set before him as a minister of the gospel. The second was to those to whom he was ministering. Paul told them to be on guard for their flock; wolves will come in speaking falsely to draw them away from the faith; Be Alert! Then he said, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32

     All through the book of Acts there are examples of grace upon grace. Grace is a powerful motivator. The more we receive or realize that we have received grace, the more we want to give it to others. My prayer for us all is that our eyes be opened to the great grace that God has extended to us through Jesus. That in itself would have been enough, but may we also be acutely aware of the many examples of His grace in our day-to-day lives and in our circumstances. May your days be filled with the awareness of amazing grace all around you!

Days of Grace-Day 6

Have you met Hannah? If not, I am pleased to introduce you to her. Today, we will look at another woman spoken of in the Word of God, her name is Hannah. Hannah lives with her husband Elkanah from the hill country of Ephraim. They are mentioned beginning in First Samuel chapter one. One of the first things we learn is Hannah is not Elkanah’s only wife. To make life even more difficult for her, she shared her husband with another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had been blessed with children; Hannah had none.

    Elkanah was a man of God, we know this because he made a yearly journey to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. When the time for sacrifice came he gave portions to Peninnah and her children, but to Hannah he would give a double portion because he loved Hannah. Hannah suffered greatly because of her inability to have children. If it were not enough, Peninnah made it a rivalry and did not miss a chance to remind Hannah of her lack of fruitfulness. In verse 8 we see Elkanah as he tries to comfort Hannah saying, ” “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad ? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” I am sure she appreciated her husband’s attempt at comfort, but Hannah wanted more than anything to give her husband children. She went up to the temple. Hannah bowed in prayer, weeping greatly in her cries to the Lord.  Eli, the priest saw her there and rebuked her thinking that she was drunk.  One would think that might have been the tipping point for Hannah. Here she is childless, broken-hearted, suffering taunting and provocation from her rival and now she was also misunderstood completely by the priest who thought she was crying uncontrollably because she was drunk. But no, Hannah answered Eli calmly, ”  “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit ; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD.  “Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16 Eli’s, response was, “Go in peace, may the Lord grant you your request.” Hannah, in verse 18 responded, “And she said , Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat , and her countenance was no more sad.”

The following day Elkanah and Hannah went early to bow and worship the Lord and began their journey home to Ramah. After a while, The Lord remembered Hannah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel because she “requested him from the Lord.” verse 20.  Not only did our friend Hannah find grace in Eli’s sight, she also found grace and compassion in God’s sight and He answered her prayer. In gratitude, she raised young Samuel, dedicated him to the Lord, and when he was weaned this young boy served the Lord in the temple alongside Eli the priest.  1 Samuel 2:21 goes on to tell us that God remembered Hannah, at least one translation says ‘was gracious to Hannah’ and she had another three sons and two daughters. As for Samuel, he was raised in the temple and called by God to be a prophet in Israel and later a judge over Israel. God heard Hannah’s cries and He had a plan greater than she could have ever imagined. We may not always understand when we go through difficult trying times or times of suffering.  This I do know looking back in hindsight on my life’s circumstances and at the stories we are seeing in this journey. There is always a greater plan and God among all His other attributes is a God of mercy and grace.

Grace and blessings to you!


Continue reading “Days of Grace-Day 6”

A Lesson Learned…Again

Can I just say, God is amazing!

Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind I am betting because we all have them from time to time. One of the days where some things seem to get turned upside down. Something is said or done with the best in mind but comes out wrong and ends up misunderstood and in spite of correcting the problem…the kind that seems to have a cloud that just hangs over the remainder of the day-basically a Murphy’s law kind of day. The kind you get through moment by moment and when the day is over your not entirely sure how you made it through but you did!

So this morning is a new day, things look brighter. The sun is shinning, no rain, snow, or ice. It is time to get the day started… Good Morning Lord. I will spare you the details of the prayer that followed. It contained some heartfelt repentance for my allowing my words to be spoken hastily and leaving room for misunderstanding and the hurt that it caused, and if I can be honest a bit of complaining about how difficult balancing relationships and keeping them as healthy can be at times. Again, I will spare you the details because in every relationship there are times when one person bears more of the responsibility for the relationship than the other. This is usually when one of the two is going through a strained and difficult time in their life. This is true in families, in marriages and in friendships. Relationships are rarely if ever a 50/50 or 100/100 percent proposition and sometimes I find that when there are problems, even a small one it is just better to pray about them. Trying to fix them without praying first can be disastrous. When I pray first it tends to reveal anything that I might need to address in myself, like the plank in my eye…when I get that straight and only then, I might can help with their splinter. In this case, if I want someone to understand my heart on a matter the responsibility of communicating it in a loving way that can be easily understood is completely on me. If I am hasty or fail communicate it well, it is on me. If I communicate well and clearly, but they are not fully engaged and miss what I have communicated, that responsibility may just fall on them. It can also fall on my if I have chosen an inconvenient time.

This is where my lesson came into play. There arose a question in my spirit, maybe it was posed by God’s Spirit. The question was, “Is this how You feel God?” You created us for relationship with You. You long for us to spend time with You, in Your Word, in prayer, talking to You, singing over You, Your Spirit connecting with our spirit.  Is this how You feel when I am distracted during prayer and start a grocery list, or think of the bill I forgot to pay? When the phone rings and it can’t wait until after quiet time to be answered? How about when I set aside time to thank You for answered prayer and it is interrupted by a distraction or an unexpected care or worry? You have told us to bring all our cares to You, to be anxious for nothing and to pray about everything; yet have we not heard or have we misunderstood thinking that only means the big cares and worries? Have we the mistaken impression that we are to only bring the things beyond our ability to handle to You and handle the rest ourselves? Did I miss the scriptures true meaning? Be anxious about nothing, pray about everything!  Your Word says You have given us everything we need for life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3-4, yet like a rebel do I try to do it on my own power and strength?  Like a student with an attention disorder, am I distracted from my teacher, the Holy Spirit? Do I find I am tempted by mirages? Yes, by those things that look pretty, inviting, satisfying. They look like just what I am looking for until they are right in front of me and I see they are only an illusion of that which I am deeply longing. When I realize this, will I be off chasing the next mirage or will I finally see You for Who You are and realize that true satisfaction and every other thing we need is only found in a relationship with You and in turn every other relationship in our life will be richer because we put You in first place in our lives!  How is it I get easily distracted and forget a lesson that I have already learned over and over again?

Oh how patient and merciful You are Lord! Please remind me, teach me again to choose moment by moment encounters with You throughout my day! Just as we may enjoy an unexpected text message or phone call from a loved one letting us know they are thinking about us;  You enjoy Your sons and daughters  reaching out to You. Even more importantly, those little momentary encounters will change not only our day but they will also change our lives by gradually drawing us deeper into a more intimate and satisfying relationship with the ultimate lover of our souls. No one loves us like You love us!

2 Peter 1:2-4  “May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!  I can pray this because His divine power has bestowed on us everything that is necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the One who has called us by His own glory and excellence.  Through these things has He bestowed on us His precious and most magnificent promises, so by means of what was promised you may become par takers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire.” (NET)

Philippians 4:5-7  “Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (HSCB ).

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Categories: Perspective

Whose Team are We On?

Today’s post is somewhat awkward. Typically prayer and conversation with God is extremely personal to me. I am not prone to share those a times but I feel he is leading me to share a bit about my time with Him, so here goes:

As I was talking to The Lord this morning praying for concerns and needs among my family, friends and church, there was an unusual change in the direction and tone of my prayer. I had prayed for health and healing, and some more specific individual needs and for wisdom and understanding for myself and those for whom I was praying. As I continued, I began to pray about things going on in the world. There is so much need, so many people hurting and more than our share of violence and atrocities all around! I began to feel an urgency to pray for an awakening in the church, for renewal, and for revival. Once again the phrase, “arise oh sleeper” from Ephesians 5:14 came to mind. prompted by the Holy Spirit? Perhaps, probably.

As I began praying for the Church around the world. I felt prompted to intercede because The Lord called those in the church to be in the world but not of the world. Many times in our culture it has become hard to tell the difference because there is a tendency to fit in rather than stand out. As I prayed, I felt as if The Lord, Himself was guiding the direction of the prayer by bringing to mind certain scriptures. There was an urgency to pray for a great move of the Holy Spirit, a renewal of loving as Jesus loved. I also felt Spirit prompted to pray that individuals and the church worldwide would learn that it is not our job to accuse, condemn and judge each other whether inside or outside the Body of Christ because according to Revelation 12: 10, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Instead, may those of us who belong to Jesus respond as Jesus would respond, with love, mercy and grace.

A prime example is found John 8. The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Scripture clearly says that their purpose was to set a trap for Jesus. Jesus’ response: “Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9 Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up straight and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 10:10 tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy…but Jesus came to bring life! abundant and full. Being critical, accusing and being judgemental throws up barriers, brings out defensiveness. Paul teaches us this in Ephesians 4:14-16 (HCSB):
“14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”

The wisdom of Solomon teaches us this in Proverbs 16:5-7 (NET):
5 The Lord abhors every arrogant person;
rest assured that they will not go unpunished.
6 Through loyal love and truth iniquity is appeased;
through fearing the Lord one avoids evil.
7 When a person’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
he even reconciles his enemies to himself.

Oh Heavenly Father, may there be a great renewal of Your love flow through this world. May your Spirit be poured out and the Fruit of the Spirit flow fully in Your people!! May renewal come, may Your children love others following the example of Jesus! Lord, please fill Your church with Your love, mercy and grace like never before in ever-increasing waves until the whole world has been covered and all have had a chance to experience the greatest and truest form of love ever known!

1 Peter 1:21-23
Living Bible (TLB)
21 Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in Him alone. 22 Now you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly, with all your hearts.

*bold words, author’s emphasis