Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fruits of the Spirit - Goodness

I don’t know about the rest of you but I find that I am easily distracted electronically. A few weeks ago I was reading up on some ways to study the Bible, ways to get a deeper understanding of the Word rather than just reading it and hoping that something would absorb into my mind and I came across verse mapping. In the course of reading up on verse mapping and reading numerous blogs and clicking links to other blogs and other articles. Pretty soon I found myself reading a blog article about productivity. As my extended time of being distracted online shows, I desperately need to be more productive. More times than I care to admit, I find myself distracted and all my good intentions of getting things done go out the window so I read the article and it referenced a book called Do More Better. The first part of this book speaks of our purpose as a Christian and God used it to remind me and motivate me to find and have a purpose in my productivity. It spoke of the purpose of the Christian after salvation is to do good and to bring God glory. As I thought about the reason I do things and reason I read and study the Word and the reason I come to church, I found that it was all about me. It is about my struggles, my emotions, my salvation, my disappointments and about my victories. I find that my walk with God is very internal and very self-critical. I find myself studying to be encouraged in the Word but not necessarily for the sharing and ministering to the hurting around me. When it comes time for altar call, I find myself absorbed into my own inabilities and my own insecurities that I do not feel comfortable praying with and ministering to those that are going through struggles or dealing with heart-ache, pain or even addiction.  While reading this book I found myself realizing that as a Christian I was not fulfilling my purpose. God had given me the Holy Ghost, and an understanding of the Word, talents, skills and abilities and I was using them for my own self, to encourage myself, to strengthen myself, and that isn’t what God called us to do. God has called us to do good, not just for the sake of doing good but to bring Him Glory. The Bible says in Matthew 12:33, Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit and in Luke 6:44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. So if I truly want to be a Christian, a follower of Christ and claim to walk in the spirit, then my fruits should match up to the fruits of the spirit which are not self-centered or self-indulgent.

So what does goodness look like? Does it look the same on everyone? Is everyone’s fruit of goodness identical? I don’t think so we are each in different seasons of life. The season that I am in as a single, empty-nester, is going to look different than a mom with three school aged children or a couple with 4 little ones or even a wife who has a husband in the ministry.  I think of the couple with 4 toddler boys at home and their goodness will look a lot like raising the boys, caring for their needs and teaching them to love God and have compassion for others. The minister's wife's goodness may look a lot like, caring for the ladies ministry of our church and of the state, giving herself to prayer and being available to encourage and minister to the hurting in our community as well as giving respite care to her children. For each of us, our goodness will look different but it should still be identifiable by those around us and will give God glory. I have to ask myself, what does my goodness look like from the perspective of those around me? Are people able to identify me as a follower of Christ? Do I display compassion, love and moderation or am I given to intolerance, impatience or extreme behavior? Can my co-workers identify me as a Woman of God by my actions and attitudes, rather than just my dress? Do I communicate with God often enough that he is able to open my eyes to the needs and the pain around me so that I can bring peace and joy to those whose lives are in turmoil? Our goodness should shine like a beacon in the world, to those outside of these walls but it should also be demonstrated amongst us, the body of Christ. In John 13:35 Jesus said that we are known to be his followers when we have love for one another. I must admit, I like my own company and like being home but am I demonstrating goodness and bringing God glory by not interacting with those around me? Am I letting my goodness shine when I come to church and go home and don’t look seek to encourage our young people who predominately come from broken or dysfunctional homes? Can I send a note to someone and encourage them and show the love that Jesus spoke of? Instead of just praying for my and my loved ones needs, shouldn't I also include those that are hurting in our church, our community and even in the world. I believe that in demonstrating goodness to those around us, whether it be our children or the addict that walks in our church or the co-worker that is going though a hard time, we can save a soul. Through goodness, we will draw people to Christ and bring Him glory. When we allow God to be our shepherd and follow him then goodness and mercy will naturally follow. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today's Word - Faithful

God is Faithful - 1 Corinthians 1:9

Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it. - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) - Hebrews 10:23

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. - Deuteronomy 7:9

Today as I was doing the War Room Bible Study I was struck by Hebrews 10:23. Sometimes life will knock us off of our feet and take the wind out of our sales. We will be hit by an unexpected bill, life threatening illness or a broken relationship and our emotions become entangled with fear, anxiety and worry. Perhaps life threw you a curve ball and you are now having to move forward with a life for which you didn't plan or prepare. I think most of us have had a moment where we are stunned by life's happenings and maybe feel alone and adrift. Our emotions have gotten the better of us and we have allowed worry and fear dictate our life and our decisions. Perhaps it is the breakdown of a relationship and we allow our fear of being alone propel us into another ill-advised relationship. Maybe the doctor has given us a report that is not good or in the mail was news of another bill that you can't afford to pay. Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or the state of our emotions, one truth stands... God is faithful. God's faithfulness isn't decided about how we feel or our circumstances. His faithfulness is not determined by whether the sun is shining or storms of life are threatening to overwhelm us. There is no circumstance in your life or mine that will change the fact that God IS faithful. If he told you that he will take care of you, he is faithful. If he called you to a city to preach the gospel, he is faithful. If you need food, clothing or shelter, God is faithful. If you have a decision to make, God is faithful. If you need healing, God is faithful. There is no "if" or "but" to it - God is faithful. 

So when bad news comes your way and your emotions try to get the better of you... stand on the truth that God is faithful. When a need arises in your life that is bigger than your resources, hold fast to the truth that God is faithful. If life should overwhelm you with depression, anxiety or worry, grab tight to the solid truth GOD IS FAITHFUL!!! All the time, every time God is faithful. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Work as Unto the Lord

Luke 21: (12)But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. (13) And it shall turn to you for a testimony. (14) Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what you shall answer: (15) For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.  (17) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. (18) But there shall not an hair of your head perish (19) In patience possess ye your souls.

Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men:"  

Ephesians 6:5-6 "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;"

Have you ever worked at a place and you enjoy the job and 90% of the people but there are a few people that it seems seek to cause contention and discord among the team. It seems they take pleasure in tearing people down and causing them fear, anxiety and potential financial difficulties. When I see this behavior it makes me very upset, angry and stressed, whether it is directed at me or part of the team. My human response to this type of behavior is, "I have got to get out of this place because I can't work with this craziness." So I attempt to take the route of running away from the situation by looking for other employment. Last night as I was looking for a verse regarding another study, I came across the above scriptures and felt God directing my thoughts. It is a fact that in this life we will have persecutions. In this life we will have people that seek to destroy us whether it is physically, financially or emotionally. It doesn't even matter if they claim to be a Christian or not. There are those that claim to be Christians but do not allow the Holy Spirit to reign in their life and instead allow bitterness, ego, and contention reign. In Colossians 3:23 it tells us that everything we do, including work should be done with heart and unto the Lord. In Ephesians the Word of God goes a little farther and states that we should do our jobs and work as unto the Lord. If we are doing our work as unto the Lord, we can count on being singled out. Those that see and recognize the peace and contentment that we have in the Holy Ghost and feel the lacking in their own life will find a way to cause contention and stress. It is those moments of persecution we, in our human desire to self-preserve, remove ourselves from the situation, potentially out of the will of God. When we remove ourselves from the persecution without seeking the council of God, we are withholding from our own lives the very testimony that God wants to give us. If we can, with patience and prayer, settle the truth in our hearts that God will give us the words and wisdom for any situation, we will find that we are over-comers. When God gives us the words and wisdom, those that seek our hurt will not be able to resist or have any say against us. So when persecution and difficulties come, know assuredly that with patience you shall possess your soul.

Psalm 37:7-8 "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in anywise to do evil."

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established by goings. An he hath put a new song in mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."

Monday, January 16, 2017

God is our Comforter

In today's society there is so much pain and baggage that we carry due to the words and deeds of others. Lately I have read of young people killing themselves due to the bullying behavior of others. People inflict words of hurt or actions of exclusion on each other like it is of no importance. Whether in school, church, work or groups and clubs people seem to take pleasure in excluding others and treating others like they are less important, less worthy. Those that are on the receiving end of the harsh words, mean-spirited behavior and sometimes even the physical abuse, might find themselves feeling exactly as the bully wanted them to feel. They feel not good enough, not worthy of respect, not capable of achieving more. But I have good news for you... "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who are thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die; and of the son of man which shall be made as grass" The action verb comfort means to ease the grief or distress.  The Word of God tells us to not concern ourselves with those that try to exclude us, or those that call us names, or talk behind our back. The reason we do not need to concern ourselves with them is because God, the creator of all things, the Savior of the world, is our comforter. It is He that will ease our grief and pain. Those people that bully, intimidate or abuse you, are just humans that will pass away like the grass... here one day and gone the next. We do not need to hold on to those feelings of insecurity or worthlessness for God is our comfort and our salvation. Regardless of what the world may throw your way, take comfort in Jesus Christ.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Long Wait

Genesis 6: (7-8) "And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (13-15a) "And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of..." (17-18) "And behold, I, even, I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife and thy sons' wives with thee." (22) "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he."

So God told Noah to build a boat in preparation for some miraculous event that had not yet been seen by mankind. God told Noah that he was going to destroy the earth and all the breathing creatures on it. But Noah found grace and favor  in the eyes of God so he and his family, God was going to save. Then God gave him a command, "build an ark." We do not know if Noah was a carpenter or a scholar. Perhaps Noah and his sons worked with animals or perhaps they were builders of cities. We do not know the qualifications that Noah had but we do know that God said, "build an ark" and that is what he did. Year after year after year Noah worked on this ark that God told him to build, during this time it is not recorded that God spoke with him, encouraged him or performed wonders and miracles. Finally after decades of building this ark for an event that had never happened or even been thought of, Noah finished the boat. When he finally finished it God commanded him to enter the ark along with his family and all the beasts of the earth according to what God had commanded. It was then that the miraculous happened, water fell from the sky and the flood waters rose and destroyed all living things on the earth but Noah, his wife, sons and his sons' wives were saved because Noah did all that God commanded.

The wickedness of the world was very great in those days. They had no regard for God or man and their thoughts were on evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Yet God waited 100 years until Noah finished what he was commanded to do. God waited as Noah, with the help of 3 young men, built a boat bigger than the size of a football field. Day after day God watched Noah cut down trees, drag them to the site, skin them, cut them and put it together as God commanded. Days turned into weeks and then months and then years and then decades... yet God waited. God waited until it could be said, "And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him." (Genesis 7:5) Day by day, year by year the world became more and more evil yet God waited.  What if God hadn't waited until Noah finished? What if Noah took his time and didn't put the ark at the top of his priority list and God decided not to wait on him any longer? The miracle would have come but at the cost of total destruction.

Many times we find ourselves waiting for God to fulfill the miracle that he has promised. We wait and wait for God to deliver on the dreams that he gave us. We beg and plead with God to do a quick work in our lives all the while we are just waiting, hoping, believing, praying yet not doing anything. We may have a calling to go to the foreign mission field yet we do not go to get our passport because God hasn't done the miracle yet. Perhaps our dream is to write a book or own a business and we are just waiting on God to bring us the right publisher or the right investor or the right building. There are as many dreams and callings as there are people and I do not know your dream, calling or ministry but I have to ask, are you waiting on God to do the miraculous? Are you waiting on God to do his part? Are you standing firm on all the scriptures that tell you, "wait on the Lord"? Do you find yourself simply waiting and waiting and waiting growing more frustrated and aggravated with the seeming delay on God's part. Perhaps, just perhaps we have it a little wrong. Perhaps there are times that God is waiting on us to do our part. Maybe God has told you to get your passport and your house in order. Maybe God told you to declutter your life from the stuff that hinders you from moving into the ministry that He has called you to and He is waiting until you do it. Maybe God is waiting on you to write the book or write a business plan before he brings the publisher, the investor or the building. What if God did the miraculous before you did your part? What if he brought a publisher but you didn't even have an outline for a book? What if an investor came by with a building but you hadn't done your due-diligence so you had no plan to offer. What if he opens the field of ministry but you are so cluttered with cares of this life and ill-prepared that you can't act upon the opportunity. What if God doing his miraculous part would destroy you if He did it before you did  your part?

What if, just what if God is waiting on us. ""Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." I Peter 3:20

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A God Sized Dream

For the past week or so I have been reading and following "Draw the Circle, The 40 Prayer Challenge" in the Circle Maker series. If you aren't familiar with the "Circle Maker" book, it is about circling your God given dreams and promises in prayer. When I started it I had no clue what I was to draw a circle around. Sure I have needs and desires that I want God to supply and bring to fruition but I wasn't sure if they were my own desires and dreams or if they were God's. Being unsure but knowing that they weren't bad or sinful dreams I started circling them in prayer. Perhaps the first few days were tentative but the more I prayed the more confident I became. As each day went by I noticed that my circle was getting bigger. One day a person that I came in contact with at work became part of my circle. Then a lady asked me to pray for her children and they made their way into my circle. Then I came in contact with another person and another person. Before I knew it my circle was more about others than about me. Last night I noticed that I managed to put my own personal desires at the very end. This morning, before the fog of sleep was fully out of gone from my mind I found myself praying. My prayer that my heart was crying out was "change me." Change me so that I see the need and I allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me to minister to that need. Change me so that when financial short falls happen I know without any doubt that you are my sustainer. Change me so that I don't see my short-comings but your anointing. Change me so that I see your limitlessness resources and not my limited ones. Change me so that I see your mercy and grace and not my failings. Change me so that I can live above offense. Change me so that I become a doer of the Word and not just one that lives in the realm of "I wish I could". Change me so that I live in the power of the Holy Spirit so that the lame can walk and the blind can see. Change me so that people see Christ in me. Change me, Lord.Change me so that it is no longer about me but all about you.

I think I know the God-sized dream I am suppose to circle. The dream of being changed. A dream of fulfilling the calling and anointing that God places on those who are willing. A dream of being a vessel that God can use to minister to the hurting, scared, lonely and the desperate. A dream of being a living testimony. A dream of allowing God to freely move through me. I am certain that on day 41 or on day 536, I will still be circling this dream of being changed to be more like my God and Savior.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Willing to bring the Miracle

Before David could slay Goliath, he had to step into the field. It is a simple but thought-provoking statement. "And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine." (I Samuel 17:32) David first saw that there was a giant and an army that was come against them and he recognized the need of a man to step up and say "I will go." It didn't take but a minute for him to decide that he was going to be that man. Then he gathered the few weapons of warfare that God provided - a staff, a sling and five smooth stones. He did not take the armor, shield or sword that was offered to him that would protect him from the enemy's arrows or spears. He did not take a helmet with him that would have offered a bit of safety from the swords and battle that surely lay ahead. He simply took the sling, staff, stones and his faith in God. Goliath was insulted and offended that the Army of Israel would send but a youth with no armor and no weapons. As Goliath stood and started coming towards David in preparation for the sure easy kill, David also stood and ran towards Goliath and with a single stone thrown from the sling Goliath lay on the ground dead. David could not have slew Goliath if he did not recognize the need and answer the call. If David had stayed in the caves out of reach of the weapons of Goliath and the Philistines, he would not have seen and participated in the mighty victory that day. If he would have stayed in the safety and security of his father's house, he would not have been a giant killer.

There are so many times that we want to see the miraculous. We want to see a great move of God and see the dead raised, the blind receive their sight and the lame walk. Our desire to see the miracles and wonders is only superseded by our desire to be comfortable. We do not want to be sick. We do not want to struggle financially. We have no desire to be anything but comfortable and safe. The dead cannot be raised without first a death. The sick cannot be healed without someone first being sick. Financial miracles cannot happen if there isn't first a financial need. Perhaps it is a mission field that you feel called to, you cannot reach those people without first stepping into the field. You cannot reach your neighbor, friend or co-worker without first sharing the gospel with them. The miraculous cannot happen without us first touching the hurting, sick, and broken.  To kill the giant, to reach the hurting with the Gospel, you must first step into the field. Many times the field of battle is a place in which you are vulnerable from attacks from all sides. The enemy can come in with a sneak flanking attack or an attack from the air above or ground beneath. The field of a miracle can make you equally vulnerable. It is in the field as you, through the Word and Spirit of God and faith in Him, take on the sickness, disease, oppression, depression and even death, that the enemy will attack your faith and tell you that you don't believe enough. Perhaps the enemy starts condemning you about your past and tells you that God wouldn't answer the prayer for a miracle. Perhaps the enemy plagues your mind and heart with the fear of "what if God doesn't do it, I will look foolish." Stepping into the field of miracles isn't for the faint of heart but for those that are willing to bring the miracle to their harvest field. Does your harvest field need to see someone receive a miraculous healing, are you ready to face your "what if God doesn't" fears? Does someone need to receive the wonderful miracle of salvation? Are you willing to march into the field of teaching Bible Studies? Does your harvest field need to see the power of forgiveness? Are you willing to forgive?

The pastor has mentioned the last few weeks that we need to draw our eyes off our own needs and short-comings and look until the harvest field. Unless we are willing to step into the harvest and bring the miraculous that comes from God, our harvest field will never see it. Unless we are willing to be in the field of battle, we will be unable to be giant killers. Unless we are willing to set aside ourselves, our fears and our busyness, we will be unable to reach into our harvest field and bring healing, the gospel, revival, and freedom from bondage. In Matthew 10:7-8 Jesus gives us a command "And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." Jesus is commanding us to get out into the field and bring the miraculous with us - through His name heal the sick, raise the dead, and preach the gospel.