Good Afternoon and welcome to a wonderful Monday. This past week has been a week of enlightening. I have learned how fast and far news travels. You could share information with one person and pretty soon ten people know it (or variations of it). (I wonder what motivates people to be bearers of news.) I have also learned that selfish people are not very pleasant to be around... it made me strongly aware of the need to be a giver and not a taker.
God is so fantastic. I am always in awe of how he uses different ministers to give you the perfect word for your situation. Things very specific that you haven't mentioned to anyone seemed to be have been revealed to the minister in great detail so that they could speak a direct word of the Lord to you. Words seem to fail me when I try to tell of how wonderful God is to me.
Sometimes as we go through life we get busy with the business of life and forget about the more important things like devoted, fervent, intercessory prayer, fasting, Bible Studies, outreach. We do spend our time doing those things that are good and needful (in the physical) but we allow the very busyness of doing good keep us from the most important. The past few days I have felt that God is calling me to rededication. Part of me wants to say... "but God, I am not doing anything bad/wrong" but the other part sees how some of my fervency has turned to routine and my passion has become medicrity. The very awesome thing is that God has given me time to reignite my passion and fervency by allowing my job to be taken away. This may sound crazy but I can't help but believe that this time of unemployment is a perfect time to rededicate myself to the cause of Christ.
I am so excited about what God is doing in my life that I can hardly contain myself. I know without a doubt God has his hand so gently yet strongly on my life right now. He is guiding me, giving me joy, comfort and wonderful peace. Right now I do not know what my future holds but I do know that it is going to be wonderful because God is firmly in control.
So to respond to some of the rumors that have been swirling around... yes, I am unemployed... no, I do not need your pity or sorrow but rather rejoice with me that God has found me worthy of this trial. God is good... ALL THE TIME!!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Good Morning and welcome to a brand new chapter; a chapter of faith, a chapter of hope, and a chapter that I am allowing God to write. I am so very, very excited about what God has in store for me.
I had a need/desire for a new car. My need was for a basic entry level car. I was not looking for anything more than a very basic car. Comfort, looks, or anything other than “well-running” really wasn’t on my list of criteria. I only needed a small car that would last me 8-10 years. My need wasn’t great nor was my expectations. After what seemed like a torturous delay, God finally provided the means for me to purchase a car so the search was on, even as the words out of my mouth were, “God will bring me the right car to me.” In my search there were continued roadblocks. Everything cost more than I was willing to pay or had something wrong with it. My frustration and disappointment grew and grew because I felt like God was withholding from me the very thing that I needed and that he had promised. Door after door closed in my face and my faith eroded even as my confusion grew. Finally I just stopped because I didn’t know what else to do. As I stood there with tears running down my cheeks looking at all of the doors of opportunity that were tightly closed, my brother spoke words that caused me to get my eyes off of the closed doors and turn my eyes towards the one that God had opened for me. It was then that I saw how God not only fulfilled my need but gave me so much more. He provided a car that exceeded all my expectations while continuing to keep it in a range that I could afford to maintain. He provided a car that gives me comfort, security and looks. The more I drive this car the more thankful I am that God closed the doors to the lesser blessings that would have merely fulfilled my needs but never exceeded them.
As we walk through this life we have needs, desires, frustrations and joys. We pray regularly that God would direct our path and show us His will for our lives. We are so sincere and we really believe that we mean it when we pray those words. But then a need arises and we seek him to fulfill that need. In the midst of praying about our needs, desires, dreams, we get an idea of how he is going to fulfill our need. We get preconceived ideas about the way in which he will bring us fulfillment; all the while still believing we are seeking his path. As we are asking him to take care of us, we see a door up ahead and within that door is the very thing that will fulfill our need or our dream. We are so excited and thank God for the answer to our prayer but then, just as we are about to reach that fulfillment, the door closes. We stand there in front of the door weeping, frustrated and perhaps a bit angry that God would withhold the answer to our prayer. As far we could see that very thing that He allowed to be cut off from us is the perfect solution, the perfect answer. We stand in front of that closed door with our faith in a tatters and us crying out to God, “why?!?” Why would God cut off the very thing we need? We are confused, frustrated and we continue to stand in front of that closed door lamenting what we believe could of and should have been. What we don’t do is continue to walk the path that God has put us on and trust Him. If we could just bring ourselves to turn away from that closed door and lift our heads, we would see another door just ahead. We would see something within that door that will not only fulfill our need but exceed it. So when a door closes, don't lament and allow your frustration to grow, but rejoice that God is going to give you something even better than what you had first believed and keep walking.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Nebuchadnezzar was a great and mighty king – God even acknowledged that to be true. But he had a problem of taking the credit instead of giving the one true God the praise and glory. God came to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream telling him that he would be driven from dwelling with man and would eat grass with the beasts of the field. Nebuchadnezzar continued on his path of self-glory and one year after the dream he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” And true to the word of God, that very hour Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men and did eat grass with the oxen and his hair became as eagles’ feathers and his nails like bird claws. It is obvious to me that God caused him to become crazy, insane, loony, mucho loco, however you want to describe it. A sane person is not put out with the beasts of the field to eat grass. Say I were an advisor of the king and he went wacko, he would be a total write off in my book. We would install another king and move on. If that king tried to come back to be re-installed as king – I would probably recommend that he be locked up – for his safety and those around him. After all, what kind of respect can a man that was eating the grass with the oxen get? Again as the king’s advisor, if asked about the possibility of him once again being the ruler of a great kingdom, I would tell you that there was no chance of restoration, no opportunity for redemption, absolutely none. But God had other plans. After a time, God came again to Nebuchadnezzar and restored unto him his understanding and reasoning. It was then that he gave God the glory and praise. Not only did God restore unto him his understanding and reasoning but also his honour, the glory of his kingdom, his counselors, and his lords. Not only was all restored but EXCELLENT majesty was added to him. Even his advisors who had written him off as a lost cause regained their respect for him. The wise men of the kingdom sought him out for his brilliance.
I believe God reminded me of this because of things that have been weighing quite heavily on my mind. There are things that I have been praying about and I have often wondered, “can it really be as God has shown me?” “How is it possible to redeem and bring life out of a past that was filled with bad choices and poor decisions?” “Can a reputation really be restored?” This story of Nebuchadnezzar tells me that God can redeem and bring life out of anything. If he can cause the wise men, counselors, princes of a mighty kingdom to seek the council and wisdom of a man who had just gone insane, he can bring honor to any person who seeks to put God before all. If he can add majesty to a man who ate grass with the cattle, he can restore a reputation. It doesn’t matter what has happened in our past, what poor decisions we have made or even what people think of us, when we put God first and give him the honor and glory, he will restore unto us everything that we need to be an effective worker in his kingdom. The key is, like with Nebuchadnezzar, to give God the glory, praise and honor and to put him before all.
Friday, August 12, 2011
How many of us have been stood up? You are supposed to meet someone and they never showed up. Or perhaps they say they will call and you wait but they never do. Perhaps later you find out you were stood up because someone offered to buy a round at the bar and they would have rather had free beer. Maybe someone went into the hospital unexpectedly and they rushed up there and forgot to call. Or you were stood up because they didn’t have the courage to tell you that they didn’t really want to meet you in the first place. Perhaps they never called because they didn’t really want to talk to you but didn’t know how to part without saying, “I’ll call you later.” Regardless of the reason– whether legitimate or not, whether we understand the reasoning or not – there is a certain amount of embarrassment and pain at showing up and no one meeting you.
Perhaps you were the one doing the standing up. Perhaps it was an emergency that kept you from meeting them. Maybe you really meant to call but you just got busy and forgot. Or could it have been that you just didn’t know how to say that you weren’t interested in developing/maintaining a relationship.
I got thinking about this because of something a friend said to me when I asked her to pray for me and related how I felt that there was a wall between me and God. She asked me if I am still reading the Bible and talking to him. I said “yes” because I was still talking to him a little and reading his Word to a certain degree (while looking for reasons for the wall) but I could see how my meeting times with him were shorter, less frequent and my mind was elsewhere when I did show up. The more I got thinking about it the more I realized that I had allowed my feelings to be hurt because he was not talking to me in the same way. I had allowed my praying frequency and fervency to be swayed by the cares of life and the spiritual growth that had become unbearably painful. In the midst of that pain, I quit showing up. I envision God showing up at our usual meeting time and place and after a while when I didn’t show up, turning aside with his head hung low in grief and walking away. How many times has he showed up to commune with me but I allowed my hurt feelings and growing pains to hinder me from meeting with him. How many times has he sat waiting on me to show up so he could share words of wisdom, understanding and enlightenment but I failed to put aside earthly distractions so I could hear him. How many opportunities did I miss of being able to minister to him and him to me because I didn’t show up.
It is my desire to have that intimacy with God that only comes from intimate conversation, honesty and “showing up.” I don’t ever want God to walk away from our meeting place brokenhearted because I failed to meet him there.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Recently I had conversations with two different men who are, in my opinion, quite knowledgeable about the word of God. I reiterated my yesterday’s thought of God is only limited by our faith and how many times our faith is based on how we see situations through our limitations. One of the men expressed his frustration about a couple situations in which he has no power, no influence, and yet he feels strongly that there needs to be a change. I told him that he should pray and allow God to work the change. His response was, “I have spent 30 years praying and the situation is the same. I have kept my mouth shut and now I just can’t hold my peace any longer.” Though I understood his frustration, I reminded him that he has no power to make the change, no influence or authority to make it better or different and it has to come from God. I told him that God can work a miracle in any situation, whether it is a physical illness, financial situation, or a desperate spiritual situation. It all comes down to whether we believe and have faith in God’s limitless wisdom, power and resources. His response was, “yeah, but…”
The second man that I spoke with last night had a similar story. The physical, financial, etc. situations were frustrating him. There isn’t enough money to make ends meet and his heart is grieved at the roads of belief and doctrine that people are deserting in order to follow another way. My response was to pray and allow God to work it out. We, within our own power, are limited and do not have the ability to MAKE someone stay on the right path nor do we have limitless resources to mend all of our financial situations. It all comes down to whether our faith is in God’s limitless abilities, power and resources. His response was, “yeah, but…”
You see I have a new slogan, “There are no “buts” in faith!” and these men’s conversations went against that very principle. Because these conversations were contrary to my newfound understanding of faith and God’s power, I found them to be quite disturbing. Am I wrong in believing that we need to get a firm grasp on having faith in God’s limitless power? Am I wrong in believing that I need to strengthen my faith in God’s limitless wisdom? Am I wrong when I say that God’s only limitation is directly tied to our limited ability to believe and have faith in His limitlessness?
I don’t think I am (you can reply to this email with your thoughts on my rightness or wrongness) because you see – MY God took nothing and created the universe. MY God balances the oxygen levels on this earth exactly right to sustain life. Not just those HUGE things but MY God also gave me a job, my children, and strength of mind and body. I don’t know about YOUR God but my God knows what tomorrow holds and can guide my today to prepare me for that tomorrow. I am not saying that this is something that I have a firm grasp yet but God has recently opened my understanding regarding his limitless power, wisdom, resources and influence. When I see a situation through my limited vision and can’t see any way that it will ever work out, I just have to give it to God and he, in his infinite power, will transform the situation. Speaking of transforming, I have in the past struggled with the thought that I will never be able to be transformed into a vessel that is COMPLETELY usable for his service. But He is showing me that through my limited abilities, my limited strength it would be impossible but with his limitlessness – ALL things are possible. When we have reached the point of not knowing what else to do to remedy a situation, the doctor’s report is dire or our influence has failed, it is then that we need to open our hands wide and give it to God and allow Him, in his limitless power, to take care of those things we just can’t.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The sons of Anak were a race of giants greatly feared by the Israelites. When the spies made their report about the Promised Land, it included to specific references to the Anakites: first, an observation that was true “Moreover we saw the children of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28); second, an interpretation that was false “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31).
For forty years these giants had stood as a taunting symbol of the nation’s disbelief. So formidable were they that the nation had coined a saying, “Who can stand before the children of Anak!” (Deuteronomy 9:2). But Moses assured the Israelites that God specializes in dealing the Anakites.
Where are you facing “children of Anak” in your life? What impossible situation seems to stand squarely in the way of your spiritual progress? God’s word to Israel is also aimed at you: “The Lord thy God… goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them” (Deuteronomy 9:3).
When your heart is filled with faith, there is no room left for fear.
So many times we look at the troubles or the situations that we are facing and we feel hopeless. We wonder: how in the world is this surmountable? How will we ever get past this? We can’t seem to see any light or anything positive about the situation. So many times we judge the hopelessness of the situation on our own capabilities instead of God’s. We look at the situation through the eyes of someone who has limited strength, limited wisdom, limited knowledge, limited resources, etc. instead of looking at it through the eyes of our God who is limitless in strength, wisdom, knowledge and power. He also has limitless resources as everything on the earth is his. Regardless of what the need or situation, God CAN take care of it. Throughout the days that Jesus walked on the earth he used variations of the phrase, “as your faith is so be it unto you.” That tells me the only thing hindering us from tapping into God’s limitless power and resources is our faith.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
One person with a dream is equal to ninety-nine who only have an interest.
That is the quote that I came across in my Bible reading yesterday. This seemed to stand out to me as significant as I hold within my heart a God-given dream. As I drove to church I pondered this quote and how it can be compared to real life. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech has the famous, “I have a dream” line. Dr. King’s dream caused him to actively pursue a world in which there is equality among the races. His dream pushed him, even in the face of danger, to see a world in which his children could be educated alongside children of other races. He didn’t have just an interest and a wish for a different world but he had a dream that caused him to seek the changes needed to make a more equal society. He knew his dream would not just be handed to him but it meant hard-work and living a life that was consistent with that dream. In the end, he may not have seen that dream come to fruition but that dream was so strong that it was imparted to many other people and it has become their dream also.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty (Merriam-Webster)
One does not use courage when everything is perfect and running smoothly. There is not a need to be courageous when there isn’t danger or trouble. I was finishing up Deuteronomy yesterday evening and then reread bits of it before I went to bed last night and then again this morning. I kept coming back to the Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”Then as I started reading Joshua and came across more scriptures of the Lord telling Joshua to be of good courage. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever though goest.” God was not telling Joshua, everything was going to be easy and that their enemies would willingly turn over their lands but that he could take courage and have faith in the fact that God would go with them and deliver them from the hand of that enemy. Regardless of the trouble that may come their way, God would not forsake them. I believe that God is telling us that yet today. Though the tempest comes, though trouble may surround us, perhaps it appears that the enemy is stronger than we – Be Strong and of a Good Courage for God is with you and will not forsake you, fear not nor be dismayed.
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.
Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
Take some time to read these scriptures also.
Joshua 10:25, 1 Chronicles 22:13, 1 Chronicles 28:20
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
While talking about Luke 6 and a man building his house upon a rock or upon the earth my pastor said, “building a house without a foundation is faster.” Spiritually speaking, I could pray and read my Bible for a couple weeks and then feel that I have put in enough time and I am ready for a mature ministry. I could go without sinning for a month and figure, “Ok God, pour it on me because I am ready for my calling and purpose.” But it isn’t that way. We must take the time and effort to remove the saplings of ego, brambles of sin, thistles of bitterness, and the sod of self and dig down into our very souls so that we can build our ministry, our calling, our purpose on the foundation of Christ. There is a lot of stuff in our life that we must dig out in order for us to make sure our foundation is solid and sure. Building our ministry on that foundation isn’t something that is easy or without personal expense but comes at a very great expense. We must give up ourselves, our time, our pleasures, our food, whatever is in the way of building on that sure foundation. We must MAKE the time for devoted prayer, devoted Bible study, devoted praise; even if it is at the expense of dinner with friends, scrapbooking, sleep, etc. We have to set aside food occasionally to strengthen our faith through fasting. If we truly desire a strong, mature ministry, we must root out anything that could undermine your foundation. Developing that mature ministry takes concentrated effort, it will not come through mediocrity, half-hearted prayer, occasional Bible reading. When we pour our whole heart into serving God and building the ministry that he called us to, he will pour his whole heart into bringing us great fulfillment – in this life and the one to come.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Focus… As we are going through our spiritual walk our focus should be on God and his will for our lives. We should and do focus on speaking with Him on a regular basis. We focus on letting him speak with us. We focus on reaching our harvest field by sharing the love of Jesus with everyone. We are so excited by the wonderful change that God has worked in our lives, we realize the beauty of His salvation and we want everyone to experience it. Since our focus is on the right things, God shines clearly though us. Our visions and dreams are clear and focused on God's will for our lives. Even when troubles come our way, we do not lose our faith because we are focused on the right things.
As it is so many times in life there comes a time that someone hurts us, someone betrays us, someone offends us and our focus changes. Perhaps the other people haven’t done anything to us personally but we see them living a life that is not pleasing to God but yet they are esteemed, they prosper and we allow our focus to change. We still with our whole heart love God and are so thankful for all that he has done for us. We still desire to see the whole world on fire for Jesus but there is a part that keeps watching the people around us, there is a part that is focused on something other than our Savior. We still come to church and worship and pray but our worship isn’t with our whole heart because a part that is focused on something different. This part of us that is focused on something else depletes the faith, the passion, the fervency that we seek to gain through our worship, prayer and devotion. Because our focus isn’t wholly where it should be the picture of our lives become blurry and we start losing our way.
God did not intend for us to live in a way that is out of focus and without clear direction. God gave us a wonderful tool to use so we can remain focused on the right things. He also gave us very clear direction on how to use it. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” The tool of a sound mind, that is not manipulated by the enemy but rather is strong and focused on the right things, is how we overcome when the enemy seeks to lead us on the wrong path. God gave us a sound mind, a mind that has the ability to focus on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report. When we take the effort to use the tool of a sound mind to focus on these things it is then that God will come clearly back in focus. With our focus is centered on God and his will our life will regain the balance and the faith that we need to continue on the path that He desires for us.
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethern, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."