Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No Way

No Way!!  Said with a bit of disbelief.  We have heard that statement regarding numerous things in our lives.  By the doctor, there is no way that he/she can make it through the night.  Or, "there is no way this pregnancy can last."  Or, there is no way that your child will live and thrive into adulthood.  There is no way that you will get the money for that.  There is no way that God would tell you that.  There is no way that he can be redeemed.  There is no way that God can use that person.  There is just NO WAY.  Then when the child is born and thrives, when that wretched sinner is redeemed, when the cancer is gone... we hear the same words expressing shock - NO WAY!! Our only response can be "WAY."

Today as I was driving into town, I got thinking and totally forgot that I was going to stop by the drug store to do a bit of couponing.  Due to my forgetfulness I had to take a bit of a longer route to the store and in doing so I passed a church sign that read: "God makes a way when there is no way."  It not only encouraged me but it reminded me of all the impossible "no way" situations and the "there is NO WAY God told you that" moments that I have in my life.  Perhaps I am a bit naive or simple but I DO believe that there is a way, even when it seems impossible.  I have made the decision to take God's Word exactly as that and believe it when it says, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27) "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37) "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27).  So when God gives me promises that seem so far outside of possibilities, I will just believe Him.  When the doctor's report is grim and without hope, I will believe in the possibilities of my Savior.  When my life's situations seem dark and impossible, I will remember the words of Jesus that tell me "All things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blessings... Great and Small

Have you ever had a great need?  A need that only God could fulfill?  Perhaps it was a financial need of several hundred, perhaps a thousand dollars?  Or maybe it was a great healing that you needed?  Perhaps it was cancer or an auto-immune disease.  When God satisfies that need or gives you that great healing, wow are we ever thankful.  We tell everyone how God caused the cancer to disappear or how money $1,000 came in the mail unexpectedly and at the exact right time.  Years go by and we still talk of those big wonders that God has done... but have we forgotten about the small things?  Those little things that we ask for that perhaps seem insignificant when compared to being healed of cancer or God providing you with the money to save your house.    The God of the BIG blessings, the God of the HUGE miracles is the same God that cares about our small needs, concerns and hurts.  Many times we think of God as the one we go to when we don't know where else to go; perhaps when the doctor has given us a grim report or the bank is calling our loan.  But when we merely have a headache, we go to the store and buy a pain reliever.  If we need $50 to pay our light bill, we call and make arrangements or ask a relative for a loan.  Some how we have gotten in the mindset that we shouldn't bother the great big God of the universe with a trifling headache or a $50 light bill.  But I submit to you that this God that spoke the world into existence, the One whose voice thunders and roars, the King of kings and Lord of lords... this same One cares about every intimate detail of your life.  He isn't the God only of the BIG things but he is God of EVERYTHING.  There isn't anything too small for Him. There isn't a need too insignificant, too trifling that he doesn't care. 

I Peter 5:7 "Casting ALL your care upon him; for he careth for YOU."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heritages... Yours to Have and to Give

Good Morning (Afternoon).  I am so thankful for my family.  My family has a wonderful way of encouraging me.  Perhaps it is because they ask me a question that causes me to delve deeply in the word of God, or it is when they share the thoughts and/or sermons through which God ministered to them, or perhaps it is just them giving me the strong word of "get your big girl pants on, suck it up and keep moving on."  My family...  I have laughed with them (and sometimes at them). I have cried with them and on their shoulder.  As eclectic as my family is, I wouldn't trade them.  I am very thankful for the heritage that my parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings have passed on to me and my children.  It is through that heritage that I have learned to have a love for God's Word and a desire to seek his face.  Another thing that gives me great joy is that a heritage isn't just something that was done in the past but is very current happening.  It is through my efforts to be faithful to God, my teaching and speaking of God's Word to my children that I pass on a heritage too.  My children do not have to just rely on the heritage that my parents have passed on but they can look at me and know that, though I am not perfect, my heart seeks the will of God.  It is through our everyday faithfulness, our daily devotions, our efforts to rise above our temptations that will inspire our children to develop their own relationship with God.  I know that my kids see every one of my flaws, they know of my short-comings and my weaknesses but I pray that they also see my willingness to be honest about those things and my sincere desire to overcome them though the strength of Christ.  I do not believe that heritages are about being us perfect but always striving for a deeply intimate relationship with God.  So today I ask myself, what heritage am I passing on to my children?  One of devotion or one of selfishness?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peace or Fear... Your Choice

Job 34:29a “When He giveth quietness, who can make trouble?”

I recently took a long desired trip to Newfoundland.  I had diligently sought the Lord about the rightness of the trip and the timing.  God worked things out so perfectly for me to go and I was incredibly excited.  It is just shy of 1,800 miles to the ferry in Nova Scotia and I set off with a deep peace in my heart.  After a mere day and half of driving (30 hours), I arrived in N. Sydney only to discover that I did not make it in time for the last ferry of the evening and the next ferry was sold out and I would have to wait a whole day in this one place.  There for a few minutes (okay, maybe an hour or so) I wondered if perhaps I misunderstood and I wasn’t supposed to go at all but then I prayed and the peace of God was renewed.  My unplanned time in Nova Scotia was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a wonderful family and visiting the Fortress Louisburg.  When it was time to catch the ferry the next evening, I arrived at the dock quite early without intending to do so but God’s hand was in that too because I met a wonderful young lady who was moving to Newfoundland without any family or friends and I was able to bond with her and her children.  As I traveled over the land that I love so much I had such a wonderful peace and joy at being exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment.  As I started heading out east, enjoying the beauty of the mountains and sea and thrilling in the wonder of being where I was, I continued to have this wonderful, divine peace.  After having traveling approximately 3,000 miles from home, I reached a place that I had long looked forward to visiting because the name of the community was exactly how I felt – “Heart’s Content.”  As I visited with some wonderful people at the drug store, the post office and the telegraph station and hearing their dismay at a female traveling so far alone and them telling me of all the horrible things that could happen… my peace starting leaking out of my heart through the hole that fear caused.  When I left there and traveled to St. John, I was too nervous to stop off at any other little communities because I just KNEW that my car was going to break-down, have a flat tire, I would fall off a cliff or some other calamity.  By the time that I reached Kristi and Bennett’s house, I was full of fear and my peace completely dissipated.  So I did the only thing I knew to do and asked for them to pray for me that God would restore my faith and peace.  I also determined that I would reject the fear that is not of God and claim the peace that only comes from Him.  As I settled back into God’s peace, I was once again able to enjoy the wonder of being exactly where I was supposed to be.

Today I woke up with peace from knowing that I am in a journey of God’s making.  He said, “Arise and go” and (perhaps with a little bit of help) I arose and went.  God spoke to my heart this past weekend about the direction that he desires that I take and I have actively pursued that direction.  He has assured me time and again that he is in control and will take care of me when I put him first.  I do know these things in my heart and mind so when a phone call comes, or someone says something horribly hurtful, why do I allow my faith to start leaking out?  How is it that the smallest thing can lay waste to every bit of faith in our heart?  This is the act of the enemy of our soul to use fear as a weapon against our faith.  It may be a small little hole that he pokes into our faith but pretty soon, if we do not lay claim to the peace that God has given us, every bit of our faith will flow out until we are left with nothing but fear and doubt.  So when fear comes, get a firm grasp of 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  Claim that which God HAS given you and reject that which is of the enemy; for “When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

God's Plan... Arise and Go...

Good Morning and welcome to another beautiful day in which to serve the Lord.  Recently I went to Tennessee to visit my sister and to see my niece who was here from Germany.  I had a really great time with my family and was amazed (though I shouldn’t have been) how God REALLY DOES cause all things to work together for the good.  It seems that as we go through life, if we pay attention, we can see how God puts us at particular places at particular times to encourage us, teach us, and/or direct us.  I firmly believe my trip to Tennessee was in the center of God’s plan as things happened there that, though seemingly unimportant to those around me, inspired me and encouraged me to continue to seek God’s perfect will and plan for my life.  The first thing that happened was my sister volunteered me to go to the Tennessee church campgrounds to attend a Summons to Sacrifice seminar.  Though there may not have been an outwardly show of how much this meant to me, it really stirred my thinking about intercessory prayer and God’s call to the church to prayer.  I also went to a Home Bible study with my brother-in-law so that my sister could stay home and visit with her girls.  Though it was just an ordinary Bible Study, I walked away from there inspired and determined to share God’s Word more perfectly with my harvest field.  I don’t know about any of you but though I have a pretty good understanding of the Bible, I have been a bit intimidated about doing a home Bible study in case they asked questions that I could not immediately answer.  But after going on that Bible Study with Paul and seeing the excitement of Flora at hearing the Bible explained to her, I realize that I can’t allow my inadequacies keep me from being 100% willing to share the Gospel to the hurting. If those inspirations weren’t enough to make my whole trip to Tennessee worth it, God spoke directly to me through Pastor Phillips.  He preached two sermons that were so fantastic that words fail me.  The first one was, “Finding Your Miracle at the Bottom of the Barrel.”  The second sermon was a Bible study entitled, “Purpose of the Wilderness.”  I am not certain how much the church charges for CDs but I strongly recommend that you get those two CDs.  If anyone is interested, please email me and I will put you in contact with the church.

Bro. Phillips in the “Finding Your Miracle at the Bottom of the Barrel” said something that reinforced to me that God is in control (if we let him).  He was speaking about the prophet Elijah and how God had sent him to the Brook Cherith to save him from certain death by the hand of Jezebel.  There Elijah was able to drink from the brook and God sent the ravens to bring him food but then the brook dried up and the ravens quit coming.  It may seem like a tragedy but it really isn’t because it was merely time to move on.  I Kings 17:8-9 “And the Word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”  As you can see in the scriptures God did not view the lack of food and water to sustain Elijah as a problem.  He didn’t see that it was tragedy or a situation in which Elijah should become discouraged or find God unfaithful.  The lack of food and water in that place was just a sign that it was time for Elijah to ARISE and move to the next step in the plan.  When we are seeking to find and stay in the will of God, when it seems that tragedy or hardship comes, we must start viewing things through the eyes of God.  God isn’t dismayed at apparent hardship because he knows that it is merely another step to the place that he is taking us.  We must quit bemoaning the closed doors and arise and move forward to the next thing.  Closed doors aren’t signs of God’s unfaithfulness but rather traffic signals to keep us on the path that God has for us. 

I know that I did not do that portion of the sermon justice but I do pray that it encourages you to start viewing your situation through the eyes of our Savior.  When we do that we will see things completely differently.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can I Be Excused Please?

Last evening I was over at friends' house and their son kept asking if he could be excused.  He had decided that he was done eating and he desperately wanted to be excused to go play (or simply get away from the boring adult conversation).  He asked, even as he was inching up off of his chair and scooting back, only to be told no and he would start the process over.  Finally after much ado about eating the last bite of his hot dog, he was finally given permission to leave the table.  It was quite funny and reminded me of not only of when my children were young but also when I was young and just wanted to escape the table so that I would not be in hearing distance when the call went out to do the dishes. 

We, as a society, are continually asking to be excused.  We seem to have an excuse why we can't work, can't study, can't be respectful, can't be holy, can't live a life above reproach...  If we do not want to do something we can think of as many excuses necessary to escape whatever task, job or duty that we find unpleasant.  Sadly this same mind set has entered into the church.  We find all sorts of excuses as to why we can't be of a use to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Perhaps we find things wrong with the church that we attend that keeps us from being a witness... the church is too small, the church is too big, the preacher is too boring, the services are too long, the services are too traditional or maybe too "wild."  It could be that the church is going through a transition and we use that as an excuse as to why we can't birth a new babe into Christ.  Perhaps the people we go to church with provides us excuses as to why we don't invite the hurting into the house of God... they are hypocrites, they are too poor, too weird, too rich, too snobby, too holy, too unholy... the list can go on and on.  As long as there are people there will be excuses. 

Maybe it is more personal reason excuses as to why you can't work for God.  I am too old and used up.  I am young and have no experience.  I have committed too much sin in my past.  I was raised in a God-fearing home and have no testimony of redemption.  I am too sick, too busy, too poor, too shy, too nervous, too dumb, I am handicapped, I am bed-ridden....  There is no end to the creativity of the excuses that we offer in an effort to get out of the task that seem less than pleasant to us or that will keep us in our comfort-zone. 

I submit that God has not excused us.  Sarah was 90 when God called her to birth a nation.  Josiah was eight years old when he was called to rule a nation and he did RIGHT in the sight of the Lord.  Rahab, a harlot of a heathen nation, was called to provide safety to the spies of Israel and God saved her.  Moses was slow of speech and God called him to be His mouth piece.  John the Baptist was called to preaching repentance and he was a man who was a bit different in dress and habit the the average in society.  Paul was persecuting the church and yet he was called to preach the gospel.  Thoughout the Bible we read time after time how no one is excused from Kingdom Work.  There is no reason that you can submit to God that will excuse you from doing that which he has called you to do.  God would never call you to do something of which you are not capable, with His help.  So lay down the excuses, pick up the burden that he has called you to, and step out in faith and follow him.  Whether he has called you to intercessory prayer, feeding the hungry, outreach, being a friend, preaching, teaching, Sunday School, singing... don't offer excuses, just do it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

God's Time

Sunday… what a wonderful way to start a week.  Being unemployed right now, instead of my week starting on Monday it now starts on Sunday… which is probably the way I should have viewed it when I was employed... live and learn.  I am so incredibly excited because I have such a beautiful life.  This extra time that God has given me is full of potential and hope.  It also has given me a bit of time to devote to finding God’s will for my life… today.  As the minister was speaking this morning there was something that sparked my heart and mind about what I should during this time of unemployment.  There will become a time shortly when I will have to go back to work and I will not have the same opportunity.  Wow, the possibilities that have been given to me.  I am so blessed. 

I have been told by many people that I am one of the most patient people they know.  I have been told by one person that I am very, very impatient.  I have trouble reconciling myself to the latter because I also feel that I am patient but I also realize that there just may be a kernel of truth in their statement because I do desire God to do a quick work.  My niece explained my  version of patience quite well… impatient patience.  I will wait as long as it takes but I may be looking at my watch continually throughout the process.  I will wait on God but I will remind him… “God I know time isn’t important to you but we have deadlines down here so…”  Of course, I do follow that up with a prayer of… “but God I do desire your will and timing more than anything else BUT it would be great if your timing were right NOW?”  Just this year God taught me a tremendous lesson regarding His time.  So many times we get so eager to see those promises fulfilled in a way and time that we expect.  We believe and have tremendous faith in the word of the Lord and we KNOW that he is going to do that quick work that we desire.  We want to see our loved ones living a life of holiness and on fire for God and we want it done RIGHT NOW!  After all, how can NOW not be God’s will for someone to live for Him?  We need another car and we want God to work that out RIGHT NOW… because after all He knows we need to go to work.  We need a job and we need it RIGHT NOW because after all, His word says that a we should work and support our families.  But God’s time is definitely not our time.  I know how you are probably feeling regarding that statement because every time someone reminds me of that very true statement I, with a bit of annoyance and clinched teeth, say “yes, I know THAT.”  It is not a feel good statement but it is 100% true.  God’s time is better than our time.  It could be that God knows that our loved ones will have to reach the very bottom of the barrel in order for them to commit to Him completely.  God may know that the car that is perfect for us isn’t for sale yet or the job that we need isn’t yet available.  Sure he could bring us just any car or just any job but wouldn’t you rather have the car and job that is the one He desires for you?  Wouldn’t you rather your loved one be completely sold out to Christ rather than sitting on the fence?  In God’s time there is blessings that exceed our expectations.  In God’s time there is fulfillment for the void.  In God’s time there is joy unspeakable.  In God’s time there is a culmination of all that we had hoped and longed for.  In God’s time there is perfection.  God’s time is not easy, especially when you see your loved ones taking paths that you know will lead them to destruction.  His time is difficult when you can’t see how it will ever work out or be as he promised it to be.  But if you just stand patiently and wait on Him… You absolutely will not regret it.  I know from personal experience that the blessings that come in the fullness of God’s time will far exceed anything that you had ever dreamed.  So rest easy in the faithfulness of God and trust in His timing. 

Have a wonderful week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Waiting for YOUR Pitch

I am a terrible softball player, actually I am not athletically inclined at all.  I run slow, prefer a stroll over a walk, and lets not even discuss my hand-eye coordination... or lack thereof.  Regardless of how terrible I am, I have been known to play a game or two of softball.  It is a lot of fun for a bunch of people of varying ages and skill level to get together to play ball.  While playing the game there are a lot of things that you hear, "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher" or "Catch It" or "Run" or "Good Job" and the list goes on and on.  One of the things that you might hear your own teammates yell is, "wait for your pitch."  It is the batters job to throw pitches that appear to be right where you want them but then they will fall to the right, left or drop off at the end so they are too low.  Many times the batter is good enough that causes us to keep swinging at pitches that are not in our ideal swing range.  So that is when our teammates call to us to wait for the pitch is needed, to remind us that if the pitcher doesn't want to make us walk then he will have to pitch us a couple good ones.  When we do remember to wait with calm confidence on OUR pitch, and we get our swing right, we can make it out of the park.

Living life with Christ on our team is very similar.  Many times we take whatever is offered to us first that seems to meet our need instead of waiting for the perfect thing.  This, I believe, is especially true if we have had a couple of strikes already.  When we have need of a job, and we have had a few interviews and no offers, and then because we are feeling desperate we often times take the first job that is offered instead of waiting with calm confidence on the one that God wants for us.  This is similarly true for a companion, perhaps you have waited a long time and now there is someone who seems to fit even though God hasn't told you that he/she is the one.  Perhaps it is a house that you are looking for and finding the right one has proved to be difficult, so instead of allowing God to bring you the right one, you settle for the one you can get.  This philosophy is true for all things in our life, as there isn't anything too small that God is not interested in.  If we but wait on him, he will fulfill that of which we have need. 

Perhaps you are in a position of being down to the wire with needing a job, needing a house, car, etc. and you don't think this hold true given the limitations of time.  I know what you mean because I have experienced that very thing personally.  I have also experienced the wonder of having God come through at the exact right time because I continued to wait on him.  I know, without a doubt, that if we truly wait on God, he WILL come through at the right time.  It may be at 5:00pm on Friday, just when you think it is too late, rather than at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon but God will not let you down.  So bring your petitions to God, trust him and wait for God's perfect plan/will to unfold.  Don't settle for those things that are not perfectly in His will, that will in turn get you distracted or cause you to strike out so that you are unqualified for the perfect will.

"Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land..." Psalms 37:34