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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Putting on Spiritual Glasses

I think I started wearing glasses when I was 11 or 12. When I first got them it was amazing what I could see that I hadn't previously been able to see clearly from a distance. My mother has told me how I exclaimed over things that she took for granted because she was able to see them. She said it made her feel bad that she didn't realize before that time that I needed glasses. That is something that I couldn't fault her on because I never told her that I couldn't see clearly because I didn't realize that I couldn't see clearly. To me not being able to see individual leaves on a tree or clearly being able to see birds or flowers in the distance had become my normal and I didn't realize that it could or should be different. My problem with my vision has always been about distance; as I have always been able to read or do close with without my glasses. In fact, to this day I take my glasses off to read, do computer work, sew or any thing that I do that is within an arm's reach.

Today I headed to church early and decided to stop by this little local coffee shop and have a coffee and a tea cake. As I sat there drinking my coffee and eating my cake I took off my glasses so that I could play "Words with Friends" on my phone and to talk with my family via texting/messaging. It was probably 10 or 15 minutes of sitting there completely absorbed in my electronic communication when I heard the words, "John was the precursor to Christ" and my head jerked up and I kind of saw some figures sitting across the room. Since I did not have my glasses on I could not clearly see them but as I reached for my glasses to see who was speaking about the Bible the Lord spoke to me. He told me that so many times we get caught up in our lives and situations that are close. We allow our focus to be only on those things that affect us directly or that are within arms reach. When we allow our focus to be on only ourselves, our struggles, our pain, our joys and our sorrows, we fail to clearly see the struggles, pain, joys and sorrows of our harvest field. When we do not allow God to open our spiritual eyes we fail to see our co-workers that are hungry for a Savior or our neighbor that is stricken with grief. Without the eyes and heart of Christ we fail to understand or feel burdened to pray for the orphans of the world, or those that are suffering a life of slavery or torment. Without seeing as Jesus sees, we are like the man who had his vision restored but saw men as trees walking (Mark 8:22-25). We must fine tune our vision with the compassionate love of Christ and the boldness of faith and the fervency of knowing the times. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision the people perish..." so if we do not get a clear, compassionate vision of our harvest field then those people in that harvest field will be lost.

Let it be your prayer today and every day that God would open your spiritual eyes to see the world as He sees it and that He would give you a clear vision of your harvest field.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Power of Yielding

"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Romans 6:13

Each day I go through life I consciously or unconsciously yield to many things. Some things that I yield to are for the good and some things are to my hurt. There are times I yield to faith, compassion, love and mercy but there are times I find myself yielding to offense, anger or disbelief. Yielding is simply ceasing resistance to something. If I am yielding myself to the lack of faith then I am finding myself to be resisting the scripture "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." If I am yielding to weakness and fear then I am resisting the scripture, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and a strong mind." When I find myself yielding to offense then I am resisting the verse "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." Am I really shining the light of Jesus to my harvest field if I do not yield myself to the scripture "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy."  When we yield to unforgiveness and holding a grudge we are resisting the scripture "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Life is really full of yielding and resisting. Today what am I going to yield to? Will I choose to yield to annoyance and scorn when I see a mother with a screaming child at the store? Or will I yield to compassion and say a prayer for that family? Will I yield to anger and bitterness when I see the rise of the wicked or will I instead emulate the love of Jesus and pray for their souls? Will I yield to frustration and anger when someone cuts me off in traffic or will I use it as an opportunity to pray for that person that crossed my path? As I step out the door this morning I want yield my members to "right living" and not unto sin. When I am yielding to God then I am standing on the promise "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Willing to be Healed

This morning on my way to church I was feeling grateful and excited about how far God has brought me in my healing process. The past year or so has been extremely difficult and my heart, mind and soul had gotten quite battered, bruised and broken. There have been many times that I wondered if it was even possible to be healed completely. This morning as I thought about where I have been in the past year I could only compare it to a person who has been through an horrendous fire. The skin is burnt and melted and the healing process is excruciating.The process/treatment for this type of injuring is usually through debridement, which is removal of the dead skin from the wounds. There are times that patients who have gone through the debriding process have decided that it was too painful and they want to just stop and let whatever infection that will set in just happen because the treatment to heal them is just as painful as that fire. That horrendous pain and stench of death is the only way I can express where I was 10 months ago. I was in debilitating emotional pain that brought the stench of death to just about every area of my life, especially spiritually. So my ability to rejoice and be thankful for my emotional and spiritual healing, knowing where I had been, was and is a big thing. As I was thanking God for the incredible healing work he has done in my life He brought to my mind that one spot. You know that one emotional spot that you try to protect from hurt so you keep it hidden. The one little area of your life that is so painful that you try to pretend isn't there. It is that one sore that refuses to be healed. As I spoke with God this morning I knew that it was time to give that one spot to Jesus so that I can be whole, so I could be restored. In case you are wondering, God never does anything by half measures but confirms His Word, with His Word. Pastor took his text from Mark 8 this morning.

"And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored and saw every man clearly." Mark 8:23-25

After Jesus spit in the man's eye the man was no longer a blind man. He couldn't see properly but he could see so therefore some could argue that he was healed. But Jesus wasn't satisfied with a half-measure healing. He again touched the man's eyes so that the man was restored. Jesus isn't interested in just the surface of a person, he is interested in healing that part that no one can see. God cares about that little wound that you keep covered so that people don't realize that you are hurting. Jesus showed us with this blind man that he wasn't interested in merely giving sight to the blind but to restore all, including sight to see clearly. But the blind man had to be willing to be healed. In order for Jesus to touch him and restore him, this blind man had to seek out the Healer. He also had to be willing to be led by Jesus, even though he could not see where Jesus was leading. For us to be healed of our hurts, pains, losses and diseases, we much first be willing to be healed. We must seek the Lord and be led of Him in order to for Him to restore all. It is in our surrender of ourselves to Him that we can be made whole and find clarity in His calling.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Doing My Job

I must admit that I have a bit of an issue relenting control sometimes. There are times when I feel that if it is going to get done then I just have to do it. Last year about this time we were planning our family reunion. At the time I was working 7 days a week and ususally 12 hours a day, with almost an hour commute each way. I had no time but I was local so they asked if I could plan it and I said yes. Because of cost and the fact that 80% or more of the family did not live locally it was decided that we would self-cater. I had a plan and it was a good plan (if I do say so myself) but I didn't have time or energy to really implement the plan so I had to do something that was very uncomfortable to me... I had to delegate. I had to ask my daughter to make about 50 pounds of pulled pork. I had to ask people to make side dishes and desserts. Then I had to ask one of my sisters to decorate the social hall. I was very much out of my comfort-zone. But you know what... everything got done and it was beautiful and lots of fun. It didn't take me having control of every single facet of the reunion for everything to be perfect.

About 20 years ago I worked in a warehouse. Regularly we would get container trucks in and it was the warehouse staff's job to unload it. The boxes weren't heavy as they were just boxes of gloves so we would create an assembly line and toss them out. My job always seemed to be inside the truck and tossing them to one of the guys. So I would pick up a box and toss it to him and he would catch it and stack it on a pallet. My job was not to toss the box, run down to the end and catch it and then stack it on the pallet. My job simply was to toss the box to my co-worker and he took it from there. Amazingly it worked out perfectly, even without me being in completely control of the process.

Several months ago I was praying about what I should do. My job, though making very good money, was slowing killing me spiritually, emotionally and physically. I was working too much with no choice about it. Every day it seemed that the first things out of my mouth were, "God, what am I to do?" Every day there didn't seem to be an answer. Day after day my heart and soul cried out to God wanting to know what I was to do. For what seemed too long there didn't appear to be an answer. Then there was THE MOMENT when God spoke to me. He told me to do what I am supposed to do and he would take care of the rest. A deep sense of peace came over me and I knew that regardless of whether I was to stay at that job or go somewhere else I would be content knowing that it wasn't my responsibility but God. So I stepped out in faith and applied for jobs, praying that God would close any door that I was not supposed to go through. But I knew that having a different job was only one aspect that needed to be changed in my life. I needed a deeper understanding of God's word and people in my life that would challenge me, teach me and encourage me to stretch out of my comfort-zone and pursue that which God called me to do (whatever that may be). God directed my path and put the people in my life that I needed. And it wasn't but a few days after that the interview call came and then the job offer and then the job. The job and the people are exactly right for this stage of my life but it still isn't easy. I now make about 1/3 of what I used to make so money can be a bit tight at times. My drive to church is farther than before (see the previous sentence about making less money). BUT it is still the right thing for me to do.

When I think about how I can only control what I can control and only God can do the rest, I realize that my job is only to do the right thing. My job isn't to provide for all my needs. My job isn't to make sure that I stay safe and secure. My job isn't to make sure everything happens exactly as logic says it should. My job isn't to fix everything. Rather, my job is obeying Christ today. My job is to pray for those in my harvest field today. My job is be in God's will today. My only job is to do MY job. My job is simply to do that which is right. Once I do my job it is then up to God to do the rest. It is God's job to provide for my needs. It is God's job to put people in my harvest field. It is God's job to protect me. It is God's job to heal those that He leads me to pray for. It is God's job to do everything that is not my job. The stressful part of life is when we start taking ownership of a job which is not ours. When we start trying to take responsibility for a job that only God can do, then we start feeling overwhelmed and stressed. So instead of trying to do the job of God, focus on doing YOUR job. Focus on doing the right things and relinquish the job of God to the Creator of the Universe. I believe He is big enough to handle it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taking the Fight to the Streets

Today as I was headed to church I was praying for the city and asking God for revival. But my desire and prayer wasn't just for the local church that I attend but for every church; that God would reveal His Word and there would be a mighty move of His Spirit throughout the city. While praying I knew within my soul that if we are to have a mighty revival we must go to battle in the spirit. Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." We must put on the armour of God and go into our harvest fields, our cities, our places of work and bind the spirits of darkness that has a strangle hold on our world. We are not going to impact our communities by staying within our safe little congregation and having well-organized church or special programs. The only way to truly reach the harvest field is through entering the spiritual battlefield that is uncomfortable, unpleasant and doesn't smell too nice. If we truly want to change our world and see a change within our cities, we have to vow to take this spiritual battle to the streets. We must be committed to doing what it takes to bind the spiritual powers that seek to destroy our children and young people. We must unite in fervent prayer and fasting as Jesus told his disciples in Mark 9:29 "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." To reach our families, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, or those people in cities and countries that you will never step your foot in; we must do what it takes to fight in this spiritual warfare. So I challenge you to take your prayer to the streets. Claim the promise that God gave to Moses and to Joshua "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." (Joshua 1:3) Pray while you walk through your neighborhoods. Pray through your work place. Pray as you walk the halls at school. Pray on your way to the bank. Pray while shopping. Wherever you go and whomever you see, pray. Pray... that is how the battle will be won.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through god to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Luke 18:1

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

God's Friend

"But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend." Isaiah 41:8

"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." Exodus 33:11a

Whenever I read the scriptures of how God spoke with a Moses as a man would talk with his friend and how God referred to Abraham as His friend, my heart is filled with longing to have that close intimate relationship with God. My own humanity immediately tells me that my desire is one of impossibility because Abraham and Moses were pillars of the faith. Abraham had such great faith that it was given to him as righteousness. And Moses... well... he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, brought water from the rock, and parted the Red Sea and so many more big important things. My own thoughts tell me that I am just a mere mortal with so many flaws and so many short-comings that surely God doesn't see me as a friend, surely God doesn't long to talk to me face to face. My own unrelenting insecurities tell me that I am too flawed to be more than an acquaintance of the Creator of all and I should just be content with that. But when I continue to read on in the Word, I understand that God is more faithful and more merciful than my insecurities. When God robed himself in flesh and came to this world He showed the world, and me in particular, that it is possible for me to have that intimate relationship with Him that I long for. Scripture after scripture, He tells me that I loves me specifically and calls me friend. "The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!" Luke 7:34  Jesus came to be a friend of sinners, just like me.  He didn't come to save the righteous but to save people like me. Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loveth at all times," and God has shown me time and time again that he loves me, even when I am unlovable. Even when I do not deserve His love and mercy, he still loves me... just like a friend does. When I have failed to be His friend, He has been faithful to be mine. The ultimate declaration of His love and desire to be my friend is His willingness to become flesh and bear my sin on His sinless back and die in my place. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend" John 15:13 Jesus picked up that cross and carried it up that hill, bearing the sin and shame that was mine to bear, and allowed them to kill His body simply because He loves ME. I have no reason to doubt that the Creator of all, and the Savior of the world love me, in particular.

When you start feeling small and the thoughts in your mind tell you that God is too big to really care about you or to even notice you, just remember that He died on that cross because He longs for you to be His friend. He loves you specifically and there isn't anything that is too big to keep you from Him.  Regardless of any mistakes you have made or any temptation that has overtaken you, He loves you enough to forgive and still be your friend. Simply trust His Word when He says, "Ye are my friend, if you do whatsoever I command you." (John 15:14)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Getting God's Strength

When you commit your life to God and the Biblical plan of salvation, your life doesn't suddenly become perfect. You might get a flat tire, or get sick or have relationship troubles. Following God does not make us immune to the storms of life. The Bible says in Matthew 5:45b "for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." There are things in life that happen that we cannot necessarily escape. But during those difficult times we need the strength of God. It takes strength to be a Christian. It takes strength to forgive. It takes strength to turn the other cheek. It takes strength to have a soft answer. It takes strength wrestle with principalities and powers. It isn't ordinary strength that we need but godly strength... strength that only comes from the only Omnipotent one. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 "Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:" Isaiah 26:4 "it is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." Psalm 18:32 "...the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God." Psalm 68:35 Time and time again throughout the Bible do we learn and know that God is the strength that we need.

We know he is our strength but how do we access that strength? How do we tap into the power of His strength. 

1. "Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that  you may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;" Deuteronomy 11:8

The first thing we need to do is obey. When we obey the Word of God, that is the first step of receiving the strength that God has for us. When we surrender our own will and follow God's plan for our life, He is right they handing us His strength. 

2. "Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary." Psalm 96:6

When we join together with other believers to worship God and to hear God's Word preached, then we can claim more of the strength of God. It is when we come together in unity as the body of Christ that we have strength to face those difficult things that come against us in life.

3. "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore." Psalm 105:4

It sounds simple but simply ask the Lord for strength. In Matthew 7:7-8 it says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto  you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." So when we seek the Lord and His strength with our whole heart we can be assured that we will find it. 

4. "My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word." Psalm 119:28

It is through the reading and applying of the Word of God in our lives that we gain God's strength. Without knowledge of the Bible then we do not have the understanding of all the promises that God has given us in His Word. It is through His Word that He guides us and gives us strength. 

5. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

After all of that we must simply wait/serve the Lord. We must have the mind-set of "God what can I do for you? Jesus, who can I minister to for the Kingdom's sake? Lord, I want to serve you." We must have the mind of a servant because it is in that serving and waiting that we find strength without fainting.  

If we follow these five Biblical steps for tapping into the strength of our Heavenly Father, even before the storms of life come our way, then we have nothing to fear. 

(This article was inspired by the teaching of Rev. J. Maki in Valparaiso, IN)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bible Study Inspiration - Romans 4

"(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;" Romans 4:17-20

Have you ever thought about Abraham and Sarah? Have you thought about the biology of a woman and how after a certain time in their life they are not able to conceive (at least without some medical intervention). Not only the idea of a 90 year old woman conceiving but being strong enough in body to be able to carry the baby to term, go through the painful process of delivering the child and then raising that child. It was an incredibly beautiful thing to have the faith that your beloved wife of many, many years would, even long after menopause, conceive and bring forth a child. When Abraham was busy having faith, he didn't think or worry about the fact that Sarah was long past child-bearing years. His faith didn't waver nor was it shaken by unbelief. God promised and he simply believed.

It is an awesome thing to believe without wavering that something we KNOW to be a physical impossibility will be fulfilled just as God promised. But that is the kind of faith that we need to fulfill the mission and calling that He has placed on our lives. Convenient or easy faith will not bring us the revival or the harvest that we long to see within our cities or communities. If God has given you a vision of reaching your city, even if crime escalates and sin seems to abound, do not stagger at that vision. Do not allow your faith to be shaken by focusing on the sinner but be fully persuaded that God will perform that which he promised. "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." Romans 4:21 " God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repend: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? If God said it you can stand on that promise and be not staggered by unbelief. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Newfoundland Calling... can you answer?

Today I read an article about Newfoundland. When I come across an article or pictures about Newfoundland and Labrador, it is very bittersweet. I am torn between reading/looking at it or avoiding it all together because the yearning is so great to go. It has been just over nine years since I went to Newfoundland for the first time. I don't know at what moment I fell in love but I fell completely and totally in love with this beautiful, rugged, sometimes lonely, sometimes barren, almost always remote paradise. I have only been able to return two more times since that first visit, but a large part of my heart was left there. My favorite visit was the last time I visited five years ago. Since I drove up there by myself I was able to see places that I couldn't see with a group and visit for longer times in a relaxed and unhurried pace. I was able to walk through towns chatting with anyone who would chat (which is just about everyone). I talked and listened for extended periods of time to people building boat by hand or the woman at the post-office, or the people at a Tim Horton's. It was during that visit that I was able to go the Spree by the Sea festival in Baie Verte and meet people that need Jesus just like I do. I was able to see places, which I love to do, but it was the people that I met that impacted me the most. That trip was incredible but it was also on that trip that I had my most heart breaking moments though. When I would drive into a little community and I would see a population marker and yet not see a church that shares the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus, my heart would cry because those people are just as important as the millions in urban environments. Take the community Come by Chance, NL, the closest church that teaches baptism as the apostles taught is 2 hours away. Jesus died for those 265 people just as He did for me. Hant's Harbour is almost 2 hours away and have a population of 346 and Jesus' blood was shed for them too. These two example communities aren't even very remote at all and yet they are so far from a Jesus name assembly. To my knowledge there is not one church that teaches water baptism in Jesus name in the whole Labrador portion of the province. The area the size of Arizona, 113,000 square miles, without one person (to my knowledge) that is baptizing as the Bible commands. Is there not a call? Is there not a purpose? O, for someone to see the need, for someone to carry the burden, for someone to pick up the mantle and go love these people and share with them the joy of the Holy Ghost and fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." Matthew 9:37-38

Monday, August 15, 2016

So Shall It Stand

"The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." Isaiah 14:24

There are so many times in life when storms come our way and we start feeling uncertain, fearful and wonder how we are going to make it through. We feel that the storm has created havoc in our life, we can't see where we are headed and nothing seems to make sense. Earlier this year I was driving down to Kentucky to see my parents and it rained almost the whole way. Driving in constant rain is not my idea of a good time but, though annoying, it doesn't bother me too much. I was around Dayton, Ohio when all of a sudden it started raining so hard I couldn't even see the hood of my car. I quickly turned my hazard lights on and my mind started racing about whether I should stop or continue to drive. Mentally I was in full panic mode. Instantly feeling frightened and worried about what response the drivers cars around me were going to choose, I was in pray through mode. I had no visual references at all. Suffice it to say, it was a harrowing and terrifying experience. It may have been 3 minutes or 30 minutes (my terror did not recognize time) but somehow I managed to keep it together through that storm cell and come safely through to the other side. You know what would have been great? What if I had someone who could have seen through the torrential rains and told me exactly what I needed to know to drive safely through the storm? If I had complete faith in their ability to direct me where I needed to go and how fast I should drive, my fear would have dissipated. My driving would have changed based on what this person told me, perhaps I would have veered to the left or right or slowed down or sped up but I would have been able to do those things KNOWING that they could lead me to safety.

It is no different in our spiritual walk. We get slammed on one side or the other (sometimes both sides) by the storms of life. Perhaps it is the loss of a job or your car breaking down. Maybe someone spoke poorly of you or ignored you. The storms in life come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and while we are directly in that storm we can't see past where we are. For all we know there is a spiritual tsunami headed straight for us that will destroy us or there may be blue skies and still waters in just a little while. We don't know but we do know a God who does know what lies ahead. He knows where he wants to take you and knows exactly the storms that you must go through to get there. We just have to have faith that whatsoever he has purposed, it will stand. When that storm tries to overwhelm you just draw closer to the One who can see on the other side of the storm.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" Philippians 1:6

Monday, August 8, 2016

Desires of the Heart

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalm 37:4

That verse is a favorite among most every Christian. We love to hear how God will give us those things we desire. We believe God for a new car, a new house, a new job and the list goes on and on. Our foundation for having faith enough to believe for those things is Psalm 37:4 "and he SHALL give you the desires of thine heart." There is something highly energizing about a "name it and claim it" sort of faith. It is easy to go around telling people what God is going to do because you "claimed it." After all you are just holding God to His Word, because we are good, happy Christians and we delight in participating in the things of the church and of God then "he SHALL give me the desires of my heart." So any day now that new car is going to be pulled into your drive or that new job will come to fruition because that is your desire.

Let me share with you the next verse. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5. Perhaps your response to that verse is, "Whoa there... what do you mean commit? I am not prepared to make a commitment about this. No, all we have to do it be happy with God and He will give us what we want. That is what it says and that it what I am counting on." Committing your ways to God is more than just getting a good feeling about going to church or giving a few bucks to that homeless person down the street. Committing to God is surrendering ourselves to Him. When we commit our ways to God then our desires will naturally become transformed.  Our desires will start looking more like God's desires when we are fully committing our ways to him. After we have committed our ways to him then just trust Him. Lean into His presence and be confident that He will fulfill that which He promised.

"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give the the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4-5

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Surrendering Your Way Out of the Storm

It has been one of those days. One of those months. One of those years. One of those times in life in which you feel overwhelmed and unsure how you are going to take the next breath let alone the next step. Your faith is battered and it feels to be completely broken. You can't see past this very moment, not even thinking of tomorrow or next month. Brokenness, heartbreak, loneliness, grief... that is all you can see. Everything appears bleak and hopeless. Thoughts of a future full of joy, ministry and prosperity were dashed against the rocks when the storm of life hit you. You go through the motions of life but inside you want someone to notice that you are drowning and save you. The weariness of fighting the storm is too much for you and you wonder where God is and why He hasn't pulled you out of the storm. I know what you are going through and it isn't easy but let me assure you that God is right there with you. He is waiting for you to welcome Him into your situation. He is desiring you to surrender not just the current situation but your future into his very capable hands. God is longing for you to allow Him to be your light and salvation. Many times we get in these storms of life and we want rescued but we are unwilling to let go of the sinking boat. The very things that are keeping us in the storm sometimes are the things that we can't seem to surrender. The bad influences that we choose to surround ourselves with and whom we are unwilling to let go of, could be the very reason that we are still in the storm. The unwillingness to surrender our time to prayer and reading the Word, could be the reason that life continues to be a struggle. The key to getting out of the storm starts with surrender. Surrender to His Word. Surrender to His Plan. Surrender to His calling. Surrender to His Will. Full surrender on our part will bring the full power of the hand of God to our rescue.

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." Psalm 27:7

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Kicked Out

I am a person who feels secure in routine and plans. Though I don't always live by my plans, when things get chaotic, I can stop and go back to the plan and get back in my comfort zone. When making plans for a trip I probably over research. I make tons of lists of all of the things to see and do. Due to time and money restrictions most of what I find to do gets gets left undone. I remember taking a trip 5 years ago this month to Newfoundland. I felt God had told me for months that it was His will that I go. He provided the money, the time and the transportation. I had this trip planned out, where to stay, what to see, where to eat but.... But God had different plans. I left 24 hours later than I planned. When I was only 11 hours away from North Sydney, Nova Scotia I called to get ferry reservations only to be told they were sold out for the next two sailings. This whole change threw me right out of my comfort-zone and I started questioning whether I was supposed to even go. As I sat in that little motel room I felt like God said, "it's okay. I have this planned out." It wasn't easy but I made the conscience decision that I was going to let things happen as they happened and not get caught up in the "but that isn't what I planned." As I went down to the motel office to ask about a place to eat, she started telling me of places to see and do while I was waiting the 24 hours for the next ferry. That evening as I explored North Sydney, Nova Scotia, I knew that God had a plan and His plan was better than all my planning. The next morning I visited the Fortress of Louisbourg (which is absolutely awesome) and talked to the woman at the visitor center of the City of Louisbourg for probably a couple hours. We talked about God, family and life. I left there and went to get on the ferry. As I was waiting for the couple hours in the loading area I struck up a conversation with the lady in the lane next to me. She was traveling to Newfoundland with her children. We talked for quite a while and then it was time to load the ferry. As we were in different lanes, we weren't loaded together so we parted ways. After loading I made my way up to the restaurant. I had no sooner started my meal when the children came over excited to see me and then the mother came over telling the children not to bother me. I told her they were no bother and  invited them to join me. She then told me her story. She told me of her husband passing and how life had gotten so hard and she was moving to Newfoundland to get away from it all. We sat at that table and talked for a long time and I could tell that as we talked she grew more confident and hopeful of her future.

What if God hadn't kicked me out of my comfort-zone? Who would have shared with the woman in Louisbourg? What person would have been there to offer hope and prayer to a mother and her children? Would I have been changed? Would I have been able to see that other person as a soul and not just another face? Our lives are not usually impacted while we are in our comfort-zone. Typically we are not impacting and spreading the love of Jesus while we are nestled down into our comfort-zone thinking only of ourselves. I think that God is calling the church to get out of those four walls we have built around ourselves and out of the many plans we have made and allow Him to use us to impact that one lady, that one man, that one child. That one person that you impact may be the one who reaches their neighborhood. That one woman may be the one who saves the life of someone who prays revival into your city. You cannot know the impact you will have on the world when you make the very conscience decision to allow God to kick you out of your comfort-zone.  Outside of that comfort-zone is where he can anoint and utilize you for His Kingdom.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seeking Right Counsel

Isaiah 30:1-3 "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion"

When I read the above scripture I was convicted. I cannot count the times that something terrible has happened and I first sought the counsel of my parents, my sisters or some other respected individual. Seeking counsel from godly men and women is not necessarily bad but many times we do not go to God first. We do not allow God to speak to us directly first but rather seek the counsel of others. Why is it that we count on these respected individuals to have a word from God for us but we do not count on God's ability to speak to us directly? Have we become so hardened and rebellious in our own way and desires that we can no longer hear the voice of God? Have we allowed the voices of this world to become so loud in our lives that we are not longer sensitive to the nudging and direction of the Spirit? Are we counting on the counsel and strength of ourselves or those around us that we no longer NEED God? Have we become so self-sufficient that God is no longer our fortress and strong tower? According to Isaiah 30, when we make the decision to rely on the strength and counsel of this world then it will become our shame and our confusion. Is it any wonder that this world is such a confusing mess? We have come to rely on ourselves, our governments and our money and leave God out of our decision making. Isaiah goes on to say in verse 4-5, "For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame and a reproach." The earthly things that we take our strength and counsel from will fade away and all that we are left with is shame and reproach. It is time for us to let go of our rebellious nature, seek and take the counsel of the Lord. Shut out the voices of this world and seek the Lord and His strength. Cry out to God, he will hear and answer you.

Isaiah 30:18-19 "And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep not more; he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee."

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Obedience over Understanding

As I have gone through this life that I hadn't planned on, I  seek to understand the why, what, where, when and how of whatever situation I find myself. When I am able to come up with a plausible reason it gives me some sort of comfort and gives me something to work toward and something on which to focus. If I find myself going through a financial trial, I tell myself that God is teaching me to rely fully on him. So I work on trusting him fully. When I find myself emotionally bruised, I tell myself it is just God's way of drawing me back to my first love. Regardless of the situation, I do fervently seek to understand "Lord, why am I here." As the preacher said this morning, it is a dangerous thing for us to decide that we understand all the whys and hows. When we decide we understand why we are going through a trial, we are limiting our faith and thereby limiting what we allow God to do in our lives. When we decide that we understand how God is going to bring us out of our trial, we are limiting not only our faith but our vision of where God wants to take us. As Isaiah 55:9 says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." When we decide we understand we are deluding ourselves because there is no possible way that our minds can even comprehend the marvelous things that God is doing. Job 37:5 "God thundereth marvellously with his voice: great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend." So don't sell God and yourself short by seeking to understand but rather simply seek to obey.  When we take the step of faith of simply obeying the direction and calling of God rather than seeking understanding of why, we are opening the flood gates of God's power to work in our lives. With our simple obedience in our time of trial or despair, we are actively demonstrating our faith and trust in Him. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Trust in His plans and simply obey rather than understand.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Knowing Good

James 4:17 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

Seems pretty direct and easily understood but if we really look at the ramifications of that one simple scripture, it is quite powerful and does not leave a lot of gray area for personal likes and dislikes.  This brings to mind a time my mother was explaining how we will be held accountable for what God meant in His Word and not how we chose to interpret it.  Her example was of her telling us kids to have the house cleaned by the time she returned.  When she returned whether it was in an hour or four hours, we would be judged by what she meant in that simple statement of "clean the house." Our arguments of "well, I thought you meant..." would not hold water and we risked discipline by doing less than what she meant (because we really did know what she meant as she never expected something of us that was not previously explained).  When we stand before God, our excuses of "well, I thought you meant..." or "I didn't know you meant it THAT way" or "I didn't like that particular requirement so...", those excuses will just not hold up before the Holy One, the Righteous One, the one who died for us. We are going to be judge by what he meant and not our interpretation or what we found to be convenient or easy.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Desperately Seeking Hope

Have you ever been in a despair so deep that there just doesn't seem any way out. You can't talk with anyone about it because the despair only deepens when they tell you to, "buck up and get over it." They use words that cause your heart, mind and soul to cringe and die a little more like, "you can't wallow in your grief, you must move on." Or "You need to pick yourself up by your boot straps." Not only are you stuck in your grief and pain but they have also robbed you of the bit of hope that you were seeking. Your heart screams out to God to hear you and heal the hurt but the ceiling appears to be lead and that your prayers are going nowhere.  Each time you reach out for a comforter it seems that your hand either gets pushed away or you come up empty. Where do you go? What do you do? How do you find your way out of the darkness of hopelessness into the light? What do you do to once again find purpose and strength?

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:21-22

Even within our own lamenting of the hard hand we have been dealt, we can find hope in our faithful God. Though it appears that He does not hear us, we can be assured that his compassion and mercy is ever present. When it is the darkest night and there seems to be no hope we must hold tight to His promise, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5b

So pray for me while I weep in my night time and "wallow" in my grief because morning WILL come and there SHALL be joy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Mourning

"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint and make a noise:" Psalm 55:1-2

I have not written much for the past six months as there has been a deep spirit of mourning and grief hanging over me that I have not been able to shake. It seems that God desires that I go through this grieving time with little intervention from Him. I cannot say that He has been silent but He has been very quiet during my times of emotional agony. He has provided guidance through a word aptly spoken by a minister or friend. Just when it seems that the last flicker of hope is about to be extinguished, a song will come to mind. At the times that I am so consumed in my despair and mourning, my eyes are opened to those who have nothing AND don't know Him as their hope. Like I said, He hasn't been silent but He hasn't taking me out of the storm just yet either. If I am completely transparent, I have an inkling as why I am still here grieving. It isn't comfortable being transparent with ourselves let alone with others but if we want Jesus to shine through us then we HAVE to be transparent. It is through this time of hurting and sadness that God is helping me to remove things from my life that hinder His Will and Plan for me. It is through the stripping away unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and offense that He is molding me into His image. It will be through mourning, letting go and burying the last of the "what could have been" that I will find myself in God's Perfect Plan. So until I have mourned and wept my last, I will stand on God's promise: The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart... Psalm 34:18

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Busy Waiting

As a parent, I have had a lot of experience waiting. There are two types of waiting with children – one is mental the other is physical. The mental version of waiting – waiting for them to eat real food, waiting for them to start walking, waiting for them to start school, waiting for them to gain a little independence, waiting for them to move out, waiting for… Then the physical kind of waiting – waiting for football practice to end, waiting for the school program to start, waiting for them to get done visiting with their friends, waiting for…
Waiting in our Christian walk is basically the same – the physical side – waiting for healing, waiting for financial blessing, waiting for… The spiritual side – waiting for God to speak, waiting for direction, waiting for peace, waiting for joy, waiting for…

In all of these cases we are actually waiting FOR something – either the start of something or the end of something – we aren’t waiting just for the sake of waiting. In every instance of waiting there is a kernel of faith because you cannot actually wait for something if you do not believe that it will come to pass. So the question isn’t what are we waiting for but how are we waiting and what are we doing during the waiting time. Is our waiting filled with impatience, frustration and idleness? Or do we wait with joy, peace, faith and action. While waiting for my children’s functions many times I would take a craft to do or a book to read. It kept me occupied and I found that I had an easier time waiting with patience and without mounting frustration. So why should waiting for God to answer a prayer, give us direction or bring his plan to fruition be any different. Will my waiting for God be filled with the attitude of, “if it’s meant to be it will be” or with the attitude of, “God, what can I do to be best prepared for your blessings when it is time?” One thing I don’t want to do is fill my “waiting” time doing things that will keep God’s best plan from working (since we have a choice, it is possible for us to do that). Sometimes we do things to “tide us over” but when waiting for God it is unnecessary and may keep us from being eligible for that “best plan.” So we should be very cautious with HOW we wait for God’s answer/blessing/plan.

Hebrews 10:36

36.    For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.