Where’s your focus?

For those of us who call Jesus Lord and King, we have so much to be thankful for. For those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and King they have so much to gain by calling on His name. With Him in our life we are able to walk through any situation that life may throw at us. He doesn’t allow His kids to go through more temptation than they are able to bare if they abide in Him through the journey. He may allow a storm in our lives but He will never  bail on us during the thick of it. Never!

 

Too often we slip into a pattern of worry or fear with regards to the future. We forget that the lover of our soul never turns a blind eye to His church. Instead, He waits to hear from us. He longs for our fellowship. He is as close as the mention of His very name!

When we find ourselves feeling far from Him it is usually the result of setting our eyes on the natural. We forget that our relationship is a relationship of faith, not based on what we see but instead on the truth of the Word of God and the revelation of who Christ is through the Holy Spirit.  It is so important that we get ourselves back to the truth of the Word of God and the knowledge of who Christ is and will always be! He is Emmanuel, GOD with us! Don’t forget it! Instead let the truth of that sink into your heart! God loved us enough that He sent His own Son for our redemption. He wanted to restore a relationship with us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you and me!  That’s an awesome love right there!

When you find yourself reducing Christ and enlarging your problems, it’s time to get back to this basic truth. It’s time to heed Apostle Paul’s words taken from Colossians 3:1-3 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

You will only grow in your intimacy and love for Christ when you set your mind on things above. It is there in the realm of faith that He will begin to move the mountains in your life as your lean into Him and trust Him to do so! Keeping your eyes on your problems will keep you bound by them! Keeping your eyes on Christ will allow Him to move mightily!  James 1:8 KJV tells us A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  We can’t keep our eyes focused on our problems and trust God for the answers at the same time. We must exercise our faith and turn them over to Him and trust Him to work everything  out for our good! He promised to do just that!  Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you are struggling through a situation right now, take your eyes of your current situation and remember you have been raised with Christ through your redemption. Set your heart and mind  on things above. Remember that Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is ever making intercession for you, His church! There is nothing too big or difficult for Him to handle. Release the fear and stress of your situation into the hands of the ONE who loved and loves you more than His life itself!  Trust Him, He is worthy!

 

 

He’s still moving! We must too!

The last few weeks have been so busy. I have not had time to write as often as I like due to other commitments and responsibilities. Today I am happy to be able to settle in for a few minutes and share some of the things I see God doing in my small circle of life. We serve an awesome God, who not only hears the prayers of His saints but answers them in some pretty awesome ways! Not always in the way we expect, in fact very seldom in the way we expect but in much better ways.

I belong to a smaller country church that through prayer has been growing substantially. Numbers don’t mean much but the growth we are experiencing is also in a body hungering for more of God. Our bible study groups have grown, our worship teams are continually growing and the praise is most times out of this world! Our Pastor is preaching with power and anointing and the congregation is being fed. It is all as a result of the fervent prayer of the saints! We hear of churches having a hard time keeping their doors open, yet ours is growing in all the right areas.  I am so thankful to God for hearing our prayers and answering in the most wonderful ways.

I am also very privileged so see one of our son’s join the ministry. The changes God has done in his heart and life are nothing short of remarkable! As parents, when we see the lives of our children flourish in Christ it has got to be one of the most wonderful blessings we can have. God is awesome!

Also, our church has been joining  together over the last six months or so with a number of other churches for an evening gathering  of worship and prayer. This has been very exciting. To see multiple congregations gather for the sole purpose of worshiping and praying together is a beautiful example of the unity Christ offers the church! No barriers, just one family gathering together.

Despite the fact we are witnessing a wave rising against the body of Christ around the world right now we are called to continue in the work He has called each of us to do. Abide in Christ, pray, seek, study, grow and most of all love on those He puts in our path.  We are to continue working for our King and His Kingdom until He takes us up or calls us home!

His work continues. His Kingdom is growing. His church is being refined. Don’t allow any type of sin or discouragement distract you from moving forward! Instead get plugged in to a church body that is preaching the Word, moving in the Spirit and ministering to the body needs. Time is short. Don’t waste it on things that really don’t matter. Be ready for His return!

I will finish with some words of wisdom from Apostle Paul;

Ephesians 5:1-21 NKJV Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:  “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

Did I choose by chance?

It is an exciting thing to know that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God Himself drew you to Him. Do you realize that?  It wasn’t just that one day you made the decision to follow Christ. Before that day ever happened God Himself drew you to the place where you would make Christ your Lord and Savior.

I think many of us forget what an interested and loving God we serve. He creates the desire in us in the first place! He calls us by name and draws us to His Son! It is impossible to come to Christ without the Father Himself first drawing us to Him!

In the book of John Jesus tells us just that. John 6:44-45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” What a beautiful thing to know that God was interested enough in you and I that He drew us to His beautiful Son for salvation and abundant life!

If you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or thinking that you will never amount to much remember this,  GOD loved you enough to draw you to His Son!  That makes you incredibly special and important! He offers you abundant life! He offers you a life of purpose!  He doesn’t draw anyone to Christ to stay in the same place!

Let the awesomeness of that sink into your soul today as you go about your day. You are loved so much by your Heavenly Father that He has drawn you to His Son! When we begin to grasp the truth of the depth of God’s love for us we will live as God has called us to live, like lights in a dark world!

Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV

 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let the truth lighten you today!

 

Distracted are we?

Distractions, distractions, distractions….they come in every size, shape and color! Those things or people that turn our eyes away from the purposes of God in our life. They even come in very “religious” packages! That’s why it is critical that those of us who follow Jesus keep our eyes focused on Him. Not the church, not the Pastor but on Him. He is to be our focus. When we place our focus on people or things we are sure to be disappointed at some point. When we keep our focus on Him, we are able to overcome any disappointment in people or things or situations.

Jesus knows how easily distracted we can become by situations, people and things.  The Word of God is full of admonishments to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and the calling He has put on our life. When we don’t it doesn’t take but a short time before we find ourselves operating on our feelings alone. We are not called to be people of feelings but rather people of FAITH! We never know when God will put a person in need in our prayer path and if we are not walking in intimacy with Him  we may lose an opportunity to share the gospel or intercede for another that really needs to hear from God.

In my walk, I find that when I take my eyes off of Christ, I begin to focus on the external and pretty soon my prayer life suffers. Doubt begins to take hold and I don’t come boldly before the throne as the Word of God tells us we can. Instead I pray weak prayers with weak faith. Thanks be to God that in His kindness and mercy, He will remind me once again that as I abide in Him and keep my eyes fixed on Him, I CAN come boldly before the throne and make my prayers known!  I love that He doesn’t give up on us but draws us back with the gentle wooing of the Spirit.

Let’s take a look at but a few of the verses that instruct us on keeping our focus on Him and His Kingdom…

Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Romans 8:5 NKJV For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV 12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 119:1-7 NKJV 119 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,  who walk in the law of the LordBlessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently .Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments .I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments.

Following Christ is a daily walk.  If we drop our focus even for a day, we lose opportunities we may never get back. We do however serve an awesome God who offers us new mercies every day! Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV 22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

So as you start each day remember it is never too late to set your eyes on Jesus and the calling He has for you! Thank Him for His mercy and faithfulness in never abandoning you no matter how much you mess up! He is an awesome loving Savior that longs for you to refocus and keep moving forward in your service to Him.

Blessings!

DON’T lose heart

When you find yourself in a hard place caused by someone else do you find yourself asking, “God when are you going to answer? When are you going to put a stop to all of this?” Well I have it on good authority that God hears your petition! He is not a god of stone or wood, He is the ONE true living God! Jesus gave us some pretty wonderful encouragement with just this matter in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV  Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This is such a powerful nugget that we too often read through quickly and neglect to allow the significance of this word sink in. We are not a people that should lose heart but instead to always pray!  We are not to pray once and give up grumbling  when we don’t receive an answer immediately. We don’t really like to hear it but  God will allow our adversaries to be used in the sanctification process of our walk with Him.  As we go through such a process Jesus tells us  that we are to continue to pray through. God will answer our prayer. He points out in this parable how even the unjust judge will answer a petitioner if they fail to give up asking. How much more can we count on God, who loves us, to answer us! Not only will He answer but He will avenge His elect (that’s us!) So what does that mean? He will hear us. He will also avenge on our behalf. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of avenge is;

avenge     verb \ə-ˈvenj\    : to harm or punish someone who has harmed you or someone or something that you care about

So not only will God hear us and answer but He will also handle our adversaries. We don’t need to. He will do so in His way, in His wisdom on our behalf. We have no excuse to allow hatred or bitterness against our adversary in. We can count on the fact that if we, His elect,  cry out to God and do not lose heart, He will answer and take care of our adversaries too.

Jesus isn’t talking about an adversary here of our own making. For example, if we have mistreated or sinned against someone and we are receiving the fall out of that, we shouldn’t be surprised. God will allow us to reap what we sow from time to time. 1 Peter 3:15,16 NKJV 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  He is referring to unjust treatment through no fault of our own. This may be as a result of our Christian  stand on issues, our faith itself or for any number of other reasons. Just to be clear we are not to willingly hurt others and call on God to avenge them on our behalf!   ;) However if we find ourselves being unjustly targeted or persecuted we are to cry out to God for help and know that He will answer! He may choose to allow us to endure for a season but we can be sure He will be with us as we do. As we cry out to Him, He will equip us to endure whatever He allows and He will take care of our adversary.

Throughout the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ suffering for their faith. They are not forgotten by God. Their prayers are being heard. Though they may be called to endure persecution for a season or even give their life for Christ, He will be with them every step of the way. He will equip them for the task.  God will not allow them to endure more than they are able to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV assures us of this.13 No temptation (including the temptation to recant our faith) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 Perhaps one day, we too will be called to do the same.  Jesus is telling us in Luke 18 that regardless of the unfairness of a situation God permits us to go through, regardless of who our adversary is,  we are not to lose heart! We are to continue in prayer! Just because our situation may not be pleasant, it does not mean God does not hear our cries! In fact, we can be certain He does!  He is JUST and we can be assured He hears our cries!

So whatever situation you may find yourself facing right now, DO NOT lose heart! DO NOT give up crying out to Him. He hears and will answer! He will not allow you to go through one iota more than you can bear. Of that you can be sure!  Jesus said so.

Don’t worry Your Father’s got this!

I love the fact that we serve a God who knows our needs even better than we do. He is not unaware of our individual situations and cares but instead He knows and is willing to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, through Christ! How often do we live as if He didn’t? How much time do we spend worrying and fretting over temporal  things while we let the things that will make an eternal difference slide?

In the book of Luke, Jesus makes it pretty clear that God is more than capable of taking care of all our needs when we seek the Kingdom of God first. We need to major on the majors and minor on the minors!

Luke 12:22-40 NIV 

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

These words must have seemed so radical to the multitudes listening. These words are still radical today to those of us who have chosen to follow Him! Jesus is telling us to live with eternity on our mind. He is telling us seek Him first! He is telling us to not allow any possession to have a hold on us! He is telling us to trust Him with all our needs! He is telling us to believe that our Father, who clothes the wild flowers is MORE than capable of clothing us with all our needs! He is telling us we are not to live as the pagans live, worrying about how they will take care of all their own needs but we are called to live a life of obedience and service, with God providing for us as we put Him and His Kingdom first! Radical, radical, radical!

I love that Jesus said, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. We do NOT serve a god who is dead, we serve GOD who is alive and knows are needs!  Now that is good news! 

The next time you find  yourself in a situation that would typically cause you to worry or fret remember these words! YOUR FATHER KNOWS YOUR NEEDS! Instead of worrying, bring your needs to the ONE who is more than capable of taking care of any situation. The Creator of the Universe. Jehovah Jireh, our Lord and Provider!  Put God first. Put His Son first. Put the Kingdom of God first. When we do this, we have NOTHING to worry about. He promises to take care of all our needs!  Matthew 6:33 NIV 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Christ is coming back for a church that is longing for His return. Don’t allow anything or anyone to cause you to worry, fear or distract you from that fact. Keep the Kingdom of God as your heart’s treasure. Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamp burning! Be ready for the Son of Man when He returns for you, His bride!

Come Lord Jesus!