Archive | November 2013

No more moaning or wait like Paul!

In my walk with Christ, there have been many times that I have had to wait on God for direction for the future. Times when things have not gone the way I expected. Times when tragedy has knocked at my door.  I haven’t always waited with the right attitude. I have often moaned and groaned and complained. I am learning however that there is a better way!  Our attitude during the wait says so much about who we believe our God is and how much He loves us!

I believe Apostle Paul gives us a wonderful example of just how we are to wait. Throughout Paul’s life he  went through many things that most of us have never had to endure. He educates us on some of his sufferings in the book 0f 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 NIV16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about.22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

Thankfully most of us will not endure all the sufferings that Paul did. We will however, have to face our own. No one escapes from life here on earth without enduring some difficulty and suffering. We live in a fallen world and until we see Jesus face to face, there will be things from time to time that we will have to endure.  Instead of complaining and moaning, I believe the Lord has shown us in the book of Acts how we are to wait.  Acts 16:16-34 NIV16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Many in the church today would have spent the first few days in prison complaining to God that they had been imprisoned unjustly! The focus being on how it was affecting their life! Instead, Paul used every opportunity, no matter how difficult or painful, to allow Christ to use him for His glory. He and Silas prayed and sang hymns and God answered supernaturally! They glorified Christ right there in that prison cell and ultimately many others were saved because of their response!

God wants the same from each of us. He wants us to trust Him completely as we wait on Him for our answer. He wants us to glorify Him in our response and our actions, regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We don’t have to run to everyone else and tell them all of  our woes, we need to run to our Master. He will hear us and answer us and while we wait, we need to pray and sing hymns and glorify Him in our behavior. Just as the jailer watched Paul and Silas, others our watching us and our response during these times  has the ability to make a difference in where they and their families may  spend eternity.

Prayer and praise are the oars by which a man may row his boat into the deep waters of the knowledge of Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon

Seriously, do I really need to go to church?

When we come to Christ, God fills us with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit than gives each of us spiritual gifts as He sees fit. All the gifts are necessary for the collective body of Christ to grow. God does not give us our giftings to hoard or to sit on. He wants us to use our giftings to minister to one another. Let’s take a look at what Paul says about the gifts and the purpose of the giftings in 1 Corinthians 12:1-28….

1 Corinthians 12:1-28 NIV 12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[ one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Each and every one of us have a part to play in God’s family. This is the way He created it to be. We need each other to fulfill God’s plan for sharing Christ with the world. We also need each other to grow and mature in Christ. Our Creator did not want us to be alone. He knows what we need to mature and minister to others. The church provides the avenue for this to happen.

I spent several years away from church. There were many reasons I stopped going, none of which were any particular church’s fault. I had begun to doubt God’s love for me after being battered by a few life storms. I think I even wanted to punish God for not keeping the storms away. I am thankful to say God wooed me back with His love. I am now certain that, thanks to Christ, His love for me is limitless. I am also convinced that the church, though not perfect, is the best place for seekers of Christ and followers of Christ to grow in our love for God and one another.

Under solid, loving, Godly church leadership, we are able to learn our individual giftings and begin to use them in building up the church body. We are able to conquer giants through corporate  prayer.  We are able to be loved and love on one another. We able to help one another through difficult days and we are able to reach out to a dying world with the good news of Jesus.

I am so thankful to belong to my church family. My prayer is that if you don’t belong to a church family you will pray and ask God to show you where you should be going. You are missing out on all the blessings a church family brings. You are also missing out on fulfilling your purpose in the body of Christ. God has a church for you somewhere.  Don’t expect it to be perfect after all it’s made up of imperfect people like you and I but it is the place God’s designed for each of us to grow in and He knows what He is doing. 🙂

Are you seeing what God sees?

A few years back the Lord dealt with me about my lack of self acceptance. I had always struggled with my self image. Most mornings when I would be getting ready for the day, I would find myself inwardly criticizing my physical appearance. I was too this, or too that. I wish I didn’t have this or had that etc.  It was not something I did consciously. I had just always done it from as far back as I could remember.  On this one particular morning I was putting on my make up and found myself doing the same thing I had always done. Critiquing my flaws.

This particular morning was different however. I heard God speak to my spirit. He asked me, “Would you say those things about anyone else? Would you look at any other woman and say the things you are saying about yourself?” I was caught off guard by the question..and then I responded, “No, it wouldn’t bother me Lord if someone else had my flaws.”  He responded with, “You are criticizing my daughter. You are tearing down something that I created, something I love.” I was flabbergasted. I had been verbally destroying His handiwork with my self criticism and harsh word. I knew in my heart I would never criticize anyone else the way I had myself. I began to cry. I had been tearing down His creation. I had been hating on his beloved.

Self abasement is not humility nor is it healthy. It is tearing down what God has created. It is saying He messed up on His creation. From that day on, I never looked at myself the same way. I began to change my self talk. I began to thank God for the way He created me.

If you are struggling with your self image, ask Christ to reveal to you the way He sees you. If you’re self talk is destructive and tearing down, know you are listening to the wrong voice! God never tears down His creation. Begin to challenge any thoughts and self talk that are demeaning and discouraging.  You have been “fearfully and wonderfully” made by your Creator. He loves you just as He created you and He wants you to know that! Don’t waste any more time hating on yourself. It is a distraction to keep you from fulfilling the purpose God created you for! You are unique and special and He has formed you to be just the way you are.

Psalm 139:13,14 NIV 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.

Mercy triumphs over judgement!

1 John 1:9

Our God is a holy God. I believe many of us have minimized His holiness from time to time in order to make Him seem more approachable. His holiness is not dependent on our needs, wants or desires. His holiness is who He is. He will never be any less holy or more holy. He is holiness.

So the question is, how then can we sinful people, approach God who is so holy with our prayers? We know deep down we don’t deserve to. We know we will never be “good enough” on our own. We know He will see right through our cleaned up appearance to a heart that is deceitful.

I am thankful that although He is holy , He is also merciful. Because of His mercy, He sent His most precious Son to this earth to make a way for us to approach His holiness.  He made a way where there was no way! He provided His Son as the sacrificial lamb for  you and I. He watched His perfect and holy Son suffer a painful death on the cross because of His love for us. Our sins were on His back as He died on that cross.  He indeed made a way where there was no way!

If you do not know Him as your Savior, it’s time you did. Pray this Salvation Prayer today. Don’t wait a minute longer and you too will become a child of God.

Heavenly Father:

I come to you today asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I know I am a sinner and need saving. I am truly sorry for all my sins and the life I have lived without you and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the cross and shed His blood for my sins. I believe that He rose again from the dead and is now seated in Heaven. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior right now and according to Your word from Romans chapter 10 verse 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” I am now saved!  Thank you for this gift of salvation. Please guide me now and fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live my life for You. In Jesus name, Amen. 

You have now become a child of God! It is so important that you begin to read the Bible, perhaps starting in the book of Matthew (New Testament). It is also important that you look for a Bible based church where you can grow as a believer and have fellowship with other Christians.

If you are a follower of Christ but have gotten off track and have forgotten that He died for ALL your sins, not just the “little” ones, bring the rest to Him. Confess them and be restored. If you are bound by thoughts, feelings, fears etc. bring them before Him. He is able to set you free. Ask for forgiveness for the things you have opened yourself up to that have brought these things about and ask Him to free you.

1 John 1:9NIV If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Heavenly Father:

 I come before you today, asking for forgiveness for all my sins. I have strayed and disobeyed you and your word. Please forgive me of all my sins and transgressions. I confess (name the sins you are carrying around) I am truly sorry. Please forgive me for opening up areas of my life to sin and bondage. I am sorry and ask that you close the door on any areas I have opened that need shutting. Please restore my peace and joy in You. Guide me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live a life that is pleasing to you. Give me a hunger for your Word, my Bible. Give me a love for others. Create a clean heart in me and renew a right spirit within me today. I ask it all in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Don’t waste another day wallowing in the mire. For everyone that has asked Christ to be their Lord and Savior has indeed been made His righteousness!

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV21 God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  

You now have every right to come before God as His child with your prayers, praise and thanksgiving at any time in any place.   Jesus paid the price in full for your sin and has opened the door for you to enter into the holy of holies to your Heavenly Father. Don’t delay, enter today!

But can I really trust Him with this?

Last week at Bible study  our group had a great discussion about trusting God with our finances. It was so nice to share and hear from others the varied ways God stretches our faith to trust Him in this area.  For most of us, it is an area that we often struggle with for some time before we finally let go of the fear that He will not meet our needs as He promises and we begin to obey Him with our giving.

I can now say with certainty that when we tithe to our local church and bless others along the way, God will  ensure our needs are always taken care of. I have seen it in others lives, lived it and am convinced of it. I have also found that He will often provide in ways that I have never expected through means I never expected!  On the other side of the coin. There was a time when I resented giving my tithe and decided  to just not give it until things improved in my finances. This backfired. I was never so discouraged or financially pressed as during those years.

Does God need our money? NO, He does not. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He does however know what it can come to mean to us and He looks at our heart. Our we trusting Him to care for us as we care for His church and others?  The bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. If you are struggling with your finances, look to Him to help you through but start with yourself.  Are you helping  to support your local church and bless others? Or are you waiting till you have it all together?  If you are a follower of Christ, you cannot ignore your obligation to support your church. Nor should  you turn a blind eye to others when they are in need. Begin with obedience to Him and you will see His hand move in your life in ways you never expected!

Here are a few  scriptures that I hope will be both a nudge and a blessing to you regarding finances…

2Corinthians 9:7 NIVEach of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Malachi 3:10 NIV10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

1 Timothy 6:10 NIV10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Phillipians 4:19 NIV19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

And finally one of my favorite verses…

Proverbs 22:9 NIV The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.