Archive | January 2015

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!

 

Embolden Your Church Lord

With so much worldwide persecution of the church going on it is vital that those of us with the freedom to live and share our faith openly without fear of death and torture do so. It is also critical that we spend time in prayer praying for those who are currently going through incredible testing of their faith. Too often we are afraid to share our faith because of fear of being ridiculed or thought less of when many are required to give their life for doing so. We are not called to be cowards. We are called to be unashamed of the gospel (good news)  that saved us, freed us and will continue to preserve us until He comes again!

Romans 1:16,17   16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  (Faith not FEAR)

Jesus made it very clear in Luke  chapter 9 that those of us who call Him Savior and Lord and have made the decision to follow Him MUST be willing to do a few things.

Luke 9:23-26 NKJV 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

The life of a Christian is a life of intimacy and service to the ONE who called us.  We cannot do it in our own strength. We can only live  a spiritually fruitful life by DAILY surrendering our lives to HIM. By yielding our will to HIM. By spending time in HIS presence. Through the  power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. By searching the scriptures daily to learn of HIM and His purposes for each of our lives.  When we are willing to daily take up our cross we are usable by God for His purposes. If we are too busy consumed with fear,  worldly concerns or self interests we are wasting precious time that He has give us to be used in service. There are so many that have yet to hear the gospel. So many hurting that need a touch from Jesus. So many broken lives that need to be restored to the ONE who died for them.

My prayer is that the Lord will embolden my faith as I yield to Him. That He will strengthen my resolve to follow Him, regardless of the cost. That I will NEVER be ashamed of the gospel of Christ! For as the Word of God says, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Lord, forgive us for our complacency and lack of faith. Forgive us for allowing fear to play a part in our walk with you.  Please increase our faith. Embolden us to speak the truth of the gospel whenever we are given the opportunity to do so. Create in us a heart that longs to spend time in Your presence and in Your Word. Give us a burden of prayer for our brothers and sisters all over the world who have been called to suffer and die for the sake of the gospel. Help us deny ourselves and take up our cross daily for You! Lord may we live our lives as Apostle Paul did, not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes!  In Jesus beautiful name, Amen.

 

 

Aim HIGH in 2015!

Being New Year’s Day and all, I thought instead of making a New Year’s resolution today I would just resolve to do what we are called to do but with more purpose and drive! So many of my past NY resolutions  consisted of fleeting goals and ideals. Things that would fade after a month or two such as eat less chocolate…watch less tv…lose weight… Goals that were small enough to achieve with not too much effort, yet wouldn’t make a huge difference in my life or the life of others. This year I am determined to aim higher. I am asking God to help me walk closer to Christ, become more like Christ and do what Christ has called me to do, the same things He has called all of His followers to do…. None of this can be done without the power of the Spirit of God. Trying to do so would be futile. It would only frustrate me. I am incapable in the flesh, of achieving what God wants to do in me and through me.

Thankfully, God has provided the Holy Spirit to do the work as we yield our will to Him. So this year I desire to to yield more, submit more, seek more and serve more. Not in my own strength but by spending time with my teacher (Jesus) and learning (through His Word) of His ways. In the book of Luke Jesus tells us, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40  I want to be more like my teacher! This in itself is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit. When we read Luke 6 verses 27 to 38 we are faced with teachings that are impossible to obey in the flesh!

27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”  

Let’s face it, sometimes it is difficult to love and forgive those whom we love let alone those who curse us or spitefully use us. Yet Jesus tells us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us! He goes on to tell us to be merciful and not judge…. But how????

This can only be achieved by yielding our will and heart to the ONE who willingly loved us while we were an enemy of the cross. He did good for us while we hated Him! Our teacher  paved the way by willingly laying down His life for us while we were sinners! He reached out to us while we were still in our sin and extended mercy and grace to us! When we were worthy of condemnation He forgave us! He is not asking us to do what He was unwilling to do. He did that and so much more by offering His sin free body up as a human sacrifice to save us from our sins!

When we begin to grasp the true depth of His love for us, which is revealed through the Holy Spirit, we are able to yield our will to follow Jesus our teacher. A teacher  that is unlike any other. A teacher who offers us new mercies every morning. A teacher who will NEVER leave us or forsake us. A teacher who is closer than a brother. A teacher who will one day soon come back to take us HOME.

So in 2015, I resolve to be a student worthy of my calling. I resolve to spend more time with my teacher. I resolve to spend more time studying His Word. I resolve to obey His teachings and to serve Him with abandon.

If this is the desire of your heart, pray along with me;

Lord, we pray that in the coming year those who call themselves followers of Christ, will seek You daily, study Your Word, obey Your teachings and be Your hands and feet to a world desperate for YOU! Give us the desire to be all we can be. Keep us from becoming spiritually lazy and complacent. When we forget, remind us of Your imminent return and that there is work to be done until then. Jesus, we ask it all in Your precious name, Amen.

Philipians 3:14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.