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Don’t be surprised

After reading 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 this morning, I realized how absolutely fitting this chapter is for followers of Christ today.  It is descriptive of our world in 2013. We are living in strained times. When we look at what is going on in the Middle East there is no question these are  the days Jesus warned us about.

For centuries Israel ceased to exist as a country but today it is once again a nation!  Not only is it a nation but it is once again central to world politics, peace etc.  It is fulfilling it’s destiny. Before 1948, it had been centuries since it had been considered a nation. Time is quickly propelling us into the fulfillment of  so many of the prophecies written in the Old and New Testaments. God’s Word is true. It never changes. It will be fulfilled, regardless of what naysayers say or do! So we need to make every day count and use our time wisely!

Today, without any additional words, I would suggest you meditate on 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.  It may be a month, year or several decades before Jesus returns. We don’t know. We do know however, that many will be deceived by not knowing the Word and not abiding in Christ. Deception is increasing and will continue to do so.  It  is so important we hold  on to what is good and reject every kind of evil. As Paul states we should not be surprised by His return. He will come as a thief in the night and we need to be ready. I encourage you to mediate on this beautiful chapter today. It is not only a word of warning but also a word of encouragement for those of us in the body of Christ. It is a reminder that our King of Kings is coming soon and we need to live our lives with that in mind!

1 Thessalonians 5 NIV 5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, souland body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Blessings!

Who do you turn to for advice?

When you find yourself needing advice who do you turn to? Do you rely solely on others for their wisdom? Do you pick up the phone and call your Mom, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse?  There are times when we find ourselves in need of some sound advice and yet we need to be so careful who we turn to for advice. There are those people who may be promoting  their own agenda or may try and manipulate us for their own personal gain. Than again, there are those who wish to help us but they really don’t know what or how God wants to move in our life and may offer us advice that goes contrary to that plan.

I am learning that when a thing is important enough to seek advice, before I pick up the phone to call another I need to bring it before God in prayer.  Taking the time to ask God to guide me with my decision making should not be done as a last resort.  I need to seek Him first and then as He leads, go from there.

Too often we look for  quick resolutions or pat answers and in many cases neither will  bring about the long term results God wants for us in our lives.  When we find ourselves having to make a  decision about anything or anyone that requires another’s opinion, it should be our first instinct to bring it before God. He is always looking out for our best long term interests. His advice will never lead us astray or down the wrong path.

Sadly, friends may come and go. Family, though it may believe it, may not always know what is best for us in our walk with Christ. We need to depend on and trust in the lover of our soul, Jesus.  Ultimately we will one day stand before Christ and either hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21) or “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23). The choices we make, here on earth, will determine which response we will hear. Regardless of what another tells us, we are ultimately responsible to Christ for working out our own salvation and therefore we have to be very careful who we turn to for advice.

The next time you are unsure about a decision, take the time to ask God to provide the wisdom to make the right choice. There will be times you may have to wait on an answer for a time, but seek Him first. He will never lead us astray!

Psalm 118:8 NIV 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

Psalm 146:3-5 NIV 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;  on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

Proverbs 3:5 NIV 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Who are you interceding for?

Anyone that has been watching the news lately realizes there is an escalation of persecution for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India and the list goes on and on…. even to a degree here in North America where it is no longer politically correct to stand for the principles of God’s Word and if you do, you may be mocked or criticized. Though Jesus warned us that this day would come, it is difficult to hear how so many are being martyred worldwide for their faith. Most of the perpetuators are extremists on the outside but it is the same spirit of antichrist that ruled the world in times past. It is just escalating as Jesus warned us it would, as time draws closer to His return. We need to not only pray for those being persecuted but that the persecutors will come to know this Jesus that we love so much!

Everything we see going on today is a petition to prayer! Pray for North Americans to be bold in Christ and not be as the Word of God says, whitewashed tombs. Spiritually dead on the inside and appearing righteous on the outside! We need to wake ourselves out of a spiritual slumber of comfort and begin interceding for our families, Pastors and those in Christian leadership, churches, friends, leaders of nations, and our brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide! We need to stop wasting so much time doing things that have no permanent value and become warriors in prayer for the lost, the persecuted and for each other. Prayer is the wheel that will begin to get change rolling in the lives of others and ourselves. Without it, we cannot expect to see God intercede. It really does change things, people and situations.

The Bible has several verses on praying for others. Too many to list them all here but here is a start….

James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Matthew 5:4  AKJV44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

These next few verses in the book of Luke show just how important it is not to quit praying. God hears our prayers and we are not to quit!

Luke 18:1-8 NIV 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Ephesians 6:18 NIV 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 NIV 3 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.

and finally…

1 Timothy 2:1 NIV 2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.

We have a valuable tool available to us that can bring about enormous change for the lost, the weak, the broken, the persecuted, the hurting, those in authority, those being used by our enemy etc…  Let”s use this tool and do what the Word of God says to do!  If we spend more time interceding in prayer and less time complaining we will begin to see the changes our hearts long for before Jesus returns!

“Prayerlessness is disobedience, for God’s command is that men ought always to pray and not faint. To be prayer less is to fail God, for He says, ask of me.”~ Leonard Ravenhill

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What are you putting before Him?

Isaiah 42:8

Isaiah 42:8

“Idol” definition taken from Oxforddictionaries.com

noun  -an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered:  a soccer idol.

I’ve been rethinking many of the things I have allowed in my life that could certainly fall into this category.  Particularly a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved or revered.  Is it wrong for us to love those around us? NO, Jesus said that people will know we are Christians by our love for others! So when do people or things become an idol? I believe it is when we place their importance, opinions and or influence above our relationship and obedience to the King of Kings. Anything or person that we allow to detract us from our obedience to Jesus is an idol. Anything or anyone that we love more than Him is an idol. When we find ourselves compromising what we know is truth in order to accommodate others or to participate in something we know we shouldn’t we have allowed that person or thing to become an idol in our life.

For the last few months, I have begun to realize I am way too dependent on electronic gadgets! My blackberry is always within reach, facebook is readily accessible, the internet is a click away and tv is all too available. Though none of these things in themselves are wrong, when I allow myself to be caught up in never wanting them out of reach, I have made  them an idol in my life.

I feel a stirring in my heart that we may be facing some incredibly difficult days ahead as believers. Our Christian heritage is being attacked on every front. Things are changing rapidly in society and most of the changes are tearing down our Judeo Christian foundation. Though I do use my gadgets to share my faith in Christ and to keep in touch with others, I am realizing that I really have to discipline myself not to give them too much space in my life.  The only way for me to maintain an intimate walk with Christ is to spend adequate time in prayer and in reading my Bible and in fellowship. There have been occasions when I have been praying in my car on route to work and my cell phone has wrung and I have interrupted prayer to answer it!  Responding as if the world would collapse if I missed that  call!

Gadgets are but one thing that can become an idol. Other idols can be people. Perhaps a friend that demands too much time and keeps you  from spending time with the Lord. A boyfriend or girlfriend that has become an idol and has replaced the need for Christ in your life. A teacher, Pastor, neighbor or musician. A hobby, a sinful habit, food, tv, sports etc..  Anything or anyone that takes the place of putting Christ first is an idol.

Though all of these things and people may have great value in our lives, we have to keep them in perspective and not allow anything or anyone to steal our heart from God. If it keeps us from or causes us to run from intimacy with Him it is an idol.  The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God and wants us to put Him first. He knows how easily distracted we can become and knows it is vital for us to maintain intimacy with Him for the rest of our lives to work out according to His plan.

Let’s take a look at a few verses from God’s Word on idolatry….

Colossians 3:5-6 NIV 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.      This is a sobering verse of warning of God’s wrath for people continuing in this type of idolatry.

1 John 5:21 NIV 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 10:7  NIV 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

The following verse from the book of Samuel  simplifies the value of anything or anyone we put before God in our lives.

1 Samuel 12:21 NIV 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.

Our hope is in the Lord. Other things and people have their place, but NONE are to take the place of Him in our lives. We are to put NO OTHER gods BEFORE HIM.  Though taken from the Old Testament ten commandments, this  word has never changed. He loves us so much and does not want to be second in our lives. Perhaps we need to ask Him  to show us people or things  that we have allowed to become idols in our lives and then ask for His forgiveness. The Word tells us He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we put anything or anyone before Him we lose out on the things God wants to do in us and through us. We get waylaid from the course He has set for us. Let’s determine to love Him wholeheartedly. Confess and set aside anything that will keep you from your intimacy with the lover of our soul! After all, in order to be used by God and a blessing to those around us, we need to keep our hearts right with Christ!

What are you feeding your mind?

The Word of God says Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle. I want to be part of that and I expect all followers of Christ do too! So why is it we see so many in the body of Christ  more concerned about watching the next big game, or episode of their favorite tv show than they are about being ready for our Kings return? We need to be like the virgins with their lampstands and be ready! Sadly we have allowed our minds to become too preoccupied with  temporal things and have shelved eternal things, thinking we can always get back to them.

I feel a stirring in my heart that I need to lay aside the things that easily distract me and move into a deeper walk with Jesus. I have spoken to many people lately that have that same stirring. So how do we go about doing that? We need to start by changing what we are feeding our minds. If we haven’t been reading our Bibles it’s time to get back to doing that. It’s our love letter from our Father and without it we will not grow spiritually. We need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness for putting anything and or everything before Him. We need to renew our minds on truth.  Our walk with Christ is a journey from glory to glory. In order to grow more like our Savior we need to spend time with Him in prayer and spend time in His Word renewing our minds.

As much as I like to watch and read current news, I realize though it  informs me of the troubles of the world,  it can’t offer any real solutions. And though I like to educate myself on issues like health, food, gardening etc.. I need to bear in mind that these things too are temporal. Good to know but if I am spending more time on them than time with the lover of my soul, my walk with Him will begin to suffer.  The things we spend the most time feeding  our minds on are the things that will grow and flourish within us. What we feed grows and what we neglect dies that’s why it is so critical to keep our minds set on eternal things. Otherwise, our walk with Christ will suffer greatly and our growth will stop. We will find ourselves stumbling around in the dark wondering what happened? We lose our peace, joy, spiritual discernment and so many other things that God freely gives us when we don’t abide in Him.

If you find yourself in that place now, cry out to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive you for putting anyone or anything before Him, confess your sins to Him. His Word tells us that,  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. ( 1John 1:9)  He longs to have fellowship with you again! Get back into the Word of God. Just as your body needs food daily, so does your spirit. Begin to renew your mind on the things of God through His Word. Aim to spend less time on the temporal and more on the eternal, where the fruit born is eternal.

Romans 12:2 NIV2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Phillipians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Is your prayer life lacking?

 I have come to really enjoy my prayer time. I love spending time talking to the lover of my soul. It is no longer a chore or done out of a sense of obligation. It is done out of love and a longing to spend time with God. The change began to take place when I began to spend more time reading my Bible and realizing just how much I am loved!  Without that time in God’s Word, I would still be praying out of a sense of duty but it is because of the life His Word has breathed into me, I am now aware that my prayers are not said in vain but through Christ, are direct words shared with the Creator of the Universe!

The more time I spend soaking in His Word, the more I love to spend time talking to Him. It has opened up the line of communication between me and my Creator! It is abiding. As we read the Word, we become convicted of things in our lives we need to get rid of or surrender to God. As we shed these things and align our lives with His Word, our intimacy grows. Gone is the shame and separation that so often keep us from being able to boldly go before His throne. Through our faith in Christ, we know we can ask for forgiveness and be cleansed and renewed and move forward in what God has in store for us. The more we learn of Him, the more we long to be like Him!

Abiding is the secret to seeing our prayers answered. Why? Because when we abide in Christ, we no longer ask for things that are outside the will of God, not only for us but for others. As in any relationship, you must spend time getting to know another before you can really share anything of  depth. You wouldn’t share a deep hurt or wound with a complete stranger, or ask for their help if you didn’t know them. You wouldn’t feel you had the right to expect from them when you didn’t know them and hadn’t invested anything in a relationship with them. It is the same with our relationship with God. If we don’t read His Word and learn of who He is and what  He has done for us, than we really don’t know how to approach Him. We may throw up an occasional prayer now and then but won’t really spend the time with Him that we need to in order to cultivate intimacy.

In the book of John we read the words of Jesus 15:1-11 NIV 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you.No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If you are lacking a desire to pray, get back into the Word of God and reacquaint yourself with God and His awesome love for you that He willingly demonstrated through Jesus.  Spending time in the Word of God will increase your faith and give you fresh revelation of who Jesus is and how much He loves you!  As you begin to fathom just how great that love is, you will long to spend more time with Him in prayer, praying things in line with His will for you and others!

“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” C.H. Spurgeon

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Don’t sit idle!

Some days my heart hurts for this world we live in. I watched the news and heard about the British soldier slaughtered on the street in London. He wasn’t in battle but simply walking down the street when he was approached and slaughtered by a raging terrorist who felt justified in killing him  because he wasn’t of the same faith. Today, I heard of an attempted plane high jacking from Pakistan to England, that thankfully it was thwarted but could have ended in tragedy. Again, an attempt to take the lives of others who don’t share their extreme ideology…

Anyone that doesn’t see the evil in this world we live in has to be wearing blinders. There are wars and rumors of wars all around us. Governments are involved in corruption on so many levels and refuse to admit or take any responsibility for their actions. One country feels the right to annihilate another because of a difference in beliefs. We hear stories of parents killing their children and children killing their parents, abuse in homes, schools, churches and so much more…

So what is the answer to all of this mess? Do we just resolve ourselves to the fact there is nothing we can do? Do we live in our own little bubble and refuse to help and make a difference? Do we harden ourselves by ignoring others and moving forward without a thought for their difficulties?

As Christians, God has called us to a world such as this.  We are men and women with the tool of prayer at our disposal. We are men and women with the answer. Christ didn’t come to save the “found” but the lost! We have the good news and we need to share it with a dying, messed up world.

Luke 19:10 NIV 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 20:28 NIV 28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.                                                              

Luke 5:32 NIV 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

When you see destruction and heartache all around, take the time to ask God what it is you can be doing to make a difference? There is always something we can do! Pray, pray for the lost, pray for the hurting, the broken, the rebellious, the bitter, your enemies and then do something to demonstrate the love of Christ to another!

It’s important that we don’t sit on our hands and moan about the state of things without getting down on our knees and praying! Prayer is the thing that will usher in the most change.  It is a mighty and powerful weapon that is at the hands of every follower of Christ!  Even the most frail, limited body can pray and therefore is capable of bringing about huge change in this world of ours!

When you have done that ask God how you can serve others?  What can you do to be the hands and feet of Christ?  Ask Him to put people in your life that need to hear the GOOD NEWS and when He does, share it!  Ask Him to provide opportunities where you can minister love and compassion to others and when He does, do it!

We are only limited by our indifference!  Determine to make a difference in this world. Determine to help others by sharing the good news. Determine to not sit back and watch but get involved in doing Christ’s work here while you still have time and while you are able.

Psalm 145:18-19 NIV 18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;  He hears their cry and saves them.

 James 2:14-17 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Acts for today!

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Luke 24:49 NIV 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

My method of studying the Bible is to read it through front to back over and over again. It takes me months to do it but I find reading it in chronological order helps me to understand it so much better. There is so much of the New Testament we really don’t understand without reading and being familiar with the Old Testament such as the meaning and value of sacrifices, covenant etc..

Recently I finished reading the book of Acts. I love this book. It is a power keg! I decided instead of moving on to Romans I would reread it. Every page demonstrates the Father’s love for His kids. When Christ rose again He did NOT leave us comfortless or powerless to live out a life of blessing and anointing.  Through the Holy Spirit we are enabled!

Acts 2:1-21 NIV 2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days, God says,     I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,     your young men will see visions,     your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women,     I will pour out my Spirit in those days,     and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above     and signs on the earth below,     blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness     and the moon to blood     before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls     on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The Spirit of God was promised to God’s sons and daughters and that promise was first fulfilled on the day of Pentecost! He has not reneged or removed that promise. The Holy Spirit is necessary and available to every follower of Christ today! It is through God’s Spirit that we are wooed to Christ and it is by that same Spirit we will move and operate in our giftings as we serve Him. The same giftings and blessing that those men and women received on the day of Pentecost are the same giftings and blessing that we can receive today!

So how do we go about being filled with the Spirit?  The Word of God tells us just that….

First we must repent of our sins and confess Christ as our Lord and Savior. Water baptism should follow according to the Word of God and then we are simply to have another Spirit filled believer lay hands on us and pray.

Acts 8:14-17 NIV 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

If you are a follower of Christ and you have not had pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit than maybe it’s time you did. God has called us to a life of service and when we do it in our own strength and power we do it in vain. The Father’s gift is for each of us and will perfectly equip us for the calling on our lives!

Lean In & Trust Him

Proverbs 3:5-6  5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

From time to time most of us find ourselves in situations that we really don’t understand. When things outside our control seem to take off with a life of their own and before we know it we are reeling from the after effects. I have been in that situation more than once and initially want to react out of fear. But as followers of Christ, God has NOT given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind! 2 Timothy 1:7  I don’t quote this to make light of any difficult time you may be encountering but to get you back to the reality of who God is and what His Word ensures us.

Without any trials, testing or difficult times, we never really get to see just how faithful and true God’s Word is. It can be depended upon in every situation. There are no surprises to God. Though we don’t understand why some of the challenges in life come our way, we can trust that He knows the beginning from the end and is not intimidated or stressed by our difficulties. He longs for us to bring our needs before Him and then do something that does not come natural…TRUST HIM.  As we read in Romans 8:28 NIVAnd we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Not in some or the odd one but in ALL things.

Though we most often don’t understand what the purpose is for our difficult times, we still have no reason to fear. His ways are far above our ways. So when we find ourselves in one of these situations the first thing we must do is seek Him and ask for His help. James 5:16 NIV 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Prayer is the most powerful tool God has given us! Use it without hesitation.  If God does not bring instant relief from our circumstances, we need to wait on Him and trust Him while we wait. Often the most growth happens during the waiting and trusting period. It is when we learn to trust our God with abandon!

While you wait on God, there are many scriptures that will strengthen you and sustain you. Here are just a few to start with…

Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18 NIVWe are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

and finally one of my favorite verses….

Joshua 1:9 NIV 9 ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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“Anything under God’s control is never out of control.”-Charles R. Swindoll

Before you say I do

I love being married. I am thankful that Mike and I have been able to date to share 34 years together. It hasn’t always been easy. We have had many great days and we have had some incredibly difficult days during our marriage. We don’t always agree on everything and I’m sure never will. We have been tested, tempted, tossed and turned but the one thing that has remained through it all is the commitment we made before God. Though we were young when we married, we knew from the Word of God that it was a very serious commitment. When times have been rough, we honored that commitment. Today, I am so thankful we did. We are able to see the fruits of that now in our life as we are able to enjoy our grown children and grand children as a couple.

I am convinced that the reason we have been able to make it to date, is before we married we were both committed to Christ. When we were first introduced, I had recently come to Christ and was very involved in my church. Though he had been raised in the Catholic faith, he was not attending church. He was however seeking a deeper walk with God. While dating the one thing God impressed upon me was that if he was not willing to make a commitment to Christ, I was not to continue in the relationship. At a Billy Graham Crusade that year, he did make a commitment and the rest is history. In our early years, we attended bible studies together and both grew in our faith as we saw God answer many prayers. It was the teaching we received and prayers of those early days that sustained us when we hit a few rocky paths. And we did hit rocky paths!  With the busyness of raising five children, Mike working long hours and often away and all the rest of what life throws at you, we found ourselves drifting apart and becoming quite resentful of one another. It just seemed that we were both kept so busy doing what we needed to to get by that we neglected our time with God and with one another.

Through it all, God continued to woo us back into intimacy with Him. As we drew closer to Him we were able to put all the rest in perspective. Spending time in prayer and getting back into His Word gives us clarity in our thoughts and hearts enabling us to forgive past hurts and resentments and move on to the future.

Of this I am sure, had we both not been committed Christians, both to God and to each other, when we married, we would never have lasted to enjoy the time we now have together. Both life and marriage can be difficult at times. However, I wouldn’t trade any of the those difficult times. As we have surrendered to God’s will, He has taken those difficult times and used them for our good. He has strengthened our bond together. He has given us an empathy and understanding we would never have had had we not experienced some of the hard times we did. Most of which were the result of our own disobedience or selfish behavior! 🙂

For Christians looking for a future marriage partner, I would suggest two things. Be sure the person you are going to commit your life to shares your commitment to Christ. The Old and New Testament are full of warnings to those who are wanting to link up with non-believers. It doesn’t usually end well.  2 Corinthians 6:14,15  NIV 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Secondly, stay close to the lover of your soul and He will give you the wisdom you need in choosing your partner. Feelings alone are NOT sufficient to sustain a long term relationship. They change, they rise, fall and sometimes even fade. It takes more than romantic feelings to keep any couple together long term.

James 1:5 NIV If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

To those already married, that have since come to Christ, pray for your spouse. God will honor your prayers! He is faithful and longs to give you the desires of your heart! He loves your spouse more than you do and wants to have a relationship with him or her.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 NIV 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

2 Peter 3:9 NIVThe Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

There are so many people being wounded as a result of a broken marriage. Sadly, Christian stats are almost as high as non believers. If we walk in obedience and honor God’s Word before we say I do, it will give us much better odds of our marriage lasting. Too often believers compromise on their choice of partner out of fear or impatience. It starts by dating outside our faith. If we honor God’s Word and obey Him in choosing our marriage partners we stand a much greater chance of having His favor and blessing over us when we need it most. Marriage is wonderful and challenging all at the same time. Why not start out on the right foot?

Plug into the Source!

  Do you find yourself getting frustrated when you have to wait for something or someone more than just a few minutes? I know since using a blackberry and working online all day, I have become so accustomed to having answers right away. If I need to check our bank account I can do it anywhere right from my phone and see the results within seconds. When I am curious about a name, person or just about anything I can google it and immediately up pops my answer! I have found myself becoming quite dependent on instant access.

In our walk, as followers of Christ, we too can have instant access to the King of Kings. When Christ died on the cross, He became our Way to the throne room of God. He made a sure way that allows us to come to Him at anytime and anywhere. In fact, He longs for us to stay in fellowship with Him as we move throughout our day and into our nights. Unlike our gadgets, He never breaks down, is always accessible and loves us beyond measure!  It is an awesome thing to know that we are never alone!

Why not spend a little less time with your electronic gadgets this coming week and spend more time with the lover of your soul? When we seek Him for answers they are always right and true! When we trust Him, He will never break down or disappoint! When we need His help, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and will be there for us. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

If you are not enjoying a close walk with Christ, confess your sins before Him and spend time with Him getting reacquainted. There is no replacement for the love and joy that comes from your relationship with Him. It will sustain you through any of life’s curves and bumps! Unplug your gadgets and spend some real time plugged into a conversation with the lover of your soul!

John 15:4-5 NIVRemain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Matthew 6:6 NIV But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Phillipians 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Prayer, access to the throne!

As followers of Christ we have so many fantastic blessings! Our salvation has been bought with the high price of the shed blood of God’s own Son. When we think on this alone, we begin to realize how much God loves us! How Christ paid the ultimate price for us to be able to be in intimate fellowship with the Father! One of those fantastic blessings is the ability to go to God in prayer. It’s important that when we come to God in prayer that a few things are considered….
If you are seeking God for an answer to prayer, first off ensure that what you are asking lines up with His will by making sure it does not go against His Word. He will never go against His nature or His Word. Isaiah 55:11 NIV 11So is my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

If your prayer request lines up with His Word then be sure that you have come before Him with a clean heart. If you have unconfessed sin or bitterness against another you need to confess it and make it right. The Word of God tells us that we are not to come before God with unforgiveness in our hearts towards another or He will not hear our prayer. Mark 11:25 NIV And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.

If we know that are prayer lines up with God’s Word and have come to Him with a clean heart than we are to come expecting and believing. James 1:5-7 NIV 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

It’s important we never forget, that one of the amazing privileges of being a child of God is that through Christ we can come boldy before the throne of God and make our requests known. Through the blood of Christ being shed for us, when God sees us He sees us as covered in the precious shed blood of His Son. It allows us to ask boldy from a Father that loves us and has made a way for us to come into His presence with complete confidence.   Hebrews 4:16 KJV16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God longs for us to have intimacy with Him and through Christ, we have direct access to the throne of God. Take full advantage of one of our greatest blessings! Don’t waste another day without spending time in prayer!

Are you hiding from the Light?

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV "Who can hide in secret places so that  I cannot see ?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24 NIV “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

I am thankful to God for His patience with me.  I am so grateful that He is slow to anger and kind. That He longs for fellowship with each and every one of us.  I can remember at one time believing that whenever I screwed up in my walk with Christ, God would be angry with me, so I would find myself avoiding Him for a while. I would steer clear of  the intimacy of prayer as it would require my having to come clean and fess up.

Before too long however,  I would miss our fellowship. I would toss up the odd prayer but with no real expectancy due to the fact I knew there were things between us putting up a barrier from intimacy. Eventually I would cave and come before Him with a heart of repentance and fess up. The peace and freedom that would follow was amazing. I’m not sure why I ever thought things would get better on their own!

I am thankful that I no longer try and hide anything from Him. He sees all, knows all and it is a complete and utter waste of time allowing any sin to remain between us.  When I screw up now, I don’t waste the time  I used to fessing up. It keeps the lines of communication open with the lover of my soul. It allows for instant access and freedom in making my requests known when I come to Him with a need for others or for myself.  If you have drifted from intimacy in your prayer life, perhaps it’s time you tear down the  barriers.

If  you have sin in your life you have been holding onto, hoping neither God nor anyone else will see it,  it’s time to get rid of it!  Don’t waste another day without intimacy with the King of  Kings.

The Word of God says in 1John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us of ALL unrighteousness.

Let His light shine  into all the dark areas of your life. Don’t allow anything to keep you from coming boldly to the throne!

John 3:19-21 NIV 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,  so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Staying close to the source!

Madoc-20130225-00132[1] I enjoy learning as much as I can about Biblical prophecy. So much of what the media has portrayed over the last several decades is just bunk. Before I came to Christ I remember watching movies that would touch on the subject, demonstrating God pouring out his wrath in various ways but never told anything even close to the real story.

It is a subject that brings fear to a lot of people. Fear that motivates them for a while to seek God, but over time they lose interest and move away from anything resembling  intimacy with Him. Anyone that is seeking God just to avoid His wrath in days to come, is missing the most wonderful thing about Him. They are missing a relationship of love and intimacy that only He can offer. When we come to know who God is, through Christ, we begin to see Him as the loving Father He is and understand that He always desires our fellowship. Fear can draw us to Him but only LOVE will keep us walking with Him.

As we learn of who He is through reading the Word of God, spending time in prayer and spending time in His presence, it slowly begins to sink in how NOTHING can separate us from the LOVE of God.  NOTHING! Paul said it beautifully in the book of Romans….

Romans 8:38,39 NIV 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you are finding yourself fearful of the things you see on the news and it is causing you anxiety or stress, realizing many of the things  coming to pass have been prophesied, take yourself back to the Word of God. Rediscover through Christ, how very much He loves you and what He did for you!  When we know how much He loves us, we can than trust that He will never give us anymore than we can handle.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

As a young believer, I remember feeling incredible fear at times when I would read or see something on the news that had been predicted to happen in  the latter days. It used to cause me a lot of anxiety and I would lose sleep over it. I would dwell on all the possibilities of what could result and how it could affect me, my loved ones and friends.

Today, though it upsets me to see things that are going on; mans inhumanity to man, abuse, mistreatment, hatred, wars etc., I no longer fear the future. I am sure of one thing, Christ will never leave me or forsake me. He has seen me through many trials and will continue to be with me as I complete my journey here.  He is faithful and true.  His love for me is available every morning! He hears me when I cry out to Him. He walks with me through every minute of every day! What He does for me, He does for all His followers. He is no respecter of persons but loves us all equally.

When we take our eyes off of Him and focus on the outward things around us only, we become a slave to our fears and emotions. So while we wait for His return, let’s spend more time with the lover of our soul. As we remain in close intimacy with Christ, fear departs!

1 John 4:18 NIV For there is no fear in love, But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Our Myopic vision

imagesCAJQJQ9X God has a plan for each of our lives. In order to fulfill that plan we need to spend time in His presence, in His Word and allow ourselves to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Our walk, as followers of Christ, is a walk of relationship and just as in any relationship if we don’t spend time with the other person we really don’t learn who they are and what they are expecting of us.

I was reminded this morning how easy it is to take our eyes off the things God wants for us and put them on our circumstances and thereby making very poor choices as a result. I know I find myself at times thinking that this “difficult thing” can’t be what God has for me or for a loved one, only to realize that I was using my “natural” thinking and that God has indeed allowed certain things I would deem “difficult”  to further His Kingdom. It really isn’t all about me or what I want for myself or others.  I would certainly do some things differently, if it were up to me.  :/

With my reading this morning I realized how similar Peter’s thinking was at times…..

Matthew 16:21-27  21From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me Satan! you are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” 24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  25For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  26″For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  27″For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

How many times do you catch yourself insisting God intervene in a difficult situation for someone or for yourself for that matter and when He doesn’t react immediately and according to your wishes you pout and whine? We need to remember that His ways are not our ways! He happens to be the Creator of the Universe and has an edge in the wisdom department over and beyond us!

We need to be mindful that at times,  God allows circumstances we don’t understand to happen or continue because of His ultimate purpose.  His timing is perfect.  Jesus rebuked Peter because his insistence that Christ would not be killed was based on his “natural” desires only. He wasn’t looking for nor did he see God’s plan in action at that time.  And as we all know, if it were not for Christ’s death on the cross there would be no sacrifice,no resurrection and therefore no means of salvation for you and I!

When we pray for ourselves or others we can boldly come before the throne of God, through the blood of Christ and make our requests known. We should not however, insist that it be done our way and in our time. God loves us and when we are walking and abiding in His will and presence we can ask with confidence however, we cannot demand our way.  When I look back  to earlier  times in my life, I am thankful for many of the prayers God refused to answer. Prayers that were prayed out of selfish ambition and desires that I now realize, had they been answered would have taken me from the path God has prepared for me. A path that isn’t always easy but is a path of deeper growth and intimacy with Christ.

If you are walking with Christ and are seeking answers to prayer that appear to be on hold, don’t allow your heart to grow discouraged or bitter. His ways are far above our ways. Unless He tells you no, allow God to work out the details and learn to trust in His perfect timing and Lordship.

Proverbs 19:21 NIV 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

No longer a slave!

Galatians 5:1 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

When we accepted Christ into our lives we not only received salvation and eternal life but we also received the Holy Spirit. The Word of God tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

God has provided us freedom from the bondage of sin. We no longer have to be controlled by habitual sin and striving. As we turn to Christ, He will guide us and lead us away from and apart from those things that used to easily ensnare us! 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.

Now that we have been made free, it is so important that we don’t become spiritually lazy. We need to be reading the Word of God, be in prayer and fellowship on a regular basis. Without doing these things we will begin to compromise our walk with Christ. Life as a believer is exciting. We get to see the hand of God move first hand in our lives and the lives of those around us. Let’s not take for granted all that Christ has done. Let’s run the race He has set before us. If we are busy spending time in the presence of God we will not want to do those things that end up causing us pain and separation from the lover of our soul.

God has bought you freedom from spiritual bondage at a great price! The price of His precious Son. Don’t take it for granted. Instead enjoy intimacy with Him while you read your Bible and learn who He is and how much He loves you. Talk to Him. He is never more than a breath away. And lastly stand firm. Don’t look back or side to side. Move on forward in love and obedience. God has great things in store for each of us and if you allow the things that once held you in bondage to gain a foothold back in your life you will not only lose your intimacy with God but you will lose sight of the purpose for which He has called you.

Galatians 5:1 NIV 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Faith like a child

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Matthew 18:4

  While enjoying my morning coffee, I was thinking  of a day I spent with my awesome granddaughters this past summer.   We set out early and spent all day  together having a blast. We went to the Peterborough zoo.  We started out by checking out the animals, one by one and ended the day at the water park. The girls loved it. Though the zoo is small and relatively simple, it was fun.

 What came to mind was an incident that took place in front of the deer cage. The girls ran from one cage to another and raced on just ahead of me to see the deer. Suddenly they stopped and pushed their faces up to the fence.  I could see them chatting about something when I finally caught up.

They both turned to me and said, “Grandma we need to pray, we need to pray!” I wasn’t sure what had just happened in the matter of seconds so I asked them what we needed to pray about. They quickly pointed to a deer, favoring one leg and limping about in the cage. “Ohhhh I see,” I responded.  I told them we could pray later but they insisted we stop and pray right there on the sidewalk in front of the cage. Here they were at 4 and 7 years of age and it was their first response!

So we prayed. Right there with people walking past us. I was so proud of the two of them. They saw something hurting and wanted to do the only thing we could do, pray! They didn’t postpone what could be done right then and there. Simple but beautiful!

Lord let me keep life simple and bring everything to you sooner rather than later!  Let me trust in you as little ones do!

Matthew 18:4 NKJV Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 11:25,26 NKJV At that time Jesus said, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

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Be RELENTLESS in prayer

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Ephesians 6:18 NIV 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

A few months back I was in prayer and I believe the Lord gave me a word. The word was that I was to be RELENTLESS in prayer.

So what exactly does that mean?  I looked up the word in the Oxford Dictionary and here is the definition..

Relentless:
never stopping or weakening, harsh or inflexible.

Keeping this in mind, during one of our evening Church services, I was asked to pray for a gentleman in our church that had been suffering with bursitis. I did as asked and remember saying , “Lord, we don’t ask this because we deserve it but simply because of the price Jesus paid we are able to come before your throne and ask and you will hear our prayers.”  The gentleman had been in pain for a long time and been unable to lift his arm due to the pain and therefore it was really limiting his physical abilities. At the time we prayed I believe God heard our prayer but we didn’t see any instant miracle. The next day when I was driving to work the Lord reminded me that I was to continue to pray for this man. I was not to relent until I no longer had the burden of prayer for him. So I did. I held him up in prayer during my morning prayer time for about a week and a half and then the burden was gone.  I no longer thought about it or prayed about it but believed I had done what I was to do,and left the rest to Christ.

A few months later I was leaving the Church and this gentleman approached me and took me aside. He mentioned he wanted to talk to me about something. He asked if I remembered that I had prayed for him for his bursitis problem?  I let him know that I did. He had no way of knowing that the Lord had told me to continue to hold him in prayer until the tug of prayer for him was gone. He then told me that that Sunday he went home and didn’t feel any different, the pain was still there.  Then he said about a week later he noticed that when he went to do something physical he had not been able to do prior, because of the pain and reduced mobility, the pain was completely gone! He began to move his arm all over and realized the bursitis was gone! Needless to say he was thankful to God and relieved!

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Christ could have healed him instantly but He didn’t. He had given me the word that I was to continue in prayer until the prayer tug was gone. I did and it would seem that the bursitis was healed around the same time I no longer felt the tug. I don’t know why this gentleman wasn’t healed instantly but I do know that I obeyed the Spirit’s leading and continued to pray until I was released of that prayer. Perhaps the lesson was something both myself and my brother in Christ were both to learn. We are to be RELENTLESS when it comes to praying a matter through until we no longer have the burden to pray.

I have since wondered how many prayers are not answered simply because we get lazy and don’t press through?  If you are praying for a job, lost loved ones, a difficult marriage etc. go to God and ask for His Spirit to guide you as to how to pray and then do so relentlessly. If you offer or are asked to pray for someone else and you agree to do so then do it!  Don’t neglect to fulfill the responsibility because you don’t receive an instant answer, persevere. George Muller had  it right when he said, “It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in  prayer until we obtain an answer.”

I am not suggesting you pray RELENTLESSLY for things that don’t line up with the word of God. Regardless of how often and how much you pray, if it goes against the nature of God or His word, being relentless in prayer will not get you your answer. James 4:3 NIV  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  Be sure that what you are asking for is in line with God’s word and His nature and then be bold.  The word of God says in James 5:15 NIV And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned they will be forgiven.  We were able to boldly ask God to heal our brother because His word says so.  Be sure what you are praying for is not something against God’s laws or against another.

When you bring your needs, or the needs of others before God make sure what you are asking for lines up with the word of God and if it does pray it through. As followers of Christ, our walk is not one of instant gratification. There are times the Lord requires us to persevere. While you wait on your answer don’t grumble and complain but remain steadfast and thank Him for what He is doing and what He is going to do. Make 2013 your year to be RELENTLESS in prayer and then thank Him for the answers as they come!

Hebrews 6:11-15 NIV 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. 13 When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, ” I will surely bless you and give you many descendants”. 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

Romans 12:12 NIV 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer

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Utilize your access to the throne!

This old world of ours is quite the mess these days. There are rumors of wars in the air. Society as a whole has decided that good is bad and bad is good and anyone that questions that is quite simply politically incorrect. At times it’s tempting for followers of Christ to just tune it all out and live in our own little spiritual cocoons.

Our calling however is not to ignore the plight of others. We need to do what we can to help when and who we can. This doesn’t mean enabling but assisting. We need to contribute to charities or activities that are a blessing to others that have less than we do. We are to reach out in tangible ways when we can and in ways that we are able. Most importantly, however, we are called to pray! Prayer DOES change things. It changes people, circumstances and brings God’s infinite wisdom into some pretty messed up situations. People can laugh and mock believers for their “blind faith” but as the saying goes, a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. I have  seen first hand God move in my life and the lives of those around me in supernatural ways. This year alone I have seen God provide supernaturally in many ways…financially, in healing, with  jobs and in answering heart cries from many people that have sought Him. Prayer is a precious gift from God Himself. As followers of Christ, we can go boldly before the throne of God and make our requests known. This is not done on our own merit, thankfully, but on the saving blood and redemption of Jesus. He has opened the door for us to the throne room!

There are a few things we need to be mindful of however, as we come before the throne of God in prayer. We are to confess our sin before God and ask for forgiveness through Christ. As shown in 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.   

Sin should never keep us away from God, it should motivate us to ask for forgiveness and humbly come before Him. He will hear our prayers. We are also warned about coming to God in prayer with bitterness or resentment against someone. We need to confess and rid ourselves of bitterness and unforgiveness if we want Him to hear our prayer.  Matthew 6:14-15 NIV 14  For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  This statement is very clear and doesn’t leave any wiggle room for holding onto bitterness. Sometimes it is only by an act of will that we are able to forgive, we may not feel it but we do it as an act of obedience knowing that we too need forgiveness for our own weaknesses and sins.

As we confess our own sins and forgive others of theirs against us, we are able to boldly come before God, through Christ.  Hebrews 10:19-23 KJV says19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;21 And having an high priest over the house of God;22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised). When God looks down at us He sees a child that has been washed in the blood of His precious Son and delights to hear our prayers. Through the blood of His Son we are given exclusive rights to come before Him and make our requests known.

We need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity God has provided for us. Instead of worrying and complaining, we need to be bringing our needs and the needs of others to Him and allowing Him to work in us and through us.  He not only loves us but He wants us to come to Him with these needs.

Phillipians 4:5-7 NIV Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1Peter 3:12 NIV 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Matthew 7:7 NIV “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

John sums things up beautifully in the following verse,  1John 5:14-15 NIV 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.

Spend more time talking to the “lover of your soul” and less time worrying and complaining about things.  He longs to have the intimacy with you that prayer provides.  Finally, don’t forget to thank Him for all the answers to your prayers!

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