“TRUST, DO WE REALLY?” Week of 11/15/15

 “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) 

Being a person with an analytical mind, I am always trying to figure things out, questioning, and trying to maintain control of a situation I am in. 

Since I have had some trust issues, it has been difficult for me to let go of some things and fully place my trust in the Lord. What I have noticed over the years in my life, God has taken me through different levels of trust. 

All of us face or will face varying levels of our trust in God being tested. With each new test we encounter, the deeper the level of trust is tested. 

God will continue to dig deep to unearth what our trust issues are. He desires to clean out anything and everything that keeps us from trusting Him wholeheartedly. 

Trust issues, or I should say a lack of trust, stems from fear; a fear of loss be it a person we love, finances, reputation, promotion, or a ministry we desire;  unfortunately, when fear is a driving force, we strive to take matters in our own hands with the results not as God would have them be. 

When it is difficult to understand the whys of situations in our life that takes our joy and bring fear, and we find ourselves on shaky ground, let’s lift our mind and heart to the Lord. 

The results of when we do trust God: 

1)      We experience joy                                   Ps. 33:21

2)      We are released from fear                      Ps. 56:3-4

3)      We receive direction                                Prov. 3:5-6

4)      We stand firm                                          Ps. 20:7-8

5)      We are surrounded by God’s love         Ps. 32:10

6)      We prosper                                              Prov. 28:25

7)      We are blessed                                         Jer. 17:7 

As we trust the Lord, even when we do not understand, He will return our joy, and peace, and enable us to stand firm knowing we are surrounded by His love.

 

 

 

 

 

“STAY THE COURSE” 1/3/16

“But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy–.” (Acts 20:24)  

In this scripture, Paul was heading to Jerusalem not knowing his fate once there. Paul knew his walk with God was a path of suffering, yet he continued to stay focused on God’s mission for him. He never allowed the uncertainty of his present or future to change his direction on what God had for him to do.  

We may not be facing death as Paul, but there are many distractions we face each day; situations come up in our lives that can temporarily get us off course or change our focus.  

There may be prayers that appear unanswered; you may have a dream or vision for your life that has not come to pass as you believed it would; financial difficulties, relationship issues you desire to see changed.  

When your future seems uncertain, pray, release it to God knowing your future is in His hands, all the while staying on track with where He has you or what He has you doing at this time. While you are waiting for things to change, stay the course.  

When things are going well, release them back to the Lord, with thanksgiving, but stay on course; don’t let those blessings distract you from God’s purpose for your life.  

Looking away {from all that will distract} to Jesus; Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also it’s Finisher {bringing it to maturity and perfection}.” (Heb. 12:2)  

Continue doing what you are doing until breakthrough comes. Don’t focus on what has been lost; focus on what you have left.  

“Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus; Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also its’ Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].” (Heb. 12:2)  

Stay the course by fixing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. It all boils down to trusting Him in and with your life. (Prov. 3:4&5)  

Other Scriptures for further study: Ps. 1:6; Ps. 119:168; Is. 26:7; Is. 30:21 

Praying you a new year of God’s restoration, healing, peace, and joy in every area of your life.

“Spring Forward” 3/13/16

In the service today a young woman danced rejoicing over what God had done in her life. As I watched her, I couldn’t help but feel, wishing, the Lord would turn back the clock in my own life. I said “Lord, I wish you could just turn the clock back, if only to be her age again, to have redo’s.”  

Immediately the words came to mind, “Spring Forward”.  This seemed very appropriate since we are springing forward in time. It seems the years of my life ‘sprang forward’ so quickly.  Yes, time to stop looking over my shoulder at the what ifs and regrets. It’s time for me to spring forward. 

“-forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”  (Phil. 3:13b) 

As a sprinter at the starting line presses forward with all his strength, so should I.  

“I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.”  (Phil. 3:14) 

Has winter been long and cold for you spiritually? Are you thinking about the what if’s and could have been? Spring is a time of new beginnings and fresh growth. In God’s timetable, it’s never too late. He has no limits on age, gender, culture or anything that we see as a hindrance. His purpose will be fulfilled in each of our lives.  

As we spring forward in time, it’s time to spring forward in our lives. Stop looking back, keep your gaze ahead, and take a huge leap of faith. The prize you are promised, and the answers you need are ahead.  The spring rains of refreshing are on the way. 

Don’t fall back, spring forward.  

“REST IN ME __________” (your name) 2/1/16

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10) 

Recently I was having some inner conflicts over a situation causing me some duress. I was questioning how to handle this in a right manner and asking the Lord for understanding. As I was voicing my questions on what to do, expressing my disappointment, hurt, and concern the thought came to mind, “rest in Me____________”. (The Lord called me by name) 

He reminded me, as He has so often in the past, “stop trying to figure everything out, just trust and rest in Me.”  (Ps. 131:2)  As I took His advice and let go, the Holy Spirit came with His peace. 

Some battles we fight, but there are others the Lord tells us to just stand and He will bring deliverance. (Ex. 14:13) 

Looking back, I see how many times the Lord has done just that; watching Him remove my enemies out of the way. How quickly I forget all those moments He had the victory while all I had to do was pray and wait. 

What are you wrestling or in conflict with, or whom? We need to remember we are not just wrestling against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. (Ephes. 6:12) 

It is difficult to hear when someone is speaking loudly.  Those voices of inner conflict will drown out the still small voice of God; that is why it is so important to remain calm, with clear thinking so we can pray. (1Pet. 4:7) Amp. Bible

As we let go, the inner conflicts will cease and His peace replaces those questions and uncertainties we face in life. 

In Psalm 91, the Lord reminds us He is our refuge in times of trouble. He is our shelter in the storms of life. He is our peace as we lean on and trust in Him. 

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.” (Ps. 61:1) 

“My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation”. 

“ISN’T JESUS WORTH IT?” Week of 03/27/16

“And while He was in Bethany, [a guest] in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining [at table], a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment [perfume] of pure nard, very costly and precious; and she broke the jar and poured [the perfume] over His head.” (Mark 14:3) 

“But there were some who were moved with indignation and said to themselves; to what purpose was the ointment [perfume] thus wasted?” (vs. 4) Ouch! 

Some of the onlookers only considered the value of the perfume, but what about the value of the one who was the recipient of the perfume? It appears they were saying Jesus just wasn’t worth the expense. 

Jesus never responded to what seemed to be an insult. How would we feel if a person gave us a very expensive gift only to have someone else consider it to be a waste of money on us? 

Would we feel devalued? Would we feel unappreciated? 

Where do we place Jesus on our scale of value in our lives? Do we pour ourselves out to Him with our time, worship, ministry to others, or resources? 

1)      Are we spending our time on trivial pursuits?

2)      Are we wasting our resources on those things that have no eternal value?

3)      Are we doing what mostly pleases and benefits us? 

This woman did not count the cost, nor was she thinking what a great sacrifice she was making. What she did was spontaneous, out of her heart of love and gratitude. 

No matter what we give or do for Jesus, it just doesn’t seem hardly enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HONOR ONE ANOTHER” 1/17/16

“Who shall dwell in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (Ps. 15:1-5)“–, but he who honors those who fear the Lord;” (vs. 4) “–. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (vs. 5) 

As I was reading the Psalm for the day, verse 4 brought a question to my mind; “but he who honors those who fear the Lord.” 

Do I/ do you, really honor those in the Body of Christ? Putting aside our differences and personality conflicts, are we, as those who fear the Lord, honoring one another? Are we showing one another the honor and respect as our Scriptures admonish us to? 

How do we show honor to one another? 

1)      Speaking and thinking the truth in our heart – not just being honest with one another but also believing and thinking the best of each other; remembering Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  (Phil. 4:8; Rev. 12:10) 

2)      Does not slander with his tongue – not backbiting or stand in accusation against one another; this causes division in the Body of Christ.  (Prov. 8:16-19; 1Pet. 3:10; Ps. 15:3) 

3)      Does no evil to his friend – we will not do anything intentionally to harm anyone spiritually, mentally/emotionally, physically. (1Sam. 20:9; Prov. 17:17) 

4)      Will not take advantage – When a brother or sister is in distress of any kind, let’s not add to that, but do what we can to help bring restoration. ( Prov. 15:15) 

As we honor and show respect to one another, we are honoring the Lord, Himself. We are all part of the same Body and we are co-workers and co-heirs under the Lordship of Jesus. 

Obeying God’s Word keeps our feet from slipping and we are able to stand on solid ground. 

“Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family), giving precedence and showing honor to one another.”  (Rom. 12:10)

“GRATEFUL” 11/2015

“Be happy (in your faith) and rejoice and be glad hearted continuously (always); Be unceasing in prayer (praying perseveringly); Thank (God) in everything (no matter what the circumstances may be, be  thankful and give thanks) for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus (the Revealer and Mediator of that will)”. (1 Thess. 5:15-18)

Grateful, gratitude, thankful seems to be the word from the Lord for this year. The Lord reminds me to be grateful for and in everything regardless of the circumstances.

Times are difficult for many. People have suffered great losses. Hearts have been broken. During times such as these, our hearts are tested. Love and trust for God are tested. We stand at a crossroad; we can choose to focus on what we have lost and complain about our circumstances, or we can lift our heart and mind to the Lord grateful for what He has blessed us with.

In my own experiences, I have found complaining, discontent, stirs up strife and anger, my spirit and soul become heavy. Hopelessness and depression quickly set in. It is a difficult pit to climb out of. When I am grateful and thankful even in the midst of the most trying circumstances, my soul and spirit become lighter. Hope gets restored. Faith rises up. The joy of the Lord returns.

“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you helpless nor forsake nor let (you) down (relax My hold on you! (Assuredly not!)” (Joshua 1:5) (Hebrews 13:15). (Amplified Bible)

Taking God at His Word should leave us with His peace. We know He is caring for us.

This Thanksgiving and each day throughout the year, let’s keep a grateful heart. Complain less. Gratitude pleases Him and frees us.

Wishing each of you a very blessed Thanksgiving however you spend that day.

Scriptures for further study: 

Psalm 50:14; Psalm 116:17; Rev. 7:12

Lord, whenever I open my mouth to complain or even complain in my mind, remind me to be grateful for all I have and all you have done in my life.

 

 

 

“Do You Want To Be Well? Really?” Week of 02-28-16

“For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the waters; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.” (John 5:4) 

(Vs 5) There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus noticed him lying there (helpless), knowing that he had already been there a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?] 

It’s interesting to note that at ‘certain seasons’ the angel of the Lord went down to stir up the pool. After 38 years, you would think the man would have known the seasons the angel would have come down; if he really wanted to be healed wouldn’t he have started moving toward the pool so he would be ready to get in when the angel came? 

Maybe that was on Jesus’ mind when He asked the man if he really wanted to be well. Can you imagine the penetrating look Jesus gave that man when He asked the question? 

It appears the man had more going on with him than just the need for physical healing, though; it seems he may have had some internal struggles as well. Instead of giving Jesus an emphatic yes to be well, he gave excuses. 

There is much to consider, here; he was used to this infirmity and if he didn’t have this any longer it would drastically change his whole life. Did he really want his life changed after all? No more sympathy from friends or passersby; no more handouts, he might have to work for a living; no more being pitied or felt sorry for; no more self-pity; and no more excuses as to why he was not able to do this thing or that. 

Was he going to be ‘all in’ or ‘all out’? If he hesitated, he would have lost the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

This healing would be very risky; the people he knew would no longer be able to relate to him the old way; those same people may not like this new person or what Jesus had done for him; yes, relationships and the old ways of thinking were on the line. Was this worth it? After all, this could be very costly; but not allowing Jesus to make him well was more costly. He would have died in this condition never knowing what it was like to be totally free inside and out.

When Jesus looks penetratingly into your eyes and asks ‘do you want to be well? Are you really in earnest about getting well’, what would you say?

 Allowing Jesus to do that deeper healing whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, could alter your life forever. No room for wavering here. Remember what the Scripture says in James 1:6 referring to asking God for Wisdom: “Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. (vs. 7) For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord. (vs. 8) For being a man of two minds [hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].” (Amp.Bible)  

Are you willing for God to make these changes? Healing will bring you into a whole new level with your relationship with God, others, and yourself. No more excuses as to why you cannot do this or that. It may be risky because friends and family will no longer be able to relate to this ‘new you’; risky because it will no longer be acceptable to offer up excuses as to why you are not able to do this or that.

So, Jesus is asking you the million dollar question: “Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]”

 

 

 

 

“COALS ON TH E ALTAR” 1/24/16

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.” (Prov. 25:21&22) 

When reading vs. 22, it appears condemnation is coming down on the head of our enemy if we  treat them with kindness; however, let’s take a look at this from God’s perspective; according to a footnote in the Amplified Bible, it states the following: 

“The picture is that of the high priest, (Lev. 16:12) who on the Day of Atonement took his censer and filed it with coals of fire from off the altar of burnt offering, and then put incense on the coals to create a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance.  The cloud or smoke of the incense covered the mercy seat and was acceptable to God for atonement.” 

1)      Scripture says we are kings and priests, set apart to offer up spiritual sacrifices      pleasing to God. (1Pet. 2:5&9) 

Hot coals symbolize cleansing and purifying. Coals of fire placed on the altar of sacrifice are our willingness to show kindness and forgiveness while praying for our enemies. 

2)      Incense on the coals creates a cloud or smoke which covered the mercy seat. 

The kindness, forgiveness, and prayers for our enemy is our incense back to God, this incense covers the mercy seat. (Prov. 10:12) 

Forgiveness could not only have a cleansing and purifying effect on our enemy, but it has a cleansing and purifying effect on us. (Prov. 25:4; 2Tim. 2:21) 

Showing kindness without retaliation can melt a hard heart to repentance, which in turn, can become softened, pliable in God’s hands, and lead our enemy to repentance. (Rom. 2:4;Prov. 25:4) 

How does God reward those who practice and live according to His principles: 

1)      Forgiveness of our own sin               (Matt. 6:12-15)

2)      Clear conscience                                (Heb. 13:18)

3)      Peace                                                  (Phil. 4:7-9)

4)      Joy                                                      (John 17:13)

5)      Blessings                                             (Ps. 67:6-7)

6)      Answered prayer                              (1John 5:14-15) 

Samuel Wesley wrote:

 “So artists melt the sullen ore of lead,

   By heaping coals of fire upon its head;

   In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow,

   And pure from the dross the silver runs below.” 

Our spiritual offering is overcoming evil with good. As we do good to those who malign, persecute, do or say evil against us, those heaping coals of fire are the fire of God’s love melting the heart.

 

 

 

 

      

WHAT TRIALS ACCOMPLISH “IMAGE OF CHRIST” “FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT” Week of 09/27/15

A couple of weeks ago we spoke on how our trials and the things we go through can accomplish ‘Character Development’; this week our topic will be how God transforms us into the ‘Image of Christ with the Fruit of the Spirit’ being manifest. 

Trials have a couple of purposes:

1)      Reveal what is on the inside of us

2)      Transform us into the image of Christ 

When you think of being transformed into the Image of Christ several characteristics come to mind and these do not exhaust the list:

1)      Servant                             

2)      Humility

3)      Obedience

4)      Patience

5)      Long-suffering

6)      Gentleness

7)      Unconditional love

8)      Joy 

As you read over the above list, below are some scriptures that can be applied to those areas in which you may be struggling:

Servant:

“—but through love you should serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) 

Humility:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) 

Obedience:

“If a person (really) loves Me, he will keep My word {obey My teaching};” 

Patience:

“Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12) 

Long-suffering:

“And consider that the long-suffering of our Lord {His slowness in avenging wrongs and judging the world} is salvation—.” (2Pet. 3:15) 

Gentleness:

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle).”– (James 3:17) 

Unconditional love:

“Whoever says he is in the Light and (yet) hates his brother is in darkness even until now.” (1John 2:9) 

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Joy:

I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” (John 15:11) 

As you read and pray over this list, think of how God wants you to receive the trials and how to view those trials as compared to what Jesus did and how He responded. 

We produce the image of Christ, produce the Fruit of the Spirit by abiding in the Vine (Jesus). As we abide in Him by spending time in His presence, reading His Word, and in prayer, the more we become like Him. 

If we are asking to be more like Him, understand He will turn up the heat to burn away the dross. So, as the pressures, frustrations, and trials come and we see our responses are less than Christ-like, draw that much closer to the Lord; as we do, His nature will be imparted to us. 

The ‘key’ is staying close to Him and trusting what He has promised in Philippians 1:6:

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Christ Jesus, developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”

 

 

 

 

                                              

 

 

 

Trials have a couple of purposes:

 

1)      Reveal what is on the inside of us

2)      Transform us into the image of Christ

 

When you think of being transformed into the Image of Christ several characteristics come to mind and these do not exhaust the list:  

 

1)      Servant                             

2)      Humility

3)      Obedience

4)      Patience

5)      Long-suffering

6)      Gentleness

7)      Unconditional love

8)      Joy

 

As you read over the above list, below are some scriptures that can be applied to those areas in which you may be struggling:

 

Servant:

“—but through love you should serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13)

 

Humility:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

 

Obedience:

“If a person (really) loves Me, he will keep My word {obey My teaching};”

 

Patience:

“Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.”

(Rom. 12:12)

 

 

 

Long-suffering:

“And consider that the long-suffering of our Lord {His slowness in avenging wrongs and judging the world} is salvation—.” (2Pet. 3:15)

 

Gentleness:

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle).”– (James 3:17)

 

Unconditional love:

“Whoever says he is in the Light and (yet) hates his brother is in darkness even until now.” (1John 2:9)

 

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

 

Joy:

I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” (John 15:11)

 

As you read and pray over this list, think of how God wants you to receive the trials and how to view those trials as compared to what Jesus did and how He responded.

 

We produce the image of Christ, produce the Fruit of the Spirit by abiding in the Vine (Jesus). As we abide in Him by spending time in His presence, reading His Word, and in prayer, the more we become like Him.

 

If we are asking to be more like Him, understand He will turn up the heat to burn away the dross. So, as the pressures, frustrations, and trials come and we see our responses are less than Christ-like, draw that much closer to the Lord; as we do, His nature will be imparted to us.

 

The ‘key’ is staying close to Him and trusting what He has promised in Philippians 1:6:

 

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Christ Jesus, developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”