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Archive for the category “Faith”

The Waiting Game

It’s almost here – Christmas! It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s not only the gift giving and receiving that makes it such a joy, but the family gathering around. My Mom is no longer with us, but I remember all the times we gathered together as a family with her in our midst and the joy that we experienced together. She was a giver and the presents abounded. We rushed through the opening to discover our “wants” had been granted. It was always such a joyful time. Now, I watch the little children in the family experience that same joy in discovery that “Santa” knew just what they wanted.

As I contemplate Christmas this year, I am reminded of the truth of the Christmas story. It’s not about the presents under the tree, but the presence on that tree. Christmas and Easter tied together through the story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. We celebrate Jesus’ birth in a place that was arranged many years before that event.

It’s amazing to me how God creates events long before they occur. Take Bethlehem as an example. God already had Bethlehem in mind long before Jesus’ birth. He set up that city as a place of importance. It’s the birthplace of King David, Jesus’ ancestor. But it was also known for the place where sacrificial lambs were raised for the temple. This was the place where lambs were raised without blemish for the perfect Passover sacrifice that occurred every year.

As the lambs were born, they were wrapped in swaddling clothes to keep them from blemish. The shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus’ birth were the ones who were watching over these perfect lambs. They would recognize the significance of Jesus when the angel told them that Jesus had been born and was placed in a manager wrapped in swaddling clothes. He came in like a lamb to be the lamb of sacrifice for our sins on that last Passover of His death.

Passover was also a set up for the future fulfillment through Jesus. The sacrificial lambs were to represent the cleansing of each person’s sins – a lamb had to be sacrificed to take away the sins. This first Passover found in Exodus kept the house of Jacob safe from the angel of death. Each family had to sacrifice the perfect lamb and place the blood of the lamb on the door frame – top and sides. The Law of Moses was a set up for Jesus to fulfill them. Sacrifice – yes, that’s Jesus. Cleansing – yes, that’s Jesus. Sabbath – yes, that’s Jesus.

Every prophetic event takes years of preparation. It’s just a waiting game. But in the waiting, so much is happening behind the scenes. So what does this all have to do with my Christmas ramblings? God is the promise keeper. God sets up the events in our lives in anticipation of what is to come. We might not see it right now, but God is working behind the scenes to fulfill His promise and His plan. We’re a part of it.

I hate to wait on anything, do you? But right now, as we anticipate Christmas, it’s part of the plan to wait on the timing of God’s plan. Not just for the prophetic cycle of events, but also the events in our lives that we are waiting to be fulfilled.

God’s timing is perfect. So if you are waiting on something to occur, don’t rush ahead of what God is preparing for you. It’s going to happen in God’s time, just wait. But in the waiting, we also need to be in preparation for it. As advent is for Christmas – the preparation for the coming of Jesus, we also need to prepare for the next thing in our lives as well. God is all about shaping our character. This is His ultimate goal for each of us.

How do we prepare for what we don’t know? Pray. Let God’s will be done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Surrender to the plan. When it happens, be obedient in it. And praise Him before, during and after – it’s the only way to prepare for what’s to come.

Every event in our lives is a step forward in our transformational plan. It might not feel like it at the time, especially if it feels like a step back. But God has a purpose in the events in our lives to shape us for the future. This is our dress rehearsal for the real deal in the eternal Kingdom. This earthly experience shapes us for the eternal experience to come. That’s why we can count all our experiences as joy – the good, the bad and the downright ugly. That’s why Jesus counted the cross as joy. He saw the eternal purpose. We can too.

Just consider Christmas as the taste of what’s to come. He will bring it all together for good – He promised. Believe it because of the Lamb of God and Bethlehem, and all that was foretold long ago. What He promises will come to pass. He is at work preparing the events for what is ahead of us. Wait for it. The plan is good. He promised.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17 (ESV)

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Tick Tock

The prophetic clock is ticking. Have you ever wondered why such a little city causes so much fuss? Jerusalem. The city on a hill. This little city has always caused such unrest throughout history. Ever wonder why? Or do you not think about it? After all, who really cares about such a little place? Why fight over it? Is there really any value to it?

Trump’s words yesterday about Jerusalem will be a stumbling block for most nations. As of last night, the news stated eight nations so far had come out against Trump’s moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Many are saying that this will disrupt the two-state solution for the peace of Palestine and Israel.

Watch and see.

When Trump was elected, I thought it was because of Israel and God’s prophetic clock. I don’t like to comment on political stuff. I don’t care who voted for who. I don’t really care that Trump is causing havoc in the world. All I know is God placed Trump on this “throne” for such a time as this. After all, how do you explain how Trump became president? Russia? No. People are trying to blame other factors, but I say it was all God. The twists and turns were too much to comprehend, but God. God is doing something prophetic.

Watch and see.

The trouble with prophecy is that we don’t recognize it in the day-to-day events. It’s always a hindsight thing. Take the book of Esther for example. I love the story. All the events in that book seem so minor, but what came to be was extremely important to saving the nation of Israel. God has always been faithful to His nation. Yes, they have been destroyed before – actually many times – but He has always saved a remnant, so that the nation would rise again in time.

Why should we really care about all this? It’s just one nation in a world full of other nations? It’s just a little spit of land, about the size of New Jersey. We should care because God cares. He told Abraham, the forefather of Israel, that anyone who blesses your people will be blessed; anyone who curses your people will be cursed. However, when we see this play out in history, we don’t see these dots connect. Nations have risen and fallen throughout history. But can dots be connected to how they treated Israel and the fall of their nations? It would be an interesting study.

There are some connections in recent years – the British rule and its vast empire fell soon after they sent the Jews from their lands. Spain threw the Jews out as well, and they too have not been significant in the world since that time. Look at Germany and their fall from strength after World War II, yes, they were destroyed in the war… but is it just coincidence that it was because of the war on Jews that these things have taken place? What will happen to these countries that come out against the Jews today? It’s all speculation, I know.

Watch and see.

We don’t really know what God is up to in this day and time. We are told to be watchful in these days. We are to keep looking up because the time is near. This is not a dooms day time. This is an exciting time. God is still on His throne, and He is still watching over His people. We will see His glory.

Watch and see.

We celebrate this time of the year with Jesus’ birth. The manager of the department where I work wanted to stay neutral on the whole holiday theme. Seems to me there is no neutrality when it comes to Christmas. It’s pretty much all about Him. Oh, through the years, it’s become more about Santa and the little children. But if we really step back and get back to the heart of Christmas, we need to focus on Jesus. Maybe this would be a significant time to talk about Jesus and tell others what He has done for us. If we truly are in a prophetic time, then it’s time to be about the Lord’s business.

I know. My message seems always seems to be about one thing – tell others what we know. The Body of Christ needs a spark to fan into flame a passion worth sharing. It’s a struggle to share something we do not believe in. But when it takes hold of us in such a way, nothing can stop us when we have a passion motivating us to share. Football fans can testify to this. Anytime there is a passion, there is a willingness to share – it’s the way we are made. I can talk about food and healthy lifestyles all day long with the right audience. The message of Jesus should also be that kind of passion in us.

It’s time to let the people nearest you in on the secret. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The nation of Israel is the living testimony to the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because of their ancestral line, we have the gift of Christmas. The remnant was saved for Jesus. The Jewish nation now is a testimony of what is to come.

Watch and see.

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36 (ESV)

The Big Ask

Why? The annoying question little children ask to learn and grow. Every answer always brings another why. After a few of those whys, we have to end the asking with “I don’t know” or “because I said so.” As adults, I think we have stopped asking why; and it’s one of our biggest mistakes. Andy Andrews said that the ones who are really successful in business never stop asking why. Why does this product line work? Why does this marketing plan work better? Why doesn’t this item produce more revenue? Why? It’s really a big question that could bring greater results.

I have been asking “why” for some time now. Why am here in this time and place? I want to find my greater purpose to why God chose me for this hour on His timetable. I want to discover the task that God has designed for me. Another speaker said recently the why gives us a vision. It’s the motivation to do what we do. It’s the purpose for living, for businesses, for ministry, etc. The vision of our heart’s purpose – the heart of the individual or the heart of the business – gets us motivated to do greater things. If we could discover the answer to the why, it could change everything for us as individuals and us as a people, the church.

Another statement about “why” is the importance of having a story behind the why. The story captures the heart of others. It causes them to act when they hear it. So if there is a vision, then there needs to be a story behind the vision. What happened that caused you to have this desire you have to do what you do? There has to be a flame of passion that fuels the vision or it will fizzle and die after a few years.

I think my biggest struggle with “my why” is that I don’t have the story. I don’t have this radical thing in my life that has stirred something in me. Spiritually speaking as well as emotionally speaking, there isn’t a great story. My spiritual awakening was a gradual increase in knowledge of Jesus and then one day deciding to follow Him with all my heart. It was after a friend’s death that I wanted to have this relationship with Jesus. Her death changed my motivation to learn what I needed to learn so that I could be sure of my salvation.

I grew up in church. I have learned about Jesus from the very beginning. There wasn’t anything radical about the experience like some have had. I just wanted what my friend seemed to have, which was a much deeper knowledge of Jesus and an assurance of where she was going in the end. I wanted that assurance so I asked Jesus to give me that desire to know Him in a real way. He did. I haven’t stopped learning about Him and the desire is still there to experience more of Him every day.

The disciples had a relationship with Jesus. They walked along with Him, ate with Him and even slept with Him. They saw Jesus’ actions, and heard Jesus’ words. They saw the miracles. When Jesus died, they had a crisis of belief. They thought that was the end. What they believed was not the reality. They believed Jesus came for a physical kingdom that would take them out of Roman rule. But that was not Jesus’ purpose. They didn’t understand the story behind the big why of Jesus. Why did Jesus come?

The disciples were not scholarly men; they were everyday, working men. They may have grown up memorizing Scripture as all Jewish boys did back in that day. But they didn’t have the understanding that Jesus was fulfilling everything that they had learned in those early years of education. Jesus came because of the great divide between God and us. He came to bridge the gap. Jesus tried to explain it to them, but they didn’t get it. However, everything changed after the resurrection. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and understanding brought revelation. It all came together for them.

So, why did Jesus save me? Why did He save you? What’s your story? I am asking the big question “why” and praying that the Holy Spirit will reveal to me what I need to give me the motivation that will last through eternity. I need a resurrection to change everything for me. How about you? What do you need to give you the motivation that will last through eternity? The trouble with asking this big question is I will hear the answer – and I have to be prepared to act upon it once I know. Yet, I am willing to risk it all for the answer. The disciples went on to great ministries that turned the world upside down. We can do the same if we are willing to risk everything for it. Are you ready? Do you have a spark that can be fanned into a flame of passion?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)

Traditions

Traditions for this day are varied. Thanksgiving holiday in the US has evolved into certain traditions for each family. Food, more food and family, friends, maybe someone significant meeting the family for the first time; but it’s all about tradition. Turkey or ham or both; cranberry sauce, yes, please; and few sides of casseroles, a green bean or two, corn pudding (not so much for me), then of course, dessert (which is “no thank you” for me this year since I didn’t bring my own – I am gluten-free forever more). The focus has been on the food and the relationships around the table for many of us for years. Of course, we give thanks to God above for all He has provided this year and all the blessings that we enjoy on a daily basis. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

After all, this isn’t a “religious” holiday in the traditional sense. It’s a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside in the middle of the civil war. It was a time of remembrance to give thanks to God. It began centuries ago when the settlers had a successful harvest for the very first time. Can you imagine the struggles they went through to live in such a land – a land where they actually had to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and harvest the crops? Many of them had no idea how to plant and harvest a crop. But they learned, thanks to the native people who helped them survive.

Our nation is far from the traditions laid down by our forefathers. We have evolved from agriculture, industrial to tech savvy people. No longer do we have to struggle to provide food for our families in the traditional sense. We don’t raise our food in a traditional way. We go to super stores and buy prepared food or plastic-wrapped produce shipped from hundreds of miles away. It’s just not the same as if we actually had to get our hands dirty and dig out those sweet potatoes from the earth.

We don’t have to do the hard labor the season before to get the food on the table today. It’s already done for us. We just go and pick out the best ingredients for a home cooked meal – or maybe head to the nearest Golden Corral for the buffet tradition that someone else prepared and will clean up. We just eat, pay and go. We’ve gotten so far away from the original thought of harvest blessing that the holiday has been lost to food, football and shopping. It’s the kickoff to the real holiday – Christmas and Santa Claus and ho, ho, ho to good girls and boys and lots of little toys.

I’m not saying that what we have today is bad. It’s just different from what it was intended so long ago. It has evolved into our own traditions. But hopefully somewhere along the way, we’ll remember to give thanks to God above for all the blessings of our own harvest season – whatever that hardship we are currently going through or have just come out of. God has seen us through many trials and tribulations through the years, and we have survived another year. God is good all the time! Even when it looks bad, and we don’t think we can survive; look how God has brought us through time and again.

Thanksgiving is about remembering. Remembering the past blessings and knowing God will see us through again. He is faithful. He is good. His love endures for us forever. We can look in the Bible to see how God sees His people through the tough times, but we could also see in our own lives those same things. We can look to the past in this country and see how God has seen this country through the dark times to bring us through. God’s love endures forever. He is faithful, and He is true to His nature.

Let’s remember today the ones who came before us so that we can have this time of food, family and football. We have it good. We have been blessed abundantly. Let’s remember it’s not by our hand that we have done these things. We were created as a people (the church), and as a nation to be a blessing to others because of what the Lord has done for us. It’s because of the forefathers’ forethought to put things in place by the hand of God to give us all that we have today. Let’s remember and give thanks. Celebrate with your traditions and remember to be a blessing to others today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

Crossing Bridges

A few weeks ago, I realized that my season of preparation was coming to an end. At least, that’s the name I call this time I’ve had off from the “working” world – that daily grind. I have had over six years of preparation for something that has yet to be revealed; well, that’s what I am anticipating. Although, I have taken another part-time job in something that really isn’t my passion or my real desire to work in this field; I know I have to do it to bridge the gap between where I am now and where I am going in the future.

God chooses the fields where we work. We may feel that we have gotten where we are based on our experience or our schooling; however, it’s God who opens the doors to the opportunities we eventually get. There is a reason we all land in a particular place – whether it’s a job or a neighborhood or a city. God has a purpose in it. I have seen this play out much of my working life. I have moved from one job to another, from one city to another, and it has all been by the hand of God. There was always a growing opportunity in that place. This time, I would think no differently. There is a reason I landed in the position I now hold.

Although this part-time job is probably just a bridge to get me from the season of preparation to the expected opportunity on the other side, there’s still a purpose to fulfill where God places me. He knows the fields where He needs workers. This is our training ground for the next field and then for the ultimate field – the promised field of heaven.

When I think of fields, I always come back to the field of Boaz in the Book of Ruth. Ruth started out that day from Bethlehem searching for a field in which to glean so that she and Naomi could eat. She might have just “picked” the field of her husband’s family farm, but God’s hand was at work in it. Maybe it was the first field she came to or maybe she saw something different about the field and stopped. Who knows how she chose it, but read how it all turned out. Ruth gleaned, Boaz saw her; they became engaged and married; they had a son, Obed, who had a son, Jesse, who had a son, David who would become a great King of the nation of Israel. Coincidence? I think not.

There was a purpose and a plan that God had in place from the beginning of time. Why would He work differently in our lives? I don’t think He does. We may not always have such a great story of meeting a guy and falling in love and then producing a King, but there is something significant in our stories that we just don’t realize here on earth. I think we’ll see it on the other side of this earthly experience.

This earthly experience is our preparation for something greater. And there is a bridge that God has placed for us to cross to the other side – it gets us from this earthly experience to our heavenly home and His name is Jesus. Jesus is our bridge of hope, of redemption, of reconciliation between us and God. He takes us from this earthly life to a spiritual life when we believe He did the work on the cross – taking on our sins and giving us His righteousness. We cannot cross over by ourselves. We don’t have what it takes, but Jesus does.

God saw the problem of sin from the very beginning of time and knew when Jesus needed to come on the scene. God saw it all from the beginning. He knew exactly when to place each of us here in our earthly experience. There is a reason and a purpose for us – God saw the need from the beginning, and the person to fulfill that need. It’s you. It’s me. We may not see it right now, but it’s how God works.

The Bible is proof beyond doubt. We might think of the ones mentioned in the Bible as “greater” people, but they were not. They were just average people living average lives until God intervened. Then greater things happened because of their willingness to step into their purpose. They could have all said no – Moses tried to, Gideon didn’t want to, Mary accepted it without doubt. They each said yes. No matter where we are, God can use us in His plans if we would just say yes to the opportunities when God places them in front of us.

The key is to know when the opportunity is from God; but even if it’s not, God can still use the opportunity and create some good out of it. God promised us that it would be so – read Romans 8:28. There’s still a plan even in this current madness. God is still looking for people to say yes and step into the greater life. The season of preparation is equipping us for what’s to come. Are you ready to say yes when the opportunity comes? Cross the bridge. What waits on the other side is worth it. Jesus did it for us. He thought we were worth it too. Stay focused on Jesus and let Him guide you every step of the way. Just say yes and watch what He can do through you!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

Let’s Get on With It!

On August 21, the US experienced a total solar eclipse – from the west coast to the east. There was another solar eclipse that did the same thing 99 years ago. Think about how much the nation has changed in those 99 years. But since this last solar eclipse, I think there has been a drastic change. It is like gears have shifted to a new level of intensity. Just think of everything that has occurred since August 21.

Everything changed in that same week with the devastation from Hurricane Harvey; then Hurricane Irma hit the islands about a couple of weeks later; then Hurricane Maria soon after. It’s been a busy hurricane season. Many firsts have occurred this year in the Atlantic Basin.

Not only has it been natural disasters since the solar eclipse, but man-made devastation as well. The Las Vegas shooting happened in October, NY had its day of terror, and now this church shooting just this past weekend. Did I forget anything? Every month, has seen something new. Will this end anytime soon? Unfortunately, I think we have turned a corner. It is interesting to me that the next solar eclipse to cross this nation will come in seven years. Leads me to wonder what God has in store for us in these next seven years.

And yet, here we are born into this time on God’s calendar. We were made for this season. He chose us for this hour. Scripture tells us that God has a plan for our lives. We have a purpose specific. Ephesians 2:10 says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. God molded us in a fashion to do something specific – to reach the people He puts in our lives in the only way we can do so – with our talents and abilities. You might think you have no talent or ability. I always did. But God has placed something uniquely in you that will make a connection with someone else. You just might not have found that uniqueness yet. But it’s there. God designed you for a purpose higher than you can imagine.

So what do we do in this new time? We go back to the beginning of the church age when Jesus walked this earth – Love God; Love others and tell others what Jesus has done. I think the church has forgotten its roots. We got all into our programs to enrich our spiritual lives, but we have failed to follow through and teach others outside the four walls of the building. We became self-absorbed and have failed to love others in the way we have been instructed through God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20). Well, that’s my opinion based on what I have witnessed in my own life.

However, I really believe we are in a new time where this is really going to be top priority in the years to come. One day, we may not have church buildings to go to. The American church body may become like every other part of the world, meeting in homes under the guidance of everyday people who love the Lord and love others by teaching them what they know. We actually learn together as the Holy Spirit joins in to teach us. It stretches us to learn in a different way by participating in a group setting. No one speaks at us, but we engage in the conversation as we discuss the Bible and apply what we learn. I think this is where we will be going in the future. I could be wrong. Time will tell.

You also might think you don’t know enough to teach someone. I did. However, I know more than someone else. We are all at different points of understanding. We can all learn and grow from one another. We pray for a heart that is willing to listen and the Holy Spirit to help us in the process of teaching and learning from each other. We are to be open and ready whenever Jesus places us in the position to be His hands and feet. We can do this.

The first church did it with great success. Jesus instructed the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. The disciples weren’t ready in the beginning of His time with them; but when Jesus was ready to leave this earth, He put those scrappy young men in charge and they were ready. Three years of instructions from Jesus took a new form with the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who heard in the first few years spread the word and look how far it has gone. This is our time; and as you noticed, things are changing rapidly. Be prepared to tell others about your peace and your joy. They are going to want what you have.

So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! Hebrews 6:1-3 (MSG)

Lordship Over All

Over the last few years, it has come to my attention on numerous occasions that there may be a lordship problem amongst the Body of Christ – well, maybe it’s just my problem. But if it’s a problem with me, it might be a problem for others. I think we can all agree that Jesus came to save us from our sins, so yes, He is our Savior. But can we also agree that He is not only our Savior, but supposed to be our Lord – over all things in our lives? Not just the Lord over our spiritual lives, but also our marriages, our families, our working lives, and yes, even over our finances. Everything should be surrendered to His control.

I am a financial person. It’s my training, it’s my experience, it’s my nature to look at things financially first before I consider other things. My Mom was the same way, so I owe my financial nature to her. I have been blessed with parents who did not live beyond their means. They were good stewards of the resources God gave them. And they taught me to do so as well. Being a single woman, I really have no one to be accountable to for financial resourcefulness. It’s me and only me – unless you put Jesus in the mix, then I am accountable to Him for how I manage His resources.

As followers of Jesus, we are managers of everything He has given us. We will be accountable for how we use His resources – that includes our gifts, abilities, time, and our financial resources. He doesn’t just give us funds for our pleasure, but for His purpose. Sure, He gives us opportunities to use some of the resources for pleasure, but not all of it. We can say “no” to our inner child when our inner child sees a something it wants. It’s called self-control. And we need to have better discipline over God’s resources.

This was a big lesson for me to learn a few years ago. God put a passion in me that required a bit of training to do it well. I researched the schools that were available at the time. Each time I looked over the possibilities, I kept coming back to the same school. It was going to take a big step of faith. It was a big expense. I had a bit of savings but not enough for the travel and expenses it was going to take over a period of ten months. But I felt this was the right one for me, and God seemed to confirm it on several occasions. God opened the way for me to do it, but it cost me to follow through.

Through that experience, I learned to say “no” so that I could say “yes” to something greater. I think that’s what Jesus’ Lordship is all about. Saying “no” to our fleshly desires gives us greater opportunities to say “yes” to something better. Putting Jesus Lord over all things gives us something greater. That includes our financial resources. Spending every last penny and borrowing more to feed our fleshly desires is robbing us of the true joy that can be found in Jesus alone.

We need margin. We need to be able to serve God with our financial resources; the resources that He has allowed us to have. He gives to us so that we can be a blessing to others. We are called to be “funnels” of His resources. We are not to hoard and believe that what has been given is solely for our use.

This is the lesson that I am currently learning. I want to be a funnel, but right now, I have that mentality of scarcity because of my lack of resources. I am in an uncomfortable position to learn this lesson – whether its by my own doing or His – He is teaching me through it. It’s about opening my hands. He can place resources in my palm and take them out at His discretion. This is not mine, but His. I am just His manager, and He instructs me on how to use what He has given me. At least, that’s what I am learning.

There were things I had to let go of. He determines which is best to go and which is to stay. It’s uncomfortable. However, I am committed to His Lordship over all. He has to be – He made the purchase for that right. He purchased my sins and my life by His death. He paid the price so that I could live a better life through Him. This is His right as my redeemer. And by His resurrection He has given me a new life.

I acknowledge that He is my Savior and Lord. I hope you can do the same. Learn the lesson so that you can be a blessing because He will give you so much more than you can ever earn on your own. Trust Him! Trust His character. He will never give you less than His best.

 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:29-32 (MSG)

Buy the Field

On Sunday, the Pastor brought a great message. I even told him so after one of the gatherings. Since I was serving on Sunday, I heard the message three times. But I confess today, I don’t really remember the whole message. I remember a couple of things though that leaves me feeling a bit convicted.

One thing he said, and I have heard it before, the statistics of us sharing our faith or leading others to Jesus is shameful. Less than ten percent share their faith with others outside of our faith and less than one percent has led others to Jesus Christ. I do share my faith – much more on the web than I do in person, but I have in person as well. But I have failed to lead anyone to Christ. Planted seeds, yes. Harvested, no.

The other thing I recall from Sunday is a story he shared about his brother-in-law. It was a story about transformation. His brother-in-law had a casual relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t until he lost everything and hit rock bottom before he looked up and truly found Jesus. He had risen in his company and was making great money, but then the stress caused him to turn to drugs and drugs never lead anywhere good. He lost his job, lost his wealth and almost cost him his life. But in rehab, everything changed. He came out a different man.

I think one of the reasons we don’t share our faith or lead others to Jesus is that we aren’t convinced that Jesus is everything we need. My story isn’t like the Pastor’s brother-in-law. I grew up in church. I have known about Jesus all my life. Yes, there was a time when I walked into a dark valley of my own free will. But I recall that time as being very painful and lonely. I discovered a few years later, that I would rather have Jesus as my Lord than me as my lord. My story is one of slowly turning everything over to His control. One part of my heart at a time. As I was led throughout the years, every part was revealed to me and I submitted it to His Lordship. It has taken years to get to where I am today.

When I hear of others say they don’t need Jesus, I get it. I mean, my life has been easy. I had a good home life growing up. I have had good jobs over the years. I had everything I needed. A little bit of Jesus maybe good enough for that kind of life. But I know there can be so much more. I read stories in the Bible that tell me there is so much more to this surrendered life. However, I want that kind of story without the hardship!

I listened to an interview yesterday between Jonathan Otto and Dani Johnson. Dani shared her story of deliverance and healing. But there was a statement that was said by one of them, not sure which one, that has hung in the air ever since. “The poor know Him more.”

It reminds me of the story that Jesus shared about a rich young man (Matthew 19) who asked Him what he should do to enter heaven. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, then come follow him. The young man left very sad because he had great wealth. Jesus said that it was difficult for the rich to enter heaven and that floored the disciples. They assumed richness was a sign of God’s favor on a person’s life. But if the possessions possess us, what good is to have the richness of the world and have nothing of Jesus? Emptiness. Loneliness. Spiritually bankrupt. Maybe that’s okay for some if they don’t know anything different. They just don’t know all that they could have.

We are told in Matthew 13 that heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we find the treasure, we will sell everything in order to buy the field. How many of us would sell everything for that kind of possession of heaven? Maybe that’s why most Christians only have a little bit of Jesus. Maybe we’re so afraid Jesus is going to ask us to sell it all and give it all to the poor that we fail to have the best treasure of all. If we bought that field, we would rejoice and share the news with everyone. It’s a matter of conviction that we would know we have just bought the greatest thing ever.

People were (and are) willing to die for that richness of heaven. Every disciple laid his life down to share the Good News of Jesus. They were convinced because they knew Jesus in the flesh; watched Him die a painful death. But what changed for them was when they saw Him resurrected. They touched the wounds. They ate with Him. They were empowered by His Spirit. The same Spirit we have in us when we believe in this Jesus. We can have a deeper conviction too. Maybe we need a different encounter that would change everything for us.

Are you willing to risk everything to follow Him? Or will you walk away sad because of your great wealth? Don’t let possessions possess you. It’s not worth it. Go, buy the field. It’s worth every penny!

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 (MSG)

God’s Equality

The other day, a man was arrested for sharing the Good News. Of course, he doesn’t live here in this country. He lives in a predominately Muslim country so he is in a very bad situation. His family may be targeted next. He and his family need a miracle. It seems so foreign to me because of where I live; I can’t imagine that people all over the world have the same kind of risk when sharing the Gospel message.

There are women all over this world who are looked down upon because of their gender – not their skin color, but gender. They can’t walk on the streets without their husbands or brother or father with them. Even then, the men walk ahead of them. They can’t vote or even drive a car. They have no rights when it comes to civil affairs. Again, this is just so foreign to me that I can’t imagine a time when I couldn’t go where I wanted and do anything (within reason) I wanted to do.

We see in ancient times the same thing happened – women were second class citizens. It wasn’t until Jesus came along when He elevated them to equal standing before His Father. When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (the man wasn’t accused of the same act), everybody expected Jesus to accuse her and stone her – it was the law in that day. However, Jesus said that the man who had not sinned could throw the first stone. One after another left that day, because the only one who could actually condemn her would not do so – Jesus was the only one who had never sinned, yet He did not pick up a stone. He said in John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” It was His right to do so, but He chose another way.

Women were counted among those who were in Jesus’ circle of influence. Many women were acknowledged for helping support the disciples in their work. After Jesus was resurrected, Jesus appeared to the women first. They came to anoint His body with oil as they do for all dead people. But Jesus wasn’t in the grave. He appeared to them outside the grave, alive and glorified. The stone was rolled away; there was nothing left to hinder their approach to Him. The door had been opened to a greater role for women to play in God’s plan along with every man of every color and nationality.

However, I have come to the conclusion that life on earth isn’t fair in any shape or form. Skin color, economic status, background, sexual or verbal abuse in the home, or sexual orientation; there are many different shapes to an unfair disadvantage. However, I am told through the Gospel message that everyone is equal in the eyes of God – Jesus came for us all.

The cross of Jesus is on level ground. We have either received the grace of God by Jesus’ death and resurrection or not. Doesn’t matter of nationality or gender, we are all one in Him if we have received the grace. We are brothers and sisters of the same family – there are no grandchildren, just children of God. We all have a role to play in the family – with no hierarchy to it; every role is important. That’s pretty special!

This “take a knee” for the anthem doesn’t upset me like some. Of course, I haven’t served our country and risked my life for the freedoms I enjoy. I recognize the importance of the good that this country has done through the years. The sacrifice of all who have served throughout the years to give me a right to freedom of speech and the fearlessness of being a believer in this country; to keep us all safe from those who would destroy us if given the opportunity. This country as great as it is, is not my first citizenship – my first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. My knees hit the ground for Him alone. I am His disciple.

I will stand for an anthem because it’s a respect for those who came before me and for all the rights and privileges I enjoy today because of where I live out this earthly presence. But one day, we will all come to a place of understanding – this is not our home. This is just a journey through until we one day will stand in the Promised Land – a land so rich and beautiful that we can’t even imagine; where streets are paved with gold and waters flow from a throne. And we will all stand before that throne. One day, everything will be equal at that throne. In the meantime, let’s pray for one another and encourage one another. Life is tough for many right now. We have a great God who listens to the prayers of His children. He will meet every need as we lift them up together. Let’s stand together – united as one in Him!

I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:

Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!

All who were standing around the Throne—Angels, Elders, Animals—fell on their faces before the Throne and worshiped God, singing:

Oh, Yes!
The blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving,
The honor and power and strength,
To our God forever and ever and ever!
Oh, Yes! Revelation 7:9-12 (MSG)

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

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