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Archive for the tag “faith”

Going Fishing

This past Christmas, I received an Earthing mat. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a product that helps us connect with the earth. We have gotten away from experiencing the energetic fields of the earth. Our ancestors roamed the earth, slept on the earth and were connected in ways that we no longer experience – which I admit I am glad for! However, we still have the need to get connected – hence the mat that is grounded. It’s a way to help with healing by the earth’s energy. Okay, I don’t know if it really works or not. But what I have experienced has been pretty amazing.

Normally, I sleep about seven hours with very little interruptions. Since I have had the mat and sleep with it under my feet or legs, I still sleep about the same amount. The one thing that has changed though is that I am dreaming like crazy. Every night I dream about friends that I haven’t seen in years. I have dreamed of my Mom which hasn’t happened in quite a while. Every time I wake up with someone on my mind, I pray for them (except for my Mom – she’s already where she needs to be!). I don’t know why my old friends have come up in my dream cycle, but there must be a reason for it, so I pray for them.

One morning, I woke up with an analogy on my mind. My friends were friends I had when I was far from God. I believe I had the blood of Jesus covering me during those years, but I didn’t have a fellowship with Him. During those years, I wasn’t a positive influence on these friends. The analogy was fishing. Peter was called to fish for men. This is our calling as well. I see a lake of fire that many are in. I also see people who don’t realize the water is getting warmer. It’s like frogs that are put in lukewarm water; the water gradually is warmed to the point of boiling. They get used to gradual increase, and they don’t realized they are being cooked to death. We are called to fish the people out of the lake of fire. This illustration stayed with me as I moved through my morning routine.

The ones I am dreaming about could very well be in that lake of fire. I didn’t have the influence for Jesus that I should have had when we were friends. I let them down. When I finally understood I was far from Him, I turned around and started the journey back. I wish I could say that I brought my friends with me, but I didn’t. I missed the chance while they were in my circle of influence. I would tell them today Jesus changes everything. He changed me. I know the lake is getting warmer, and they just don’t realize it. I know it isn’t up to me to save anyone. Jesus is the only one who can minister to their needs. If He wants to use me to help them out of the lake, I’m available!

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:8-11

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The Gift

On this day, remember the true gift of Christmas:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). 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 1:14).

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be  upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:6-9)

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. (Isaiah 53:13-15)

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-22)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

(All Scripture quoted from ESV.)

We are living in the years of God’s favor. Unwrap the true gift of love this Christmas. Jesus only Jesus. There is no other name where every knee shall bow at the mention of His name. He is worthy of all our worship and all our praise! Rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Born to Live

For the third time in the last couple of weeks, I have heard a message from the passage of the “lost things” in Luke 15. Okay God, I’m listening! The message this time around was about the Father and also the fact that celebration happens at the end of every parable in this chapter. I have always loved these parables, but this time around it felt like an epiphany. It was all about the celebration in heaven over finding those lost things. Jesus came to find the lost; He came for the sinners of this world. When one person is found or saved from destruction, there is a mighty celebration in heaven going on. I got to thinking about death soon after this message; I guess because I was studying the Cross of Jesus at the time and my Mom’s fourth year in heaven was right around this time. And the thoughts started following concerning death in general.

We are not born to live but born to die. The minute we are born, the clock starts ticking. We all have a death date according to Scripture. We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth. We are born to die; however, Jesus changes things. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. Only through Jesus are we born spiritually alive – this is our second birth (see John 3). Once we received the grace of salvation through belief of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we become spiritually alive. At that point we are no longer born to die, but we are born to live. We exchange a physical death for a spiritual life – we will live in abundant life for eternity. We will have some sort of exchange from this life to the eternal life – some would call this a physical death – I would surmise that we really don’t die at all but pass from here to there in an instant. Our last breath here on earth is our first real breath of fresh air ever taken. Isn’t that an amazing thought? We will no longer struggle with this physical limitation, but will truly be living in a new reality!

God has been working on this dying thing (or surrendering) for me for a couple of months now. We are told to die daily to our selfish desires (nature). Now, if I could only do it! After Jesus was resurrected, He went back to heaven so the Father would send us a helper (the Holy Spirit) to live within us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live as we should. I know I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried. It’s too hard. My selfishness is too much a part of me. Paul states in Romans 7, we do the thing we do not want to do because of our sin nature that lives within us. The Holy Spirit is at odds with our sin nature. It’s only when we die to the sin nature that the Holy Spirit will help us live in the abundant life. Yes, I am born to live abundantly only after I die daily. Ah ha! Got it.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:4-7

New Vision

What’s your image of Jesus? Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Do you see Him as just a man who happened to live long ago? I grew up in a Christian home. There hasn’t been a time in my life where I questioned who Jesus was (is). However in the last few years, I have found a new vision of Jesus. I have a new appreciation for who He is in my life. He is not just my Lord and Savior; He is my source of life and light. I have taken the time to get to know the real Jesus, not the image I have in my head, but the one that is forming in my heart through His word. Scripture tells us that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us.

I no longer see Him as a meek soul wandering around healing people or forgiving them of their sins. He was a Jewish man, in a Jewish community, doing Jewish things like going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He upheld the strict laws given to Moses found in the first five books of our modern-day Bible. He went about His business each and every day. He was a carpenter by trade until His ministry began at the age of thirty. When His journey started toward the cross, He had the body of a carpenter. He was a strong man. His appearance would have been as any Jewish man of His time. He would have worn His hair long and had a beard. He would have worn a turban and long garments with sandals on his feet. I can imagine He exuded joy from His every pore. I see Him laughing and excited to see His friends discover something new. His face would have expressed peace. I would think His whole demeanor would have shown love pouring from His heart.

Even now, His attitude is still love and passionate for us. Even though we can’t physically see Him, I know His heart is poured out on us. His love envelops us. His comfort wraps His arms around us. He is passionate about me; about you. His heart longs for us to know Him as He knows us. Scripture tells us He knows the number of hairs on our heads – and for me, it changes daily (even hourly)! He laughs when we laugh. He cries when we cry. And when we ignore Him, I’m sure He feels the same thing we would if we were ignored by someone we love.

Jesus knows our circumstances. He longs to help us with them. He wants to share in our burdens. He wants to chase the darkness away. He is the light and there is no darkness around Him. Jesus is passionate about His people. And He is passionate about every lost soul walking this earth without a hope. He died for each and every person. And He is passionate about His church. Do I have the things of Jesus in mind? Am I as passionate as He is about lost souls or His church? He is creating a new vision in me. How about you? What is your vision of Jesus?

When I turned to see who was speaking, there behind me were seven candlesticks of gold. And standing among them was one who looked like Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, wearing a long robe circled with a golden band across his chest. His hair was white as wool or snow, and his eyes penetrated like flames of fire. His feet gleamed like burnished bronze, and his voice thundered like the waves against the shore. He held seven stars in his right hand and a sharp, double-bladed sword in his mouth, and his face shone like the power of the sun in unclouded brilliance. Revelation 1:12-16 Living Bible

Safe or Faith

I am to live a life of faith not a life of safe. I had this thought not too long ago. I think for years I have heard “safe” instead of “faith.” I believe I am finally coming into the fullness of who I am to be. I am to be a person of great faith. I am tired of living in the comfortable. It’s actually quite boring to be honest. I want adventure. I want to get up every morning anticipating a day that can be a life-changer for someone, and I get to be involved in the process! Right now, I don’t have those thoughts. But I can change that. I can say “yes” to all God calls me to.

God has been at work at my church in a mighty way. He has called my pastor and the elders to start a new “School of Ministry” to begin equipping us to disciple others. They were challenged to help us to become the missionaries we are all meant to be. That doesn’t mean we are all called to go to other nations, although some of us will be. But we are all called to take the message of the Good News to our friends and neighbors. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for me, but it means that I am not to play it safe anymore. I am to live that life of great faith. It means I need to love and serve others as I am led to do. It may actually cost me something to do this thing. I may actually be called to the mission field at some point. But first I need the equipping. I need to be ready.

As I was contemplating this new path (whatever that is), Scripture was put on my heart. I don’t believe in coincidences. The Scripture was 1 Timothy 4:12-16 (I’ll include it below). I think this is a word to all. We are to be devoted to studying the Word and teaching others. We are to watch how we live and what we believe. Others are watching us. Others are paying attention to what we say and what we do. Others will see our progress. I believe this is true. I believe we are to live with integrity so that others understand our words and actions are the same. I don’t have it all figured out, but I am progressing in my walk of faith. That’s what this life is all about – progress. Success comes when we do what we are called to do – live a life of faith. Take the risks God asks us to take. He is the reason we are all alive today. I am excited to live in faith so that I may experience a greater life. I am tired of boring! It’s time to live it out LOUD! Who’s with me?

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:12-16

Wavering

Doubt. Belief. Confidence. Fear. Trust. Unbelief. Have you ever had all those feelings wrestling in your spirit? I had them all in mere moments of one another just the other day. My spirit had been convicted of my lack of faith. Got up from my quiet time, confident my heart was set right before Jesus. But in just moments as I was taking my daily walk, the wrestling began. I am in a spiritual battle concerning my trust in God. Trust in what He has promised through His word. Trust that He is who He says He is. Trust that all things are possible even when it looks impossible. I am stuck with Egypt behind me and the Red Sea before me. Is there a way that I just can’t see right now? Faith says to be sure of the things I am hoping for and to be certain in the things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). As I was concluding my walk, the word that was given in my spirit was the word to Gideon from the angel of the Lord: “go in the strength you have” (Judges 6:14).

I am wrestling also about what I am supposed to do, and what God is supposed to do. What are my responsibilities? I read the passage about Peter collecting the tax money from a fish. The money was found after Peter went to fish. Jesus told Peter go do what he was trained to do – go fish – and the provisional tax money would be provided in an improbable place – in the fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27). Jesus asked Peter to go back to what he knew for just a short time until the tax money was found. Is this something Jesus is asking me to do? The strength that I have had in my past was financial work. If I go back, is it like I am giving up on what the Lord has called me to do? Or is this just for a short time until the provision is met? Or maybe it’s to get back on track with writing my story. One of the questions circling in my mind: if I knew I could not fail, what would I do?

Lots of questions with very few answers, right now. As I discern the real meaning behind the word given, I have to believe without seeing. I have to trust God and His Word. I should have the confidence in my heart that He’s enough for me even when I see the Red Sea before me. He has a way out that I am not seeing right now. And if I need to fish for a little while, then I have to trust God to move me into the right position for the right time for what I am called to do. I have to quit looking at the waves and just fix my eyes upon Jesus. I have His peace filling every pore of my being. He is the only one who has all the answers! Thank you Jesus!

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord is Peace. Judges 6:12,14,24

Calm in the Storm

In the last few weeks, God has been pressing upon me about suffering, about pain and about storms. I don’t know why yet, but He is preparing me for something. In the midst of these impressions, I experienced a tropical storm named Andrea. My family and I were at the beach for our annual vacation. For the last twenty-three years, we have gathered at the beach under one roof to enjoy a time together and have a restful (so to speak) vacation. I look forward to those trips. Each year has been a different experience, and this year proved just as different. We have never encountered such a storm at the beach.

I experienced another tropical storm in Houston years ago. There was massive flooding and winds rocked the hotel where I was staying. I really didn’t get the full effects of the storm since I didn’t really go outside during it. The storm I experienced at the beach was completely different. My nephews went out to the beach in the middle of the wind and rain to see the waves. I stayed at home in complete safety until the rain subsided, and the sun was shining. I went out at that point to walk the beach. The winds were still active, and the waves were in turmoil. I held my camera as steady as I could while I was snapping pictures of the waves, and the sea grass bending in the wind. It was an awesome sight. As I was walking along, I had the sense of the wind to my back pushing me forward. But when I turned around, the winds were against me, and I looked up to see a dark cloud before me. I had no idea the cloud was behind me as I was walking along, but the minute I turned around I knew I wasn’t going to make it back to the beach house without getting wet.

It wasn’t until I was back at my home and was contemplating what God was impressing upon me that I found a new perspective on the storms in life. In the midst of the tropical storm I was experiencing peace – whether in the house or out on the beach. I knew God was right there with me. There was no time in the storm that I felt afraid, even during the night when the wind and rain were beating against the house. Whatever God is impressing upon me about suffering, pain and storms whether it’s on the upcoming mission trip or whatever happens next, God is with me in it. He will never leave me in the storm, but will offer me a sense of His peace. My eyes have to be focused on the right thing – not on the waves and wind – but on Jesus in the midst of the storm. When Jesus calls me to cross a great divide, He will protect me to get me to the other side!

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. Luke 8:22-25

Defining Moment

We all have defining moments in our lives when we have to give in to the fear or trust God in faith. I had one of those defining moments recently. For several days I wrestled with fear. I have been on the road to a healthy lifestyle for the last seven years. With God’s provision, I have recovered my health so that I am more fit and healthy today. I am able to go and do as never before. Even so much so, I have taken on the challenge of going on the mission field for a week in Honduras. It’s only through the grace and mercy of God that I am able to do these things.

But it comes with a challenge to my health issues. I surrendered to the fact I needed shots to do this mission trip. As I was in the nurse’s office listening to all the dos and don’ts, I had a bit of anxiety come over me. It has only grown in my mind since. I have been wrestling with the fear of losing my health once again. With God’s help, I have changed many things to bring about my health. It’s been a long seven years of change. But I feel so good right now that the thought of suffering again brings about the fear. I realize this is spiritual warfare going on. This fear only comes from Satan. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but power, love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

In my quiet time, two things were put before me. The first was from Philippians 2:12b-13: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Through this passage, I found I need to trust God completely. I need to trust that He will work all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). If God allows something to happen to my health, then He will work it out for His glory. Charles Stanley commented on this passage in his devotional “we must realize whatever we experience is under the authority of a kind, loving Father. God never allows anything to touch us that He will not turn to our benefit and the good of His kingdom.” Satan is only allowed so much leeway. Satan has no authority but only that which God has granted him for a time.

The second thing that came into my focus was from Matthew 5:13-16. We are to be the salt and light for the glory of God. I can do nothing without Him. If He chooses for me to suffer a little while, then I need to be ready to suffer for His name with no complaints. Jesus suffered far more than I will ever have to endure. This is my defining moment to trust God completely in all things. I surrender Lord! I am your servant – let it be as you say. Amen.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Nobody Touched Him

I was listening to one of my favorite preachers one Sunday morning speak on one of my favorite miracle stories from scripture. The passage was concerning the bleeding woman found in Mark 5:25. I identify with this woman. I had a problem similar to hers – mine didn’t last 12 years though, and I can’t imagine what I would have done if it had!

The preacher was talking about the facts surrounding this woman. She was an outcast in her community. She wouldn’t have been able to touch anyone because of her condition. She would not have been able to be in crowds such as this. She would not have been able to cook, clean, touch a thing because it too would have been unclean. The fact that she came on this day to see Jesus when the crowds had gathered around him was a big step of faith. She could have been stoned on the spot. But she came anyway – death would probably have been a welcome relief to her after what she had gone through for 12 years!

Hearing the story this time, I heard something different. Jesus had a large crowd around him. And if someone touched him in faith, they would have been healed. But she was the only one healed that day. I’m sure people had bumped into him. It was crowded. I’m sure there were many there that day that needed to be healed from something. But nobody was healed. Nobody touched him with faith as she did. She reached out with a determination to just reach him, knowing He could heal her. She had heard about Him. She thought to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” And she was.

I have heard about Jesus all my life. I have heard the stories of how He heals. Have I thought to myself, if I could just reach Him, I know He will heal me? I might have bumped up against Him many times in my life, but have I actually had His power touch me? We all need to be healed from something. We all have sin that has left us broken and hurt. In faith, reach out and touch Him. His power heals.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:27-29

Open Door

A couple of years ago I had a dream. I believe it was a vision from God. I mentioned it in my newsletter in May (Think Myself Free). This dream or vision was not clear. I remember only the open door and my need to close it, but it would not close. When I woke up, I was immediately filled with fear. I thought someone was in the room with me. And I prayed immediately that if I was in danger or demons were present for God to protect me. I was immediately filled with peace and went right back to sleep. I did not know how to interpret all that had transpired.

I have mentioned it to a few people, and they gave me different possibilities. At the time of this dream, I was in a middle of a transition to another path in life. One thought was the door represented the future, and I was trying to close off the future. I didn’t like what was on the other side. I was fearful of going through the door. One thought was the door represented people who needed to come in and out of my life. Another thought was that my old path was not yet done, and I wanted it to be done – representing me closing that door.

I believe God’s visions always reflect a spiritual issue. God doesn’t focus on the physical as much as He does on the spiritual. We are spiritual beings in a physical world. I believe I finally have the interpretation. The open door means I need to tell my story, going where He wants to send me and doing the thing He has placed in me. The fear comes from sharing my story. It’s something I thought I could take to my grave, but God has a different plan. His ways are not my ways.

The scripture in Habakkuk 2 I used last week, and a message from Craig Groeshel opened my eyes to the vision, and I believe it is true. It’s time to tell, and it’s time to write it down. So in May, I started my next book. It will tell of my journey, and how I got to where I am today. It’s scary to be this open, but I know God wants to use it to reach someone else that needs to hear. May it be as He says!

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:7-8

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