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Archive for the tag “God is in Control”

Oneness

Over the last few weeks, I have had a sense that God is using this time to purify the Church. I have said a few times over the last few years to friends and family the Church will need to go through a few things before Jesus returns. I believe we are seeing one of those “things” in order for the Church to be ready for Jesus’ return. He’s coming back for His Bride (the Church) one day – He said so (John 14:3)!

God’s Word tells us nothing impure or unholy will ever see His Kingdom. It’s impossible for us to live as we ought unless we are fully “in” with Christ. It’s sad to say, but the Church hasn’t lived in the Way of Jesus for quite some time (at least in the US branch of the Church). We have allowed the world to dictate how we live our lives and its counter to how Jesus would have us live. We have allowed the world to influence the Church instead of the Church influencing the world.

In Revelation, Jesus gave a message to John to give to the church at Laodicea. Jesus was not pleased with their attitude and had a few harsh words for their lukewarmness. It was detestable to Him. John wrote these words from Jesus (Revelation 3:17-18) “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

Experts tell us that the churches found in Revelation are the stages of the Church throughout the Church age. Laodicea is considered as the last Church stage before the Church age ends. After this chapter in Revelation, the Church is no longer mentioned. Experts tell us the Church will be taken from the earth and the enemy will have his way on earth for a season.

However, the enemy is not waiting for the Church to depart. His plan is to make the Church ineffective right now. There is a real spiritual war going on and the Church is at the center of it all. The Church has to keep the focus on Jesus – the Head of the Body. The Church should be the light in the community to drive away the darkness. The character of the Church should be like salt (Jesus’ message found in Matthew 5). However, the enemy is out to divide and conquer.

Division was also a concern for Jesus. In John 17:11 we find Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. Jesus prayed the disciples would be one as He and His Father were one. Jesus’ upmost heart was that the disciples represented Him well. He asked that they love one another. Love is the unifying force so that others would see Jesus’ disciples by how well they loved one another and others in the community.

The apostle Paul also wrote the Corinthian church to be aware of divisions in the Church. We find this directive in his first letter to the Corinthians (1:10 TPT) “I urge you, my brothers and sisters, for the sake of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. Be restored as one united body living in perfect harmony. Form a consistent choreography among yourselves, having a common perspective with shared values”.

The Church will continue to be in difficult times as the end of the Church age draws near. We will need each other more and more. We must encourage each other and stay focused on the mission – love God and love others – so that we will be a sweet fragrance to God our Father, but also be a good representation of Jesus to win others for the Kingdom. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be afraid. God is still in control and His plan is still at work. Let’s be unified in our love – let’s be one and give God the glory!

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:19-22

Time Out

Even before I know what happened while I slept, I was reminded God is in control. The birds are still singing, the earth still rotated for the sun to rise in the east. God is still a miracle worker, a way maker – even when we don’t see Him working, He still works. Even when we don’t feel Him near, He is still near. Most of those words are from a song titled Way Maker by Leeland. The song was playing in my head as I read my daily Scripture this morning.

The Bible is full of stories of God’s work in progress. I have read through God’s instructions to Moses and the Laws given to the Levites. I read through the promises God gave His people. But I also noticed God had warns if His people were disobedient. He promised too that if the people did not follow His Laws, then there would be consequences. And He warned them what would happen – exile from the Promised Land He would give them. The Land would be cursed because of their disobedience.

God is still working in the process. We may not understand what He’s doing in the midst of our circumstances, but He is still at work. This circumstance we’re in today may be a “time out” – a warning – like He gave the Israelites in the Old Testament before their exile. We have to admit our disobedience to God’s Word. We have been very disrespectful to Him through the last twenty years for sure. I don’t want to say this virus is a punishment from God, but this could be a way He uses to get our attention.

We have been distracted by many things especially in the last four years. This time out has wiped away our distractions – no more sports, no more running around after things that do not matter. The television is still blaring, but it’s only blaring bad news. I get stressed just listening to all the information they keep throwing at us. I turned it off. I still find out what I need to know, but I don’t have to listen to it sixteen hours a day.

Precautions are a good thing. Washing hands – yes, please do – we shouldn’t have to be reminded of this during a crisis. However, we are to be aware of what God is doing around us. If someone is panicking, we need to help them with perspective. God is still on the throne. God is still a miracle worker. He is the Way Maker. He is the hope of the world. We can help them look up and see Him at work in the world. This may be the greatest time in our current history to show them His glory.

I have a book that I read in my quiet time written by missionaries throughout the world. One of the stories I read this morning concerned a missionary who traveled by motorcycle to remote villages. A Muslim man drove him for many days on dirt paths through the jungle. One day, they had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. There was no hope for the tire to be fixed unless God fixed it. The missionary lifted the tire to the heavens and asked God to fix it.

The missionary handed the tire to the driver and asked him to put it back on the motorcycle. They started out slowly, but after a few miles the driver increased his speed. By the end of the day, the tire was like new. This story circulated throughout the area – not about a tire, but about a God who hears and answers prayers. Many came to faith in an awesome God who answers prayers.

God still answers prayers. However, we still have to be faithful to ask them. We still have to humble ourselves before Him. He is waiting patiently and sometimes He has to get our attention. Sometimes the finances have to be wiped away. Sometimes our health has to fail. Sometimes we have to realize we are not in control. Sometimes we need to be in time out so that we can see Him more clearly.

Time out is a fairly new concept. We didn’t have it when I was growing up. I got the full punishment when I was disobedient. There wasn’t a time when I sat in a chair to think about the wrong I had done. When I got caught doing something wrong, I knew punishment was coming. Most of the time it was just a spanking, but on the rare occasion I received the belt. I didn’t like punishment, but I knew if I disobeyed there would be consequences. Most of the time, I thought I could get away with my wrongdoing. Some of the times I did. But the times I got caught, I knew what to expect. I had already been warned beforehand.

This may be our time out for this season. We may have to think about the things we have done wrong and seek forgiveness. But if we don’t change our ways, there will be stiffer penalties in the future. We have had ample time to change our ways. God said in His word to Solomon at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:13-14):

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God warns. We react with humility and prayers. We watch God work and give Him the glory. “Tires” should be lifted to heaven and watch God restore our land and fill our hearts. Let the Miracle Worker – the Way Maker do what only He can do as we lift those “tires” for His glory. Let us pray faithfully and obediently and watch God work.

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:15-16

Focus and Attitude

How much fear are you feeling today? It seems the world is spinning out of control. With the stock market taking a nose dive for the last week; the election and the virus running the news cycle, it’s enough to cause great fear among us. I know for myself, I have been a bit concerned about all these things. This news cycle is enough for any of us to take a pause to feel a bit concerned about the future. We are living in unprecedented times. Our culture and our times will never be as they were before. Not to give you a real downer today, but just a reality check.

Let’s look at the future for a minute. Socialism will one day rule over us. It’s the way of the future – not just for us in the US, but around the world – we will one day be ruled by the one world government. They will be in charge of everything – from financial, to religion, to how we spend our time. It’s going to happen eventually.

A plague (along with war and famine) will one day wipe out a forth of the world’s population. And one day there will be a one world currency because of the fall of financial systems as we know it today. The future looks a bit bleak, right? The future has been given to us in the Book of Revelation so it will come to pass, one day, but not today.

Today, it’s just a blip on the screen. Socialism won’t come in full force no matter who wins the election, because it’s not time yet. It might be a step in that direction if the socialist candidate gets in the White House. We do have a choice this year on how the future will look for the next four years. Choose wisely, my friends. We still have a congress that will keep socialism at bay for a few more years (hopefully).

The virus that is playing havoc today with the news cycle will die down again eventually. Yes, there will be some sick people out there carrying this thing to the ends of the earth, but it’s not the plague that will take out millions of people. The flu is more threatening than this current virus – so far. It could change, but scientists are working hard to find a cure or vaccine, whichever comes first. And the financial crisis won’t last; stocks will rise again and the economy will bounce back when fear isn’t driving financial decisions.

I took a road trip last week to see one of my dear aunts. Visiting her was such a blessing. Her attitude was so refreshing in this climate of fear. The doctor recently asked her if she had been depressed lately. Her response was why on earth would she be depressed after all the blessings she has experienced in her life? She exuded great joy of all the Lord has done for her. She has an attitude of gratefulness – one that I need to take to heart myself.

When we are grateful for all we have in our lives – all the blessings the Lord has given us – there is no room for fear. When we see our Great God for who He is, there is only hope for a brighter future, because God has all things in His control. Nothing is a surprise to God. It might come as a great shock to us – but for the Lord, this is nothing. If it’s nothing for Him, then why should we be concerned?

We have a focus problem when we are fearful. We focus on the problem and not the One who is in control of the problem. These times maybe unnerving at the moment, but it’s nothing to fear. I don’t like my IRA to drop as it did this week, but I believe God’s in control of my resources too. After all, all the resources come from Him; He knows my needs now and in the future.

I will get out and vote in the next few days for a candidate to run this nation and for those in congress. In November, I will do so again and will hopefully join a larger group that will put the right people in office to do the right thing for God’s will to be done.

And for the virus of the day, I will keep myself healthy – sleep well, eat well and exercise – and take my supplements to keep my immune system running well. There are always steps for us to take as God makes His will known to us. We do our part as God does His.

Our focus should be on doing His will and let the consequences play out as God allows. Keep the faith and do your part too. God is bigger than all this. Trust Him in the midst of our difficulties and let gratitude for a great God exude from you too.

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the
Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure. Psalm 18:30-32

The Test

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.

However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.

In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).

In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.

Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.

The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.

Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?

We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14

Eyes Open

Tomorrow things will change once again. A new president will be sitting in the oval office. With new leadership always brings a change. Each man has brought their own agenda into that office. It’s inevitable. Change happens with increasing frequency. It is undetermined at this point whether it’s going to be a good change or a bad change, and it will depend upon our own perspective – we have an agenda as well. Does the change meet our approval based on what we perceive is right in our own eyes?

After this past year, I don’t know what to expect from this point on. The one constant in all the years previously, is God. He is still on the throne, and He is still in charge. I do believe God’s hand has been all over this election cycle. It has to be since there has been no other explanation as to why this election has been so radically different from all the others previously and who we have coming into office tomorrow. God has His own agenda – and it’s the one that will be ultimately fulfilled. He causes the rise and fall of every nation. It’s to be determined which will be the case for us over the next few years.

Judgment is coming at some point. It has to be. God cannot let disobedience stand. We have some things in our past (and our present) that will have to be called into account. The one thing that keeps us in God’s favor is our stand with Israel. However, even that has been shaky for the last few years. God said He will bless those who stand with Israel and curse those who don’t. Every action we take against Israel has been shown as our detriment. The latest stand was abstaining from a critical vote against Israel. We did not vote against the United Nations agenda against Israel. We let it pass.

The agenda is to pass a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine to live in peace together. However, Israel will have to give up some land in order for this to happen. I will not attempt to go into the details because I don’t know the full story. I just know that giving up land has never been a good thing for the people of Israel. This is God’s land. This was His promised land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to Moses; to Joshua; and to the future of the world. All eyes are on Israel; the epicenter of events to come. God has an agenda that will be fulfilled, and it all comes to that little spit of land hanging on the side of the Middle East. Everybody wants a piece of it.

God is moving each piece into place for the events to come. Our nation’s part is still to be seen. However, I think God’s move with this presidency will determine our future. Judgment or blessing will be determined by how we look toward the future with Israel. Trump has said he will stand with Israel, but has the cards already been played that will tie our hands to the future? Will we see the link between our standing against Israel in the latest vote and what happens next for us as a nation? Or will we blame it all on Trump? Will he be our scapegoat? Time will tell.

I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. My feeling is something is already in the works. I feel a shaken is inevitable. There has to be. We cannot continue on this same path without some major foundation shifting that will open our eyes and stir our hearts. I believe that is on God’s agenda as well. Change is coming whether we like it or not. We are not supposed to stay the same. Sameness is boring. Change can be exciting. It’s our perspective that will give us anxiety or excitement. I choose excitement because I believe God is at work; and He is in control bringing about His purpose, and it will be to our good. My eyes are open for His glory to be revealed. Stand with me and watch Him work – it’s going to be amazing to see.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

Right Now

Last Saturday, my friend and I sat chatting about our current job situations. She made this comment: you need to be content where you are before the next thing will come. My friend had gone through a layoff situation and gained new understanding about contentment. Enjoy the moment; relax even while facing the fear of the unknown. I had my own desert season to gain understanding. As I was contemplating these things, I realized I haven’t relaxed and enjoyed the moments. I get frustrated more times than not when I contemplate the future. My financial picture is not matching my future spending habits. And I don’t know how things are going to come together – God’s plan and my future well-being. I realized I am not as content as I thought I was.

Beth Moore recently spoke on “Wednesdays in the Word” (Life Today.org) about the “God who sees.” Beth spoke about Hagar and two questions God asked of her. “Where have you come from?” and “Where are you going?” We are usually caught in the “right now” between these two questions. I tend to get frustrated in the right now because I want to know the answer of the where I’m going. I want the vision that God has for me. I want to know that the right now moments will come together even when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to know that I am not stuck in the right now – there’s a plan to move me to the future “going.” I would like to rush ahead to the fulfillment of the plan without going through the prep work.

God gave Abraham a promise that took years to fulfill. The promise was not given with the timeline. However, when things didn’t come together on Abraham’s time schedule, Sarah and Abraham made other arrangements. The couple decided Sarah was too old. They thought since the child didn’t happen right away, then God must have left out a few instructions so they needed to improvise to help God out. Note to self: our plans are not the best plans.

The promise must have included another party, and Hagar (Sarah’s maidservant) seemed to be the obvious choice. Hagar had Abraham’s son Ishmael. Jealousy arose in Abraham’s camp and words were said. Hagar took off to parts unknown. Hagar wasn’t privy to the promise God made to Abraham. God promised Abraham He would make Abraham into many nations and kings will come through his line of descendants. Sarah’s son, Isaac, was the blessing of the promise (covenant). But Ishmael would also receive a blessing – “he would be fruitful and will greatly increase his number. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). God always fulfills His promises. But it is always done His way and not ours.

After a disagreement with Sarah, Hagar took her son and left the camp. God found Hagar in distress. She was in the midst of her right now moment when the future looked very bleak. God came to Hagar and revealed part of the plan. God instructed Hagar to go back to where you came from and wait. Wait for the fulfillment of the plan.

Drats. We’re supposed to wait for God’s timing and not ours. We have to surrender and wait. Be content in the right now. There’s always a reason in the wait time – the moments in between. God has to do the preparation in us and in His ultimate plan. The landscape needs to be arranged for the fulfillment to move God’s plan forward.

Hagar encountered the God who sees. Hagar was sent back to receive the blessing. The blessing is in the “right now” moment. God opened Hagar’s eyes a second time when she came to another desert place. God gave her a well to quench her thirst and reminded her of the promise to make her son into a great nation.

We all have a dry, desert place in our lives where the promises seem to be a long way off. God always sees where we are and knows where we are going. He knows we grow impatient in the waiting time. But if we surrender, be content while we wait; we will see God’s provision at His appointed time. Contentment truly is the way to the richer blessings of tomorrow even if we don’t see how it will come right now. Abraham is our example of God’s faithfulness. Right now, God is in the preparation phase and He is faithful to complete the work He started. It’s a guarantee!

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11:11-12

Foundational Truths

My Sundays are usually pretty quiet ones. I have my quiet time in the morning, followed by one of the gatherings of my local body of believers (called “church” round these parts), and then I will listen to North Point Online (Andy Stanley’s teachings or one of the other pastors). Then hopefully I will listen to God as I reflect on what I have heard. Sometimes I don’t listen very well. Or I don’t take the opportunity to reflect; I get busy doing other things. Then the word (as the Word says) is snatched away. I don’t remember what was taught; I forget the message by the time I hit the front doors or turn off the TV. I don’t reflect on the message and how it should affect my life. The word evaporates like water on a hot day.

This past Sunday, I did a better job at listening – maybe it was because I was ready for a fresh word – a fresh perspective. You see, I need a miracle. I need God to show up big. I am praying for a fresh revelation of Him. I have determined that I can ask my heavenly Father for anything. My pastor reminded me through his message about this one truth: God loves me (and you). It’s unconditional. I read on Saturday morning during my quiet time, that I am chosen by God before the foundation of the world. I was chosen to be His daughter (this was not revelation to me – but sometimes I need to be reminded). We all are chosen as His children. Some of us have responded to the invitation from Jesus to join the family of God by receiving the gift of salvation. But not only receiving the gift, but acknowledging Jesus’ work and our shortcomings (sins) and seeking the forgiveness from the Father through Jesus, who is our bridge between God and us.

I have a child’s perspective of the parent/child love relationship. I don’t have the bond of a mother/child love since I do not have children. The child side is different from the mother side (or father side). The parent always has a greater love for the child than the child has for the parent. Sometimes, I don’t think I truly understand the depths of God’s love since I haven’t experienced the deeper love of parenthood. I know in theory, but struggle with the concept in reality. To get past this problem, I have to believe based on the truth of God’s word. There is a depth of love that is wider, deeper and greater than any chasm that can be crossed by human efforts. There is a depth of love that was crossed over by divine nature through Jesus. He became the bridge over the chasm. God sent Him for us. Jesus chose to come for us.

I can imagine the conversation in Heaven before the first spoken word to form the heavens and the earth. They must have decided that it was still worth setting the world on its foundation. God knew the ways of man before man took the first breath. Right then – He chose each and every one of us to be here at this time and place. Nothing is by accident. My breath is taken away each and every time I contemplate the vastness of what was done even when God knew it all from the beginning. He still chose to do the things He did in the beginning. And then, God said it all was very good. Why would He do such a thing when He knew it all from the beginning? Because of Love.

The second truth spoken on Sunday was: God is in control. Nothing is a surprise to God. There is nothing that comes to us – blessings or trials – that first doesn’t come through Him. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote in his devotional this morning that “as believers, we’re assured that no adversity comes our way unless He can use it for our benefit and His good purpose.” The one thing we faced in our lives that was impossible was becoming His child. Sin broke the relationship with God when man (and woman) first sinned. But this wasn’t impossible either, for God made a way where there was no way. Because of that truth, everything we face is possible with God. The miracle has already happened. I am here – you are here, because of Jesus. The relationship with God has been restored when we become His. Because of Jesus, we can ask our Heavenly Father for what we need. He knows the best for you and me. We must trust Him to answer as He sees fit. And know that when we receive the answer, it is for our good regardless of what the answer may be. His love wins every time.

And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:6, 18-19 (NLT)

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