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Archive for the tag “Heart issues”

The Stories

Over the last few days, I have been listening to several speakers tell their stories. I tuned into Daystar on my Roku and found Joni Lamb’s Table Talk. She was in Australia for the Plantshakers conference. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t heard of this conference before; but apparently this conference has been going on for years. One of the stories was a young man who started a bottled water company because he saw the plight of the poor with no clean water. He saw the statistics of the poor without water, and the statistics of how much bottled water is sold throughout the world. That gave him an idea. He had no experience in bottling water. He had no experience in business. But he had an idea – a God-sized idea. According to their website, they have given over $5.5 million to people in need. That’s pretty amazing! Check out https://thankyou.co/ for their amazing story.

I moved on to another speaker who talked about work that he and his wife are doing in the Middle East. Tom Doyle and his wife had a ministry that helps Christians in the Middle East. Their journey started when he was delivering a message to his church. During the message, the Lord impressed upon him that this was the last message he would preach to his church. His wife got the call as well. They both believed God was calling them to Gaza. Since that time, they have been ministering to the Christians in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

On Joni’s program, Tom spoke about some amazing conversion stories from the local believers in Syria. These men have chosen to stay in their country to win the lost. They all know that they will probably die for Jesus in that place. Tom mentioned that these men and women have such joy. Tom has a book out called Standing in the Fire that covers some of these stories. Check this out http://standinginthefirebook.com/ – the stories he told on Joni’s program are so inspirational.

On Joni’s program, she spoke to a couple who have a church in Manchester, England. They have been there for nine years and really making a difference in that place. The taping of this show was done long before the suicide bombing at the concert in Manchester a couple of weeks ago. So when I saw this program, I was intrigued by the fact there is a thriving church in this city where Satan chose to disrupt people’s lives by this tragedy. How much more can this church minister to this city now! Before this church, there were many churches in the city; but only a handful of churchgoers in each building. The church has been dying in England for years. But there is new life happening, and hopefully the church will have a greater impact in the midst of this tragedy.

I have heard there are pockets of rival going on in the western world. David Jeremiah said in one of his telecasts that all the great rivals have started by young people. They are the life blood of the church. Old men and women may have dreams, but the young can fulfill the dreams with their visions. It takes both in the church body. It takes us all to do our part. We all have stories to tell. Mine doesn’t have the thrill of the conversion stories in Syria. We all choose the path we will travel. I am praying my story has a better ending than the beginning. I want to make an impact on this world – I guess we all do. However, I will have to make some sacrifice to do it; we all do.

I guess that’s the kicker. We have to be willing to die to our self in order to move on with God. God can do amazing things through a willing heart. All we have to do is say Yes! As I consider this, I am reminded of the message at my church gathering on Sunday. The pastor said that desire informs behavior. Sin corrupts our desires and brings our destruction. The pastor mentioned that the intersection between desire and what we do is our idol. We will worship the desire of our hearts.

There is a war going on and the battle plays out for our hearts. We are told in Scripture to guard our hearts. Paul wrote in Ephesians about the armor we are to put on such as the breastplate to protect our vital organs. The heart is at stake here. In order to do the things God wants to do through us, we have to commit our hearts to him fully. There is no other way to have an amazing story to tell. When we get to heaven, I can imagine us telling our stories to each other. I pray for all of us to go out of this life with a blaze of God’s glory! Wahoo – what a ride! That’s my dream. What’s yours?

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:4-5 (NLT)

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David’s Heart

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a video on Facebook of a four-year old worship leader. He was quite cute. The boy was on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots (I think that’s the name). Soon after that I heard a couple of messages about worship. All this has me thinking about worship, and my effort to honor and glorify God through my worship time. God created us to worship. It’s naturally in us to worship.

One pastor mentioned that our worship is not about us but about God. We get it all wrong when we think we’re supposed to “get something” out of our Sunday morning “service” – it’s all about what we feel as we listen to the music or hear the word preached – did it move us? Instead, we should be more concerned with how we are worshiping – is our heart in it? Is our focus on God? Is the heart moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do we feel an overflow coming from our hearts?

Another message focused on worship as a lifestyle. Worship is more than just singing. Worship is really living our lives in response to who God is and what He has done. Everything that we do can be a way of worshipping God. When we live our lives, fulfilling our God-designed destiny with the gifts and talents He has given us; we worship Him through our surrender lives. Worship is so much more than a Sunday morning experience. We glorify and honor God because of who He is and what He’s done. Having a life of worship makes me think of King David. He modeled the life of worship.

Whenever David poured out his heart to God, David either started the Psalm with praise or ended the Psalm with praise or both. He never let the opportunity pass without offering praise to God. He was after all the man after God’s own heart. But David was not perfect – far from it. Yet, God was pleased with David because of David’s heart. David pursued God with all his heart (as we all should). We are told in Deuteronomy 6:5, to love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the heart of worship. When Jesus was questioned, which is the greatest commandment? He replied with the passage from Deuteronomy 6:5.

Our desire is to worship. Sometimes though, we get it wrong. Our hearts chase after the wrong thing. It’s so easy to do in this day and age. We put too much emphasis on people or things. Sports teams, sports stars, movie stars, husbands, wives, children, etc. We fail to understand people and things will always let us down. Worship is said to come from the term “worth ship” – there is only One who is worth worshipping.

I remember a time in my childhood when my grandparents took me to a church conference. While everyone was singing, men and women were running around the room praising God. It’s a very vivid memory; and at the time, scared me a bit. I remember asking my Grandmother “what’s wrong with that man?” as an older man dressed in white clothes ran down the aisle beside us. She reassured me with a pat on the leg and everything was alright.

My time of worship is nothing like that. Sometimes I think of that demonstration and wonder why I can’t be as enthusiastic as that man? Not that I would get up and run around a room. But I should in my heart! I should have a heart that would chase God around the room! What would our lives look like if we had that kind of passion for God?

It reminds me of the passage in 1 Chronicles 15 where David is escorting the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. As the procession enters the City of David (Jerusalem), David skipped about and was full of joy. His wife Michal, looked on him with contempt for his undignified demonstration. David replied to Michal (found in 2 Samuel 6:21) that he was dancing before the Lord because of what the Lord had done for him. The Lord had given David a promise. The Lord had promised that a forever king would come through his line. And David believed God’s promise. And it was eventually fulfilled through Jesus Christ – the promised heir in the forever Kingdom.

We might not have a promise as great as the promise given to David, but God is faithful in all His promises – great and small. We can count on God. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our worship. He will never fail us. He is trustworthy. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe about God. What we do with those promises, how we live in reference to our beliefs; this is truly our worship as we respond to who God is and what He has done. Worship is an overflow of the heart. Just like David, we can be men and women after God’s heart. Chase Him down!

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.

Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;

rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 (NLT)

The Altar

Instead of making resolutions for a new year, I like to concentrate on one word. This year the word seems to be surrender. I hoped for a different word. But this is the one that keeps popping up over and over. Every first Sunday of the New Year, my church has a special service to consecrate ourselves to the Lord for the coming year. This year, we received white flags to remind us to surrender. The word didn’t come to me in that moment. It happened while I was reading from AW Tozer’s “Pursuit of God.” It became clear this is my word for the year.

In the second chapter, Tozer writes about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. The story is familiar – I have heard it most of my life. Isaac was Abraham’s greatest possession. God asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar of surrender. It was a test of Abraham’s total surrender of his heart. “Things” are not meant to take the rightful place of God. Possessions should not possess us. Tozer points out that in the beginning, God gave Adam things to rule over. “Before the Lord God made man upon the earth, He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight.” These things were for use, not possession. Sin introduced us to possession. Possession forced God out of the center of our hearts; His rightful place; the place He designed in us for Him alone.

The central message of this chapter was this: “The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing.” In the words of Jesus, Matthew 5:3 states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” According to Tozer, “it’s an inward state of paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem – this is the word ‘poor’ used by Jesus.” Abraham found this ‘poor spirit’ through the sacrifice of Isaac. Although he was rich outwardly, he possessed nothing internally.

At some point in our walk with Jesus, we will be asked to remove that thing that possesses us. We all face this testing, like Abraham, and this maybe the year we might have to lay something on the altar which is dear to us. Something will need to be sacrificed. Tozer wrote there won’t be a dozen choices, but just one and an alternative. “Our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.”

Christine Caine spoke at the Passion Conference this year. In her talk, she stated the highest honor is to be the servant of the Lord. In the Bible, there are only four who are given this “title” Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David. These men knew what it meant to lay everything down for the sake of the Kingdom. Each man had a time of testing. They were given assignments, but they first they had a season of preparation. Abraham left everything behind to go to the land God promised as an inheritance; not to mention the wait for the promised child. Moses tended flocks in the desert for forty years. Joshua was Moses’ aide for forty years before he took the possession God promised Abraham. David had many years of being a warrior before he became a king. These men possessed nothing, but the promises they were given.

Jesus is our greatest treasure. This is the one thing that we are to possess for eternity. John Piper said to the crowd at the Passion Conference, “we need to live and die showing Jesus is more precious than life.” We have a wonderful inheritance stored for us in heaven. Whatever we give up in this life is nothing in comparison to what we will receive one day. Abraham left it all on the altar. We can do the same and be called one of God’s faithful servants. What an honor!

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:20-22

Giving All

I went on the mission trip hoping for a revelation while I was on it. But there was no revelation while I was there. God has been at work in one area of my life for a while now. He has been showing me over the last couple of years my struggle to give complete control to Him. As I am writing this post, I am fully aware how much I need to trust Him in my finances. I look at my bank balance and see very little in it. Yet, I have so much more than those in Honduras. I park my car in a garage that is bigger than many of the cement houses where the villagers actually live.

One thing that is becoming evident as I consider my trip: I am so truly blessed, but it’s not for my benefit. I saw so many needs while I was there. I didn’t feel like I did very much to help while I was there. I left feeling I should have done more. Two things that keep popping up in my mind are: the treasure is in the field, and the Acts church – the first church – gave so no one would be in need (Acts 2:45). Both treasures are heart issues. Where do I put my treasure? Am I willing to give even if I have to sell something in order to give more? Giving obtains true treasure. The treasure is in the field but also, the treasure is stored in heaven.

Job told us in Scripture, we come into this world naked, and we will leave it naked (Job 1:21). Everything we have is God’s; we are just stewards of His possessions. As I passed hills throughout Honduras, I was struck with the thought: God owns cattle on a thousand hills. On the flight into the country, I noticed there is no border from the sky. You cannot tell when you are flying from one country to the next because there is no physical border from the air. God only sees two kingdoms: His and Satan’s.

There seems to be a distribution problem in His kingdom. I saw pastors in Honduras that are living on next to nothing doing God’s work, but barely surviving to support their families. I don’t think this is God’s distribution problem; it’s ours. God has given us blessings here in this country to help care for those in His kingdom elsewhere. Jesus taught so much more about money than any other topic because He knew how much money could hinder our walk with Him. Our hearts need to be right in order to be a better steward of what He has given us.

I don’t feel like I did much to help while I was in Honduras. Maybe it’s not about what was done there, but what I can do here to help those in need there. God is in the process of realigning my heart. My treasure is in the field and in heaven. The question is: Am I ready to give it all for God’s glory?

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

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