buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Preparation”

Restless

Have you ever been restless – wanting more out of life than you currently have? There’s got to be more than this, right? More than the mundane day to day stuff; more than living life for the weekends. I mean really! God tells us He made us for a purpose. Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that He designed us for good works which He prepared beforehand (my paraphrase). All throughout Scripture, God uses people in amazing ways. He took average, ordinary people and used them for His glory! Did it all stop in biblical times? Or is God still using people in amazing ways today?

The prophets were called in the midst of the ordinary tasks to go and do what God called them to. We find David tending sheep. We find Samuel sleeping. Gideon was threshing wheat. Moses was wandering around in the desert when a burning bush stopped him in his tracks. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishing. Paul was on his way to Damascus – albeit he was going to persecute the Christians when he arrived. But in the midst of the ordinary, God used the people who He placed in different times for different reasons. God knew the times and the places. He knew the people He would use for great things. Could today be any different? Scripture tells me God never changes. He is still at work; working toward the day of Jesus’ return. He still wants to use people to do His work to get the place and people ready for the predestined time. He is the only one who knows the time that is set.

Just like Esther, we are all born for such a time as this. We all have our place, our work that God sets before us. We may not know the work yet. We maybe in the preparation phase. Joseph had a dream. Between the dream and the fulfillment was his preparation time. He had no clue where God was going to take him to fulfill the dream. The pit, the slavery, the prison, the removal of all the things he knew brought about a greater purpose than he could have ever imagined. God may leave us in a difficult place so that He can use that difficulty for something greater. The trouble with difficulty is that we want to get out of it quickly. Joseph endured and apparently without complaining about his circumstances – at least it’s not recorded for us.

All the people God used were in a place of openness to Him and willingness to be used. They were humbled in His presence. I suppose that’s what He is looking for today. If we are not seeing God working through us (okay me), then we need to look into our hearts and find the reason why we are not useful yet. Could it be pride and arrogance? Could there be wrong motivations? If God intends to use us in this time and place, then we need to submit to His purpose; let Him reveal in His time and in His way. God is into the details; we just have to keep our heads in the game! Are you restless where God has you too? Seek first God. Wait for His timing and His ways– God is going to do some amazing things and if He is willing, He will make us able to do whatever it is for His glory and not ours! He’s done it in the past; why not now? Why not us?

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT)

Why?

I got a call from a friend having a crisis of belief. I understood where she was coming from since I have had the same kind of questioning not too long ago. She was questioning why she is trying to help someone when they didn’t seem to care about changing. Some people want to be helped and some don’t. Some have gotten to the point in their lives that they need to change their habits in order to feel better. Others will just pop a pill and deal with the consequences later. It’s hard to know when to give helpful advice and when to keep the mouth shut. The words will just fall on deaf ears if they are not ready to hear. My friend was very frustrated. I understood that frustration and hopefully I was able to give her the encouragement she needed to keep the faith!

The last couple of days, I have been plagued with the crisis of belief as well. I have been in a discipleship class for the last seven months. I have been wondering “why am I doing this?” The group was told Monday night that we need to have a heart for those who are lost and without hope. We are not to judge those around us, but to love those around us. There is only one judge, and we were not appointed to that role. God loved us so much even when we were in the midst of our sins, He sent Jesus to us. Jesus came to give us life. Sin leads to death, but Jesus changes death to life if we believe in Him. I am learning how to share, but I have yet to put it into practice on a daily basis. God wants to use us where we are, but we have to be ready to share what we know with those who are ready to hear.

I need to be ready to help those who are ready to be helped. The crisis of belief doesn’t end the journey; sometimes it just realigns the belief to the truth of the mission. Scripture tells me not everyone will be saved. For the ones that the Holy Spirit is working in, we are to speak to those people. We can’t save the masses, but we can speak to the ones ready to be saved. As the little boy who picks up one starfish at a time and tosses it back into the ocean, he couldn’t save every one of the starfish on the beach, but he could help one. This is the mission that we are called to; one at a time. Why? There are people who are seeking; we have to be ready to go.

I cleaned up my diet and my health. I didn’t understand why I was doing it at the time, except I felt bad and wanted to feel good again. God has shown me recently that I am only able to do the things I do today because He helped me to be well for His purpose. He has a plan for the world to hear, but He needs people who are fit and ready to go. Satan wants us to stay sick and tired. Satan wants to destroy us so that we will not be effective witnesses. Jesus said He came to give us life. That’s why I do the things I do – because of Jesus; He is the right way to life. The crisis of belief shifts the direction of my mind; from my perspective to God’s. When I have the right perspective, everything changes.

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. Romans 15:1-3 (The Message)

Expectantly Waiting

A few months ago, I thought a flower bed had not survived the cold winter. I was encouraged the other day when I began to clean up my yard and noticed what I thought was dead was in fact a new beginning. When I looked closer at my flower bed, it was only dormant. The green was just beginning to peak through at the bottom of the plant. I thought I was going to have to start over. The plant was just waiting for the sun to shine and the temperature to increase. Growth happens after a dormant period. When everything is still and the plant is hunkered down for the long winter months, the growth is waiting on the right circumstances to pop out and become the beautiful landscape that it was designed to be.

My pastor had spoken the previous Sunday on Elijah. I was greatly encouraged by his message that God had inspired him to preach. I had been feeling a little down about my circumstances. The pastor spoke of the time when Elijah was just starting on the road to becoming the great prophet. Elijah had just spoken to Ahab, the King of Israel, about a drought that God was going to send upon the land. Once the word was given, God told Elijah to go to the Kerith Ravine. Elijah went underground (so to speak). While Elijah was waiting, God told him that the brook would be there for water and the ravens would feed him. Elijah waited for a long time. Scripture doesn’t give exact details except “some time later” the brook dried up. We know the drought was supposed to happen for three years. How long it took for the brook to dry up, I don’t know for sure.

I imagine the brook was like the stream that ran at the back of my parent’s property when they lived in the mountains. It didn’t carry much water most of the time except after a heavy rain. When I envision brook at Kerith, I think it was enough to meet Elijah’s need for that time. While Elijah waited, I wonder if he ever got discouraged. I mean really. Waiting by a small brook, having birds feed him day in and day out. No contact with others. Just him, the birds and the stream. It had to have been lonely, right? My pastor said this was the time of Elijah’s preparation. God had some work to do in Elijah before God could use him. Scripture is silent about Elijah’s conversations with God during those times. Being human, he had to have been having some conversations, don’t you think? When God when? Why God why? How God how? Elijah had to learn trust. Elijah had to learn patience. Yuck.

God had given me an opportunity to leave my job three years ago. My brook has been running for the last three years. I have had everything I have needed for that time. I left my job with the expectation that something else was right around the corner. That’s not what happened though. I have been in the midst of conversations with God for the last few weeks. I was reminded this is my season of preparation – this is the season of winter when I am still and wait for God’s timing. I was reminded when the brook dries up there was another provision for Elijah. As I wait, I am encouraged that new growth happens when everything looks dead on the outside, but the inside is transforming. It was the right message for the right time. Thank you Jesus for the reminder, you always have a plan even when it looks like nothing is happening.

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. Psalms 27:13-14

Wasted Time

As I was sitting there watching the “Super” event – football and commercials, I thought what a waste of my time. Did I just spend three hours of my life, watching this for nothing? (Three hours, because I quit watching it after half time.) I feel cheated! I want that time back. Was it really entertaining me? Did the commercials match the hype? Nope. And nope. What could I have done differently? I am sure there are other ways to entertain myself than sitting here night in and night out watching TV. I am sure there are people I could call to encourage them. Or there were people I could visit who are lonely and need a friend. Even spend some more time in the Word and with God. Yet, here I sit every night trying to entertain myself for a couple of hours before I go to bed.

I don’t want to waste my time on things that do not matter. I feel like time is growing short. Maybe it’s just my age affecting my brain since I am well into my middle age years. But there’s got to be more to this life than just entertaining myself. There’s got to be more to do than filling the time with dribble. How would Jesus fill the time? Many times in Scripture, Jesus got alone by himself to pray. He would pray all night long or He would rise early to spend time with His Father. How’s my prayer life? Do I have the same discipline as my Teacher? I fall so short so much of the time. I serve a gracious God though. He knows I am still being developed to be more like Jesus. I have a long way to go.

But He hasn’t given up on me. He still waits patiently as I sit there watching my television; waiting on me to turn it off and turn to Him. One day, I will have the discipline. One day, I will not waste my time on things that do not matter. One day, I will have in mind those things of God. With every day that passes, I am closer to realizing the truth of who Jesus is and who I am in Jesus. With every day that passes, I am one step closer to becoming who I was born to become. I was challenged the day after the “super event” to turn off the TV. I have been successful in turning it off and tuning into God. I am still working on it completely, but I am better at than when I first began the challenge.

I am living the dream. I am living the life that Jesus saved me for. I am just not there completely. But one day, I will be. I am a work in progress! The time is not wasted when I focus on things that are eternal. I should honor Jesus as I focus more on Him and less on me.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17

Distractions

For a while now, I have been saying I am in the process of writing my story. I don’t know how many times I have said this in my blog but it’s been a lot! I wish I could say it’s getting done. I wish I could say I have it all wrapped up. It is Christmas time after all. I am a bit perplexed though why it’s not done. Why am I procrastinating about finishing it? It’s aggravating to say the least. I want it to be done but I don’t want to sit down to actually write. Every time I think this is going to be the day that I write, I get distracted with other things. Oh, the things I am distracted with are all pretty good excuses. There’s been a Bible study I have been involved with. There’s been works of service that have come along. Many things get me distracted.

I am reminded of Mary and Martha on the day Jesus came to visit. Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing for the feast for Jesus. Mary was at the feet of Jesus listening to His every word. Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t helping. (I’ve had those thoughts recently.) Jesus tells Martha:  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Maybe the distractions are better at the time they are presented to me. Maybe I need to make sure I am choosing what’s better. But as Christmas is approaching, I need to make sure I don’t get distracted with shopping, parties and all the festivities that I forget to remember what I am celebrating. This is a joyous occasion. Jesus is coming for a visit. I don’t need to be distracted by all the preparations. I need to stay focused on the reason for the season. I need to be at the feet of Jesus listening to His every word. This is the reason He came so that we could know Him and know His Father. If I miss this important message, then all the preparations mean nothing. It’s just another holiday party. Yes, I will be socializing with friends and family. But I want to make sure Jesus is in the honor seat at the table.

Jesus maybe visiting now, but He’s here for an extended stay. When He is finished telling me all He has to tell me, then I can sit down and finish what I have started. The book will be finished when it’s time to finish. I just need to be sure that the obstacles coming are from Jesus, not Satan. Jesus may be delaying me for the right timing. Or Satan might be distracting me because he doesn’t want me to tell what Jesus has done for me. Is the distraction helping or hurting? Is it for my benefit or for others? I will choose the best for the kingdom for preparations both for Christmas and my heart to tell the right story that gives God all the glory.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:15-17

Clearing the Land

Recently, I was taking my daily walk. I made my way through the streets of my neighborhood to the new neighborhood adjacent to mine. My heart dropped a bit as I noticed the stately oaks and pines were no more. As each tree fell, I wondered if this was really progress. Does every neighborhood have to be cleared completely of every tree? I was sad to see them fall. As I was homeward bound, I had this thought: every building project has to have groundwork done before the building can rise. Every land has to be cleared; every foundation must be built in order to have a secure footing.

In my season of preparation (as I like to call this time), the groundwork has to be done. The pruning, the fertilizing, the preparation for bearing fruit is essential in order to build a lasting legacy. I don’t have kids so why am I concern with a legacy? There are many people who are watching how God works in my life. Probably ones I don’t even know are watching and those are the ones where the legacy will be planted. My footing has to be secure. My solid rock must be laid before the beauty can rise out of the ashes, so to speak. I don’t know yet the building that is being planned but I know this: Jesus is always building His church. I have felt for many years that Jesus is doing something wonderful in the Body of Christ. There are “dry bones” coming to life. There is an army of Christ’s soldiers preparing for battle. And maybe a woman will be in charge to lead the way – hey, it’s happened before (look at Deborah in Judges 4 and 5).

I’m not saying I will be in charge, but I know God has placed me here in this time, and in this place for a greater purpose than collecting trinkets that will not last. He has a purpose designed for each one of us but the groundwork has to be done. The Breath of God has to be placed in us in order to empower us to do the work we are called to do. We have to surrender to the Holy Spirit as He leads us to make the changes necessary in our hearts. Surrender. I have never liked that word. It sounds so weak. But I have come to realize it takes someone strong and courageous to surrender to another authority greater than our own. It’s hard to do. When we believe we can handle all our own problems, we stand in the way of something greater. God’s plan. It’s the plan that we need to surrender to.

As I finished my walk, the thought of the trees came back to me. I heard a story of the mighty trees of Lebanon being cut for the temple of God in the original building program. The trees were not sad to be cut because they knew they were going to be used to glorify God. They had a greater purpose. I don’t know the fate of the trees from the adjacent neighborhood, but I have a feeling they will be sold for a new purpose. I know many days I sit at a table that was once a tree. I have offered many blessings as I have sat at my table. In a way, I guess the table did have a part in glorifying God.

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Preparation

On Memorial Day, I was outside cleaning up around my house and made a few observations as I was cleaning up weeds. A few years ago (maybe ten years or so), I removed all the grass and put in mulch on one side of my house. It was a shady area. There were a couple of trees on my side of the property line and two large cedar trees on my neighbor’s side. As the years went along, the trees got really big and became a real problem for me. It kept the siding on the house from getting sunshine which led to mold and mildew being a real nuisance.

I have issues concerning the trees around my house. My house was struck by lightning when I first moved in. It hit one of the trees on that side of the house and ricocheted to my house. I have been wanting all the trees down since then. I finally got the trees down on my side about three years ago. So what do I do about my neighbor’s trees? Well, I prayed for God to remove them. I know, trivial things to pray about, but I prayed anyway. In hindsight, it was a really good thing for me to cut my trees down because God answered my prayer in a very big way.

In April, 2011, a tornado made its way through my city and across my neighborhood. Those two cedar trees were laid down perfectly between my house and my neighbor’s. If the other trees had been there, they might have ended up on top of my house (right where I would have been kneeling in my closet). I believe God prompted me to get those trees taken down. I even had done some major work on my house the year before and trust that too was in preparation for the storm to come. This was not how I expected God to answer my prayer for my tree problem. But He had prepared me in a large way for the storm to come. I had done the work I knew to do in advance of what God was going to do.

I see this too as a metaphor for spiritual storms. There are things I need to be doing in order to be prepared for the storms that will come in my life. I need to be strong in the Word. I need to be on my knees praying diligently for the things I know to be praying for. There are many preparations before the storms arrive, and they will come.

As I was pulling weeds on Memorial Day, I was reminded of my prayer. I prayed for the removal of the trees and now I have weeds. Nothing had grown on that side of the house for years, but now that it’s sunny and weeds flourish. The house is no longer moldy and mildewed, but the paint is fading fast. Whether it is sunny or shady, there are always issues to deal with. Either way, there is work to do. Time spent in preparation is essential to be ready for whatever storm comes my way.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34

When Doubting

I was reading the passage concerning John the Baptist found in Matthew 11. John was questioning if Jesus was the One who was promised to come. Jesus reassured John with the signs and wonders of what was done. I also heard a sermon recently about the Disciples of Jesus were doubters. I know Thomas was always considered the biggest doubter, but they all doubted. The doubts went away when they had the revelation of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus isn’t thrown off when people doubt. He might have been perplexed at times when the Disciples still doubted, but He didn’t throw up his hands and give up on them.

I think it’s reassuring that all of Jesus’ closest companions doubted. I waver between doubting and revelation. I don’t doubt that Jesus is who He says He is. Sometimes I doubt that He can handle my biggest needs. I guess I doubt He’s big enough. But then I get the revelation, sometimes through signs and wonders; sometimes through His word coming through a simple passage, to turn my doubts to belief. Sometimes I have to see it to believe it as Thomas had to do after Jesus was resurrected. And sometimes, I just have to be reassured through Jesus’ word that what I have seen is truly real like John the Baptist.

For months I prepared for my first mission trip. I experienced moments (or days) of doubting concerning the trip. As I struggled to come to terms of my doubting, I have followed John the Baptist’s example and brought my concerns to Jesus. He listened to my questioning, and He reassured me I was going as His hands and feet. I did what He asked me to do, which was to go. I took the steps of obedience and believed He was going with me. And He did. Everything done was because of Him. His strength, His protection, His provision. I knew nothing and did nothing on my own.

I have been called to go. John was called to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. As I was thinking about this statement, it occurred to me we are all called to prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus. We are called to go and prepare others for Jesus. He is coming back one day. Maybe His coming will happen in my lifetime, maybe not. But we are to be prepared as if He’s coming today. If He’s coming today, am I ready to see Him? Am I working to prepare others to see Him? That’s what we’re all called to do. My first mission trip was successful because I was prepared to go – spiritually.

Yes, I have had many a doubt, but that hasn’t stopped me from preparing to see Jesus do some wonderful work! It’s for His glory alone!

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20

Be Ready

I am getting married! Are you shocked? I was totally unprepared for that emotional elation, that after all this time I might actually want to get married! I read in Revelation 19 that Jesus is preparing His church (people not a building) for the wedding feast that will be happening in His kingdom. His church is His bride and even today, He is preparing us for that day. I have been on the reading adventure through Revelation since September through the Community Bible Study group. It’s been a wild ride through all the symbols and wraths of God, but in chapter 19 there is a continual celebration of all that is taking place. It’s a breath of fresh air.

In chapter 19, John sees the celebration of the wedding ceremony. As I was reading, I pictured the readiness of a bride-to-be and all the preparations that take place before her big day. As the bride-to-be begins the process of dressing for the event – her big day, she wears the dress of white (typically). In Revelation, we see the attire being fine linen, bright and clean (verse 8). John was instructed to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” As I was reading this particular section, the commentary suggested looking at Matthew 22.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 22 about a wedding banquet. Several groups were invited to come, but they all had excuses why they couldn’t make it. Eventually strangers were asked to attend, and they came wearing their wedding clothes, except for one fellow. He was put out because he didn’t have the right clothes. Every other time I had read this passage from Matthew 22, I thought that was a bit harsh to throw him out just because of the clothes. However, I am reminded that when Jesus told stories it was for a spiritual purpose. Since reading Revelation 19, I see the clothes now as the righteousness of those who attend His wedding feast. Not everyone will be allowed in and those who are not clothed in righteousness will be thrown out. Wow – what a powerful word.

I get it. I understand I need to be in preparation for that big day. But also, the church needs to be ready as well. I believe time is growing short, and there’s much to do to be ready for that big day. I want to be a part of the ceremony, don’t you? There is nothing in this world worth losing that wedding invitation. Revelation 19 begins with “Hallelujah!” which means Praise to God! Yes, I am excited to be wed to Jesus. It’s going to be a glorious day! Amen!

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Revelation 19:6b-8

Foundations and Buildings

I have recently heard two messages on both the foundations of God and Jesus building the church. I don’t believe in consequences. I believe God is giving us a word. Jesus said over two thousand years ago that He is building His church. He is still doing it today. The church has grown from 120 people when Jesus started to millions today. The foundation was laid through Jesus’ ministry. His words came from God. He spoke the truth of God. Then He laid down on a cross. He is building on the foundation that cannot be shaken. It is the Truth spoken by Jesus and through Jesus.

I listen to several sermons a week through different ministries. God is building a firm foundation in me. I am hearing the truth through scripture, the spoken word and the written word. God is building a church through each person that is willing to listen, learn and put the Word into practice. God is not a god of duplication but multiplication. His church is not dying but thriving. There are multiple churches out there in the world that are bringing the Truth to light and people are responding. God is at work.

I am in the process of becoming ready to join the movement in whatever role I am to play. God is preparing my heart. He is preparing my mind. He is preparing my body. He is at work. He is not preparing me for a ministry that is duplicated but is unique to what He is calling me to. Beth Moore recently spoke about rebuilding the temple in Ezra 3. She spoke about the same foundation was used to rebuild temple, the same materials, same architectural plans, but the temple came out different. God didn’t dwell the same in the second temple as He did the first. We are in the temple age where He now dwells in us. He doesn’t dwell the same with everyone. Whoever is ready, let him receive the Holy Spirit for the greater work God is doing. Join the movement – build the church. Others are waiting to be introduced to Jesus.

For those that have ears, let them hear.

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 3:5,7

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