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Archive for the tag “Trusting God”

Two Feet of Jesus

In my small group, we’re going through the Book of Mark. An impression has settled over me concerning these Scriptures. Jesus wanted us to have faith. I know, duh. But really, faith is the key to everything concerning Jesus. David Jeremiah said in one of his teachings about being an Overcomer, “faith is about security in the object of our faith.” He gave the illustration of ice fishing. Is it better to have a little faith with two feet of ice or to have a whole lot of faith with two inches of ice? Of course, it would be a little faith on two feet.

Jesus said we should at least have faith as small as the mustard seed. Even with that smallest of faith, we could say to the mountain move and it would move. That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think. But it’s the object of our faith that causes the mountain to move.

Jesus could do nothing in the place where there was no faith, especially in His hometown. People grew up with Him. They knew Him or at least, they thought they knew Him. They didn’t understand where He received His education. They couldn’t trust Him because they didn’t know His instruction came from above. They didn’t believe He was the Son of God because they thought He was Mary and Joseph’s son. They didn’t know the back story even when it was given to them in their Scriptures from long ago.

The learned scholars had the back story, they too didn’t believe. They were waiting for the Messiah; yet when He came, they didn’t recognize Him. They had everything before them and they couldn’t see Him. They had no faith in Him. They had more faith in their Scriptures, which were only given so that God’s people would recognize their need for the Savior and recognize Him when He arrived on the scene. But they chose to have more faith in two inches of parchment rather than the two feet of Jesus, the living Word.

Who am I to criticize them? I can be just as bad with my faith walk. Sometimes I put my faith in the wrong things. Money. People. Job. You name it. I have probably trusted it more than I have trusted Jesus. However, I believe my experiences over time have developed more trust in the two feet of Jesus. I still lose sight and have to be reminded. But Jesus continues to give me new insight when I read His Word. Faith – it’s a big deal. We can’t get to heaven without it.

James MacDonald spoke recently about miracles. Jesus performed many miracles (as long as there was faith present) throughout His ministry. Does it still happen? I wrote down from the teaching – “only God can move mountains.” But Jesus said we could do it with faith as small as a mustard seed. The faith is for God to move it on our behalf, not in us. We ask in faith and watch Him move it. He still has the same abilities as He did when Jesus walked the earth. But it still takes faith.

Pastor James said “Miracles are common where God’s glory is revealed. Miracles are uncommon where God’s glory is concealed.” Why do we want a miracle? Will God get the glory for the miracle? Pastor James’ last point was “miracles flow for a deeper faith.” God creates miracles for His glory and for our faith in Him. The more we trust Him the more He’ll do through us. We take greater risks when we truly believe God is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do.

Faith. As small as a mustard seed. Two feet of Jesus is more than anything else this world has to offer. Money. People. Jobs. There’s no comparison. God said He would never leave us or forsake us. Do you believe it? We could all use more faith. But if we start with the smallest of faith, He will enlarge it as we lean upon Him as we take the next step and the next. Faith grows more confident the further we walk with Jesus – He might even take us all the way to the center of the ice – but He never leaves us there alone. His two feet are right beside us. Trust Him to get to the other side. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.”

Jesus replied, “Where is your faith? Can’t you see how wayward and wrong this generation is? How much longer do I stay with you and put up with your doubts? Bring your son to me.”

Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the boy was instantly healed!

Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”

He told them, “It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!

Matthew 17:16-20 (TPT)

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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

The Stirring

What could possibly go wrong with a day of exploring a cave with twelve young boys? I’m sure if the young coach would have thought it through, it might have occurred to him it wasn’t a good idea during monsoon season. But like all of us in those seasons of our lives, we don’t necessarily think of those things that could go wrong – especially when we are young and life hasn’t thrown us a curve or two. Been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. You too? Too many times we end up needing a savior to rescue us from our misfortunes. But sometimes in those misfortunes, we find our greatest victory.

We’ve all heard the stories of these children and many more of unfortunate circumstances for other children stuck in a situation that was not of their own doing. Children are vulnerable to the whims of the adults who are in charge of their care. It’s unfortunate some of those adults don’t make the best decisions on behalf of those children. Maybe they don’t think their decisions through. The best laid plans don’t always have good outcomes. But sometimes they do, even when the odds are stacked against them.

On my July 4th holiday, I had a movie marathon. One movie opened my heart in a new way. It was about children. Particularly, about one Irish child’s unfortunate circumstance that produced a great victory for hundreds of thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The story was told through the movie Noble, the story of Christine Noble. One woman changed thousands of children’s lives by her willingness to go. This one woman had a dream of Vietnamese children suffering in the gutters of a city in Vietnam. That dream changed her life and the lives of countless others. One woman.

This week, I also finished a book I had been reading called Love Does by Bob Goff. Love Does is part of Bob’s story and the work he does just because he can. Bob is a willing participant in Jesus’ work around the world. Bob’s heart was positioned to be used for the children of Uganda. His foundation has built boarding and schools for the children in Uganda. Uganda has many orphaned children due to wars and AIDS.

Bob and a young man boarded a plane for Uganda with an idea to help the Ugandan children. They drove up to the northern part of the country through war-torn countryside and checkpoints along the way and saw the needs so great they knew they had to do something.

Christine boarded a plane for Vietnam. She didn’t know how she was going to help either, but she knew she needed to try. She began to walk the city and through God’s direction found the place where the need was the greatest. And she began the task to build a better life for the ones she found there. And the idea grew.

God led both of these inspirational people were led on their journeys. They listened to the inner voice and the stirring in their souls to do something. They didn’t know how. They didn’t have the resources. But God did. They were just willing participants in God’s work to help these children have a brighter future. Bob and Christine had an idea. They had no idea how that idea was going to play out. They just started to walk their idea out. And God was faithful to lead them to the right people and the right places.

Sometimes we might think, these types of people are different. But I think we’re all called to have the same willingness to go and walk out the ideas that stirs our souls. Sometimes we over think our ideas – we’re afraid to fail, so why even try? But maybe God has stirred our souls. Maybe God has given us the ideas to walk them out and depend on Him to show us the way.

God’s heart leans in the direction of children. God hears the children’s cries of help. God directs our steps to help these children. I know there are many times children have cried out for help, but no one comes. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear. I think it has more to do with those He prompts to do something and we failed to act on the stirring.

There are some divers who have flown around the world to help the children in the cave. The divers’ hearts have been stirred to action. It might seem insignificant at the time, but it could change everything for the future of the country. It only took one stirring to begin the change in Uganda and one stirring to begin the change in Vietnam. One stirring.

The Spirit of God is looking for hearts that are willing to be stirred for the sake of the children. Today it may be children in a cave in Thailand or in an orphanage in Uganda or Vietnam; but tomorrow maybe in a red-light district in Greece or at a border crossing in Texas. What would God have us do for the children? Any ideas?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Stand Firm

This morning’s Bible passage was from Daniel 3 concerning the three men and their fiery trial. The King had set up a golden image for everyone to worship, but the three Jewish men refused to do so. They knew that worshipping an idol was forbidden by God.

In Deuteronomy, Moses referred to God as a jealous God. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.

So when the men were given the opportunity to worship the idol, they still refused even though it meant they would be thrown into a blazing furnace. They were convinced that God would rescue them, but even if God didn’t they would still stand firm in their conviction. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Conviction. Do you have that type of conviction? Even if? If everything you know to be true, do you still stand firm? Many people throughout the world have that type of conviction. They stand firm even if their lives are threatened. We are at a big disadvantage in this western world. Hard to believe, right? However, we have many things that distract us from worshiping God. Our conviction may not stand up if we are threatened.

This week, I read the book Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He was an investigative reporter who decided to investigate the evidence for Jesus. He was an atheist whose wife became a Christian. He wanted to disprove this Christian cult (as he considered Christianity). So for two years or so, he followed the evidence. In the end, the evidence led him to the truth. The evidence was overwhelming that this Jesus did live; He did die; and He did rise again. The evidence was enough to convince Lee that it took “more faith to maintain atheism than to trust in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Many lives have been changed throughout the centuries through this Gospel message. As an investigative journalist, Lee knew how to trace the evidence – he had seen too many trials with evidence stacked up against the defendant that conviction was just a matter of when not if. Evidence can change the whole trial. Testimony too is an important key to conviction. But evidence in the case seals the deal.

After reading Lee’s book, it just gave me a deeper feeling of gratitude for what Jesus had done for me. Jesus did suffer and die for me – and you. It was a gruesome death. It was all the wickedness poured out on Him by every lash He received – tearing skin and muscle and every fiber from his head to his knees. He took that pain and suffering on for every human heart that beats even if those hearts don’t beat for Him. His pain and suffering was enough to cover every sin committed – past, present and future. His sacrifice was enough to cleanse every heart and make every heart whole.

There was a period in my life where I doubted this Christianity thing. I saw the hypocrites in church and wondered how this Christianity was supposed to be true. A man once said to me that he didn’t want to go to heaven if the “Christians” were going to be there. I understood what he said because I had thought those same thoughts somewhere down the line of my faith journey. However, we don’t follow Christians, we follow Jesus. Christians are just a work in progress.

My faith journey didn’t stop with the doubts; it just made me want to know more. My parents and my grandparents were convinced that Jesus was who He said He was. But I couldn’t rely on their faith to help me when times got rough. I had to have my own conviction that this Jesus was the real deal.

We can’t stop at the questions and doubts. God doesn’t want us to quit searching and seeking. Actually, we are told when we search and seek, we will find when we search with our whole heart. God is after our whole heart because He is a jealous God who doesn’t want to share our hearts with any competition. Does that seem too harsh? God so loved us that He sent His Son to die for us. He earned every heart by the strips on His back. It was a pretty harsh way to die. But He did it for our sakes because there is no other way to God but by the blood of Jesus.

Are you convinced about this Jesus? Do you still have doubts? Seek out the evidence. It’s never too late to find Him. And you’re never too broken to be fixed. Jesus is the real deal. I am convinced of it. I hope you are too. When the fiery trials come, let us stand firm on the foundation of Jesus.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud
and mire;
he set my feet
on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song
in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the
Lord
and put their trust
in him. Psalm 40:1-3

Rubber Meets the Road

For the last couple of years, I have been contemplating making a move. It’s on my radar once again, but this time I think I’m ready to go. It’s not an easy decision; one that I do not take lightly. I have been in this place for over seventeen years. It’s the longest time I have lived in one place. However, I have always said this was the house God gave me. When it’s time to transfer managers, I would wait on Him for the right time. So the decision is based on His direction.

The offer is on the table through a new start-up company who buys houses at a fair market value. It was so much more than I had anticipated that it has me a little startled. I don’t want to chase the money; but if this is God’s blessing, I don’t want to miss the chance either. This is where faith becomes an action plan. It’s where the rubber meets the road and becomes very real in moving out in faith.

It feels somewhat like an Abraham move. God told Abram (before the name change) to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). I don’t think God is calling me to the mission field, but I am leaving my home of seventeen years. It’s a separation that is real. At this point, I don’t know if I am leaving my community and my church family too.

My small group is going through the Priscilla Shirer study about hearing God’s voice. So relevant for this time. The point that came across to me is about hearing God’s word through a sense of peace in the decision. I have heard God’s voice a few times in my life, but this one is different – as they all were. It’s a matter of discerning the right thing and the “almost” right thing; the good versus the best. That’s where it gets hard. No one knows the future but God.

A few years back, I knew God was asking me to sell my car. It was an almost “dream” car for me. I loved it, but it was costly to maintain. It was a struggle in my spirit to let go. It took me a month to finally put the car up for sell. Once I released it, I found the next car that was so much more economical and have had no expense except for maintenance. It was a complete blessing, especially in my financial lean time.

At Beth Moore’s conference last weekend, the first thing I wrote down in my notes was the faster we obey the easier it is the next time. Yes, I am struggling with the letting go process. However, the struggle isn’t much about letting go, but discerning if it’s God’s will to let go. Letting go is easier when we know God is on the move. I want to go where He is going. Don’t you?

In Priscilla’s video for the study this week, she talked about knowing what you’re called to do. She mentioned that we need to be on the front lines in God’s plan – we have to know our own “front line.” What is our individual assignment? Jesus had His own front line. He did everything His Father asked of Him and nothing else. We are to be single-minded as well. We are to work on our own “God-thing.” Do you know your God-thing? Is your time divided into things that are not yours to do?

My God-thing is to help people get healthy. I found my passion a few years ago; however, I am still working through what that really looks like when the rubber meets the road. How do I walk it out consistently? Right now, I work for a natural healthcare doctor. When I went to school to get a certification in health coaching, the instructor said to “find your voice” and use it to help others. Finding my voice was the key to writing. At the time, I had no idea that was the next thing God wanted to do through me to help others. Here I am years later, still typing away.

I don’t know what the next thing will be when I finally make the decision to move. I don’t know what’s in store for the next few months or years either. But so far, peace has settled over me. A couple of weeks ago, God whispered “trust me” and I am. God always knows when we have had enough. He will never keep us longer in a place than we need to be. The time is always right when His hand is moving us.

The last thing I wrote down in my notes from Priscilla’s message was obedience brings freedom. The Scripture associated with her last point was directed at Galatians 5 about self-discipline. As I looked that over, I noticed in verse 25 “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Wherever He leads, I’ll go. Will you?

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

Lordship Over All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain and Frogs

After hearing the messages from last week’s Code Orange Revival from Elevation Church, I want to reflect a bit on what I heard. As I sit here at my table this early morning, I hear the rain coming down. Levi Lesko said that rain was a symbol of God’s blessing. Rain is a precious commodity especially in a dry season. Elijah prayed for a drought because of the sinful condition of the nation of Israel. And God sent a drought for three and half years. At the end of the drought, Elijah sent for the people to gather at Mount Carmel to see the One true God. The message is found in 1 Kings 18:20-46.

The people watched as Elijah dug a trench around the altar that he repaired. The people were told to fill four large jars with water. Where did they get the water? Did they go to the sea to get it? Or did they use what they had brought with them? Whether they had to use what they had or they had to go a distance to find water, it cost them something to see a miracle happen. Elijah poured out the water jars on the altar and then asked the people to fill them a second time; then a third time. The water was running over the altar and into the trench. Elijah prayed and fire fell down on the altar and licked up every drop of that precious commodity.

The story didn’t end there. Drought was still on the land. Before there was a cloud formed, Elijah told the King Ahab to “go, eat and drink for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” Elijah went to the top of the mountain and prayed. Seven times he asked his servant to go and see if there was anything on the horizon. The seventh time the servant reported a small cloud rose from the sea. And with that small cloud, a blessing of rain came.

Elijah was persistent in praying. He continued in his efforts until a small cloud formed. He heard the sound of rain before the cloud appeared; actually before he started to pray. He knew that God would hear his prayer and knew that God would answer his prayer; he just didn’t know how long it would take. He kept praying until he received the answer. Persistence and belief go hand in hand to receive those answered prayers.

John Gray said that the sound of heaven brings things together for miracles to happen. God’s voice spoke creation into existence. Particles come together to form the earth and everything in it. God spoke and light separated darkness. The sound from heaven begins the process. Sometimes we just don’t hear the sound; sometimes we are too busy to hear the voice of God speak. But sometimes God sends a burning bush to get our attention.

Christine Caine spoke about the frog plague found in Exodus 8:1-14. God sent plagues on the land of Egypt in order to release Israel from the bondage of slavery. Moses was his instrument that He used to bring about these miracles. Dharius Daniels mentioned that the people cried out to God; God spoke to Moses. But the people didn’t know God was working on the problem. The people may have thought God didn’t hear their prayers cause nothing seemed to change. They were still in slavery, yet God was working on Moses. Moses had a few doubts about his ability to handle this God-sized task. We are never adequate for God-sized tasks; but God is, and He asks the most unlikely people to do the job so that He gets the glory.

So the frogs came and the people of Egypt had frogs everywhere – in their houses, in their kitchens, in their bedrooms and even in their beds. Yuck! Can you imagine? Pharaoh summons Moses to pray to remove the frogs. Moses told him to set the time of the removal. Pharaoh said tomorrow. God could have removed them immediately, but Pharaoh chose another night with the problem. When the prayer was answered, the people were left with the consequences of the plague. The people had to remove the dead frogs from their houses. The stench filled the air.

The plague of frogs is a bit like our sins. Sin is a stench to God. The only way we can remove the stench is to seek forgiveness from God. But we have to do it today, not tomorrow. Sin is removed immediately upon forgiveness, but we have to deal with the consequences of our sins. Whatever is causing our distress, our sin or someone else’s; when we cry out to God, He will hear our cries. An answer is coming but sometimes it may take a while to see the results. God may be dealing with another Moses to answer our prayers. In the meantime, God is working on our hearts.

Persistence and belief in our gracious Father brings about a change in our hearts not a circumstance, but ultimately God will answer according to His time and in His way. God will send the rain, and the dry season will end. Wait for it. Persist and believe!

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:22-23 (NLT)

Revival is Now!

I like to listen to prophecy experts. I’m not sure if they are prophets or just teachers who pay attention to what’s going on in the world. Either way, I find it very interesting. One of the things I hear from a variety of sources is a possibility of a great revival happening here in the US. There are many who believe Jesus will be returning for His church in the near future. There are many who think there will be a revival before that day of Jesus’ return. Someone mentioned that the revival will come as a result of this political craziness that we are experiencing. Many talk about martial law going into effect and there will be no “changing of the guard” for the presidential seat. Many visions have been seen revealing devastating earthquakes, tsunamis happening on both coasts, and even a great divide splitting the US at the Mississippi. Only God knows what’s really coming. I do believe judgment is coming one day.

People come back to church when their world has been shaken. But as it was with 9/11 with only a few weeks of returning, will it be a true revival or just a stepping back to family traditions? What will it take for a true revival?

Many times, Jesus spoke of persecution happening because of Him. In John 15, He said that if He was persecuted, then His disciples would be as well. As we have seen in the Book of Acts, the church body grew with persecution. Today, there are many who are being persecuted in different parts of the world. They ask us not to pray for the persecution to end, but for them to be bold and strengthened during persecution; to stand firm in their commitment to Jesus.

Recently, I read a couple of books concerning the persecution of the church. It’s difficult to read about what people have experienced, but what faith they exhibit in the face of persecution. As one who has never experienced such a trial, I cannot imagine how they endured it all. If persecution grows the church, then this could explain why the American branch of the church is showing signs of decline. Our population is increasing exponentially, but our churches are not seeing the same increase. In other parts of the world, the church is increasing even in the midst of great persecution. At the beginning of the church age, found in the Book of Acts – persecution brought the scattering of the church. As persecution continued throughout the next couple of centuries, the growth of the church exploded.

From 120 to 3000 to 5000, then persecution began. My pastor said recently that by the end of the first century there were approximately 25,000 believers. By the time that the Roman Empire “legalized” Christianity around the middle of the third century, 33 million were believed to have been Jesus followers.

So what would it take for us to have a revival today that would show this kind of increase? Do I dare say it? One of the speakers I listen to fairly regularly is a pastor in Hawaii. He gives a prophecy update every Sunday. This past Sunday, he spoke of a revival as well. He said on Sunday that we may have to face persecution like we’ve never experienced it here in the US. The revival may come not of the natural disasters or the man-made disaster from the political fallout; it may come at the expense of what we believe. Because of Jesus and His teaching, we may find ourselves in a position to either stand up for Him or deny Him.

At times, I have wondered if my faith is strong enough. Could I withstand persecution? Would I deny Christ as Peter did at his first persecution? Of course, that was before the Holy Spirit took hold of him and radically changed him. The Holy Spirit gave him such boldness that nothing deterred him from proclaiming the name of Jesus. That’s what the ones who are facing persecution are asking for today. Boldness. Maybe that’s what we all need to be asking for regardless if we are under persecution or trying to reach our friends and neighbors.

Suffering for the sake of the message of Jesus is considered a joy to those who experience it. Suffering helps us identify with Christ. He suffered for us. Jesus said the greatest gift of friendship is dying for one’s friends. If we consider ourselves a friend of Jesus, then we should be willing to die for Him – physically as well as just die to ourselves; losing those things that we hold on to that have no eternal value. So whatever happens in the future, my revival begins now. It starts with me ready to face whatever is in store, with boldness and with the strength God gives me through the Holy Spirit living in me. My revival is now – how about yours? Are you ready?

“I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them.” John 16:1-4 (MSG)

Becoming Great Again

I just can’t figure out what the Lord is up to. I have tried to come up with scenarios with this political season. I mean, there has to be a reason why we have these two particular candidates. But what is God up to? I have heard some speak of a great revival coming with this political season. I have heard many say that there is disaster just around the corner for our nation. I have heard of tsunamis and earthquakes that will destroy the east and/or the west coast; economic collapse; a number of things that would cause us to seek God once again.

Right after 9/11, there was a surge of people who came back to church seeking God. But it didn’t last. The numbers fell off again after a few weeks. Some stayed, but the majority went right back to doing what they had always done. In this country, we have been blessed with success. With success though, we don’t need God. We don’t really depend on Him for anything anymore. We have grown so independent that we have removed Him from our public places. I have heard of this separation of church and state all my life, but I didn’t understand what that really meant. It’s gradually become something that was not intended by our forefathers.

Our forefathers came from places where church was dictated by the government. The church in England was run by the King of England. He was considered the head of the church. Many countries today have that mandate that if you live there, then this is what you will practice as a religion. That’s not how we run things in this country. The separation of church and state was to keep the state from running our religious practices. We have a freedom to choose what we believe and what we practice.

I think we have forgotten where we came from and what freedom really means. The church was instrumental in developing this country – whether we like to admit it or not. But slowly through time, we have lost our footing. The further we’re away from the foundation, the further we have fallen away from the principles that made this nation great and the freedoms we enjoy. Many around the world hate us because of our arrogance that comes from our greatness. But let one thing happen, and they are begging us to come to the rescue. And we go, because that’s who we are. We have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. God’s hand has been on this nation from the start.

On that first day of office, George Washington dedicated our nation to the Lord. He understood the importance of keeping God at the forefront of the government. The Lord has worked through our leaders as He used us for His plan. I believe His main use for this nation was to be a light to the other nations. I think one of our main blessings was to help Israel as a nation, first to become a nation, then eventually to become the greatest light of the world. Israel is the epicenter and will be instrumental in future events to play out in God’s plan.

The leadership that we chose in this political season is pivotal for the future of our nation – whether we will remain as a nation who blesses or a nation who continues to fall away from our foundation. These next few months will be interesting to see what God has in mind for us. The plan may mean that we have to decrease so that Israel can increase. It may be that we have to decrease so that we will once again get back to our foundation of relying on God instead of our success.

I don’t know what’s coming. God hasn’t given me a vision. I just know that God has a plan, and we are a part of it. He raised us up for a purpose. Has our purpose been fulfilled? Only God knows. God is up to something. I just can’t figure it out, and it drives me crazy not knowing the outcome before it happens. I hear that’s what faith is all about. Faith means we believe God is still on His throne no matter what happens here. I trust God to work it out for His greatness not ours!

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The Shield

A few years ago, I took one of those spiritual gifts assessment tests. One of the gifts that came out highest of all was faith. In my past, I have taken a few risks, but I never attributed it to having great faith. I have left jobs to move to other cities. Over five years ago, I took a leap of faith to leave a good paying job. At the time, I believed it was the right thing to do. I believed God led me to that decision. Taking a risk always causes a bit of trepidation. Sometimes, God will reveal part of the plan to me, and I feel a bit more certain in my decisions. However, it’s been over five years, and I am having doubts as to the plan God had for this time. God isn’t doing what He has done in my past. He is not meeting my expectations, and I just fail to recognize that God has a different plan than what I expected. He’s creative that way!

In the study of the shield of faith in the Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer quotes her Daddy’s (Dr. Tony Evans) definition of faith: “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so.” She also gave this definition: “faith is acting like God is telling the truth” (both quotes found on page 127). One thing that was revealed to me in this week’s lessons is the fact that God wants to see faith in us; faith is what is counted as righteousness. And He is all about growing our faith. This season for me maybe a time of truly putting my faith to a test!

Abraham was the example of having a righteous faith. He believed God – to show him where to go when he left his home; to have a son in his old age; and when he was asked to sacrifice that promised son. But Abraham made some wrong moves throughout his life, yet his faith was still counted as righteous. Hebrews 11 is gives a highlight of those who have had faith through the Bible. However, Genesis is the Book that shows the beginning of the faith journey. It is ripe with stories of faith building. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we see the times of building faith through their journeys. However, the further the story goes in Genesis, the further back God recedes. Faith is rooted in the past but focused on the future. Faith is built on what we have experienced in the past.

One of the questions Priscilla asked (page 124) is what is the difference between belief and faith? My response was that belief is wings and faith is the air beneath the wings. It helps us take a leap of faith and fly. We can believe all we want; but until we put action with the belief, we will never get anywhere. We believe God will still do what He said He would do and act on the promise. It’s what we do when we believe God. When we doubt, we actually believe the enemy’s lie rather than God’s word. The enemy does whatever he can to keep us from taking a risk. He sends doubts, fears, distractions; anything that will cause us to shrink back from God’s word.

Paul likened faith to a Roman shield. It was a protection from the enemy. Also, it could be linked together. Soldiers in a battle could link their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier. There was no way an enemy’s arrows could make it throw to do harm. So instead, the enemy would send a flaming arrow to something flammable. This would cause a distraction to the soldiers and cause them to focus on the flame instead of the enemy. As long as the soldier stayed behind the shield, the enemy had no power over them. The minute they dropped their protection to fight the fire, they were vulnerable.

In these troubled times, we have to link our shields together. The enemy is sending all kinds of distractions. The fires are raging around us. Our faith is the only thing that will keep us from getting burned by the enemy. It’s important to know who we can trust and who to turn to. Our faith has to be in someone or something much greater than the problem or else there is no point in having faith. Without faith, it’s just religion; it’s just a tradition that does nothing in the name of Jesus. Taking a risk for Jesus activates the shield and brings God glory. It’s time for God’s people to link up and become a mighty force. The world is waiting to see how we will react to our circumstances. Faith or fear. It’s either one or the other. Let’s act as if God is telling the truth and believe He will do a mighty work in and through us. Take a leap of faith and trust Him in the process.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

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