Friday, December 23, 2011

Regaining my voice!


Philemon 1:6 

     I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.


     It seems that one thing after another has taken place over the past two months which has caused me to forfeit my time to contribute to this blog. This blog is just one of many ways in which I am offered the opportunity to share my faith with those who are hurt, hungry, discouraged and hopeless, and who choose to search the internet looking for an answer to their problems. I understand that many people may be turned off by another blog “cramming the Bible down their throat” but I also understand that for every one person that may be turned off or offended, there are many others that are at the end of their rope, and this blog may be the very thing that encourages them to hang on one more moment, while God sweeps into their life and transforms their very existence. In other words, I believe God can use words on a page to help influence someone’s life, especially if those words are HIS WORDS and come straight from his book, the Bible.

     The events of the past few months, in one way or another have caused me to lose my voice. Not literally, but in a spiritual sense. God placed a call on my life, from the moment of conception, to speak and share the Good News of his gospel, which is the free gift of his salvation. All of us, as fellow Christians, have that same call on our life. When we understand and comprehend the fact that our lives have been spared from the judgment we deserved because of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the price that he paid for us, on the cross, we can’t help but share that Good News with everyone we come in contact with. It’s our VOICE. Christ gave it to us, in hopes that we would use it.

     Unfortunately, many things can quiet or even halt our voice; fear, doubt, unbelief, stress, turmoil, sickness, anger, unforgiveness, discouragement, and distractions. With that being said, I have allowed some situations in my own life to quiet and almost halt my voice. The verse above tells us that if we are not actively sharing our faith, we cannot continue to understand the good things we have in Christ. We become so entangled in our own self-pity, and self-absorption, that we are unable to give out to those around us, so that, in turn, we can’t receive back from the Lord. Our perspective takes a complete nose-dive, right into the depths of our self-centered soul. It’s right where the enemy wants us to live; defeated, discouraged and voiceless.
     I awoke this morning with a new resolve……a resolve to regain my voice. I choose this day to take back what the enemy has attempted to steal. Jesus Christ gave me my voice, and I will use it from this point forward, regardless of the circumstances going on around me, regardless of my feelings and emotions, and regardless of what others may say about me. It is in using my voice that I become aware of who Jesus Christ is, but it also makes me aware of who I am, through him, and with that combination, the future looks bright and clear.

     Today is a new day………..and I’ve got my voice back!

Merry CHRISTmas!!

Have you ever felt like you lost your voice? What’s holding you back from sharing the love of Christ with others? Make a list of those things, and then run that list through a shredder, as you make a new covenant with the Lord to regain YOUR VOICE!


Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Offering Hope!


Jeremiah 29:11

     “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
 

     Last night was Halloween and instead of parading around neighborhoods searching for our favorite candy treats, we chose to serve at our church’s yearly Hopefest event. It is through this event where we offer not only food, fun and games, but also the opportunity to experience hope.

    In the day and age that we live in, many people have lost all hope and are walking around bewildered and lost, gravitating toward anything that will ease the pain. We as Christians have the answer for them, and instead of sharing the liberating news, we stay bound up within our four walls of the church hoarding hope, freedom and joy to ourselves.

     Many would say that we shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it’s a pagan holiday, but I would say that we’re not celebrating Halloween, but rather taking advantage of a night where many are already out and about looking for a something. Why not offer them hope along with their candy? Jesus, often times, stepped into the midst of people’s troubled lives and pagan traditions and offered his love and hope, how much more should we do the same?

     I so enjoyed seeing the joy on the adult’s and children’s faces last night as I offered them a free hot dog, but even more so, I understood that as all the people wandered the grounds of our church property, the Holy Spirit had the opportunity to begin to soften hearts and draw souls to him. One day when the veil is pulled back, we will be able to see the eternal results that our little Hopefest event made on the hearts of those who attended. After all, Jesus Christ came to give each of us a hope and a future, even those dressed as ghouls and goblins. They’re just waiting for someone to tell them!


     Do you have hope? Do you believe that Christ has a future for you? Take some time to ask him about the future that he has for you. Understand that even in the midst of turmoil and pain; he STILL has a hope and future for you!


Have a great day!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Do you hear voices in your head?


I Corinthians 2:10-15

     But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his
Spirit and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets. No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can’t understand us at all.


     The moment we ask Jesus Christ to come and live in our heart, the Holy Spirit begins to reside inside of us. It is from that point forward that we can begin to know and understand what God is thinking and speaking to us because the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God and he can translate them to us. This whole process sounds ludicrous to those who don’t know Christ because the Holy Spirit doesn’t live and dwell within them.

     A good portion of the Christian culture won’t talk about or make reference to the Holy Spirit due to lack of knowledge and understanding of who He is, but once understood, the He becomes a powerful, vital force bringing comfort, guidance and direction to a believer’s life. Living a Christian life without acknowledging the role of the Holy Spirit severely limits the hand of God on our life. Think of him as our tour guide through this life, leading and guiding us in the right direction, enlightening us with the knowledge to navigate the rough terrain and empowering us with the tools to overcome any obstacles. But we must first acknowledge his existence then submit to his guidance, in order to move forward successfully and strategically.

     Often times, fear of ridicule and rejection causes us to downplay and reject the inner voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts. He has much to say if we will simply learn to distinguish his voice and listen.

     A number of years ago, when my husband and I were newly married, I went to visit my parents for a few days. They lived about 60 miles away from us at the time, and about half way into my return trip home I felt a voice speak to me, telling me to pull over and call my husband to come and meet me and follow me home. (This was in the days before cell phones) Thinking that I had lost my mind and understanding that my new husband would really think the same thing, I chose to keep driving. With the setting of the sun, I exited through a large city and soon entered into a relatively dark, deserted stretch of highway. Within moments, my car began to shake violently causing me to pull to the side of the road to survey the situation. I soon realized that I had blown a tire and was unaware and unprepared to resolve the problem on my own. There I sat, on the side of road in complete darkness, vulnerable and susceptible to anyone who would decide to stop and help me. Fortunately, I was fairly close to the next exit, so I made the decision to continue forward, slowly creeping along until I came to a deserted gas station that happened to have a pay phone in the parking lot.

     Needless to say, my hero of a husband came and rescued his damsel in distress, but all the stress, turmoil and fear would have been averted had I just listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking into my life. After a few other similar situations, I soon learned to not only value that voice, but to act upon it quickly and obediently.

     God didn’t place us on the earth to live our lives apart from his help and guidance. He didn’t just plop us down one day and say, “Ok, you’re on your own, figure it out.” Once we accept him as our Lord and Savior, he sends his Holy Spirit to help us. We’re just usually too stubborn and prideful to accept that help. He is constantly speaking to each of us. It’s up to us to slow down, quiet the noise out of our lives and simply listen. Just like in my life example, you will be able to avert a lot of stress, turmoil and fear. Are you listening?


     Take some private, quiet time today and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. He’s waiting to commune with you, if you will simply listen for his voice. Make this a daily practice and you will soon begin to recognize his voice more quickly and understand his direction for you more clearly. Take advantage of all God has provided for you through his Holy Spirit.


Have a great day!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pay it forward!


I Corinthians 1:18-19

     I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.”


     God’s plan of salvation, often times, sounds crazy to those who don’t truly understand it or are in a place where they aren’t ready to receive it. A man claiming to be God’s Son, came to earth, died on a cross, came back to life on the third day, ascended to Heaven, and not only must we believe that all that took place, but we must also lay down our own lives and desires so that we can have eternal life with him forever.

     When you put it into words, on paper, it does seem a little crazy. But God’s ways are much higher than our ways and experiencing the wonderment of his salvation puts senseless, meaningless words to rest. No amount of philosophical thinking and logic will ever make sense of God’s plan of salvation. It’s only when we believe by faith and step through the realm of logic that we can understand, accept and experience God’s gift for ourselves.

      That’s why it’s so important to realize that as we share the Good News of salvation with others, we must also wrap those words in prayer as we’re offering them. Simple words will never make sense to those who are lost, unless undergirded in prayer so that God will help them to understand his truth. We, who are saved, have the key to eternal life and everlasting freedom; we have a responsibility to share that truth with others. But it will simply fall on fallow ground unless we first ask God to prepare the fertile ground of another’s heart to be able to receive and understand. Someone prayed for you and I before our salvation, let’s take the time to pass it forward for someone else.


     Have you ever taken the time to simply sit and reflect on the miracle power of God’s salvation? Are you fearful and shy about telling others? Take some time today to pick one person who needs to hear about the Good News. Cover that person in prayer, asking God to make them receptive to his Word. Then ask God to provide the opportunity for you to share the salvation message with them and be bold and courageous enough to follow through.


Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Enough already!


I Corinthians 1:10-13

     Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household told me about your arguments, dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ.” Can Christ be divided into pieces?


     I once attended a church where a staff Pastor left to pursue other ministry opportunities. This caused a huge loss to many who looked to him and his family for spiritual guidance, wisdom and leadership. He provided such a rock-solid foundation, spiritually speaking, so that when he resigned, many were left feeling unstable and unsure of their footing. He was not the lead Pastor, just simply a staff Pastor who many had come to deeply love and admire.   

     I say all that to make the point that in the Christian community and culture, we all tend to favor certain leaders and Pastors over others, and often times find ourselves idolizing certain people, even to the point of causing divisions and dissension within the body of Christ because of our loyalty. If the person we’re idolizing gets hurt or misrepresented in any way, we fight to the death to defend their honor. Loyalty and honor is one thing, but allowing Jesus Christ to be replaced by a human being is detrimental to the church as a whole.

     I’ve watched Christians destroy one another and undermine the body of Christ over another person. Human nature causes us to choose sides in situations of unfairness and disloyalty but we all need to remember that as Christians, we are all on the same side and that’s the side of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. There should be no room for petty arguments or idol worship.

     Satan is desperately trying to divide and conquer and we, too often, allow ourselves to be used as his pawns, all in the name of loyalty. Think very carefully the next time you’re tempted to take sides and fight for the injustice you seem to think has taken place. Instead of fighting in the flesh, remember that the Bible tells us that we are not fighting flesh and blood, but rather spiritual strongholds that the enemy is trying to establish. Go to battle in the spiritual realm through prayer and fasting and allow God to win the victory according to his will. If we would choose to take that route, relationships would be restored and church bodies would be united rather than split down the middle; all because we would choose to keep our eyes on Christ rather than on human beings.

     
     Who have you placed on a pedestal? Is Christ your central focus in the church that you attend or have you allowed it to become a social club and political arena? Take some time today to reevaluate “why” you attend church and “who” you worship while you’re there.


Have a great day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

At the end of your rope?


II Corinthians 12:9

     My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.


     The years between 2005 and 2009 were the most difficult years of my life, up to this point, with 2008-2009 ranking as the worst. It was during that last, most difficult year that God became quite silent in my life. As I continued to try to walk by faith and not by sight, I longed to hear the voice of my heavenly Father. I desperately needed to hear words of encouragement and hope, but instead sat in silence day after day, in my prayer closet.

     Embarrassed to admit it now, but I questioned everything from my own salvation to the very existence of God, during that time. God’s silence has a way of revealing the truth in our own heart.

     At about mid-point in that year, I remember begging and pleading with God to say something to my troubled heart; something to calm my fears and restore hope to my hopeless situation. As I sat in desperation, a small, still voice finally spoke through the silence and said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

     I wish I could tell you that my response was a positive one, but I would be lying if I told you that it was. Instead my response was, “That’s it! After all this time of silence, that’s all you have for me?”

     I wanted God to speak words of encouragement and deliverance; words that would promise an immediate answer to my problem. But instead, God’s words seemed to imply that I would have to continue to walk in my difficult circumstances. That was definitely not what I wanted to hear at that time. I felt that I was at the end of my rope, unable to withstand any more hurt, heartache or pain. But God saw things from a different perspective.

     It wasn’t until long after my hopeless situation ended that I realized what the rest of II Corinthians 12:9 had to say; “His power is made perfect in our weakness.”  The words “made perfect”, in the Greek means to be fulfilled, so in other words, “His power is fulfilled in our weakness.”

     For you see, my hopeless situation continued for another 6-8 months after the Lord spoke those words to me, and it wasn’t until I concentrated on the second part of that verse, that I realized why the Lord chose to speak that portion of scripture to me at that specific time in my journey. I was literally at the end of my rope and unable to withstand one more moment, and it was the Lord’s grace (which is also his power) that carried me through to the end. When my weakness forced me to relinquish all control to him, he gladly, picked me up and carried me through. I didn’t see it while I was in the midst of the fiery furnace, but once removed from it; my vision and recognition became clear.

     My strength will never be enough to sustain me; it will always be God’s grace that will see me through. His words to me during that time didn’t seem to be what I needed, but looking back, they were the perfect words at the perfect time.

     I learned a lot about his grace during that time. It proved to be something quite different than what I thought. His grace not only makes salvation available to us, but it’s also the powerful, sustaining force that carries us through this life. The sufficiency of his grace is available to you too!


     Are you at the end of your rope? Consider letting go and falling into the arms of his grace. Ask God to pick you up and carry you through. Your situation may not end immediately but one day you’ll be able to look back and realize that he sustained you through it.


Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Calgon, take me away!


Mark 6:30-31

     The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught. Then Jesus said, “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.”


     Later this afternoon, I will be leaving to attend a Women’s Conference for a few days. The title of this conference is “Save the Hero.” I know that may sound like an odd title, but it refers to the fact that we all need to take a needed rest and sabbatical every now and then in order to preserve, renew and restore ourselves. If not, we’re no good to our family, friends or ministry.

     Even Jesus took intimate, private time alone with his disciples because he not only needed it for himself, but he understood that burn-out could be the outcome of uninterrupted ministry. I also believe he was trying to teach his disciples a valuable lesson; one they could reflect upon and draw from, long after he was gone.

     When you and I are able to steal away from the busyness of life and ministry for a few days, where we can gather together with others of like faith and receive refreshment, renewal, encouragement, prayer, fresh ideas and inspiration from the Word, we come home a new, energized person ready to tackle the world.

     Sometimes, as women, we allow guilt to rob us of investing in ourselves and our ministry. If Jesus himself felt that it was important for his own life, how much more do we need it? Let’s not allow others to dictate what we need and don’t need. We ALL need time away every now and then. Often times, our spiritual life hangs in the balance and we’re too prideful or fearful to expose the truth to others out of fear of judgment. When in reality, if we would just admit that we’re weak and tired and in need of a fresh touch from God, we would end up being used more effectively for the Kingdom of God, rather than burning out and possibly giving up on God all together.

     Today, I admit to you that I’m tired and weak and in need of a fresh touch from God. So, I’ll see you in a few days!


     Are you in need of rest and renewal? Have you ever considered investing in yourself and your ministry? Check out some conference options, whether it has to do with your ministry, marriage, family or just simply for yourself. Understand that God thinks you’re worth it. “Save the Hero!”


Have a great day!



    

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Did you hear that?


Isaiah 40:31

     They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint.


     Many years ago, while I was attending Bible College, I went through a very difficult time  where I experienced many heartaches and disappointments. Being very young in both my age and my walk with the Lord, these experiences brought me to a crossroads in my life. Disillusioned with those who labeled themselves as “Christians” and with personal relationships in general, I surrendered myself to a life of loneliness and seclusion, building walls around my heart in an attempt to preserve the little piece that was left.

     My broken heart and spirit left me in a state of confusion and weakness, almost zombie-like. It was a very dark period in my life, filled with feelings of rejection and betrayal which caused me to cry out to the only stable presence I had; God! I spent night after night on my face before the Lord, in the college chapel. It became my secret hiding place; the only place where I felt wanted and loved.

     Due to being such a new, young Christian, I had never really experienced hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to me. I certainly didn’t know what to listen for or what to expect. At that point, I didn’t have anyone close enough who I felt comfortable asking such questions, so I just plugged along on my own; just me and God. It was during that time that some amazing things began to happen.

     I entered my daily chapel class one day, and listened as the speaker brought forth the Word of God. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, but he read a scripture that struck me in a profound way. That scripture happened to be Isaiah 40:31. I had never read or heard that scripture before and it brought a small glimmer of hope to my soul. Within a matter of days, that scripture began to pop-up over and over again. A professor would open his class with a reading of that scripture, preachers would preach about it in church services, songs would ring out those words in youth group services. Literally, everywhere I went, that specific scripture would flash before me, in one way or another.

     At first I thought it was a strange coincidence, but after a few days I began to realize that God was trying to speak to me. The awesome God of the universe was speaking to a broken-hearted, young woman on a small, college campus somewhere in the middle of small town America. It was a humbling experience.

     Beyond the fact that God had decided to speak to me, the words that he began to etch in my spirit were life-giving and renewing. If I would just wait on him, he would renew my body and soul. I dwelled on those words, day and night, trying to understand what it meant to truly wait on him. As days turned into weeks, I began to feel strength and hope arise in me, once more. And within months, as my relationship with the Lord grew stronger and deeper, he brought about the greatest relationship I would ever have with another human being, and that being my wonderful husband. (It took me quite a while to let him past those walls I had built around my heart though, but that story is meant for another time.)

     Isaiah 40:31 continues to be one of my favorite scriptures, and each time I feel drained and weakened by the trials and tribulations of this life, I am once again reminded of the truth of his Word. I am then transported back to a time where an awesome, loving God took the time to speak to an insecure, hurting, young woman and bring hope and healing. If he did it then, then I know he will do it again!


     Are you feeling weak, tired and drained by the circumstances of life? Find your secret hiding place with the Lord, away from the noise and confusion around you. As you make it a priority to spend time with God, you will begin to hear him speak to you. Listen for you own personal scripture from him. He’s waiting to see how desperate you are for him. Make today the day you run to him!


Have a great day!

    

Monday, October 17, 2011

This little light of mine!


Luke 11:33-36

     No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lamp stand to give light to all who enter the room. Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you.


     Once we become Christians, we also become a bright, shining light, in the midst of a dark world around us. We were once part of that darkness, but by accepting Jesus Christ (who is the true light) into our hearts we instantly began exuding his light.

     Often times, we try hiding that light, out of fear, pride or possible rejection. It’s like taking our light and hiding it under a basket. What’s the point of having a light if we’re going to hide it and be ashamed of it?

     The eye represents spiritual understanding and when we continue to have evil desires in our life, it makes our eye less sensitive and blots out the light of Christ’s presence. The more we shun our own evil desires and long after the things of Christ, the more light we allow into our soul. If we are having a hard time seeing God at work in our life and our world, we need to check our vision. Are we allowing the light of Christ in, or the darkness of the world?

     We can’t afford to have dark corners anywhere in our life. When we begin to make compromises in any area that goes against the Word of God, even in the smallest way, we are allowing the darkness of the world to enter into our soul, which will diminish the light of Christ.

     Strangers on the street should be able to see the light of Christ in our life, by just simply walking by us. If we are immersing ourselves in the Word of God and prayer, then we should be like floodlights walking around in a dark room. The greatest compliment we could ever receive is to hear the words, “you’re a Christian, aren’t you?” followed by, “there’s just something different about you.” When was the last time you and I heard that from a stranger?

     Matthew 5:14 proclaims, “You are the light of the world, like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see.”

     If we are the light of the world, then we need to own up to that responsibility. Once we stop hiding our light under a basket and step into our God-ordained purpose, we will begin to see great and mighty things take place within our own lives and in those around us. God is just waiting for us to stand up and shine brightly. I challenge you today, to “let your light shine.”

     Have you ever thought of yourself as a light shining into a dark world? Are you allowing enough light from Jesus Christ in, on a daily basis? Do others notice the light in your life? Take some time today to reflect on each of these questions, then make the needed changes to move forward toward becoming the “light on a mountain” that the Bible commands each of us to be.


Have a great day!

    

Friday, October 14, 2011

I will NOT be afraid!


Philippians 4:6-7

     Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


     A few mornings ago, I dropped my teenage son off at school and began heading to a scheduled doctor’s appointment for myself. Not even a half hour into the school day, I received a text message from my son, claiming that he believed he had just had a small seizure. You see, my youngest son, Christian was diagnosed with epilepsy two years ago and we fight a daily battle of administering medication and monitoring him for unexpected behavior and possible seizure activity. Often times, he can go months on end without a seizure and other times, he will have quite a few in a relatively short period of time. Some seizures will be major grand mal seizures, complete with convulsing and incoherency; while others will be short periods of staring followed by amnesia type symptoms.

     This particular morning, his seizure consisted of the staring/amnesia type symptoms and no one around him, including his teacher had any idea that anything had taken place. Fearful and embarrassed to draw attention to himself, he began texting me in an attempt to persuade me to come and pick him up. Tied up at the doctor’s office, I was unable to get to him during his moment of need. I quickly called the school nurse, who is aware of his situation, and she removed him from class and allowed him to rest in the clinic while she monitored him.

     After my doctor’s appointment, I quickly called the nurse to check on Christian’s status. With the episode already passed, he seemed to be just fine and we agreed that he should return to class, especially since he had missed the prior day due to not feeling well. Minutes later, I received another text from Christian, once again, asking me to come and check him out of school. The over-protective mom in me wanted to run to the school, scoop up my son and head straight to the safety of our home, where I could hover over him and help prevent any further trauma.

     The Lord had a different solution and quickly pricked my heart and spoke to my spirit. If I went and rescued my son, I would be teaching him to run and hide every time he felt fearful and afraid. As he’s growing into a young man, I need to be teaching him to face his fears and trust God to help him walk through them. I fought every motherly instinct inside of me and I responded to his text with this, “Don’t let fear cause you to run away. I’m praying for you; trust God to help you get through the rest of the day.” His response was simply, “ok.”

     Both of us learned a lesson in trust that day!

     What specific thing are you worrying about today? Tell God what you need, thank him for the answer, and learn a lesson in trust today. I think you’ll be surprised at the peace that overwhelms you!


Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A tough question


Luke 9:18-20

     One day as Jesus was alone, praying, he came over to his disciple and asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
     “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”
     Then he asked them, “Who do you say I am?”
     Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”


     We are inundated in America with a plethora of information about Jesus Christ. There are churches on nearly every street corner, television stations broadcasting the “Good News”, billboard signs flashing catchy phrases, and a good majority of Americans representing their version of Jesus Christ. With all this information coming down the pipe, we must be a stable Christian nation, with each individual truly understanding who Jesus Christ really is, right?

     Most of us, if we’ve attended church at any point in our life, have a basic understanding of Jesus Christ and the facts about his life, while he walked upon this earth. We sit and listen while those around us attempt to explain what Jesus Christ represents to them, and often times, we receive a tainted view.

      In this passage of scripture Jesus is asking his disciples a simple question. He wants them to tell him what others are saying about him; who others proclaim him to be. They’ve been around town, attended local church services, overheard gossip and rumors and Jesus wants them to spill the beans.  

     The disciples were quick to respond to his direct question and the results were varied yet unanimous. Unanimous in the fact that none thought that he was God’s Son, sent as the long-awaited Messiah. Anyone of Jewish descent was taught to anticipate the arrival of the coming Messiah, but very few actually believed that this man named Jesus, the son of a carpenter, could possible fit the bill. They longed for a Savior, but ultimately rejected him because he didn’t live up to their preconceived notion of what they wanted their Savior to look and act like.

     Jesus quickly took the conversation to a more personal level. He now asks the disciples to share their own personal opinions on who they believed him to be. The disciples had shared a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus, and were able to base their answers on their experiences with him, rather than on gossip, rumors and outside information. They saw him in light of who he really was, rather than on the tainted view that others had painted for them.

     A few years back, while walking through some extremely difficult situations in my life, Jesus Christ posed this question to me during my intimate prayer time with him. I had served him for many years, at this point, and thought that my faith and trust in him was already settled and strong. But I have to admit, when he confronted me that particular morning, it was as if I had the breath knocked out of me.

     You see, I was coming before him in prayer, asking him to solve what appeared to be an impossible problem. I was literally asking for a miracle, and believed that he was more than able to grant my request, especially since I was living for him and attempting to do all the right things. After he would solve my impossible situation, I would be able to move on with my nice little life, serving him and proclaiming to others that we serve a faithful, loving God that solves all our problems and answers all our requests, in the way that we want him to.

     In almost an audible voice, I heard the Lord ask me some tough questions that morning. The first question was this; “Who do you say that I am?” I knew what he meant by that question. He wanted me to dig deep and evaluate my own heart. Did I really believe what I had been taught over my lifetime? Was Jesus Christ really my Savior, Messiah and Son of the most-high God?

      The second question was the one that hit me like a ton of bricks; “If your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to, who, then, will you say that I am?” At that moment, I questioned everything that was in me. My faith and heart lay bear before me, and I wept knowing that I couldn’t honestly answer that question the way I sincerely wanted to.

     God knew that if I was to move forward in my purpose and calling that he needed to reveal my true heart and motives. He already knew what they were, but I needed to see them for myself. Was I serving him for what he could do for me, like a Santa Clause figure, or was I serving him because he was the almighty God of the Universe?

      I answered a tough question that morning, and began working through a difficult process of learning to love and accept God regardless of the circumstances around me. For you see, he didn’t answer my request the way I wanted him to, but he is still my Savior and Messiah, none-the-less. His actions or lack of actions in my life hasn’t changed who he is. I was the one who needed a new perspective. I’ve answered the question of, “Who do you say that I am?” Now it’s your turn.


     What is your view of Jesus Christ? Have you relied on other’s opinions of who he is, or have you developed your own? Take some quiet reflection time today to answer the question that the Lord asks all of us, “Who do YOU say that I am?” You won’t be able to move forward in your spiritual walk until you can answer that question.


Have a great day!

    


Monday, October 10, 2011

Under pressure!


Jeremiah 18:4, 6

     But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again. Then the Lord gave this message, “As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”


     This past weekend, I had the privilege of sharing God’s Word and this passage specifically, with a group of ladies at a women’s event. A few weeks prior, during my prayer time, the Lord impressed upon me a powerful word picture regarding truth from this scripture and the importance of sharing it with others.

     In our Christian circles, we often hear sermons preached and songs written about the fact that “God is the potter, and we are the clay”, but do we really dwell on that fact and accept the reality of that statement? If God really is the potter, are we truly allowing him to mold and reshape us, or do we fight and resist his attempts to create a useful masterpiece to be used for his glory?

     If we were to go to a potter’s workshop to create a beautiful vase to display in our home, we would sit at the potter’s wheel with a lump of clay and begin to mold and shape it until it was formed into our desired object. If the clay was not pliable enough, we would need to rework it and even squash it a few times in order for it to yield to our touch. Eventually, we would break the clay down and rebuild it into our own masterpiece, causing it to live up to its intended purpose.

     We are that lump of clay that God is trying to mold and shape into our intended purpose, but instead of yielding to his touch, we fight and resist all his efforts to create something beautiful out of our lives. Fortunately, for us, he never gives up his efforts and usually applies more pressure to accomplish his goal. When we’re in the midst of the painful molding process, we’re usually unable to recognize and accept the much needed manipulation that is taking place, but if we would endure the pressure and trauma, a yielded vessel would appear from the rubble.

     Only a yielded vessel can be used by God; one that will go where he wants it to go and say “yes” to his every command. But to become that yielded vessel, squashing usually needs to take place first.

     So the next time, you’re walking through difficult circumstances or trying situations, allow yourself to see it as a molding opportunity from God. Instead of fighting and resisting, consider yielding to his touch and allowing him to accomplish what needs to be accomplished in your life. Eventually, you’ll be able to stand before him as a beautiful masterpiece created by his loving hands, able to accomplish great and mighty things for his glory!


     Are you walking through some difficult situations in your life and wondering, “Why?” Consider the fact that God is trying to mold you into a yielded vessel devoted completely to him. Lay your situation at the foot of the cross and allow God to pick it up and solve it any way he sees fit. Ask him to give you the grace to endure the process he is taking you through.


Have a great day!

    

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everyone's watching!


Colossians 4:5-6

     Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let you conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.


     How many “so-called” Christians have you dealt with over the years, that didn’t exemplify the qualities and characteristics of Christ when they were outside the four walls of the church? What kind of effect did that have on you? Did words like “hypocrite” enter your thought process and vocabulary?

     We’re very quick to judge and criticize other’s actions, but how often do we look at ourselves and our actions when we’re outside the church setting? What kind of impression are we leaving on others; Christian’s and non-Christian’s alike? Do we model Christ and his character, or do we give reason for other’s to label us a “hypocrite?”

     It’s so vitally important to be wise about every move we make and every word we speak while living our daily lives. Everyone we come in contact with is watching us, whether we realize it or not. They may claim to not be interested in a relationship with Christ but they are still watching us to see if what we claim to be and have, is real.

     The only way to make the most of every opportunity and have the right answer for everyone is to have a deep, intimate relationship with Christ. If our own relationship with Christ is floundering, then our character won’t line up with his and misrepresentation will take place. Our human nature will shine through, bright and strong, causing our actions to not line up with our words. When that happens, we end up becoming the very thing that we don’t want to be; a hypocrite.

     We imitate the thing we spend the most time with, so we need to make sure we spend the most time with our Lord. The world is watching!


     Take some time today to reevaluate how you present yourself to the world around you. Can others see Christ in you, or are they surprised by the fact that you claim to be a Christian? Allow the Lord to show you the areas you need to work on, in order to look more like Christ.


Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let me give you some advice!


Colossians 3:16-17

     Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.


     Where do the words that live in your heart, and give you wisdom, come from? Is it from your financial advisor, your best friend from high school, your boss, your daily horoscope, your local news network, or the Word of God? We attempt to gain wisdom from many different sources and often times, neglect receiving it from the only one reliable source that we have; God’s Word.

     According to this scripture, we’re supposed to use God’s Word to teach and counsel each other, but instead, we allow our feelings and emotions to dictate the advice and counsel we dish out to others. We give advice from what we can see with our human eyes, rather than allowing God’s Word to get straight to the heart of the matter.

     God’s Word is usually in direct opposition to what our emotionally driven advice would normally be. We always tend to seek revenge, control, safety and security. God’s Word always leads us towards love, mercy, loss of control, and faith. It’s difficult to give counsel, advice, and blessings to someone who’s walking out their God-ordained calling as a missionary to a dangerous, violent, non-Christian country, knowing that they may not live long enough to return back home. Our emotions want to dictate our advice to them, but God has a greater plan and sees the bigger picture.

     In my own personal life, my husband has the opportunity to retire from his job as a firefighter in two years and live out his passion and calling of leading short-term missions trips. Advice and counsel from a human standpoint would lead him to continue working at his stable job, especially in light of our country’s present financial situation. But the Word of God tells us to trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. It’s not about our comfort and security, it’s about fulfilling our God-given purpose and plan and touching lives with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

     If you’re seeking wisdom, I challenge you to put aside the advice and counsel you get from others, and sincerely and earnestly look to God’s Word for direction and guidance. And if you’re sharing wisdom with others, I also challenge you to look to God’s Word before you willingly share your advice and counsel with someone else. Let his Word overrule your emotions. If we are to be true disciples of Christ, it’s a difficult but necessary place to live.


     Where do you turn for advice? Have you ever considered going to God’s Word first, before ever attempting to seek it from someone else? Are you quick to act on emotions and feelings? Take some time today to seek out God’s Word on a specific situation you’re dealing with in your own life.


Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Get over it!

Colossians 3:13-14

     You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us together in perfect harmony.


     A few years ago, I was deeply hurt by someone that I held in great esteem. This other person didn’t even realize that they had offended and hurt me. I carried around the pain and ill effects of unforgiveness and bitterness for quite some time. This particular offense had me trapped in an angry, depressing dungeon, consuming my every thought and action, while the other person appeared to be joyful and unassuming of the pain they had inflicted upon me.

     In my mind, I knew I was carrying a load that I was not meant to carry, but I struggled with how to lay it down and move forward. Many times I would attempt to drop it at the foot of the cross, and allow Jesus to heal my troubled heart, but would soon find myself picking it up again.  Weeks and months passed and I allowed the enemy to fill my mind with false realities of myself and my calling. I soon became a crumbled mess functioning strictly off of emotions and feelings. It’s absolutely crazy how one offense threw me totally off track and rendered me absolutely useless. I was so bound up in my supposed injustice that God was unable to move me forward in his plan and purpose.

     That’s exactly how Satan works; if he can’t tempt us to slip up with the obvious “big” sins, then he will attempt to render us useless by reminding us of other’s offenses against us. Our human nature falls for that one nearly every time, and we tend to dwell on thoughts of personal injustice and unmet needs, causing our focus to be shifted onto ourselves rather than on the needs of others.

     I will admit that there’s not an instant answer in resolving hurts and offenses caused by others. Freedom can only come through a humble heart, diligently seeking to move past the offense, while covering the offender in a constant prayer of blessing. Yes, I know what you’re thinking; “Pray blessings over the person that offended me?”  That’s exactly what I said. The Bible commands us to “pray for those who spitefully use us.” That didn’t come from me, but directly from the Word of God. So, if we are to be true disciples of Christ, then not only do we need to believe every word written in the Bible, but we must act upon them, also! It’s only when we step out in faith and act upon the Word of God that he will bring about deliverance and freedom in our lives.


     Are you holding on to some hurts and offenses? Take some time today and each day after to begin to pray for the people that have caused those hurts. Keep praying for them until you feel deliverance and freedom. It may take a few weeks or it may take months or years. Don’t give up until you see and feel the victory! Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy any longer!


Have a great day!