Friday, October 9, 2015

I won't be quiet!

It's like fire in my bones!

"But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, His word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!"

Jeremiah 20:9


I will just start out today saying, I don't believe in coincidences. I believe that God has seen my entire life and knows what will happen, when and how. He has seen it because He exists outside of linear time. That may be too deep for some but that is my starting point. God doesn't see my life unfolding one situation at a time. That is a linear approach. He knows all because He exists outside of that construct.

OK...I think I made my own head hurt. :)

But here's why I started there. I have had situations in my life where I was just crying out to God to give me understanding, or to help me deal with grief, or just to provide direction. And in those moments I have heard a song, or read a Scripture, or read a daily devotional that ministered to me and met me right where I was.

If that has ever happened to you then you know that feeling that God just personally spoke to you in answer to your prayer. How can it be that an area of my life that I am struggling or challenged in that on a certain day I am given the insight, the counsel, the comfort that I need? The answer is God speaks.

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about choosing my current devotion without really knowing what it was about, but how each day it has just challenged me more and more. But it's not a comfortable encounter, it's one of those "OK God, what do you want me to do with this?"

Yesterday's lesson was on spiritual discernment and today's lesson was titled "Punked." Remember that Ashton Kutcher show where you pull a prank on someone and everyone is in on it. Then you discover that you've been deceived. But in the case of my devotional, I wasn't laughing. There was just Scripture after Scripture about "Don't be deceived." 2 Timothy 3:12-13, Galatians 6:7, James 1:16, Luke 21:8. So I'm reading these verses and I'm saying to God, "OK God, what do you want me to do with this?"

Remember, I don't believe in coincidences. So why these verses at this season of life? I know what God is speaking to me about current teaching and current situations. I know the foundational, biblical truth that has been taught to me. And I know how closely counterfeit can look like the real thing. So my assignment is to study the real thing.

If I want to know what God's  Word says, I pray about it and read God's Word. Looking for God to speak to you while chasing after man's wisdom will never be the answer.

For me, God is raising the flag, saying "Daughter, do not be deceived." It's hard to go against the status quo. It's hard to be the one that stands up and says "I don't believe this. This doesn't line up with God's Word." But when I am tempted to shrink back and just keep my mouth shut, it is like Jeremiah 20:9, "His words burn in my heart like fire." I cannot keep quiet.

If you even look at my archive, you will see that my blogging is sporadic at best. But God has been speaking to me so much lately that even when I tell myself I am not going to blog, I can't help it, I have to stop what I am doing and write.

God is sounding the alarm. This isn't new. He has warned us that there will be imposters. Those who would deceive the very elect of God. Do not fall asleep. Don't get lazy. Don't be afraid. Ask questions. Challenge what you see and hear and feel. Go back to the source. Does it line up with God's Word? The whole counsel of God. Don't just pull one Scripture verse to validate a point. Read your Bible for yourself. 

Are we always sitting waiting for someone to feed us God's Word, to tell us what it means, and how to apply it? Or are we digging in God's Word for ourselves, growing up in our faith. I'm absolutely not saying that we don't go to Bible Study, or listen to preachers, etc. But I am challenging you to think for yourself. Seek God for yourself. Don't live on someone else's experience.  

Seek God. He is speaking. We must listen!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Leave the results to God


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7


When my kids were little, there were times that I would tell them to do something, and I could see that they were not going to obey. Sometimes that required getting down at eye level and repeating the directions so that I know they heard me and understood clearly what I wanted them to do.

I had that encounter on Sunday, except I was the one that needed a reteach.

I was in the lobby at church and saw a young lady lying on the floor. I have known her since we started attending church here, and probably as long as I have known her, I have known that she has health problems. In fact, I've seen her lie on the floor before, so it didn't surprise me. But as I was greeting people, I had the sense that I needed to go over and pray that God would heal her.

I heard it in my Spirit and I acted like I didn't. Don't know if you can relate to that. So I finished greeting and then I went in to hear the rest of the service. As soon as I sat down, the young lady on stage was getting ready to bless the offering. Pretty straight forward right?

Then God got right down at eye level and repeated His directions so that I would hear Him and understand clearly what He wanted me to do. The young lady was giving a testimony about a guy that provided money to a ministry. But here's the part that was for me. She said, if God tells you to give $300 and you give $3, you are being disobedient. There was a murmur of amens, because I think everyone could clearly see that. But then she said, if God tells you to give $3 and you give $300, you are still being disobedient. WOW! It's not the number or the size of the task. The question is, will I obey?

Yep, that was a gut punch. I just said, "OK, God." Got up out of my seat, went back out to the foyer and prayed for the young lady.

Now, if you know anything about kids, they will sometimes obey the letter of the law, without obeying the spirit of the law. That's what I did. I clearly knew that God had told me to pray for her healing. Now, don't get me wrong, I prayed a heartfelt prayer over her, but stopped short of straight out praying for God to heal her. It was one of those "God, Your will be done prayers." Well, that is silly for me to pray with that as my primary thought, because every prayer I pray, I am praying it in the spirit of "I want it to line up with God's will."

So I went back into the service. The message was based on 2 Timothy 1:7, "But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind."

In a nutshell, fear is not of God. He has been speaking that to me since 2011 since my first trip to Haiti. And He has been driving that message home more and more. The power that is in me to do anything in Christ, is the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8). He has been pounding that Scripture into me over the last couple of years as well. The last piece is it is God's love that compels us to serve, to pray, to walk out our faith.

When I was in college, we were given these words of encouragement that gave us perspective during evangelistic efforts. "Take every opportunity to share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God." The importance of that reminder was in the end, God would work according to His will. I didn't have to stress. Obey and leave the rest to God.

I walked away from that message knowing that I had not shown love. God is love. He is not just loving. If I had been compelled by love in that moment, I would have prayed for the young lady in the lobby to be healed. It was not up to me to heal her. God calls me share the gospel though it is not in my power to save. Likewise, he called me to pray for her healing, though it was not in my power to heal. The results are left up to Him. But the question is, will I obey? He may not call me in every situation to pray for healing, but certainly in the times when He does, I cannot shrink back in fear because fear is not from Him.

That truth was HUGE for me. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of God. If I just stepped out there without pray for people, to infuse their situation with the power and presence of God, how would that change people's lives? Their marriages, their families, their spiritual growth, and on and on?

I gained a better insight into John 13:35, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Christians should change the atmosphere. It is love that compels us to act, but we leave the results to God.

I want to be that kind of change agent. I want to be that kind of force for the Kingdom. What about you? What are we waiting for?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

God will answer


"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8


God will answer!
Have you ever had a time when God just knocked your socks off?! Like you see clearly the answer to a deep yearning prayer of your heart, and you know, that you know, that you know that God is speaking to you.

And when it happens to me, I must confess that I am still awed by God, by His willingness to be intimate and personal with me. I am overwhelmed by His love and the knowledge that not only does He hear me, but He will answer.

Typically, when I choose a Bible Study, I kind of stand in the store trying to figure out which one to choose. Sometimes I read the back cover, etc. With my current study, I went into the bookstore maybe 10 minutes before they closed, thinking I would just grab something, probably the new Beth Moore study, but nothing grabbed me. Then I saw Faithful, Abundant, True. I couldn't figure out for the life of me what this study was about. I'm looking on the inside cover, on the outside, trying to find a synopsis. NOTHING. As the clerk continues to give the, we are closing in 10 minutes, we are closing in 5 minutes. I was still frantically looking through the other studies, but kept coming back to this one. With the final, please bring purchases to the cash register, I decided what the heck. Now that all seems random, but here is how God worked.

The first week was about living on God's whole Word. I had been praying about some Scripture teaching and interpretation. And BAM....God reminded me through this study to take the whole counsel of God. I was also wrestling with some fear and anxiety about standing on God's Word even when it contradicted what others were saying. How do you speak truth and also not offend? God answered with a lesson on suffering for His sake, walking by faith and pressing on to maturity. And that was just the first week. I didn't know what I was going to need, but God did and met the need before I even knew I had a need that needed to be met. WOW God! Love you.

A couple of weeks later, I was dealing with different issues of faith. Again, asking God to help me as I wrestled with what did I believe about Him and how was I living out that truth. BAM! A lesson on foundational truths, God reminded me that I was needlessly struggling, He had already given me a foundation of truth...long ago, the issues I was currently wrestling with, God had already settled and taught me. He was gently reminding me, stand on the firm foundation which is Jesus Christ, Him crucified and resurrected, spread the message of the Gospel.

Those weeks ended with a lesson on don't put God in a box. Yes, He reminded me to stand on the foundation of truth I had been taught, but don't think that He exists only within the limits/confines of what I have experienced or believed. That was another WOW moment.

For at least the last couple of months, I have been praying for God to give me discernment. If I were to list my spiritual gifts discernment would probably not be in my top 5. In fact, I would say that I think of myself as very trusting and at times verging on gullible. So I have just asking the Lord audibly and within my spirit to show me and then help me to recognize His discernment.

A Scripture that I have been clinging to is John 14:26, "But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you."

So what stopped me in my tracks this morning was the Scripture reading for the day, John 14. It was that WOW moment, when God says to your heart...not your head, I have heard the cries of your heart. I hear you. I am the Answer. When Moses asked God who should he say had sent him, the answer was "I AM."

I had no idea what this study was about, but God did. I didn't know all the questions I would be asking, or what Scripture and teaching and direction I would need, but God knew. And each step along the way, He has reminded me of His faithfulness. I am so grateful to have a Heavenly Father that is intimately connected to my life and walks with me daily.

It is not a mystery, but we have to seek Him. He is not purposely hiding His will or His message, but as our hearts cry out to Him, He will reveal what is needed for the day. He does not give me more than I can handle, but He gives me what I need. I am reminded of the Lord's Prayer, "and gives us this day, our daily bread." "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4. Yes, God meets my daily needs, but my greatest need is not am I going to be able to pay that bill, or what are my kids going to wear, or anything else that deals with the temporary. God is interested in the eternal. Yes, He will take care of those things, but my greatest need is to know Him and His will for me. And He will provide that daily, if I seek Him.

WOW! What a day already, and I haven't even finished my study. I just had to stop and write. Can't wait to see what else God has in store for me today!!

Be blessed.