Sunday, December 29, 2013

What do YOU find the most difficult about.....

Two ears sometimes doesn't seem
enough anymore to HEAR all that's
going on in our world!
LISTENING....

This world has certainly gotten very noisy hasn't it?   Radio brought conversations and entertainment into our worlds without people needing to actually be present.  After that television brought the whole world into our homes.  With all the newest technology, we're being "talked to" even when no one is opening their mouth! Through text and email and social media status updates, it seems everyone has a voice and is trying to make it heard regularly and loudly.  It all competes fiercely for our attention.


Does God have a voice?  In all the noise you are listening to are you giving an ear to hear the Creator talk to you?  I don't mean through someone else or even something else.  I am asking if you are listening for God Almighty's voice?


God speaks to us regularly. Take a look in the Bible.  There He is, talking, talking, TALKING!  And then He tells us clearly that He is the SAME yesterday, today and forever.  He does not change.  Therefore, He has not stopped talking to His people.  The competition for attention has certainly intensified, requiring laser focus on the vital question; Are we listening?


When the Prophet Elijah had carried out Gods instructions and was now sought by the King of Israel and his lovely bride Queen Jezebel so they could put him to death, he went off to a quiet place by himself where he could seek counsel from God.  Read all of I Kings 19 for a full picture, for our purposes, I will summarize.


He sat under a juniper tree and began to pray.  God heard and sent an Angel to minister to him.  Then he made a request of the Lord, to hear what God would say.


I Kings 19: 12  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a STILL SMALL VOICE.


That's God.  So big, so powerful, so confident that He doesn't need to arrive in flashy style.  He comes quietly, certainly, surely and speaks into our hearts answers to the situations and concerns of our lives.  He still speaks to His people. When we quiet all the competing noises we'll hear Him.  Psalm 46:10  BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.


What do YOU find the most difficult about LISTENING FOR THE LORDS VOICE?

For me, it's letting go of the fear I'll miss something happening in "my world" and staying in that still place long enough to hear the only voice I truly need to listen to.

OBEDIENCE......


In our Fellowship Gathering this past week, we explored the difficulty many of us struggle with in being obedient to the simple and straight forward things God has told us to do.  We agreed that His commands were actually very beneficial to us and that obeying them ALWAYS turned out for our good!  We talked about several situations where people in the examples shown in the Bible had their excuses for NOT obeying and the end results, which were never preferable to Gods intended results.


After reviewing all the reasons and excuses, we realized that however you choose to word it, it all really came down to one word.  One word adequately describes every excuse and reasoning for failing to obey in spite of recognizing the benefit to ourselves to do so.


PRIDE.


Of the 5 stories we examined closely, the best example, we felt, was found in the story of Naaman.  Let's take a look together at II Kings 5: 1-14


1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man does send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeks a quarrel against me.
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore have you rent your clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come again to you, and you shall be clean.
11 But Naaman was angry, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spoke unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn't you have done it? how much rather then, when he said to you, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then he went down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Naaman thought he was quite a big deal, a very important man of some stature among the people.  Needing healing, he was sure the Prophet would treat him a certain way and make a big spectacle of healing him.  PRIDE almost cost him the healing.  PRIDE would have kept him from obeying the simple command he'd been given, even though he knew that obeying it would benefit him!

We looked at the story in Galatians 2 when Peter, in fearful PRIDE stopped dining with the Gentiles because he didn't want his fellow Jews to think badly of him.  We looked at Jonah who pridefully attempted to avoid God because he didn't think the Ninevites deserved to be forgiven and given a second chance!  We looked at the fearful spies of Israel in Numbers 13 who in their foolish PRIDE decided they knew better than God what could and could not be done in a situation.

We agreed the BENEFITS far outweighed any reason for disobedience.  A quick reading of Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 made clear that obedience to Gods commands carried a great deal of benefit and blessing.

What do YOU find the most difficult about obeying Gods commands?
Is it that you are uncertain of what they are?  I would encourage you to set aside time in your daily routine to shut off the competing voices, quiet your own heart, get still before the Lord, and begin digesting the spiritual food that will truly benefit you in every single area of life.  READ GODS WORD!  Some will sink deep into your heart and begin to bring about change that will amaze you.  Some will speak to you immediately of answers and solutions to situations you are facing.  Some will wait quietly in the background until you have need of it, but ALL of it will benefit you in more ways than I can describe or I even know.

Read Psalm 46 in its entirety.  You will be pleasantly surprised to discover.....

Beginning January 1, 2014 Turn the Tide Ministries begins at the beginning once more on a two year reading schedule that will walk you through the entire Bible.  SUBSCRIBE RIGHT NOW so you receive the updates, schedules and Sunday Sermons delivered to your email inbox to read and savor at your convenience.

THEME FOR 2014:  DO IT NOW!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One Trick and a thought about Vampires

Every good and perfect gift comes from God above. (James 1:17) And for every one of them, the devil tries to counterfeit or twist it in order to deceive as many as possible from the TRUTH.

A powerful TRUTH that acts as anchor for a Christian is the covering, the cleansing, the forgiving power of the BLOOD of Jesus.  Sin was a problem that required constant sacrifice and shedding of blood before Christ came.  The blood of animals was not sufficient to cleanse sin FOR GOOD!  We aren't any less sinful than the Israelites or anyone else.  However, the shed blood of Jesus cleanses us of sin once and for all time, because He was a Lamb without spot or blemish, the perfect sacrifice, holy, and therefore acceptable to meet the requirement of a Holy God in a way no other sacrifice ever could.

So is it all that surprising, that unable to do anything about the cleansing blood of Jesus, the devil would try to make "blood" itself into something else, something evil and not to be trusted?  You see, Satan has no real "power", not against a blood bought believer, but he does have ONE TRICK.  Just the one, but he has it perfected to the nth degree.  That trick is deception.  He deceived Eve and he deceived Cain and he deceived Judas and he is still deceiving people today into thinking things that are not true and therefore acting in ways that are contrary to truth.  When we act contrary to truth, guess what?  We reap consequences that are contrary to truth and we begin to feel defeated, and Satan heaps on more deception and before we know it, we are so far from the truth that we are no longer certain there even is truth!

Enter "Dracula", that blood sucking vampire who frightened me into sleeping with my covers firmly tucked around my chin every night of my childhood.  Suddenly blood is about death rather than life, which is the truth of God.  LIFE is in the blood, and Satan deceives millions into seeing it as DEATH.  Deceit doesn't have to be elaborate to be effective.  It just has to make you miss the narrow way.  It just has to get you one degree off course, and guess what? YOU ARE OFF COURSE!  You aren't a little bit going the right way, you are completely going the wrong way.  You've missed blessings, and joy and peace and all the wonderful things God intends for you.

So how do we stay on course?  How do we make certain we are entering the narrow way, and living according to Gods truth?  So we can be sure we are reaping all the benefits and perks God really wants to bless us with?  By reading the Bible.  It is our map, charting our course to the Truth.  Check out the Daily Bible Reading page.  This two year schedule will take you through the entire Bible at a pace that allows time for reflection and consideration of what you are reading.  (Plus, you'll be reading in tandem with hundreds of others who follow along with The Unity Project!)  Let's read together, and then we can grow together - seeking answers from Gods word about our world today and our role in it as Ambassadors for Christ.

See ya in the funny papers......

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I heard a Christian brother, oh,  it must be over 25 years ago now, describe fear as:
 False                                    Evidence                        Appearing                      Real

Over the intervening years, I’ve not only quoted that a great many times in a great many situations, but I’ve also spent a great deal of time contemplating it.  Yes,  considering it in depth, turning it over and over in my mind, looking at it from the outside in, looking from the inside out, from the top, on its surface; even pulling each word aside to examine them individually and as a whole as fully as I am able; praying about it, seeking wisdom from God about it and even putting it away for one season and another, allowing it to marinade inside my heart.

25 years.  Years filled with times and mere moments of great faith.  Years filled with times and circumstances of great fear.  Years filled with activity and movement and joy and pain and sadness and gladness and new friends and old friends and fair weather friends and deeply loyal, loving friends.  Years.  Not moments or seconds or even hours or days.  YEARS!

Here then is the conclusion I have come to, after giving this little homily time to stew and settle in my heart.

(Do you know what a homily is?  I wasn’t sure either, so I looked it up for us, so we could learn something together.  It means a religious discourse that is intended primarily for spiritual edification rather than doctrinal instruction; a sermon.) 

On this little religious discourse I concluded;

THIS IS A TRUE SAYING.

Yup.  That’s my big conclusion.  I never have been one to accept things at face value.  I’ve always needed to analyze and think things through for myself.  On this one, I’ve decided the Christian brother was 100% correct.

EX….CEPT.

Except this one little part…..where this little saying is 100% WRONG.

See, I also thought these thoughts about this little homily. 

Fear of this world, when Jesus told us fear not, for He overcame the world, fear of the devil when Jesus is your Savior, fear of what man can do to you up held against the God who is for you, fear is false evidence that appears real to us.

BUT……

Fear of the Lord is NEVER false evidence.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  A healthy fear of God can bring you to your knees in repentance which leads to forgiveness which leads to a right and healthy relationship with God your Creator.  Reverent fear of God can keep you from committing sin, which is a wonderful thing that brings blessing and joy and GOOD into your life!

Considering fear then, leaves us with two choices.  One is a way that leads to hardness of heart, cynicism, doubt, mistrust, waste and sickness of mind and heart. 


The other choice?  Reverent fear of the Lord God, Creator and Master of the universe, Sovereign in all His ways, leads to the way of life and LIFE ETERNAL!

We all have fear in our lives.  A godly fear can do a lot of good to overcome other fear.  What fear are you struggling with?  How can they be overcome?
Need prayer?  Fill out the Prayer Request form - we'll be praying for you!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Excellent Mercy of the Creator

Bow down Your ear O Lord, hear me, for I am poor and needy
Preserve my life; for I am holy - YOU are my God
Save Your servant who trusts in You!

Be merciful to me O Lord, for I cry to You all day long
Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You O Lord I lift up my soul
for You Lord are good and ready to forgive
and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear O Lord to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord
Nor are there any works like Your works.

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You O Lord
and shall glorify Your name.  For You are great and do wondrous things;
YOU ALONE ARE GOD.

Teach me Your way O Lord; I will walk in Your truth
Unite my heart to fear Your name forevermore
For great is Your mercy toward me
and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the proud have risen against me
and a violent mob have sought my life
and have not set You before them.
But You O Lord are a God full of compassion; and gracious, 
longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

Oh turn to me and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant and save the child of Your maidservant
Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed

because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me

Psalm 86 - a cry to the Lord our God, our Creator, to remember us in our troubles and
to save us out of those troubles.  May you be encouraged today, knowing for a certainty that the Lord, God of all creation, is FOR you and ON YOUR SIDE!  Seek Him, trust Him and walk in His ways and see YOUR  SALVATION today!

Lord in Heaven, May each soul who reads these words be comforted in the knowledge of Your Love for them, and be strengthened by Your Holy Spirit working in them, reaping blessing in their lives and situations and bringing Glory to Your name, I ask and pray in the name of Jesus our Savior, AMEN!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Defeating Stupid



IF ONLY WE HAD 20/20 HIND SIGHT!
People come to us for prayer and guidance – usually after they’ve taken some questionable action and the consequences are inflicting discomfort.  We pray, we read the Word of God with them and attempt to share some bit of wisdom, some practical application of biblical principle that might ease the situation and lead them to better decisions in the future.  These are the same things my mentors and counselors did for me and still do for me as I make my way through this life.  It would be nice to think we could just obey God and then everything would always work out for the best.

Unfortunately, that isn’t an option.  While we are living on this earth, we are subject to the sin nature initiated with the sin of Adam in partaking of the one fruit in the vast garden of fruit available that God had specifically instructed Adam NOT to eat!  Sin separates us from God, removing us from His protective Presence and rendering obedience that much more difficult for our hearts to accomplish.

Sin makes us stupid. 

My husband is fond of quoting that when he is confronted with sin and its aftermath.  He’s right.  And in the stupidity, we most definitely do not make good decisions.  In truth, we are far more likely to continue to make bad ones.  Bad decisions like blaming our actions on someone else.  Yes, Adam did that too.  He blamed God Himself for his own poor decision, claiming his action was because of the woman God gave him.  Would Adam have avoided being deceived and therefore avoided falling prey to sin if Eve hadn’t been there?  We’ll never know, because that isn’t how it happened.

Once we've entered the quicksand of stupid, how do we keep from being sucked into permanent stupid?


It's a mighty miracle God provided to deliver us from the cycle of sin.

We can’t avoid stupid and we certainly haven’t got the ability to keep from being stuck in stupid.  Our only hope is in Jesus.  Our only deliverance is calling on His name.  Our only way OUT of darkness and INTO light is in and through Jesus – the Savior, the substitute payment for our stupid sin.

Don’t be deceived into staying stuck in stupid sin. Call on the name above all names, the name of Power and Peace and Healing.  Call on Jesus, get unstuck, and then let the Holy Spirit of God lead and guide you to the great, wonderful, joyous plans that God made for your life from before the foundation of the world was ever set in place.  It doesn't mean you won't ever sin again, but it does mean you will never again be a slave to sin.  You may visit "stupid" but you will never live there, for Jesus will heal, deliver and set you free!

Prayer is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the believer.  It would be our privilege to pray for you.  Please fill out the Prayer Request form (top left) and we will pray for you. If you’d like us to contact you and pray with you, we’ll do that.  Every prayer request is honored, and God hears and responds. 



The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  James 5:16