Thursday, September 20, 2012

Distracted By The Storm?

The past couple of weeks I have seen a lot of people going through difficult, even tragic, times.  From loss of loved ones to financial crises, medical challenges leading to hospitalization, and family problems.  I have seen threats made against homes, and jobs.  I even had someone recently tell me that a relative was the victim of a shooting.

Through all this chaos, confusion and struggle, I have also seen God!  I saw Him provide as a friend needed rent money and in just a few short hours, He poured about $1300 into her!  I saw my husband being admitted into the hospital on the 13th with a blood sugar level of 457 and an infected abscess on his leg, giving him a fever and aches.  They told him he should have been in a diabetic coma!  BUT GOD had other plans!  He is healing and his sugar is normal.  God is healing him and protecting us.  He provided all the finances necessary and allowed us financing for his medical leave from work.  Did I mention we don’t have insurance?

I have seen God comfort those mourning the death of loved ones.  I have seen His healing power among the torn and broken, giving them peace and a sound mind in the midst of uncertainty and chaos!  I have seen resources appear seemingly out of nowhere, by God's grace and mercy.

What is my point? 

First, even though horrible things happen, God is still in control.  Even though the earth quakes, He is still in charge and will help us when we cry out to Him (Ps. 46:1-7).  He promises to NEVER leave us or forsake (abandon) us (Heb. 13:5).  NO, God did not cause the problems (1 Cor. 14:33) but He promises that He will be with us through them (James 1:2-3) perfecting us as pure gold (Daniel 12:10).

Distracted by the storm?

Joshua 1:7 says, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left that you may prosper wherever you go.”God was telling Joshua that He will be with His people as long as they stay with Him!  God has a plan for each and every one of you.  He wants to move in the situation you are in RIGHT NOW!  I know too well how focused we can get on the things swirling around us or even on the finish line, the goals we have set.  BUT if we are not focused on what God has for us RIGHT NOW, we leave ourselves open to attacks from the devil who is looking for any way to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). 
I hear the message from the Lord ever so clearly. 
“The enemy sees there is something stirring in the atmosphere.  It is expectation.  It is anticipation.  It is the groaning of a spiritual womb about to deliver!  It is My Spirit about to pour out!  He sees the clouds moving in to pour out upon you!  He knows.  BUT, I know the anointing I am about to release to you.  I know the gifts that will be poured out of you!  I see the provision I want to lavish upon my children as they do what I have called them to do.    The enemy seeks to stop you.  He wants nothing more than to bring you into the misery he is wallowing in and keep you immobilized in the quicksand of distraction!  I tell you, DO NOT BE DISTRACTED.  I am covering you until you reach your destination.  I am protecting you as you travail through to the next place I have appointed for you!  Keep strong.  DON'T GIVE UP!  Get here!  I am here!”

Don’t give up.  Don’t stray away from what God has for you right now, right in front of you.  You’re so close.  Don’t miss it!  Please don’t miss it.

This week, I challenge you… PLEASE cling to Him.  Don’t let circumstances, chaos, fear, or anything else come between you and God.  Let Him speak to you.  One word can change your circumstances.  One word from Him can infuse life into your situation.  Stay focused on Him!  Hear Him and let Him guide you!

I love you and I am praying for each of you!
God bless you as you seek and serve Him!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sound Investments: E-Day

Evaluation day is never an easy day.  The day you have set in your mind to go over everything you’re involved in, everything you want to do, and all the resources you have in order to make decisions to increase or decrease your time, or money, spent.  Some people call it budget day or balancing the checkbook.  I call it E-Day.

On this E-Day, I was looking at some relationships I have been (and in some cases, still am) involved in.  Friendships, partnerships, and even family involvement, have all been evaluated.  I have prayed over them, allowing God to show me where I need to spend more time and energy and where I need to withdraw.  I wanted to be sure because whenever you evaluate relationships, inevitably there will be feelings hurt and emotions flaring up.  Conflict is, sometimes, unavoidable.

I think about how my heart aches for some friends who have been estranged for quite a while now.  The connections we shared were like a sibling relationship at times.  At time, I even want to call them or spend time with them.  

Then I remember what God was calling me to do to begin with.  Evaluation.  The message I received today was quite clear.  Are you focused or are you distracted?   

Today, God showed me a bit more about where I should be sowing in the Kingdom.  A lot of us, including me, have broadcasted our investments and scattered them to the wind, not knowing where they would land and if they would bring an investment.  What happens when a seed is planted after being blown around for a while?  The first person who happens upon the fruit will benefit from the harvest.
 We sow abundantly but then fail to sow intentionally.  We sow generously but without checking the ground that we sow into.  

I want people to understand that the Kingdom of God is a very intentional Kingdom.  We know this because God’s word says that He is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40, Col. 2:5) and because God doesn’t do anything haphazardly.  

It works for finances, time, emotions, and intelligence.  If you study, you will learn.  If you study subjects that are beneficial, such as grammar, math, or more specific, nursing, business, or teaching, you will receive a return of a career, knowledge, and understanding of the field you studied, and eventually an income.

Financially, if you invest in the right areas, such as money marketing accounts, CD’s, or even an IRA or 401k, you will receive, dividends, interest, and retirement income!  However, investing poorly or not at all, can cost you everything.  

So, today I have been looking at my time and relationships that I am invested in.  Most of them are healthy and balanced.  Some of them need prayer and work, on my part or God’s (and the other person’s too).  However, there are some investments that are going nowhere.  These people are the ones who want to dispute or argue everything we discuss.  They complain about their circumstances at all times and when I am around them, I feel so heavy and weighed down.  When I leave their presence, I feel I have to drink 2 energy drinks, pray for an hour, and find some kind of relief for the sorrow.  Serously!  No matter what kind of encouragement I give, no matter how long I pray with these people, they always have excuses why my suggestions won’t work, why they won’t get any better, and why they are simply doomed to misery!  So, I ask myself, why am I investing my time, creativity, energy, and emotions in these people?  They distract from the mandate of what I have been given to do.

There are also those who would eat up my time, pulling on my skills.  You know… the ones who always need a favor?  Teaching them to do things on their own would be great because then they could be self sufficient.  However, these people don’t want to learn, they want me to do it for them, to volunteer my time and skills to benefit them.  These people must be given an opportunity to learn, however, if they refuse the opportunity, they only hurt themselves.  I cannot be responsible for their success or failure.  I have given what I was given… knowledge.

Finally, there are those who would cling for my affection and emotions.  This area is especially delicate because these are the ones we would love to cling back to.  These people want your support, companionship, and love.  However, the fine line between healthy attachment and obsession is often blurred in the sand when everyone is shuffling their feet.  Be careful of the ones who cling for your affection.  Too much of a good thing, can suffocate you!   

The bottom line is this… God will direct your path if you follow Him (Prov. 3:6).  If you seek Him first, then everything else (including relationships and direction) will be given to you (Matt. 6:33).  

In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the business man who invested in three of his servants.  Two brought back an increase, whereas one brought back only what was given.  His was taken away and given to the servant who brought back the biggest increase.  Why?  Because the man knew that the productive servant would continue to increase the investment.  So, he ceased business with the stagnant servant and moved his investment elsewhere.

My hope is that, if there are any other people out there, wondering about some of their relationships or evaluating their investments, that this will help you begin seeking God through your E-day.  

What is His vision for your life?  Will the relationships I am currently involved with help me accomplish this goal?  Am I investing in the areas that God wants me to invest in?  (Not necessarily JUST to benefit me, but that which will bring the best investments for my Master’s Kingdom!)

God bless you as you seek and serve Him!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fishers of Members???

I live in a city that is referred to as a “city of Churches” (Wikipedia) where most people beginning a conversation with another person will often ask “What church do you attend?” (Before or after asking where that person works.)  Yet, it amazes me when I hear disturbing things like what I heard just the other day.  I was in a conversation with a woman who is a Jehovah’s Witness.  She essentially told me that as soon as she tells “Christians” that she is a Jehovah’s Witness, they immediately turn on her and try to “flip her” (as one person referred to the act of changing denominations).  She has been verbally attacked and argued with by the very people who are supposed to be showing her God’s love and mercy!

I had the awesome opportunity to sit with her and share who God truly is, a God of love and mercy, who is patiently waiting for her to find out who He is first hand.  A God who is calling out to her, drawing her and pursuing her as a lover would.  I was blessed with the chance to direct her beyond the books, people and “religion” and go straight to the source, the way, the truth, and the life! 

There are so many people out there trying to recruit members, attendees, and congregations.  It breaks my heart to see that most people are missing the heart of God!  

Matthew 4:18-20 says, “18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

In prayer, I knew God was showing me more of intimacy with Him.  He was showing me that His way was not a tactic of attack.  Attacking someone or something that has emotional attachment for someone is not a tactic of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19).  Instead of knocking the legs out from under them so they fall, we must draw them to take steps to the King of kings! 

I am not a sales person, and I will not try to enhance, augment, or “talk up” the message of the Gospel of the kingdom.  We are called to preach this gospel, just as Jesus did, and so much more.

Moving on in Matthew 4 (verses 23 & 24), we see what exactly Jesus did.  It says, “23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.” [Bold italics added for emphasis by author.]
"Membership Drive"
One thing God showed me in prayer this weekend is, never once did He direct them to a synagogue, telling them to be circumcised and become Jews.  Yes, I know most of them were Jews but the centurion was not, nor was the woman at the well.  He pointed them to the way, the truth, and eternal life!  It’s not about making ‘fishers of members’ but about growing and cultivating the Kingdom of God!  

I was telling my husband of the awesome time I had in this teaching moment with the woman and her questions and explained that IF God’s word couldn’t stand, and IF God could not prove who He is through His promises and intimacy with Him, than she could turn back and “flip” me!  God’s promises are Yes and AMEN!  They will speak for themselves.  I am simply a catalyst for this transformation!  When I present the Gospel, I don’t have to plug in the ministries at my church.  If they ask, I will tell them where I attend church, but I am not trying to make them members.  True churches connected to the source (Jesus) don’t need the excessive recruiting because the truth being taught and preached within will draw the people.  I love how Paul puts it in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”.  God will finish what He starts and we can be confident in Him!

I challenge you this week to two different challenges. 
First - If you want a relationship with God, (or if you know Him and want a deeper relationship with Him) throw out everything you think you know about God and let Him reveal Himself to you.  Close the books, go to a quiet place, and, with sincerity, ask God, “God, speak to me.  I am listening to hear anything you have to say.  I want to hear your voice and I want to know without any doubt that you are speaking to me.  Reveal your truth to me.  I want to know, firsthand, who you are.”  I am not telling you not to go to church.  The Bible says it is important to get together with other believers and encourage each other.  However, a relationship with God is not based on Church.  The Church is based on a relationship with God!

Second – Do not be quick to set opinions about the same people that God loves.  That is why He sent Jesus to us.  To “seek and to save” those who are lost (Luke 19:10).  We were once lost and saw Jesus as our savior for the first time.  Have we forgotten that the grace that was extended to us is the same grace we are to extend to others?  We don’t know where they have been or what they have been through.  The woman I shared God’s love with was abused and is looking for an answer and truth for herself and her son.  She doesn’t need another bitter lecture.  She needs God’s love, and compassion.  Pray for the heart of God in this area, that God would show you how He loves them.  Then we can show them that love!

God bless you as you seek Him and follow His call!