Thursday, March 26, 2009

Giving Back in Proportion

Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. Deuteronomy 16:10 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:17 NIV

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. Romans 12:6

In the beautiful harmony of the two Testaments we see that we give back what was first given to us. It all flows from His grace. It is to flow in response and in proportion to the blessings we have received. The aim in both economies is to testify of His goodness to us.
In the Old Testament the freewill offering was to be from their flock. In the New Testament we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 Of course we give of our material blessings, but more importantly we give ourselves to Him, to His service, and to take our place in His body. He has given us His Holy Spirit which will manifest in gifts to be used in service to him and to his people.
In our present economy churches may be hurting for money to carry out the Lord's work, but I can say with confidence that virtually all churches are in need of gifted workers who have a servant's heart. I have attended 3 churches in 35 years and have friends attending many other churches. The story is always the same...a small minority doing the majority of the work and a lot of potential ministry opportunities unable to be staffed.
I know people who teach lunch time Bible studies at their workplace. I know someone who is in an assisted living facility and does Bible studies for the other women who live there. I am friends with several women who have jail ministries and also serve their local church. I know people who for years have worked faithfully serving the Lord with joy in their church. However, I am going to say this as kindly as I know how, faithfulness, commitment, and the heart of a servant are rare even among church goers. For many, even if God told them specifically what He wanted them to do, they wouldn't be faithful. They won't forgo the pleasures and pulls of life to prepare and show up Sunday after Sunday. He deserves so much more from His people.
I am not trying to produce guilt in anyone's heart. The Lord made it clear to me a long time ago that anything done for him motivated by guilt has no reward. I am asking for a heart check between you and the Lord. Are you serving Him? Are you presenting yourself, in light of all that He has done for you, and in proportion to His blessings, as a living sacrifice? How has the Holy Spirit gifted you? If you aren't sure then take one of the many spiritual gifts inventories that can be found online. Ask Him to develop a heart to serve in you. Ask the Lord to show you how He wants you to serve and where. Stay focused and pay attention after you pray. I can assure you He will delighted to let you know.
MY PRAYER: Lord, help me to stir up the gift that you have given me and use it to serve you by serving your church and your world. You have blessed me and I will respond in proportion to those blessings. By your grace I will take my place. I will also pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into the harvest. In the name of the One who is worthy, amen.
MY CONFESSION: You have given to each one of us the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. I have been gifted and I will use it for the common good. I stand on your word! 1 Corinthians 12:7

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sara Groves - Painting Pictures Of Egypt

Follow Me and I will Make You...

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Heb 11:15-16 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:8-10 NASB

I attended a conference led by Henry Blackaby in which he made a comment that equipped me to face the most painful and ultimately most beneficial time in my life. He said, “You cannot stay where you are and go with God.” Within a few years the entire landscape of my life shifted dramatically. No aspect of my life was untouched by change. As you read the Scriptures it is abundantly clear how accurate Blackaby’s statement was. Abraham said yes to God even though he had no idea where he was headed. God told Abraham that He would “make him a father of many nations.” Gen. 17:5 Jesus called His disciples to lay down their plans and dreams. He didn’t give them a road map; He kept them close by saying “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” The journey began when they chose to walk by faith in a relationship with the One who is the Way and not by sight. Abraham had to leave his country and all that was familiar. The disciples had to lay down the lesser (fishing nets) for the greater (fishers of men).
His priority in our lives is our character and not a call that we may perceive or hope He has for us. The forming of our character and the strengthening of our faith can be a painful process filled with wonderful victories but also many trials and disappointments. We do have an enemy who wants to dis-appoint us. He wants us to question, doubt, and stray off course. Both Abraham and the disciples were tempted to go back. During a time of famine Abraham went to Egypt and after the crucifixion Peter went back to fishing. When hard times come we are tempted to go back to the familiar or doubt that He ever really called us.
How do we stay on the path that He has for us? It says very clearly that, “If they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country that is a heavenly one.” Paul adds to our instruction in Romans 8:5 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep your thoughts and desires aligned with His. This world is passing away. His plans for us inside and out are good. Don’t go back to the place or things He called you from. Follow Him. He is totally trustworthy.
MY PRAYER: Lord, you have called us to join you on this journey. Help us to not look back. Help us to set our minds on what your Spirit desires. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. You are my exceeding great reward and I will follow by your grace. In the Name above all names, amen.

MY CONFESSION: I am following the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am walking by faith and you are not ashamed to be called my God. My mind is set on following You and My desires are aligned with Yours. You are conforming me to the image of Your Son. I stand on your Word!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Captivate Us

You Shall Bless Them

"Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.' "So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them." Numbers 6:23-27 NASB

I love this blessing dictated by God himself for Aaron, the high priest, to bless His people. I have used it on many occasions to end gatherings. As I have meditated on this blessing I see that Jesus, our great high priest, is the fulfillment of this blessing in every way.

The LORD bless you, We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
and keep you; Jesus did not lose one of those his Father gave him. John 18:9 In 1 Peter 1:5 we are told that we are being kept by the power of God. We are secure in his nail scared hand.

The LORD make His face shine on you, For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
And be gracious to you; The very fact that we are His is according to God's gracious choice of us. Romans 11:5 God’s grace flows to us from the cross that Jesus willingly embraced.

The LORD lift up His countenance on you, to lift up the eyes or the face is to pay attention. When you read about Jesus encounters with people he paid attention. Jesus looked at him, and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter). John 1:42 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said^ of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said^ to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." John 1:47-48 Jesus said "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them. John 10:27a The Lord of the entire universe is intimately acquainted with his people. I am captivated when I hear testimonies of how he speaks to others. I have an extremely left brained friend and the Lord will speak to her in ways that are tailored to her. I have a friend who loves to sing. She often wakes up singing and she knows He is speaking to her through the message of the particular song.

And give you peace He bequeathed his peace to us. It is part of the inheritance our Prince of Peace left us."Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” John 14:27a

So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them. “and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Acts 11:26b What a privilege to be called by the name above all names.

MY PRAYER: Captivate us Lord Jesus with all that you are. We can never plumb the depths of the riches that we have in you. You are the Blesser and we are the blest. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

MY CONFESSION: You placed your hand on children and blessed them. I am your child and your hand of blessing is on me this day. I stand on your Word!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God is Faithful

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NASV

Hey Friends,
I want to say thank you for those who prayed for our trip to speak at the women's tea in Marco Island, Fl. We traveled with Ray and Theresa Noland. It made the trip so much more enjoyable and fun to have traveling companions.
The tea was amazing. It was something to see 220 women standing in line to get in. Every table had a tea pot and cups along with a tray of assorted goodies. Cathy Gallus and Carol Fenimore have been faithful and God has certainly blessed their efforts to reach the women of Marco Island.
When it was time for me to share my testimony I felt such a freedom in the atmosphere. You know that prayer has been the foundation of an event when the Spirit of liberty is so evident.
When we left the tea there was a woman crying in the parking lot. Her name is Mary and she was shaken by the testimony. We were able to pray with and for her. Please pray for her to believe that God's plans for her are for good and not evil, to give her a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. That was the centerpiece of my testimony. In one of those moments that only God can orchestrate...the woman, who spoke before me, shared the same Scripture. Out of the thousands of Scriptures we could have used from the Bible we landed on the same one and we spoke on completely different subjects.
We had time for fun. Our hosts were so gracious. We went on boat rides, toured the Everglades, had some wonderful fellowship, and plenty of good food. We went to our friends church on Sunday and that was a tremendous blessing. They worship with us when they are in Murphy and it was wonderful to worship with them.
So, thanks to everyone who prayed. I appreciate at you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hillsong - None but Jesus

Knowing Him in Resurrection Power

That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 NASV
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, 2 Timothy 4:16-17b NASV

I can only imagine the hurt that the Apostle must have felt as he realized his fellow believers were leaving him to face persecution alone. But there was One who stood with him. One who knew how it felt to be deserted by beloved friends in His greatest hour of need. Paul wanted to know Jesus so intimately that he said he wanted to know not only the power of His resurrection but also the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul was experiencing what Jesus did when His disciples fled at His arrest. They were more concerned with their own well-being than their loyalty to the One who had walked beside them, taught them, and loved them until the end. Paul is reflecting His Savior’s heart when he desired that his own friend’s disloyalty and desertion not be counted against them. Paul knew that the power of Jesus resurrection was to be experienced in the here and now as we die to our old way of living and reacting. As we put on the Lord Jesus Christ we find ourselves bowing down to His Spirit within us. We are supplied with the grace to walk through hard and challenging times exhibiting the fruit of His Spirit.

I don’t know if you are familiar with the story of The Hiding Place about the Ten Boom family. Two of the sisters were sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home during WWII. Corrie and Betsy were in their 50’s. They were godly women who served the Lord with gladness and had never married. When they got to the camp the Germans made all the women strip down naked and walk past many soldiers as they were given prison uniforms. They felt totally humiliated and exposed. As they stood under the smirking and cruel gaze of the soldiers Betsy leaned forward and whispered to her sister, “Oh Corrie, Jesus hung naked on the cross. He knows how we feel.”

Very few of us will suffer what the Apostle Paul or the Ten Booms went through, but we will suffer in a fallen world. We always have a choice. Will we waste our sorrows or will we allow the Lord’s resurrection power to flow through us and exhibit His life within us? Will we rest in the comfort that He knows how it feels? Will we share in some small measure what He felt? This may seem a little heavy for a devotional, but I believe with all my heart that God wants us to experience Him and He wants those in our world to experience Him in us. We will go through rough times one way or the other. I want to let Him use it to make me more like Him and in your heart, so do you.

MY PRAYER: Lord, I do want to know you. I want to know your great heart. Help me to remember in the middle of trials, temptations, irritations, and the disappointments with friends and family that you know how I feel. I won’t get it right every time, but I do want to grow and not waste my sorrows. Produce the fruit of Your Spirit in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, even if I feel deserted and unsupported I know that you will stand with me and strengthen me. I have the same Spirit resident in me that raised you from the dead. I stand on your Word!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

JESUS,Lover of my soul (it's all about You)

Full of Grace and Truth

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NASV
I have mentioned that we are currently doing James MacDonald's Bible study Lord, Change My Attitude. In this week's lesson he mentions that Jesus was full of grace and truth. He observed that most of us fall into two different camps. We are either truth people who tell it like it is and don't extend grace to those around us. Or we may tend to be grace people who don't speak the truth to those who need to hear it. We should ask the Lord to help us be more like Him full of grace and truth.
As I have prayed and meditated on this I thought about a wonderful movie I bought a few months ago. It is The Gospel of John and it is a word for word version taken from John's gospel. The actor who plays Jesus is Henry Ian Cusick and, in my opinion, I've never seen anyone do a better job of portraying Jesus. I was absolutely captivated by the movie and the portrayal. It captures the grace and truth that flowed from Him.
About two months ago I gave an extra copy I had of the movie to a friend who has to stay home a lot because of a physical condition. I knew that she would love it as much as I do. I talked to her tonight and she told me she has watched it several times and is having a friend over for a pizza and a movie night because she wants her to see it.
If you've never seen this movie, try to get a copy and watch it. I ordered mine off the internet. I haven't checked Wal-Mart (after all I do live in a small town) but there are many online options. I think I paid around $14.00 for the two disc set. I don't think you will ever regret it. You will hear the entire gospel of John and it is beautiful in every way.
MY PRAYER: No one else in history is like you. You are beautiful beyond our comprehension. You are really too marvelous for words. Thank you for being full of grace and truth. We love you Lord.