Posts tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

If you are like me, you make sure you add the words, “in Jesus’ name, amen” at the end of every prayer.  We know we are supposed to pray that way.  That is how we have been taught.  But I think somehow we have held some secret, perhaps not even fully thought out, idea that as long as we say our prayer is in Jesus’ name, then God will hear us and answer.  Like just saying the name of Jesus is a magic key to opening the doors of Heaven.

Earlier this week I was reading from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  He suggested that praying in Jesus’ name is not simply invoking His name, but to pray in the character of Jesus.  The immediate thought in my mind did not accept that, but the Spirit confirmed the truth of what Chambers said in short order and set me straight.  So let’s look at some Scripture passages to figure this out.

Let’s begin with John 16:23-24 (NKJV) – “And in that day you will ask Me nothing.  Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 14:13-14 – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Ok.  So if we keep praying in Jesus’ name, amen, and Jesus said that whatever we pray in His name He will do, why are so many of our prayers not answered the way we want them to be?  Is Jesus’ name not the magic word after all?  Or is there something more to it?

One of the keys to studying God’s word that I have learned over the past few years is that God never contradicts Himself.  If He says something in Scripture that doesn’t seem to jive with something else in Scripture, or in real life, dig deeper, because there is further meaning there.  If you seek that meaning and understanding, God will give it to you.

John 15:5-8 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

There it is.  If we abide in Jesus, and His words abide in us, then what we ask for will be done for us.  Why?  Because then we will be asking for what is already the will of God.

What is an ambassador?  A person so trusted by the leadership of a government that they are trusted to speak for that leadership.  The ambassador knows the will of the leader, and speaks it.  He is not the leader, but he is a representative that is so in tuned to the will and desires of the leader that he can speak with the authority of the leader.

This is what Jesus is talking about.  Just as Jesus, as the Son of God, was the ambassador, so to speak, of God the Father, here on earth, we are ambassadors for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20).  Jesus came in the name of the Father (John 5:43; 10:25).  What Jesus spoke to us, we know to be the words, and will of the Father.  John 5:19 – Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

In the same way, as ambassadors for Jesus, filled with His Holy Spirit, we are to know His will.  He trusts us to speak for Him, not only to every person that we speak to on this planet, but when we speak in prayer to our Heavenly Father.  When we pray, we are to approach God with the assurance that, because of the Holy Spirit within us, and the Word of God, which we have been able to read and study, we do know His will, which is also the will of Jesus.  Our spirits are to be at one with the Holy Spirit.  When that is the case, then our prayers are truly said in the name of Jesus, as His trusted representatives, speaking His will, His desires.  Wow.  What an awesome thought!  It is no wonder Jesus said he would be present when 2 or 3 were gathered in His will!  I see it!  He says, “I see 2 or 3 saints gathered together.  They are all in sync with My will, one with My Spirit.  That is where I am going to be right now.”

So why is it that so often we find ourselves unsure of what Jesus’ will is?  The very simple answer is that we have not taken the time to build our relationship with Him.  How can we know what Jesus’ will is, if we don’t know who He is or anything about Him?  How can our prayers be in sync with what He desires, if we don’t know what He likes and dislikes?  There is more to knowing Jesus than believing that He is the Son of God and good.  Study the words He has written.  And take time to talk them over with Him over a cup of coffee, or tea.  Seek His understanding and His wisdom.  When you are in a time of crises, or at a crossroads and need to know His will, there is not enough time to develop this kind of relationship with Him.  You can’t know His will then.  Start building now.  Then when the hard times, or the questions come, you will know His will, and will only need to seek to understand it.

My God, My Horoscope

BLACH!!!  That title just leaves me choking, just to write it!!  So before I go further, I HAVE to correct that…I do not worship my horoscope!  I don’t ever look at my horoscope.  My horoscope is not mine.  My God is the ONLY God.  My God is THE God who created all things.  MY God is THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GOD.  I WORSHIP my GOD.  My horoscope is NOT from my God…in fact, it IS from my enemy, the enemy of my God.  There.  Now I feel better.  Ewe, that was a yucky feeling!

So.  I will give you one guess as to what this blog post is about:-)  You’ve got it!  Horoscopes, and maybe a word or two thrown in about all those “psychics” that are making a comeback on television commercials.

How many Christians, self-proclaimed worshipers of the one true God, check their horoscope?  How many look at it for guidance?  Scary.  How many read it just for fun…you know, kicks and giggles?  Still scary.  I don’t know how many read their horoscopes.  But I will tell you this.  If one is too many, then the number of them I see on Facebook, and hear in conversations, are far, far, FAR too many!

Okay.  Soapbox time is over.  Now, let’s step to the table of learning.  Why is this such a bad thing?  Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.  Let me tell you.  To the Scriptures!

Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  :  God alone is God.  Anything, and everything else, was created by Him, and is either inanimate, or without the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, wisdom and knowledge of the only true God…why bother worshiping anyone, or anything else?  Worshiping anything else is idol worship, which really, really displeases God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  :  If you need instruction on how to live,  try the Bible.  It is all the wisdom and instruction of God Himself.  What better advice could you ask for?  Seriously!  If God’s Word is not good enough to guide you, then I don’t know what else would be.  Who knows more about you, and about this world, and all the people you relate to, and all the situations you find yourself in, and all the decisions you need to make, than God???  Why turn to the stars?  Do they have the mind of God?  They don’t have a mind at all!

1 Peter 1:3 – “as His [Jesus] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue….”  :  Along with the God-breathed (inspired) Scriptures, we also have Jesus, who, through His Spirit, gives us all the things/wisdom we need to live a godly life.  If you are a Christian, then the Spirit of Jesus lives inside of you…with you ALL THE TIME.  Literally knows you inside and out.  Yet one who seeks the “wisdom” of horoscopes would trust their decisions to a little phrase written by a total stranger in such a vague way that is virtually guaranteed to come true in all or in part for every single of the millions of people who read it that day.  Makes sense.  Total ambiguity and anonymity vs the One who knows me better than I know myself.

Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  &  James 4:14-15 – “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'”  :  We cannot predict the future.  Some random, obscure fortune, based on what the stars look like in the sky can certainly not predict our future.  Only God knows what will happen today, tomorrow or 100 years from now.

Isaiah 8:19-20 (NCV) – “Some people say, ‘Ask the mediums and fortune-tellers, who whisper and mutter, what to do.’  But I tell you that people should ask their God for help.  Why should people who are still alive ask something from the dead?  You should follow the teachings and the agreement with the Lord.  The mediums and fortune-tellers do not speak the word of the Lord, so their words are worth nothing.”  :  See the psychics in here?  If they do not follow the teachings of God, then the word of the Lord is not in them.  If the word of the Lord is not in them, THEIR WORDS ARE WORTH NOTHING.  And let me ask this.  If they, the psychics are not of God, who do you suppose they are of?  If they are not for God, then they are against Him.  And if they are against Him, they are for the enemy.  And if you open the door to give the Devil, the enemy, a foothold, he will push that door open and mess with you in ways you are not prepared for.

Galatians 4:8-11 – “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.  But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?  You observe days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”  :  Paul didn’t get it either.  If you know God.  And you have been known by God, you have a relationship with Him, you know His greatness, why in the world would you want to turn to a star for advice?  Why would you seek the wisdom of the moon in making a decision?  Do you really think the flaming ball of gas known as the sun will take notice of you and shine an extra bright ray of light on the perfect path that is meant just for you?   You would get the same level of guidance from the crack in the sidewalk you tripped on last week.

Maybe your are one of those Christians who reads your horoscope for kicks and giggles.  You are not really seeking it’s wisdom.  But let me ask you this question:  how often does something happen and you say, “Hey!  That is what my horoscope said would happen!”  You have just given credit to something other than God.  You have given that horoscope legitimacy, and thus given it power in your life, even though it may be minimal, it is there.  As mentioned earlier, once the foot is in the door, it is that much easier to open.  I am not saying, by any means, that horoscope readers are opening the door for Satanic worship.  What I am saying is that you are opening the door to hear his lies, and increasing the likelihood that you will be led astray by his deceptions.  We Christians have enough battles in this world without giving the devil a foothold!

Ephesians 6:11, 14a – “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.”  Horoscopes are not the truth of God.  His word, and His Spirit are the truths of God.

Joshua 24:15 – “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which you fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.”

 

*All Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

 

Fasting: Intimacy with God

Recently my Sunday School class has begun a study on fasting.  It is based on a book, and led by the author on a dvd.  We listen and discuss.  I missed the first 2 sessions, and was finally able to attend the 3rd one last week.  I have to say that I left feeling really uncomfortable with what the man said.  Some of it really rang true of the Doctrine of Prosperity.  If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is the teaching that God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy and as soon as you give your life to Him, and give your money to His ministry, you will be healthy, wealthy, and happy.  It is a false doctrine that is not true to what the Bible teaches.  Jesus himself warned that those who followed Him would face trials and persecution.  He also warned that it is very difficult for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God…because with wealth, the temptation is so great to rely on self, rather than God, which is not the way to salvation (Jesus alone is the way, the truth and the life).  The apostle Paul stressed that when we are weakest, God’s strength shines through.  How then does it seem right to say that God wants us to be wealthy (and take the risk of being pulled away from Him), and healthy all the time (allowing us to live by our own strength, and not the strength of God).  And happy?  There is a difference between being happy (superficially, based on current circumstances) and filled with the joy of the Lord (the hope that we have in His presence at all times).

Back to fasting.  The author of the series said some things that sounded right.  But he also said some things that made me cringe.  He encouraged fasting as a way to breakthroughs in your prayers.  To sum up, when we fast, God takes extra notice and bam!  Miracles and answered prayers!  The breakthrough in your financing that you have been praying for.  The healing, the deliverance from drugs, or homosexuality, or other sins.  I believe that God stirred His Spirit within me for a reason.  Do you pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding before you enter a place where His Word will be taught?  It is so important to seek His leading, even while we are being led by others.  False teaching abounds, even when that is not the intention, and we must be on guard at all times.  Seek the guidance of the Spirit, our Counselor, so that we won’t be led astray.  1 John 4:1 tells us we are to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

I left Sunday School last week determined to do just that.  I went to the back of my Bible and wrote down every verse that mentioned fast, fasting, fasted, and I began to read those verses and the ones surrounding it.  I spent time praying and studying what the Bible says about fasting.  The following is what I learned.  At the end of this post, I will include the Bible references that I learned from so that you can test the spirits also.

What fasting is:

Fasting is a sacrifice on our part with the intention of drawing near to God.  It comes from a repentant heart that seeks to be in the presence of God with an intimacy that removes all other distractions.  It is an offering of oneself in a way that is pure and complete.  During this time of fasting, we are held up in our weakness by the power of God.  We experience His strength in a way that we can’t when our focus is divided.  In the act of fasting, we bring honor and glory to God.  Fasting is purely relational.  Because it is just between us and God, it is intimate in its very nature.  It is a longing to be near Him, to adore Him, to be completely fulfilled and satisfied by Him.  It is the opportunity to give Him our undivided attention, to pour out our souls to Him.  When we are so closely connected to our Father, then we are so much more able to hear Him speak to us, and see His hand at work around us.  We benefit in this time of nearness by knowing Him more deeply.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights after being baptized and before being tempted by Satan.  He didn’t fast for a miraculous breakthrough.  He fasted to draw near to His Father and glean strength from Him.

Prayer in times of fasting are linked in Isaiah 58 and Acts 10 to the obedience of the person praying…obedience specifically related to helping the poor, the needy, the destitute, the oppressed.  God says that He hears and answers the prayers of those who give to those in need.  Then they will experience light in the darkness, healing, God’s guidance and protection, satisfaction of the soul, strengthening of your bones, and God’s provision.

The one time fasting is specifically linked with a miracle/answered prayer is when Jesus said that a particular demon responds only to prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21).  This would be a very specific situation that I believe the Holy Spirit would direct and inspire to the result that the demon would be exorcised and God would be glorified.

Fasting is not to be a method of manipulation, an attempt to get God to answer your prayers in the way that you want Him to.  Before you shoot me down, consider what the Israelites were doing in Isaiah 58.  They fasted and prayed every 5th and 7th month during their 70 years of captivity.  But God did not listen to them.  Why?  They were fasting for themselves.  Mourning what they had lost.  Praying for what they wanted back.  But what they didn’t get was that fasting was about God…repenting, drawing near to Him, seeking His will, and living in obedience to Him by meeting the needs of the poor, and observing the Sabbath…to worship God.  How does our fasting tend to look?  Is it our heart’s desire to be nearer to God and seek His will?  Or do we say, “Hey!  Look at me!  See what I am doing here?  I am fasting!  I am making the supreme sacrifice so that You will hear me.  Now please answer my prayer!  I need a financial breakthrough…I need my relative to give up alcohol…I need my child to turn from immorality or homosexuality…I need so and so to be healed….”  I am not saying we cannot, or should not pray for healing while fasting.  But we must be aware of our motives, the attitude of our heart.  Is it pure?  What is our intention?  Are we praying and fasting for our will?  Or the will of God and for His glory?

Prayer, with faith the size of a mustard seed, can move mountains, can bring healing, when it is the will of God.  Fasting, with the right attitude of the heart, and obedience in giving, will glorify God first and foremost, will deepen and strengthen our relationship with Him, and will seek His will above all.  Fasting is not about getting our way, it is about worship – profound, intimate worship.

Scripture references:  Joel 1:1-15 (vs 14), Zechariah 7:1-14 (vs5), Nehemiah 1:1-11 (vs 4), Daniel 9:1-19 (vs 3-4), Psalm 35:11-14, Psalm 109:1-31 (vs 24), Isaiah 58:1-14, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 4:1-2, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 2:37, Luke 18:9-14, Acts 10:24-33 (vs 30).

Predestination

Christmas Eve found me visiting at the church of a family member this year.  While the message was not about predestination, the topic was raised.  I had never heard of the doctrine of predestination until my teen years when my parents began attending a church that adhered to it.  What a disturbing thought!  The idea that God handpicks a certain few people out of the world to be his children, and tosses the others aside really bothered me.  It left me with this terrible uncertainty…how could I know if I was one of those chosen people?  There was no guarantee!  Even though I had asked Jesus in my heart as a four year old, I might not know if I was actually going to Heaven until I got there…or didn’t.  It was an awful feeling, and a weight that I carried until someone outside of that church described it to me this way:  God calls all people outside of the gates of Heaven to Him.  A sign above the gate says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden.”  Those who chose to come to God enter the gates.  When they turn to look back where they came from, they see a sign above the inside of the gate that says, “You were chosen before the foundation of the world.”  As a teenager, that was enough to settle the matter for me.

On Christmas Eve I sat in church with my four boys, and several nieces and nephews, and cringed when the pastor made it plain that the doctrine of predestination was still alive and well in that church.  I missed the rest of the sermon because I was busy researching my Bible.  As the Lord has taken me through the past few years of my walk with Him, I have learned a very important lesson…read the Bible!  The context of verses is so important to understanding their true meaning, as is researching what the Bible says in other places about the same topic.  I have said this before in more than one post, but it is so important!  I don’t think I can emphasize it enough!  As I researched the predestination topic, I also prayed…the other vital part of learning what God says in His Word.  If you don’t have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you read and study, you cannot understand the Word (1 Cor. 2:14).  There is my sidebar soapbox:-)

Let me show you the verses the pastor read.  Ephesians 1:4-5 (NKJV) – just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

The predestination doctrine is the view that God picks those whom He chooses, as He pleases, to be those who are called sons of God.  The first verse that came to mind in rebuttal to this was John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“That whoever believes in Him….”  Doesn’t it bug the bajeebies out of you when the Bible appears to contradict itself?!  How can it be both ways?  Does salvation come to anyone who believes, as Jesus said in John 3:16, or is salvation given only to those favorites chosen by God, as some understand Paul to say in Ephesians?  Allow me to mix things up a little bit more for you.  John 1:12-13 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

If you read those verses just right, you might be able to see the messages of both Jesus and Paul!  But I didn’t put that verse in here to confuse you, I put it in to clear things up.  Lets take a moment to break this down.

John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Jesus would have eternal life.  That means the door is open to anyone and everyone, so long as they believe.  The call to salvation is to the world, the whole world…also stated in the same verse.  John 1:12-13 also states that anyone who receives Jesus has the right to become a child of God.

John 1:13 seems to indicate that becoming a child of God is through the will of God only, and could be seen as God choosing.  Put that together with Ephesians 1:4-5 and the idea that people are predestined to adoption as God’s children, and it appears that indeed only an elite few chosen by God will be His children.

Here is the problem.  John 3:16 is a direct quote of Jesus Himself…and the words of John 1:12-13, and Ephesians 1:4-5 are words written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of the same Jesus through John and Paul.  And yet, none of these three lied, or were wrong.

Salvation, adoption as children of God, is available to anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus (Jo 3:16, Jo. 1:12.  That is the plain fact of the gospel.  That salvation/adoption is offered and provided by the will of God, as opposed to the will of man (Jo. 1:13).  It is not something man can do for himself in any way, shape, or form.  So God chooses to adopt those who believe.  He doesn’t chose who will believe.  This is true.  It is established in the Scriptures, and it is our base.

Consider for a moment the audience.  Jesus’, and John’s audience in the book of John, are people who have not heard the gospel message.  The intent was to share the path to salvation.  This is what it is, this is how you get it…believe.  Paul’s audience, however, is a church of already-believers.  Their salvation has already been established.  So why talk about predestination, unless it is not their salvation that is predestined, but rather what comes with the salvation that is predestined for those who chose to believe.

God decided, from the foundation of the world, that those who would accept His plan of salvation (the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for their sins), would be predestined to adoption as His children.  First you believe.  Once you believe, then it has already been predetermined that you would be adopted as God’s child, but you, and every person to ever live, is first given the opportunity to chose whether or not to believe.  Conversely, those who do not chose to believe would then, by a natural assumption, be predestined to not become children of God.  But it always starts with the personal choice of each human.

In the beginning God knew that sin would enter the world that He had created, and that He would need to have a plan to save it from the natural course of destruction that came with it.  He also knew that not everyone would chose to accept His plan, no matter who much He loved them and wanted them to.  And He would not force them to.   So He decided, then and there, before any of us were here, pre-decided…predestined, that those who did accept His plan, who chose Him (not the other way around), He would adopt as His children, to be holy and without blame.

So going back to the illustration of the heavenly gates…God calls all people to Him.  The sign above the gate saying “Come to me…” is accurate.  Some turn away and choose not to enter.  But those who do enter turn to see, this:  I decided long ago that, if you entered these gates, I would adopt you…welcome my child.

 

The Center of God’s Word

The very center of the Bible is a short Psalm. Did you know that? Psalm 117, only 2 verses. And I bet you can’t guess what it talks about. What did God chose to put at the very center, perhaps it could be said the heart, of His Word? Praise.

“All you nations, praise The Lord. All you people, praise Him because The Lord loves us very much, and His truth is everlasting. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:1-2, NCV)

Is this a coincidence? A mere happinstance? NOT A CHANCE!!! The Bible is God’s Word. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16). If God gave the words to write to the writers of the Bible, why would He not also guide those who put all the writings together into one Book? I cannot believe that any of the Bible happened by accident. It all happened by the hand of God.

Did God know the center of the Bible would tell us to praise Him? You bet He did! Did He know that someday, someone would figure out what the very middle of the Bible was? Of course! The core of our faith is in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and as our Savior. The core of our response must be PRAISE!!! On this Thanksgiving day, remember from whom all things come. Direct your thanksgiving to Him in praise and worship. All glory and honor and praise be to the God of the Bible!!!!

When The Spirit Calls

What is your calling?  If you are a follower of Christ, God has a job for you.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:4- 11 (ESV) that there are many Spiritual gifts.  The list here is not exclusive, but a sampling.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”

He also stresses that each member of the Church is a part of the body  (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).  As we all know, if one part of the body does not do it’s work, life becomes considerably more complicated for the rest of the body.  There may even be times when, because of the inability to use a certain part of the body, the body as a whole will be unable to carry out a given task at all.   For example, my parents are both blind.  The part of their bodies that see (their eyes), do not work.  It is impossible for them to use a camera to take a picture.  We have few family photos available to us.  Most are those that were taken by extended family members at big family gatherings.  When I was old enough to have a camera, my parents gave one to me, and after that time, we have more printed proof of our existence.  Prior to that, taking pictures was just something that my parents could not do.   People with disabilities exist all over the world.  And, for the most part, they are able to lead normal, productive lives.  But there are always some things that they just can’t do.  It is a fact of life.

When you put this into the perspective of the church, that is very disconcerting, however.  Imagine parts of the church body refusing to do the work they are given.  This is a big body, the Church.  If large numbers of Christians decide that they are just going to come along for the ride, how many things are we collectively unable to accomplish for the Lord?  Could God call in someone else to do your job, answer your calling in place of you?  Sure He could, and He does!  God can do anything.  My parents did receive pictures taken by family members and friends…but their were gaps.  None of them lived with us.  No one was there to take a picture of my first steps, or the first time I rode a bike.  When God needs to call someone else to fill in for you, what gaps are there in the work He has called you to?  Consider this.  When God calls someone to fill your shoes, who fills the shoes of the person who has to fill yours?  Do you see my point?

What if Mary, the mother of Jesus, had chosen not to receive God’s calling?  I know, I know.  God would have chosen someone else.  Yes.  And He would have made it work.  God will always see that His will is done.  But there is something else.  What would Mary have missed out on?  Oh my!  How terribly sad she would have been to someday realize that she passed up the opportunity to be the mother of the very Son of God!!!!  Difficult as her calling was at times, she was so blessed by it as well.  More than I’m sure she could have ever imagined.

So what is the Spirit calling you to?  Consider the desires of your heart.  Is there some area that you have felt the Spirit’s nudging in?  Ask Him to reveal His will to you.  He is just waiting for you to be willing.  If you feel you have received a call, but are uncertain, ask God to confirm it for you.  Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel, but her cousin Elizabeth confirmed it when the Holy Spirit filled her and she recognized Mary as the mother of the Savior.  I know others, myself included, for whom God has provided a confirmation of their calling.  Don’t view asking for a confirmation as doubting God.  If you are truly seeking His leading, He call you in ways that are very clear, but He will also provide confirmation of His call in equally clear ways.

The next question is, will you obey His call?  Oh yes!  I did say that!  Obey.  Are you going to obey His call?  God has given you a spiritual gift, and a purpose.  To not use them for His service, His glory and honor, is to disobey His call in your life.  Consider the story of the 3 servants in Matthew 25:14-30.  Each servant was given a number of coins to use for the Master.  The first and second servants both doubled the coins they were given.  And the Master rewarded them.  The third, however, sat on his coins and did nothing.  The response of the Master was to call him a wicked and lazy servant!  His coins were taken away, and he was sent away, where he would have to anguish over his failure.  I don’t know about you, but that is not the response I want from my King!  It might be difficult to obey His calling.  It might be scary at times.  I have had to battle Satan on many occasions because he does not want me to obey God.  But I will be jiggered (my grandpa’s word) if I am going to stand before Jesus someday and be called wicked and lazy!  I desire nothing more than to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:21).

I heard a pastor on the radio this week share a quote from an anonymous note he was given years ago.  “God’s commandments are our enablements.”  What a great quote!  You may think that you cannot do what God has asked of you.  You may be frightened by His call.  You may hear the doubts and lies that Satan fills your head with.  Do not forget this:  If God has called you to do something, He will give you whatever it takes for you to accomplish His will.  You are simply the tool for the work He will do through you.  God does not expect you to do this all by yourself!  Be bold!   Be faithful!  Answer His call now, and God bless you as you do!!!

Still Small Voice

Yesterday was one of those days. I had an unusually long work week. Ten-plus hour days three, maybe four of the days. On top of that we discovered that one of our boys was terribly behind in school work (partly my fault…long story), so in the little time I wasn’t at work, I was trying to help him figure things out and get caught up. My husband pitched in by making meals, and throwing in some laundry. I did bits and pieces of the dishes, whatever we needed to survive through the next day. Friday night is usually grocery night, so that I can spend Saturday catching up. But I worked so late Friday, I had to get groceries on Saturday. And getting groceries for a family with 5 men/boys for an entire week is no easy task. It literally takes hours. Then we can toss in the 2 younger boys who were with me on the trip because my husband and the 2 older boys were helping Grandma and Grandpa with work around their house. So now my grocery trip was extended by boys who would have much rather been playing…and found the way to do that in every aisle of the store.

I knew that if I didn’t spend time with God right away in the morning, I would be a hopeless cause. So I forced myself to sit and read, and attempt to pray…while the groceries, dishes and laundry waited. No matter how hard I tried, I could not give God the attention I usually strive to give. Finally I loaded the boys in the car and we started on the 20 minute drive to town. Actually, we went right through town, and another 10 miles to the pumpkin farm. Things went fairly well. We enjoyed wandering around the farm looking at the various pumpkins and gourds, pulling a large wagon behind and heaving the biggest ones on board. We loaded them in the front and back seat of the car because we needed to save the trunk for a week’s worth of groceries. Then back to town for lunch…and battle. Of course, by the time we actually got to the first store, I was viewing my watch with panic. I was edgy, impatient, and certainly did not look like a woman after God’s heart.

The grocery trip seemed to drag on and on. My attitude was horrible. I can’t say that I even tried to pray. I was so fixated on my list, the time, and the distractions my boys were making, that there was no way I could see Jesus in the chaos. I could hear Him calling to me, though. Way back at the back of my mind, where I had pushed Him. Ever-so-faintly. I couldn’t even make out what He was saying. It really was just a vague awareness of Him trying to reach me. I was too busy to stop and acknowledge Him. There was too much on my list to do to take a break and see what He wanted. Besides, I had already given Him His time in the morning.

By the time we arrived home, and unloaded the groceries from the car, I was softening just a bit. What I wanted most was to just plug in the Roku, turn on Star Trek Voyager, and let my mind get lost in another world while I started the laundry, put away the bags and bags of food, and wash the dishes. The boys went outside to play, and I wrestled with TV and Roku cords…until I gave up and grudgingly worked in silence. It was now 6:30 p.m.

God was still calling to me. I turned on the Christian radio station, thinking maybe singing some praises would help bring me out of this funk. It wasn’t really working. I knew my heart was not right, and I had treated my boys badly, so I called them in to apologize for being impatient and unkind. Now maybe I could move on. I sought God’s forgiveness…as I continued to rush through my work.

At 8:00 p.m. my husband and older boys arrived home, fed and tired. Now I needed to come up with something to feed the little boys, and I was just putting the finishing touches on the groceries (it takes longer when you work on the laundry and dishes at the same time). My husband said something to me…and I snapped. I cried that I was trying, and that I had been battling all day, and I was failing at every turn. Now, with food on the table for myself and the little ones, I finally dropped down to my chair and prayed. I confessed with a truly contrite heart, and did what I should have done hours before, give my list of to-do’s to Him, and ask Him to help me. The tears streamed down my face as I admitted, once again, that I can’t do this without Him. And I can’t change me. I need Him to change me. I surrendered…again…to Him. Sigh.

The irony is that God was getting me ready for this difficult day. He warned me. A day or so before, I read a blog post that I use in my devotions. The woman talked about how she was snapping at her husband while under stress…right after praising God in her devotion time. I nodded my head because I knew what that was like.

Later I read 1 Kings 19:11-13 when the discouraged prophet Elijah called out to God. “The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, stand in front of me on the mountain, and I will pass by you.’ Then a very strong wind blew until it caused the mountains to fall apart and large rocks to break in front of The Lord. But The Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but The Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but The Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a quiet, gentle sound. When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” [Some versions say ‘a still, small voice.’]

Then I read Psalm 46:10 – “God says, ‘Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be supreme over all the nations; I will be supreme in the earth.'”

Yesterday, I read the story in Matthew 14 of when Jesus walked on water. Peter joined him and was able to walk on the wind-blown waves…as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. As soon as he looked away, he began to sink.

If I need this many warnings, and more, it is a wonder God doesn’t give up on me! But He doesn’t. He didn’t. He called to me with patience, but persistence, until I returned. What I needed most of all was to keep my eyes on Him, through the strong wind, through the earthquake, and through the fire, so that I could be still and hear His still, small voice Then He could hold my feet up to walk on the waves. As soon as I did that, I had the peace that comes from the source of all peace. I also had the resources to fight the spiritual battle that took place afterwards, when Satan realized he lost.

I am so grateful that God does not show Himself in the strong wind, earthquake and fire when He calls to us! He is patient! He waits. And He allows us to chose to come to Him. He could force us, or frighten us into coming with His greatness and power. Instead, He comes to us in a whisper. Shhh. A still, small voice down in the deepest recesses of our beings, calling, gently, lovingly, patiently, unwaveringly. You hear Him. You know His voice. Come back, and walk on water!

walking on the narrow path.

walking on the narrow path with Jesus

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