Walking in the Dark

It isn’t easy to walk in the dark and it is far more dangerous. Jim Cymbala, of the new book, Spirit Rising, told a story of his dark adventure. One night, as a small boy, he was walking in the dark, when he stubbed his toe on a container he had not previously known was there. He made this observation, had he been walking with the light on, he would have been able to see what was in front of him.

Most of us would like to know – “what is in front of me.” If we knew what God had planned we might not be so anxious about giving up. Quitting would not be in my vocabulary if I could see my tomorrow. My wife and I have anxiously followed a small newborn, still in the hospital after some months, with several complications. The mother posted a picture of the child at birth and one this past weekend; the difference was remarkable, untold miracles have enveloped this child since birth, giving him the strength and life. Looking back the Mother can say, God has been faithful.

But you say, I need something right now! Walking in the dark with an unknown future is difficult, to say the least, but here are three distinct points to remember.

God’s presence is magnified in the dark. The presence of God is most cherished when I have walked through the dry time, wrestled with my emotions and worried through the problem. God is so close during the difficult days. Tears are easy to come by but God’s hand lifting me up and keeping me courageous is encouraging each and every day.

My daughter recently bought a night-light in case one of her two boys gets up during the night. But the night-light is off through the night but comes on when someone passes by. You may not see God’s presence when you want to but in the dark, when you are walking alone, the light comes on. God’s presence is magnified in the dark.

God’s promises are exemplified in the dark. It is in the low times, the dry times and the dark times that the Word of God becomes most precious. The Bible is not filled with just poetry and prose but promises. Promises of His faithfulness. “…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). You are not alone. Cry out to Him right now. Look in the Bible and find the lit path in your dark time. Psalms 119:105  “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

God’s peace is found in the dark. Finding peace in the middle of the storm and finding peace in the middle of turmoil is unknown to some who may not know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord but God is able to bring a peace that calms the heart in the worst of the night. Don’t cry yourself to sleep – pray yourself to sleep. Philippians 4:7  “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Peace is mentioned over 400 times in scripture and you can find some peace in your darkness.

Comment below: Shout Out! of a dark time in your life when God gave you His presence, promise or His peace.

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Family Prayer

When our children were preschoolers we would have a regular scheduled time for prayer and Bible story time. Each evening the children would climb on the couch for daddy to tell a story, take prayer requests and pray with each one. Later on when my children grew to be teens, praying together as a family was a directive for their relationships, school work and other pursuits. Now, my children are married and have children of their own, what a great delight to know they pray with their children each night before bedtime.

The Gospels record Jesus inviting the children to come to Him. Family prayer has many benefits but let me name just a few:

It is a great time for the family to talk about pressing issues. Families don’t get enough time to have meaningful conversations about moral, economical or relational subjects and the time of Family Prayer can open up discussion of these vital topics. It is found among teens, they will follow whoever listens to them.

It is a great time to express our love for each other. My wife and I would often thank Jesus for each other while praying, reinforcing our love and commitment to each other at our family time of prayer. Holding the children in your lap and praying a blessing over them not only has biblical roots but can open the door for your child to receive what God has in store for each child.

It is a great time to uncover the purpose for each child. Each person has a unique calling and purpose for life. Family prayer time can investigate the gifts of each child and expose them to various callings for their life.

It is a great time to pray for their protection. Each time you send your child into the public school you risk not seeing that child return in the same spirit. We must pray protection over their body, mind and spirit. The Israel customs were full of symbolism and in Exodus the description of putting blood on the doorposts to protect the family from the death angel, reminds us to plead the blood over our children for their protection in an evil world.

It is a great time to memorize the Word of God together. With all the functions, activities and events of the local church, there is nothing as powerful as the family memorizing the Word of God together. En-grafting the Word of God in our mind and life is an awesome insurance for the lives of our children. Deuteronomy  6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

“Who Needs a Miracle!”

“I need a Miracle!” We have heard more than once from a desperate soul crying out for a Divine intervention in their lives. But does God do miracles anymore? There certainly is a great need; a pastor facing cancer, friends whose 3-year-old passed away this week, a baby in Kentucky fighting for its life, and many, many more.

Miracles aren’t always big. My daughter testified of her burning eye she had accidentally scratched and after prayer, the burn succeeded and the pain quit. If God does miracles, you might ask, then why don’t we see more? Good questions and frankly, I don’t have all the answers but here are four things I know about miracles.

First, miracles happen to those who expect them.  Dr Thomas Lindberg, Senior Pastor of First Assembly of God Church of Memphis, writes, “God does not send miracles merely where they are needed; God sends miracles where they are expected.” When Moses put his rod down into the Jordan River he fully expected God to do something. In fact, all through the Gospels, people cried out to Jesus, they knew He could perform a miracle and not one left disappointed.

Secondly, miracles happen when all other means of an answer are swept away.  Our deficiency is God’s sufficiency. Our lack is His opportunity. When we have no one else to turn to, nowhere else to go and no more answers – Jesus shows up in magnificent splendor and does the impossible. Miracles don’t happen so we can be arrogant with our own self-righteousness, our abilities or our wealth but He shows up to the beggar, the blind, the broke and the berated.

Third, miracles happen when you pray. Prayer is the key to unlock heaven’s resources. Prayer puts me in the place where we are able to trust Him. Prayer melts my heart, soothes my fears and enables me to place my hand in His hand. Faith moves mountains but prayer moves God. Persistent, fervent and heartfelt prayer turns circumstances around and breaks the bonds of the enemy.

Last, miracles don’t always happen the way I prayed it. My thoughts and God’s thought don’t always line up. He is infinite and I am finite. He is strong and I am weak. He is omniscient and I know very little. God started working things out weeks ago so we could have answers to our prayers today. However, God decides to answer my prayers I must trust He will answer when I pray, even though the answer may not come the way I expected.

Stressed Out? This is for you!

A recent Gallup poll notes that over 80 percent of Americans feel stressed out at least some of the time and nearly half noting those feelings frequently. Stress is found at jobs, homes, and while driving. Life is supposedly easier and more efficient but has become more complex. American Psychological Association reports the top cause of stress is Money, followed by work and thirdly by the economy. We hear it on the news, collapse. foreclosures, ruin, and the uncertainty is beginning to take its toll on us. With 290 million people owning a TV we are constantly bombarded with bad news, this barrage of negative information is having tremendous effects on the souls and minds of men and women.

After a Doctor’s visit, a friend of mine told me his bronchitis was  not clearing up and the doctor had prescribed a double dosage of the medicine he was taking. As a result of bad news slapping us in the face day after day we need a double dosage to correct the stress. Stress can cause headaches, muscle cramps, stomach problems, anger, and a host of other problems. Many times relationships are put to the test because of the stress around them.

We need a double dosage to relieve the stress of today.

First, double dosage your prayer. One preacher asked the question, “Is your prayer life adequate for the pressures you are facing?” Simply question but a difficult one to answer. But increasing the amount of time may not be the best answer; maybe creating a more fervent and heartfelt prayer is a better answer. Praying until God’s presence begins to soothe your doubts and fears. Inviting God into your todays and tomorrows is the beginning of a peaceful present. As Grace Hansen said, “Don’t be afraid your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.”

Secondly, double dosage your Bible reading. Begin today with the three M’s; Memorize, Meditate, Make it your own. By taking the word of God and bringing it into your life, you are diluting the power of the world and increasing the power of the Spirit.  Look at James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. The antidote for filthiness and naughtiness is to “engraft” the Word of God. “Engraft” means implanted, to “make it your own,” to make it personal. Bring the Word of God into your own life.

Thirdly, double dosage your faith. The quicker you get rid of the thing that weighs you down the better you will feel. That’s why , 1 Peter 5:7 says, Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. “Cast” means to throw away, God encourages us to throw away our worry and anxieties because He cares for us. His concern for you and His care for you is deeper than anyone else you can depend on. The word “careth” in this scripture implies that God “continues to care” for you – He never quits. Leave your stress in the hands of Jesus and watch the strength of the stress disappear.

 

How Do I Please God?

In the life and ministry of Jesus Christ there was no question that He lived to please God, the Father. Jesus stated in John 8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. His works, His life, His ministry, His everyday path, was well pleasing to God. In fact,God declared in a loud thunderous voice, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

But the question is, “How do I please the Lord?” I have failed in trying to please some people but I desire, cry for and long for a life that is well pleasing to Him. So I ask myself the question and maybe you also, “How do I please the Lord?”

The scriptures mention a warning in Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Simply stated, pleasing God is a spiritual path not a fleshly pursuit. I must follow Him in Spirit and not try to gain His attention through the flesh. This makes it more defined as to the purpose of my desire to please Him.

Scripturally, there are three distinctive to pleasing God:

First, to please God is to praise Him. Psalms 69:30-31 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD …” To please God is to worship God. Praise His Name, sing, magnify Him and give Him thanks, attracts God’s pleasure. Break out in a song, worship Him and He will have pleasure in your voice.

Secondly, to please God is to have faith in God. Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. To believe Him is to please Him. Simply trusting in God that He will do what He said He will do, pleases Him.

Thirdly, to please God is through obedience to God. 1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.  Say “yes” to God and “no” to the devil is a simple formula with big results. Listening to His voice and living in obedience to Him pleases God. To fine tune your spirit to be in accord with His voice and to listen to Him and then to follow in obedience is well pleasing to the Lord.

Why Facebook and Blogging?

Some may ask the question why use Facebook as a social media tool? Why write a blog?  Simply, it attracts readers.

Some 46% of men use social media and read blogs while 54% of women do. Of the people who own tablets and smart phones, most use text mostly, social media, secondly, then talk last. Current media  status means reaching out in all dimensions. I must admit I enjoy my iPhone, iPad, and Facebook but moderation is the key word.

One prominent speaker recently declared we are losing our sense of personal relationship and effective communication because of electronic overload. What was viewed as a oppportunity for greater communication has actually developed into the lack of communication. The old advertising line for a bygone phone company, “reach out and touch someone.” doesn’t make too much sense in a digital age where we text but don’t talk,and we Facebook but don’t ever get face to face.

While some have found it hard to turn off the electronic device, the challenge is being made, let’s go through electronic withdrawal. Let’s pick up the phone to talk with someone we haven’t talked to in a long time. Let’s pick up a pen and paper and write a heartfelt note to someone we love. Let’s get real again. Let’s engage in real communication. Let’s really “reach out and touch someone.”

Why I choose to go to church

Two well known bloggers wrote popular blogs on why they quit church and many people have left churches for less reasons than thy noted on their blog. Although this is not a new concept, people have been leaving church since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but has been enhanced with the idea with “we left the church but didn’t leave Jesus.” This blog is not intended to be a rebuttal to these bloggers but a request for each of us to examine our own heart and lives and ask the question, “Why church?”

1. It isn’t my church – it is His church. Jesus said, “I will build my church,” Notice the use of the word “my” not mine but His. I must come to the reality of coming together as a church is to become an integral part of the church He is building.

2. Jesus likened the church to His body. The church is the vehicle for Christ to exhibit His life into regular, imperfect people. There will never be a perfect children’s ministry, a perfect pastor or a perfect church but God takes this imperfect mass of people and brings them together as His body.

3. The church is God’s way of reaching a community. A Spirit filled church makes a difference in the community – one soul at a time. Churches create a moral climate in the community, provide an anchor for marriages and an evangelistic thrust.

4. Church is a place of accountability. The strong moral compass of the Holy Spirit through a body of believers enables me to stay in an arena of truth.

5. Children need a strong moral stability surrounding them. Church does not replace parental moorings of biblical truth but support it. Parents have a biblical obligation to “raise up a child in the way they should go,” and the church offers a spiritual atmosphere to encourage parental teaching. Plus, provide an environment to back up what parents are teaching.

6. Church is a place to give. I know there are those who choose to support a tv ministry but I choose to bring my tithes “into the storehouse,” where the funds can be used to help local shelters, feed those in my community, provide programs for children and teenagers, and to support home and world missions, as well as, the present pastor.

7. There is strength in numbers. The church congregation can do more together than I can do alone.

8. One day I may need a Pastor. A death in the family, a hospital stay or a marriage breakup are just three of the hundreds of reasons why someone could need to have a Pastor present in my home or praying for me.

9. The times we are living in requires church attendance The Bible says, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” (pretty straightforward) and, it continues, “even more as you see ( evil) days approaching.” We need each other now more than ever.

10. The church is likened to marriage. (Ephesians 5). Even as the union of Husband and wife is for “unto death do us part” so Christ and the Church (Bride) are to be inseparable and not divorced.

We Have This Treasure

Treasure hunters abound in Casino’s, “scratch to see if you have won” contests, lotteries and a myriad of scams. If money would solve the world’s problems then why aren’t rich people problem free?

The greatest treasure you have is the one buried down deep in your soul that God birthed within you as a child. This was the prophet Jeremiah’s proclamation in Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah received his purpose and anointing as a prophet while he was yet in his mother’s womb.

God put within you, when you were conceived, your purpose and calling. Throughout life you are on a treasure hunt to discover and allow this God birthed giftwithin you to flourish. Sometimes making money gets in the way, sometimes busyness gets in the way, and sometimes life gets in the way. 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

True happiness and joyful living is fleshing out the God ordained purpose within in. “Living the dream” is an often used expression used to describe the happy life and you can find it with these three treasure hunting secrets.

1.       Take some time in private to discover your most hidden desire. What would you do for God right now if you knew you would not fail? What lies within you that makes you most happy? Marriage, even though you may have the best marriage, cannot fulfill this deep desire within your heart. It must be found and it can only be found if you explore it.

2.       Write it down and display it in a prominent location where you see it every day. Dreams need to be remembered. A picture, a short paragraph describing your life mission or a scripture can be the “ump” you need to make it come alive, again.

3.       Pray about it! Prayer is the key to having doors open and miracles performed. Ask God to bring the anointing upon your life for the gift to bear fruit.

4.       Take small steps in the direction of your dream. Before my first mission trip, I opened a checking account and deposited $75, within one day it multiplied, until one year later I went on a mission’s trip, the funds coming out of an account started with a $75 deposit.