Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Almighty

                If you have been in church or around people who attend church you may pick up on church language. One such word is Almighty; have you ever stopped and wondered exactly what that word meant or was a reference to? For someone who did not grow up in church, I needed some clarity. So let us take a look at what the Almighty really means in definition and in application to our lives.
            1.       Technical
a.       The American Heritage Dictionary defines Almighty as: Omnipotent, Great, God.
b.      The Holman Bible Dictionary defines Almighty as: God, El Shaddai.
c.       Literarily this means that God has complete power and control over everything. He has total control. El Shaddai is used in the book of Job thirty one times. The book of Revelation uses this reference nine times.

If we take the time to stop for a moment and put away the business of our lives we can see God’s power and majesty revealed to us. We are never alone. Ever. But it is our choice on how close we get to God’s power and majesty. He invites us all each day to draw closer to Him. In fact, the closer we get to Him, the further we get away from the world. It is in His power that we find direction, healing and renewal. It is in His power that we find forgiveness for our enemies, strength to conquer addictions and grace for when we mess up.
2.       Application:
a.       Job suffered the loss of much: family, wealth, reputation, health and he struggles with the question Why? The test of Job’s faith and loyalty to God began in the heavens with a discussion between Satan and God and then moves through debates between Job and his friends.  Below are some key lessons we can learn from the book of Job:
b.      The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us. Job 7:17-18, 23:10
c.       Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees. Job 26:7
d.      Adversity is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God. Job 36
e.      God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. Job 42:7-17
f.        Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness Job 42:17
g.       Integrity and character are the foundations for leadership. Job 6:1-7:21

If you are reading this and wondering about God’s power in your life all I can do is share with you what He has done in my life. From the moment that I accepted Him into my heart and chose to let Him lead my life, I have found that God’s power meant that I did not have to rely on myself. It meant that when I needed someone to understand what was going on inside me, He was there and He understood. And fourteen years later He still understands and He is still there for me daily. I have seen His power at work directly in my life. And I shall continue to call upon my El Shaddai for the rest of my life. Sometimes I will be puzzled about why certain events happen or don’t happen but I will always love Him regardless.  And it is my prayer that you too will find the ultimate power in El Shaddai, the Almighty.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Whom You Belong

Don’t you know, child, to whom you belong?  You are Mine and no one else’s. I have put you in the care of those you have known on earth, the ones you call your mother, father, and friends.
But I am the one who formed you while you were yet in the womb and your father and mother did not know who you were. But I knew. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name; I name you though you don’t know me. I am the Lord and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none beside me; I am the Lord and there is no other. I form light and create darkness I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord who does all these things.  [Isaiah 45:4-7]

Don’t you know, child, to whom you belong? You are Mine and no one else’s.
You have not bought Me sweet cane with money; or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put me in remembrance let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right. Your first father sinned and your mediators transgressed against me. Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary and deliver Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling. But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring and My blessings on your descendants. [Isaiah 43:24-44:3]

Don’t you know, child, to whom you belong? You are Mine and no one else’s.
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. [Isaiah 45:3]

Don’t you know, child, to whom you belong? You are Mine and no one else’s.
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come ad be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall Glory. [Isaiah 45: 24-25]

My Child, the one I created, the one I formed, the one I know, do you know how I feel about you yet?
And now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him – for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength – he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you. [Isaiah 49:5-7]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shine Brightly

           As the sun shines brightly in the physical world so shall you, child of God, let the Son shine brightly inside your heart.

Cliché’, yes or no?  Do you agree in heart but wonder about the application of His light into your world? Do you see others and see a glow on their face or joy in their eyes and think wow, they must have it together, look at how happy they are? Do you think that you are singled out to have pain in each day of your life and sense you are alone in what you feel?

If you wonder how to let the Son shine brightly upon yourself and therefore on others I want to lead you to the color red: after all, the sun burns one to red if abused and the Son gives us red to avoid abuse……

Clear as Mud???

The red letters are spoken words of Christ recorded for each person to apply to their own life. They are there to teach us about the One we love, we worship and we cause pain to.

As we look at the children that we raise and the hurts that they cause us, can’t we apply that same look from Christ raising each one of us and the hurts that each one of us has caused Him. He will raise us up to a new height in belief and faith when we change our perspective…

Let us have a perspective that goes beyond the acceptable status of society in today’s world. Let us have the perspective of Christ in each action that we do and since actions are a reflection of thought, therein lay the answer to how to receive the joy in our eyes and the glow on our face...

As you concentrate your thoughts upon our Lord and turn to Him to fulfill all your needs, physical, emotional, financial and spiritual, you will naturally acquire a glow upon your face as Moses did after being in the presence of Christ for days on end……It will be so subtle that people you know will begin to notice a difference while you have not…

And the amazing part of this is that the circumstances that surround your life may not change – not for the better, not for the worse - but it is your perspective about life, love and the pursuit of happiness that has changed. As for those who you may think someone else has it all together, think again:

(NAS) 1 Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

(MSG) I Peter 4:12
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

(MSG) John 16:31
Jesus answered them, "Do you finally believe? In fact, you're about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Advocate

I don’t know about you but I do not like going to Court. I don’t like defending myself to others.  So when I reached the place of complete darkness, loneliness and desperation in the depths of my soul; I didn’t know what to say or what to do. How could I defend my sin in light of the Cross? How could I excuse my behavior of the past to the perfect Prince of the present?  Words failed me before they ever exited my mouth and I hung my head knowing that if I were to be judged by the Father, I would be found guilty on all charges.
 And deservedly so, but, thank God that is not the end of the story. This is a story of love and grace and it is unfolding each moment of our lives. So let us explore who our advocate is and how He helps us in each of our days.

I.                     Jesus is our advocate.
                                                                           i.      The Greek word for advocate is parakletos meaning “one who is called to our side.”  This is reference to someone who is a comforter, consoler or a defense attorney.
                                                                         ii.      When we are living our life as non-believers we are an enemy to God. We are walking without our advocate and the devil is happy. The devil will do whatever he can to keep you in a position of sinning. And when we get to the point of reconciliation between us and God, guess who is there reminding you of your past? It isn’t God. God forgives our past.
                                                                        iii.      For the believer the Holy Spirit is called the Helper/Advocate. The Holy Spirit works within us to comfort and help us and also pleads our case before the Father in Heaven.
·         (NAS) John 14:26  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
·         (NAS) John 15:26-27  "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. 
·          (NAS) Romans 8:26-27 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
·         (NAS) Romans 8:33-34 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

II.                  The Holy Spirit who is sent to guide us. The Holy Spirit is:
·         Practical:
                                                                           i.      Sends warnings of danger.
                                                                         ii.      Equips every believer for success in the tasks ahead of you
                                                                        iii.      Delivers enough strength, wisdom, resources and encouragement for you to make it through whatever is present and in the future.
·         Personal:
                                                                           i.      He lives inside your heart.
                                                                         ii.      He understands exactly what you need to grow in Christ
                                                                        iii.      He enables you to become the person He created you to be.
·         Available:
                                                                           i.      7/24/365 – all the time, all year long
                                                                         ii.      He never sleeps
                                                                        iii.      He is constantly working in you and around you
·         Dependable:
                                                                           i.      There is no problem that He can’t handle
                                                                         ii.      He will get you through this time
                                                                        iii.      He will teach you about love, wisdom and the power of God through this time.
III.                In court with Jesus as my lawyer
After living a “decent” life my time on earth came to an end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the “prosecutor,” he was a villainous looking gent who snarled, as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed very familiar to me. The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. As he took his seat behind the bench, he said “Let us begin.”
The prosecutor rose and said “My name is Satan, and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell.” He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life — couldn’t that at least equal out part of the harm I’ve done. Satan finished with a fury and said “This man belongs in hell. He is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise. Justice will finally be served this day.”
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned him to come forward. As he got up and started walking I was able to see him now in his full splendor and majesty. Now I realized why he seemed so familiar. It was Jesus representing me; my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, “Hi Dad,” and then He turned to address the court.
“Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I won’t deny any of these allegations. And yes the wages of sins is death and this man deserves to be punished”. Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, “However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life, and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is mine.” My Lord continued with “His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet, this man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.”
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied, “There is nothing else that needs to be done, I’ve done it all.”
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down, and the following words bellowed from His lips — “This man is free — the penalty for him has already been paid in full, case dismissed.”
As my Lord led me away I could hear Satan ranting and raving, “I won’t give up, I’ll win the next one.” I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, “Have you ever lost a case?”
Christ lovingly smiled and said, “Everyone that has come to me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid in Full.”
(author unknown) 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Return, Receive, Remember

In this world of schedules, two income families, celebrations, trying to make ends meet while getting ahead, texting, email, mp3 players, Ipod, Itouch, ipad, computer, xbox, wii, ps3, --- do I have to go on? – it is time to pull the plug. Though these are not bad things when in perspective it is too easy to get isolated from others throughout our everyday life. In fact, even though we may be in the same house as our spouse or children we can lose touch with the ones closest to us.
Let me challenge you to take a step backwards. Take a step into a simpler time of life that includes talking at the dinner table, having a game night, sitting with your child as they did their homework, taking a walk with your spouse, playing basketball  (or any sport) with your child, reading a book out loud together. When watching TV meant watching together in the family room and not with each family member isolated in their own “space” watching their own TV program by themselves.
So how do you start getting back to the basics of a simpler life? Start with three important “R”’'s.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines return as: To go or to come back; to answer or to respond; to deliver
Where are you with your walk with Christ? Have you ever received Him into your heart as Lord and Savior? You have received Him but you have walked away from Him?

(NLT) Deuteronomy 4:30 
“In the distant future, when you are suffering all these things, you will finally return to the Lord your God and listen to what he tells you.

Whatever place you may find yourself in today….God knows…And He wants you to return to Him. If you feel that you are unworthy that is not true! You are worthy enough for Him to die on the cross for you. If you feel like you can not admit the things you have done because of shame or guilt, realize that He already knows! And when you say it out loud to Him, you will experience deliverance from shame and guilt.
When you repair your relationship with Him, He will show you how to repair the other relationships in your life.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines receive as: to acquire, to take in or contain, to greet 
Once you have returned to the Lord there may be doubts that linger inside yourself. As a Christian of long time belief or as a new creation in Christ, one has to learn that there is freedom within the love and grace of God. You are free to be delivered from your past. The challenge here is to receive that statement of love, to learn to live in the freedom of this statement of grace. Yes, it really is just that easy. Receive it, believe in it. If you choose not to receive this liberating freedom that is offered to you after receiving Jesus into your heart then you are missing out on a precious aspect of your relationship with Christ. Receive His forgiveness for you and live within that acceptance!
                When you experience this acceptance you can move forward in your relationships with others – whether you want the relationship to be repaired or just to grow more intimate.

Lord, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me. Then I can answer those who taunt me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope. I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

Expanding on these verses:
Dependence upon the grace and promise of God for salvation are the two pillars on which our hope is built and they will not fail us. Do all that you can do to understand the word of God, for when you do this you will discover His will for your life and though your life may not become perfect it shall get better when you walk in His freedom provided for you.

When life gets hard remember the truths of God and His actions of the past. For the God of the past is the same God of the present and the God of the future.                 
The American Heritage Dictionary defines remember as: to recall to the mind; to think of again
To think again. To recall to the mind. I don’t know about you but I need reminders throughout the day and sometimes they come in the most unusual way from a person you don’t expect.  I came across this quote that gave me a reminder:           
Ray Ortlund: We must first be committed to Christ, then to one another in Christ, and finally to the work of Christ in the world.
You see, my friend, you are here to be in the world but the world is not about you. People that are around you need you today and tomorrow. You are important to God. You are important to others. When you think you are not and you cannot do anything for God then you believe a lie from the devil.

(NLT) Psalm 77:11 
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. 

Expanding on this verse:
When you remember the works of God, they will be a powerful antidote against doubt of His promises because He is God and He does not change. All that God does is intended to be good for the Church. And if you are a believer then you are part of His Church. Give glory to God for what He has done and acknowledge Him for there is nothing that can compare to Him.

Prayer :
Dear Father in Heaven, I pray that you touch those hearts in need of You. That You bring them full knowledge of who You are, and what they mean to You. Lord thank you for choosing to die on the cross for us to bring deliverance to us and to impart freedom within the knowledge of You. Lord you are great and there is no other God. Thank You Jesus for all You have done since time of earth began and for all You are doing now and for all that You already have planned to do. Hold us close during these times Lord for You have an arm that is never too short to save those who are willing. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Letting Go

There comes a time in every parent’s life that they have to let go of their little darling or their baby as they are often referred to. In the passage of time when a child grows to fulfill the expectations that we have of them such as: making good grades in school, graduating high school, and preparing for their future, the next step of letting go is difficult yet not as difficult if you had a child who had not fulfilled the expectations of young adults. 

How do you let go of your child when he/she turns to drugs? Who drops out of high school? Who gets pregnant and doesn’t have a mean of support the child? How do you know what to do? How do you know where to turn to? How do you let go of your college student who gets themselves in a financial burden through bad choices or the thought patterns that mom, dad, friends, grandparents will bail them out each time? Where is that invisible line that moves from taking care of your child and turns to rescuing your child? When is help for a child too much help? 

One role of many, for a parent or guardian, is to provide for the child but providing for the child may take a different road than one may think. For example: When your child chooses to drink alcohol at a party and gets picked up by the police, do you go bail him/her out? The natural tendency is to do so but at what cost to the child? He/she then learns that consequences are as lenient as the one who is bailing them out of their problem. Another example: If your child has parents who are divorced and are not communicating with one another, the child learns that manipulation works. So when this same child chooses to use drugs, he/she plays one parent against another. This happens in many situations not only in the choice to use drugs or not. 

When tough love is applied to a child, the child may be resentful, angry and may even apply these manipulation tactics to siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and authority figures. The decision to put a child in an “in house” or “long term” drug or behavioral treatment facility can come with heavy emotions for the parents. Am I doing the right thing for our child? Why do I feel so guilty? How far is truth and how far is manipulation when the child complains about the facility? How do I not fall apart when I am on this emotional roller coaster? 

One skill a parent would do well to learn is subjective vs. objective reactions. As a parent, we want to help our child, bail them out, fix their problems, bring resolution to a situation that the child is in and in doing so we take empowerment away from our child and instill immaturity and a lack of confidence. Parental practice of this skill needs to start early in a child’s life, not after the child hits their teen years is your responsiveness to the child’s problem. This doesn’t mean you can’t start applying it after they are in their teen years, but you will be much better at it if you start when they are younger. 

But to understand this, a parent needs to understand the difference between subjective and objective reactions. Subjective reactions are reactions based off an immediate emotional reaction to what a child has just said to you. Objective reactions are reactions that separate emotion out of the situation and a parent looks at what the child just said to you objectively. A parent can empathize with their child while at the same time not offering solutions but letting the child figure out a solution. This is empowering your child to solve problems and a necessary trait a child needs to develop to be successful in life after their teen years. 

As a parent or guardian finding yourself in a position where a child you love is in need of tough love remember to step back, choose objective reactions and remember that letting go is a healthy step in building maturity in your child

Friday, January 21, 2011

Habakkuk Teaches

Habakkuk 2:1-20 
Habakkuk teaches us that leaders must learn to cherish the waiting time before they get their answers. In chapter one the prophet is positioned to watch and see. In chapter two, he is positioned to stand and see. In chapter three, he is positioned to kneel and see. God declares five “woes” to Habakkuk in the second chapter of his book, describing His intense displeasure with His people. Yet God is sovereign, reigning over everything, then why doesn’t He use His leader to bring about justice immediately? The answer appears to be this: While Habakkuk waited, God did a wonderful work in his heart. Before God leads the world, he first wants to lead His leaders. Habakkuk learned at least four lessons about God’s leadership in the world: 

1. Not everything that happens conforms to God’s will and wishes. 
2. Nothing that happens gets overlooked by God. 
3. Everything that happens will ultimately be addressed with justice. 
4. Nothing that happens should distract us from continuing to respond faithfully.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You Are Never Alone

when fears grip you and your phone is silent 
when chores and responsibilities gets to be too much 
when you drop to your knees and cry out, “God where are you?” 
know my dear friend, you are never alone 

He hears your cry and His heart aches for you 
He looks down and sees His daughter so beautiful 
being deceived by the snare of His enemy 
so in response to her anguished cry He sends to her 
His mighty army and opens her eyes 

He removes her from her responsibilities for a short time 
from the stresses that assail her so she can have her long overdue quiet time 
willing her not to focus on herself but upon Him 
His own heart crying out in anguish 
my daughter, my daughter look to me 
for I am your God, come to Me and I shall heal you 
but in My way – my daughter – in My way 

your body is a shell that houses a soul 
I will heal your soul for that is more important 
your loneliness will be turned into joy 
your sadness will leave you; you will dance in the streets 
and praises from your sweet lips shall my ears hear 

for I have brought you to this place to slow you down 
I have brought you to this placed to surround you with My love 
I have brought you to this place for your faith in Me shall grow 

don’t forget this time 
for this is the day that I have made 
and I will shower you with mercies unlimited 
I will shower you with limitless love 
and for a very simple reason this shall be done by Me for you 

you, on your own, chose to accept Me, believe in Me and serve Me 
you are My daughter, My princess and I shall never leave you nor forsake you 

restore your strength, take care of your body 
and tell all of your testimony of a God who loves you so much that 
He didn’t give up on you when you had given up on yourself…and others 
go and serve until I call you home my beautiful and precious daughter 

Aug 11 2001