Posts Tagged ‘faith’

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16 )

Heaven

We live here, we walk here, we eat and drink here, but may we never call it home. The ground beneath our feet and sky above our heads are the scenery we enjoy momentarily, but they will pass away (Matthew 24:35). Our family is more than people with the same last name (Mark 3:35), as believers we are united by blood, literally the shed blood of Jesus the risen Savior. We, the family, walk as sojourners (1 Peter 2:11), as travelers, loving and serving the people around us, all the while remembering we will one day be home. A home that has been prepared for us (John 14:3), where we will live in ever increasing joy.

Our lips will never again say, “It was fun while it lasted”, as the smile fades from our face. In our home there is no sorrow, there is no disease, there is no end to joy (Revelation 21:4). In our home our treasure does not fail, there is no thief to steal, no moneybag to grow old (Luke 12:33). In your heart, and in your head, where is your treasure and your home? For “there will your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

Where is your home?

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4, 5

Trinity

No doubt you associate March 17th each year as St. Patrick’s Day, as I do. For as long as I can remember, the date set aside to celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has been a day dedicated to the wearing of green, to decorating with leprechauns and shamrocks, and to holding parades in locations where many Irish have settled.

But little did I know that March 17th is also a holiday because of a military victory. We’ll get back to St. Patrick—because that’s a very important story—but so is Evacuation Day. If I’ve done my homework right, Evacuation Day was the day in the Boston area when British General Sir William Howe led his troops onto their ships and left the city for Nova Scotia. The Continental Army, under the new command of General George Washington, strategically occupied Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston Harbor. Fortifications were built with artillery equipment captured at Fort Ticonderoga, and the British realized that their position within Boston was indefensible. Fearing a defeat similar to Bunker Hill, General Howe decided to evacuate, ending an 11 month siege of the city. Boston was never attacked again by the British, and this can be considered Washington’s first victory of the Revolutionary War. The password for the day in General Washington’s Continental Army encampment was “Saint Patrick,” and March 17th was declared an official holiday for Suffolk County, Massachusetts in the early 1900s.

With the story of St. Patrick we find another victory, but of a different sort. His is the story of victory over bitterness, victory over the lies of a pagan culture, and, asThomas Cahill in How the Irish Saved Civilization would even say, the victory over illiteracy and ignorance which would preserve writings so important to us today, including the Bible.

Patrick was a young man of sixteen years when kidnapped from his home in England around 400 A.D. and taken to Ireland. There he was sold to a chieftain who forced Patrick to tend his sheep. It was during this captivity that Patrick remembered his Christian upbringing, which he had formerly rejected. As he wrote in his Confessions, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours” and “the love of God . . . surrounded me more and more.” His understanding and love for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit grew during these lonely years of survival in the cold, rain, and snow. His writings do not show bitterness, however, because he used his time to grow in new love and faith. After six years as a slave-shepherd Patrick escaped and returned to his home in England, a changed man.

Feeling called to return to Ireland and proclaim the Gospel to the pagan and barbaric culture which he had left, Patrick began to study and prepare. Eventually he was ordained as a priest, and then a bishop. When he did return, he brought new hope to the land where he had been held captive, all because of his bold and faithful proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. He even used the shamrock to explain the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He served in Ireland for 29 years, baptizing thousands and planting hundreds of churches. Besides individual lives redeemed, their new Christian faith gave the Irish people a revived love of learning—which then fostered literacy. The Irish monks were instrumental in copying books, including the Bible, which were in danger of being looted and destroyed during the final days of the Roman Empire as it crumbled.

This is a quick summary, no doubt, and there is much to appreciate in the legacy of St. Patrick. Although accounts of his biography differ in details, there seems to be little disagreement as to his passion to evangelize the people of Ireland because of his love for them and his love for our Lord. I am particularly inspired by his deep prayer life, and am touched by this writing called “The Breastplate,” attributed to St. Patrick:

“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

March 17th is a day to celebrate victory, whether Evacuation Day or St. Patrick’s Day. The ultimate victory is through Jesus Christ, and as Christians we celebrate His life in us every day of the year. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Frozen Niagara Falls

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed – the flow of water resumed.

What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion and tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river began flowing again.

The river had stopped flowing because of ice.

If we really want the flow of God’s love, peace, joy, and anointing in our lives – we cannot allow our hearts to become like ice. If we do, His life-giving current will stop.

Let the Lord search your heart for those areas where the ice has built up and needs to thaw out. He will show you where they are if you ask. Our hearts should be burning for Him, so let the river flow…. once again.

One of the biggest things that keeps people from fulfilling their destiny is what they THINK they can or can’t accomplish.

It’s dangerous to rely on your own strength to bring about change in your life, and pursue your destiny. God needs to be the source of your strength. Yet you need to balance that with taking focused action, being proactive, and moving forward, or you run the risk of getting bogged down and staying stuck.

How do you decide what to focus on at any given time?

There may be periods in your life when God is teaching you lessons to help you grow in spiritual maturity. In those seasons it might seem as though there is a hold up when in reality God is training and maturing you!

You need to learn to recognize those times so that you can work WITH God rather than striving to accomplish something before its appointed time.

There will also be times when God is testing you and wants you to press on and move forward.

And there will be times when you ARE on target but the enemy is opposing you and trying to hold you back from pursuing the next steps. So being able to discern what is happening with timing is crucial.

I hope you know that racing ahead trying to get whatever you want and assuming it is God’s will for your life is unwise and likely to result in great disappointment. Your destiny will unfold over time, and it will happen in God’s timing.

Getting it right isn’t always easy! Trying to rush ahead and make things happen NOW will result in frustration and discontent, YET you need to be sure that you ARE doing your bit by actively pursuing your destiny.

I meet a lot of people who are afraid to move forward because they don’t want to make a mistake or do things outside of God’s timing, so they end up doing NOTHING.

If you ARE afraid to move forward it could be lack of faith, fear of failure, unbelief, or an array of limiting beliefs that are holding you back, or immobilising you by leading you to believe that may be you haven’t really heard God, or you’ve made a mistake, or it isn’t God’s timing.

Dealing with those negative thinking patterns involves work. It’s like training for a sport or learning to play an instrument. You can’t reasonably expect to do it well if you’ve only had a few lessons. To become good at it you need training and lots of practice until it became natural.

Think for a minute about something you want to accomplish or have in your life. Maybe you want a promotion, need a new car, want to train to be a counsellor or coach, feel led to attend a ministry training school, or write a book, or … fill in the blank.

Whatever it is, decide on ONE thing then follow the steps below.

Pray about your ONE THING every day for a month. Ask the Lord what He wants to say to you about it, be sure to listen for His answers, write down what you hear, and put it somewhere you will see it.

Steps to Doing Things God’s Way and in His Timing

  1. Develop your relationship with God through Jesus and regularly spend time with Him in prayer and study. It will be out of your relationship with God that your prayers will be answered.

    Learn to recognize God’s voice when He is speaking to you.

  2. Ask the Lord to show you whether what you are asking for is something that HE wants you to have or do. Ask for wisdom and for His timing.
  3. Once you know that what you want is within God’s will for your life, ask God to show you the way forward, have faith and believe that God will answer you one way or another, He WILL answer your prayers.
  4. Pray and ask God for the things that you want and need. Be sure to watch for answered prayer and keep a record to strengthen your faith.
  5. Be prepared for His answer to come in a variety of ways. God’s answers to your prayers may look different than you expect.

I hope you find this helpful.

Remember

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6

imagesThere had been a severe drought, and the members of a rural congregation were deeply concerned that their crops would be ruined.

One Sunday, therefore, the minister said to his congregation, “Brothers and sisters, I understand your deep concern about the harvest. There is nothing that will save us, except a special service of prayer for rain. The Lord promises that if we pray in FAITH, He will hear us. So go to your homes now, fast for a week, and pray. Then, next Sunday, we shall hold a service to claim the Lord’s promise because I just know it will rain next week at this same time!”

The people fasted during the week, then returned to church the following Sunday morning. But as soon as the minister saw them, he was indignant. “Go away!” he shouted. “How can you expect to claim the Lord’s promise if you have no FAITH?”

“But Reverend,” they protested, “we fasted and prayed, and we have come believing that the Lord will be true to His word.”

“Believing?” exclaimed the minister. “Believing?! Then where in the world are your UMBRELLAS?”

This joke would be a lot funnier if it wasn’t so true. I see it every day, people who say they are faithful Christians, yet as soon as the smallest obstacles come along, they start using words lie can’t and won’t. To me, somebody who uses these words are weak Christians at best. What they’re really saying is that they don’t believe that God is powerful enough to perform miracles, or to supply their needs. It get me very upset.

On the other side of the coin, when someone walks around being a Debbie Downer, or Chicken Little, it just brings others down. There’s nothing worse than getting excited because you know God has inspired you to do something, only to have someone else come along and start rambling about why it is impossible. Especially when that person is a Christian.

Stop talking about what’s impossible, and start KNOWING what God can do. The more you use the word can’t, the more you begin to believe it.

 

Matthew 21:21 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

The other day I heard someone say that when they passed a mirror, all they could think of is, “That can’t be right.” It’s funny in a way, but unfortunately, in today’s world, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on what we look like on the outside rather than what we look like in our hearts.

Psalms 90:17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Charles William Eliot, former president of Harvard University, had a birthmark on his face that bothered him greatly. As a young man, he was told that surgeons could do nothing to remove it. Someone described that moment as “the dark hour of his soul.” Eliot’s mother gave him this helpful advice: “My son, it is not possible for you to get rid of that hardship…But it is possible for you, with God’s help, to grow a mind and soul so big that people will forget to look at your face.”

Yes, it’s true. All of us have things we’d love to change about our bodies. And many of us tend to spend an awful lot of time and money trying to change, fix and cover those things up. But I think there is much truth in Mrs. Eliot’s words. When we are shining boldly for the Lord, I don’t believe anyone sees them!

Do you REALLY want to make a drastic difference in your appearance today? Let’s stop focusing on our outward issues today and start focusing on what really counts — walking uprightly and wholeheartedly with the Lord — a spiritual extreme makeover! We will glow like never before, at a low low price and 100% guaranteed!

For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5c)

On the morning of October 29, 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States faced their worst nightmare … “Superstorm Sandy.” This post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds and its unusual merge with a frontal system affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, leaving death, injuries, and utter destruction in its wake. Families everywhere, especially in hard hit New Jersey and New York, were jolted out of normalcy and the comfort and security of the homes and communities they once knew. They were thrust suddenly and unwillingly into the darkness and despair of loss.

If you and your family have ever been affected by a natural disaster like this, you may feel as if you’ve been abandoned by God. However, if trouble has hit your life in some other disaster, or form of tragedy—the death of a loved one, a dreaded medical diagnosis, the loss of home and property, or the loss of your job, you are experiencing your own superstorm. You may feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down, and wonder how you can possibly survive the loss. In times like these, you can feel very much alone.

But you are not alone. In the midst of unspeakable sorrow God is with you. Even if you do not feel Him near, God is there. He promises to never leave you alone. Therefore, wherever you are, God is. He is with you before, during, and after “the storm,” never losing sight of you, or your suffering. Even as you ponder how you will begin picking up the pieces of your life, God is there … loving you beyond understanding, holding you up, and making a way where it seems there is no way. Reach out for Him today. He is a very present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1).

Taking back your life …

 

1. Psalm 139:7-10 says, “I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me” (TLB). What assurance can you find in these verses of Scripture when you are feeling as if God has forgotten you?

 

2. In Psalm 23, David pictures the Lord as the Great Shepherd who provides for and protects His sheep (His children). In verse four, he says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” A shepherd uses his rod to protect his sheep (by using it to beat off wild beasts), and he uses his staff to guide them. What comfort can you find in knowing that God will protect and guide you during this difficult time?

 

3. In addition to needing God’s presence in our lives, we also need each other. Talk with your family or friends about the way you are feeling, so that you can share one another’s burdens, and not feel so alone in your suffering.
Additional Scripture reading:

Deuteronomy 31:8
Psalm 91:15-16
Matthew 28:20