Thursday, January 21, 2016

Delayed, But Still Destined!

  Last night I heard one our pastors, Pastor Chu teach our Wed. night bible study that confirmed some things in my life. After the Bible Study when I got home I was led to watch the War Room movie again on DVD.  I think I need to watch it several more times before I get it like Ms. Clara!  Last year in Feb. the Lord led me on a new journey to follow Him more than I ever have in my 30+ years as a Christian.
     Yes, I was living for the Lord & loving Him but I wasn’t fighting spiritually like I once did. For 2 years I let the “stuff” of life distract me as I encountered several personal trials. I would find myself fighting the wrong battles or not fighting at all. It took everything in me to hold onto the vision, dream & calling that the Holy Spirit planted in me years ago. But since last Feb. the Lord has kept challenging me to press on and not give up. So I made a decision to no longer give in to man’s ideas & follow the Lord.
     As I continued on this journey it wasn’t easy as tough decisions had to be made, yet at the same time ministry opportunities were opening up and restoring the hope of the original calling. Then in Oct. the journey took a twist I never imagined. I had been praying and fasting and the Lord had really been stirring some things up inside of me. My husband was gone on a men’s retreat from a Thursday to Sunday. That Thursday I drove past a church sign that would have a great impact on my life. I was so drawn to this sign! I couldn’t get away from seeing it. The next day I drove to the sign & wrote the website address down and continued on with my errands.
     When I got home I sat down to look at the web site. I began to read about the vision of people being inspired to draw closer to God and see their bondages broken, encouragement to find freedom from the struggles of life, and salvation for all. As I read this web site I wept as the Holy Spirit overcame showing me the very vision within me was at this place.  The sign I saw was for IChurch.
     Two days later I visited IChurch.  By the end of the service I knew I was stepping into something supernatural that the Lord was setting up. There’s not enough space here to tell all the details but the bottom line is they were praying for God to send me to them at the same time I was praying for God to take me where-ever and do with me whatever He wanted. Oh my, I never dreamed of the whirlwind that was about to happen. Friends were even sending me e-mails saying; “God is about to bring a suddenly in your life”.  I wish I could share all the details in this blog but let me just say that after more prayer and fasting God moved us to commit to sharing in the vision at IChurch. God confirmed this with 2 Corinthians 16:9 (NLT) There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.”
     Now let’s get back to where I started and share some more scripture. In the beginning of this blog I mentioned about Pastor Chu teaching our bible study. I am not going to give you the whole thing, but just highlight some scripture he shared. First he shared from Judges 11 about a man named Jephthah whom the Lord had called to be a warrior but he never fulfilled what the Lord had for him because he let people and trials take him away.
     The next scripture was Psalm 73:1-28.  In verses 1-20 David was bemoaning the blessing of the wicked around him and questioning God about his own trials, even questioning whether it was worth going on with God. Then in verses 21-28 David turns his trust back to the Lord having his vision and hope renewed. The Psalms are the most read book in the bible because so many of us relate to David. He was a man after God’s heart but like us he often struggled with who God called him to be but he wouldn’t give up and would always find the grace and mercy of the Lord available to him giving him victory after victory.
     The last scripture was a familiar one but stronger than ever as I heard it read. Phil. 3:12-14  12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
     In closing let me break this down for you a little since I feel this is right where I’m at in my life right now and a place we all need to find ourselves at some time.
I’m not perfect: I have made mistakes along the way & I still miss it at times. But I keep getting up. (v12)
I haven’t arrived (apprehended), but I am forgetting the past and pressing on. (v13)
Most importantly, I am pressing toward the call of God so that in the end I can hear “well done.” (v14)
      Friends, I challenge you. Do not give up on the calling, dream or vision God has planted in you. Yes there will be hurdles to jump along the way but it will be worth it to follow the Lord and know that we have been obedient to His calling. We will be able to say as the Apostle Paul said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”  2 Tim, 4:7 (NLT) 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Encourage Yourself

One time in my bible reading I came across a verse I’ve read before, but this time the last part of it really struck me. “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” (1 Sam 30:6) I began thinking about the people I’ve spoken with recently and that many of them are facing difficult times.  So, I’d like to share some pointers to help you get through your difficult time.
     The presence of God
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; he heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (Psalm 18:6)  Here we see that that the psalmist David makes it a regular habit to spend time in God’s presence. Especially when going through difficult times we have to make a deliberate choice to get into God’s presence. We need more than just a Sunday morning service with the Lord. We must make time to be with him everyday.
     The people of God
     ”Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”  (Acts 16:34) Sometimes we just need to go spend some time with other Christians and share in their joy. There was a time I taught  two bible studies every week. One is a group of men and women; the other is a ladies only study. Even though I was the leader, there were some weeks when I could’t wait to be with these people because they encouraged me in some many wonderful ways.
     Focus on others instead of self
    “And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”  (Job 42:10)  I have found this to be true. When I pray for others God always comes through in some way and I am blessed. Often times I will sit and make a list of friends & family that are having struggles. That helps me to gain perspective of my situation and it helps me to stay focused in praying for their needs.
     Rely on the promises of God
     “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”  (Isaiah 43:2)  What a wonderful promise from the Lord! But we tend to forget God’s promises when trials hit. Believing God’s promises is an antidote for those times of difficulty. And, the only way we’re going to know what those promises are is to read the bible.
     In reviewing these principles I was reminded of Psalm 56:3,4, which says,
“3 whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4 In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”  Now I don’t claim to have perfected taking everything to the Lord immediately. The thoughts that I have shared with you today I often have to remind myself of them. No matter how long one has walked with the Lord doesn’t make them immune to difficulties in life. We all have to trust Him just the same.
     So my friend, press on in these difficult times. Don’t give up; don’t lose your trust in the Lord. Push through the obstacles.
         Until next time, simply, Pray Until Something Happens! PUSH!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moving Forward

Image result for moving forward pictures Change…. That is a word that most of us don’t like to hear. Even when change is for the good, it can sometimes be difficult, even scary.  But, change is one of those inevitable pieces of life.  We all experience it one time or another. I heard this statement from an inmate one time: “When the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change, you will change.” That is a power packed statement.

Change will take courage. The definition of courage is: Fearlessness when facing change or a difficult situation, following difficult instructions.

One of the biggest hindrances to change for many people is that they are stuck in their past or even in a present dilemma. Think about this. If you drive down the road in your car looking in the rearview mirror the whole time, what is going to happen? Obviously, you will crash. Well, it’s the same thing in life. If we keep looking back we’re going to crash into various obstacles in life. So, what is the answer to this fear of change? The bible gives us several answers.

First of all in Philippians 3:13,14 it says, “13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Emphasis added)

The first step in moving forward is to stop looking backwards all the time. Take your hurts, your questions, your fears…. Everything and give them to the God. His Son, Jesus Christ took all your pains on himself when He died on the cross.

Let’s quickly look at a few other hindrances to moving forward that the bible mentions.

Forsaking God - In other words, preferring your own way. So many of us think we know what’s best for our life. But who would know better than God Himself, the Creator of the universe who knows everything? Take the risk to step out and trust God with your whole life. In Matthew 6:33 it says: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” If we put God first in our lives, He will meet all of our needs.

Fear of man - Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” We will never take risks or try new things as long as we fear what others will think of us. One way to help fight this is to remember the following statement: “I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions or reactions except my own.” Besides, if someone is truly your friend they will encourage you to move forward and be happy with you for the changes in your life.

Worldliness - This could be a lengthy subject, but for now let’s simply say that if let the ways of the world influence us, it will choke out the truth of God’s Word. See Mark 4:18, 19 and 1 John 2:15.

Misplaced confidence - Relying on anything or anyone other than God for your needs. It is only in a relationship with the Lord that we can have all of our needs met. Remember the scripture quoted earlier from Matthew 6:33? Put God first in your life.

Self-sufficiency – This is when we think we don’t need anyone. WE think we can do it ourselves and refuse to ask for help. But Proverbs 3: 5,6 says; “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Another scripture that talks about self-sufficiency is Rev. 3:16-20 where the Laodicean Church thought they had it all together more than anyone else but didn’t realize they were spiritually blind.

Neglect of the "little things" – I once read a statement that said. “We stumble over pebbles not rocks.” We often tend to overlook what we think are the little things. But then these little thinks pile up into a big mountain and next thing we know we’re totally overwhelmed. So, don’t let little things go unchecked in your life. Ask someone you trust who you know will be truthful with you to be an accountability partner to help you monitor your progress.

Finally, our last point is

Not counting the cost – It makes a made up mind to decide we’re moving forward with our lives no matter what. We need to be aware that not everyone is going to like the changes in our life. Family, friends, co-workers may not understand. Some may try to put fear in you, some will threaten you by saying they won’t be your friends anymore. Reality is there will be a cost to change. The people you surround yourself with may have to change; priorities will have to change, etc. But with God on our side we can overcome anything. Read Roman 8: 31-39 and declares that God is for you!

That’s all for now my friend. If you can, go on youtube and see the song “Moving Forward” by Ricardo Sanchez. Take the risk and step into a new season in your life!