Saturday, April 12, 2014

Free From Accusation

As I stare at a blank sheet of paper it’s truly brought a moment of inspiration.  Usually as I stare at a blank sheet of paper it’s due to writers block, what to write?  Or what can I write to touch the hearts of those who really need to hear from the Lord?  As those thoughts enter my mind, I keep hearing part of this verse over and over again, “Free from accusation” it’s a powerful thought.  Yet, it should be more than a powerful thought; it should be the statement or declaration of the born-again believer. 

Free From Accusation

We all have experienced being false accused or gossiped in our lives.  It’s not a popular moment we want to share or discuss with others.  Especially if some of those accusations are true in our past, we know what we have done.  Did we “really” do that?  Or did that really happen?  How can we look at ourselves in the mirror?  Or how do reach for goals or believe for God’s best in our lives?  It’s all about the cross.  Although we understand this to be the center of our faith for eternity, do we understand the power of the cross?  If you don’t understand the power of the cross; you will never walk secure in life.  If you are walking still in guilt and shame after truly repenting of your sins; you are not walking in truth but condemnation.  Christ didn’t come into the world to condemn us but to redeem us from sin. (John 3:16-17)  Yet, the accuser of the brethren desires to destroy your life with half-truth or accusations.
     When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden they lived without shame, according to scripture “they were naked and felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)  Keep in mind, we were created in the likeness of God, so what does this mean?  We were created without sin, holy, blameless, and for good.  Adam and Eve didn’t know what sin was or the definition; it wasn’t something they were familiar with.  Satan said to Eve, “You will BE LIKE God knowing good and evil.”  What is wrong with those statement two things: First, we were created in the likeness of God, so how more “like God” could we be in the garden?  Second, God isn’t evil, so how could He be evil?  God is love.  God is good.  God is holy.  It was a half-truth of Satan’s deception that led Eve to destruction to her soul and her life.  Sin brought destruction to Eve’s life; it was very costly.  Eve lost her home, her security, and relationships with her husband and God.  Sin has a price tag!  Yet, the cross paid the enormous price to make us free from accusation, shame, and guilt! 
     Before I started typing this blog, the page was blank with no words.  It was waiting to be filled with the words from my heart.  Blank, empty, and it was waiting to be filled with what I wrote on the page.  Waiting for words, so powerful I can touch the heart of who is reading it.  It’s not only an honor but a responsibility to those who read it.  Nevertheless, what’s so alarming is the “words” we believe about ourselves.  Words we have heard others speak, Satan’s accusations or our own self-talk in our lives?  So, how do you see yourself?  A deeper question to ask is how does God see you?  Oh, I am sure we have shuttered at times with this thought or believe God only sees our sin?  The power of cross will make us realize we are a sinner, no one is righteous.  It’s only through the power of the cross, we are restored-made righteous before God.  God doesn’t see your past; He sees potential of what He can do with your life. 
     As I was reading the account of Genesis again, I was truly touched about an important fact.  When was Eve named in scripture?  Was it before the fall or after?  Also who named her?  It’s quite interesting and very powerful to meditate on; she was named AFTER the fall.  Adam was able to name her Eve, the mother of all living, after the fall.  One moment Adam is blaming her to God, the next he is speaking truth or life about her.  Why?  He saw her through the eyes of grace, God’s design.  She was created for life, a life to bring glory to God.  After the fall account, scripture doesn’t ever mention this event again nor does God bring up Eve’s horrible sin again.  So if God never accused her again, why would He accuse you? God never will accuse, it’s not a language He speaks. 

But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-Colossians 1:22


     So, what words are you using to describe yourself?  Does it match what God says about you?  If not, it’s time to erase those damaging words with truth.  It’s time to kick the devil in the teeth, so he can’t speak anymore into your ear.  The cross made a public display of him, destroyed all of his power, so you can walk free from accusations-the blood of Christ sealed the deal.

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him." Colossians 2:13-15

Do you understand what Christ has done for YOU?  He made you alive with Him!  He forgave all your sins, canceled the debt completely!  He took it all away by nailing it to the cross!  He paid YOUR debt!  Also, He disarmed the rulers and authorities so nothing could prevent your growth or life!  Through the cross you are triumphant!  The cross proves your are victorious because the price was paid in full.

Friday, March 7, 2014

RISE AND EAT

“To err is human; to forgive divine” it’s a famous quote I remember but can’t recall who said it.  Nevertheless it’s very profound truth, a truth of the Gospel.  Regardless of how long you have walked with Christ, temptation will come to us all.  Our precious Savior wasn’t even exempt from temptation but He was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 2:18)  It’s comforting to know Christ understands our struggles, our weakness, but what’s really reassuring He is my mediator.  He is the One who stands in the gap for me! 

 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5)  

When no one else will stand in my defense, Christ will.  If Christ is the only One who will stand with me, no one can defeat me.  Our past can defeat our lives if we live there.  We all have a past, made mistakes, and desire for peace in our souls.  Nevertheless, it’s hard to walk with a heart of brokenness; we trip over every piece of it.  As we try to pick up those pieces, we realize it’s too much too carry.  We can’t lift our face, find no peace, our strength is gone, and hope is fading fast.  Sin weighs our spirits down; no peace will be found until it’s nailed to the cross.  A blessed person is one who’s transgression is forgiven it’s been covered. (Psalm 32:1)
     His heart is labeled, “a man after God’s own heart” but David even faced failure in his life.   A prophetic promise, powerful anointing, and kingship
didn’t prevent David’s choice to accept the lure of temptation.  He accepted the bait-hook, line, and sinker.  Besides destroying his name, He brought reproach to the name of God.  (2 Samuel 12:14)  It’s not easy to walk through the consequences of sin but grace still overcomes.  According to one of professors in college he said, “The three greatest temptations for those in ministry are sex, money, and power.”  It’s not only godly leadership who are tempted with this dangerous trio; anyone who is in leadership must protect their lives, their name, and others.  “A good name is better than riches” said the wise King Solomon.  (Proverbs 22:1) A name tarnished with sin can only be changed by grace. 
     Can a fallen leader or minister be restored? ABSOLUTELY!  It’s going to take repentance, accountability, and support from the body of Christ.  We are called to be ministers of reconciliation; it’s the heartbeat of God. (2 Cor. 5:18) From the account in 2 Samuel 12:1-26, we learn some vital lessons about sin, the consequences of sin, and restoration.  Secret sin will NEVER be a secret before God!  So, God can’t be fooled by anyone.  It’s better to come clean with God or He can send a messenger to your door!  Nathan, the prophet, comes into David’s presence to reveal the truth about his secret sins.  First, God rebukes David’s actions; He doesn’t support his wrong doings. (2 Samuel 12:9) Second, God reveals the consequences for his actions and the aftermath. (2 Samuel 12:11-13; 12:14)  Next, repentance had to be made, David confesses and his life is spared. (2 Samuel 12:13)  Lastly, the child conceived in sin was struck with illness.
     If we are truly repentant over our sins; we will take the consequences.  Sadly, so many people don’t understand that our actions have consequences.  It’s not easy to watch the aftermath of a sinful choice we made.  Whether it’s losing a job, an unexpected child, destroying friendships or the trust of your family it’s hard to grasp it.  It’s truly a wake-up call!  It’s not easy being the center of gossip or to hear people’s accusations towards you.  It’s a hard pill to shallow but grace lifts us up and mercy helps us stand.
As David pleas, fasts, and prays for the child through several nights, the child dies.  Through the whispers of his servants, David realizes the child is dead.  It’s truly a sad moment but David does something quite interesting.

Then David GOT UP from the ground.  After he had washed, put on lotions, and changed his clothes, he WENT INTO THE HOUSE OF GOD and WORSHIPPED.  Then he went into his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. 2 Samuel 12:20

Realize our failures only show our humanity; a life of grace shows our humility.  We can’t stand without God’s grace!  So, get up from the ground!  It’s time to move on!  It’s time to enter the house of God and worship Him for His grace.  It’s time to remove the stains, remove the clothes of depression, and enter the house of God! 

Leaders are not exempt from temptation but they must guard their lives and reputation.  David placed himself into temptation, he wasn’t in war. (2 Samuel 11:1)  He wasn’t fulfilling his duties, he sent his men to do his work.  His guard was down; his spirit was restless, and walking on the roof of the palace.  As the beautiful woman was bathing, David didn’t run away from the temptation, he ran full-speed ahead towards it by inquiring about her-she is married.  He didn’t stop there, he ignores the red flag.  God will always offer an escape from temptation; we have to be willing to take it.  Also, we must be wise to know our weakness, be accountable, and don’t place ourselves up for failure.  David’s failure didn’t stop God’s promise for his life but it cost the love and respect of his family.  God’s story with your life isn’t done because you failed.  Forgiveness is more easily granted from people but rebuilding trust will take steps of integrity.  It’s time to turn the page; God’s grace is greater than all your sins.  It’s time to rise and eat!   


Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Million Dollar Dolls


In Honor of my Father, Roger L. Savage

 
Death will come to us all; no one will escape it.  For the Christian, death isn’t a sad occasion-our faith will be made sight!  Yet, can you image the sight of Jesus? My heart yearns for the day to see my Beloved Savior!  As the old hymn sang, “What a day, glorious day that will be!” Although Heaven is my father’s final destination, I still grieve.  I grieve for the relationship we never had-the father/daughter relationship I desperately wanted.

 As I watched the snow fall upon the ground through the hospital window, I didn’t want to face reality-my father is dying.  Time was slipping away, opportunity was gone, and only memories or regrets would remain.  As I reflected upon the past, it seemed the bad out weighted the good.  Although the past was forgiven; the present wasn’t made whole-healing wasn’t finished.  Maybe the winter cold numbed my heart since my feet were frozen-I felt nothing inside.  As I turned to watch my father sleep, I just stared at him.  I wanted the moment to be captured within my heart and forever in my mind.  As he slept to escape the physical pain, I silently held mine.  No words could express what I really wanted to say, so I was silent.  Silence keep me company but words would have healed my soul.  As the clocked ticked away, so did the opportunity to ask my dad, “Are you proud of me?”  “Was I ever the apple of your eye?”  Those questions would go unanswered, I couldn’t ask him.  My father was too weak to fight the cancer anymore, he is fading away.  Fading from this life but not my heart. 

If I could hold time still, I would.  During the final visit with my dad, I decided to treasure each moment with him.   When he talked, I listened to his voice to remember how it sounded.  Holding his hands, I would caress to bring him some relieve, peace, and assurance I was there.  The precious moments, the sound of his voice, and holding his hand brought me some closure.  As each night ended with “Give me a kiss!”  I gently would kiss his head a little longer each night, I didn’t want it to end.  Although the snow was deep, the stress level was high, the journey home brought a powerful truth-how fleeting is life.  It made me reflect upon my father’s life, our relationship, and a new beginning.

My father lived his last name to the fullest; anyone who knew my father would testify to this. With all of the stories of the farm or teenage mischief, my father was the ornery one.  My belly hurt sometimes with those timeless stories with his siblings, he always could make me laugh.  It’s what I will cherish the most.  Besides the time he allowed me to put hair barrettes in his hair, that was hilarious!  Oh, if I could have some more good times but the past would show a different tale.  Alcohol stole most of my childhood, it was a difficult tale for sure.  Although my childhood drama led me to Christ, it was a lonesome walk.  It was a very difficult journey as I grew in Christ, my father wasn’t receptive or willing to listen to the Gospel.  It was especially hard to follow the call of God to become a minister without his blessing or support.  As my commitment remained stern to the call of Christ, my father later accepted it during my sophomore year.  With a letter, I was overjoyed to receive his approval.  As I continued to walk with Christ, my father started to realize how painful the past was.  We had a powerful conversation between us, seeking for forgiveness.  It was the start of healing, a process we need to begin.

Yet I wanted my father to understand God’s truth, to be born again, and be made whole.  Sadly, our relationship was never close, we walked different roads but I never stopped praying for his salvation.  However, I could see God working through his life and the Spirit of God drawing him.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the value of our prayers for un-saved loved ones-they are so vital.  As I reflected upon my father’s life, I was so grateful to have battled the trenches to see it complete.  I wouldn’t trade it for a moment-not one prayer!  One night while in college, the Lord awaken me to pray for someone who was suicidal.  The burden was so heavy, I couldn’t shake it.  No matter how long or strong I prayed, it wouldn’t lift.  So, I called my aunt to pray with me until it left, God never told me who it was for.  As I arrived home from Christmas break, my father shared his depression and wanting to commit suicide-it was the same night I was awaken to pray.  As I shared the Gospel again and the story of what happened in college, my father turned away again.

 We must understand the enemy wants our loved ones, he wants to destroy their lives.  Besides destroying their lives on earth, he wants their soul.  It’s a war we are called to fight, a fight to pray for our families or dearest friends.  If we don’t have a burden for our immediate family, how can we have a burden for the world?  If we want a harvest, we have to plant the seed.  We are not responsible for the growth or the response, we are responsible to plant. 

During those years of prayer for my father, I had a deep desire-I wanted to be personally lead him to Christ.  Oh, I admit I didn’t care who lead my father to Christ but it was a deep desire of mine.  Much to my surprise, God granted this desire-I will never forget it!  I will praise His name forever!  God loving so answers the deepest desires of our hearts.  When my father first got diagnosed with cancer, my mother and I led him to Christ.  It was a joyous moment!  The angels of glory couldn’t have shouted louder than me!  I was over the moon!

Now I was empty with no feeling inside as I watched my father sleep.  All of my expectations for our relationship was fading; fading faster than I could imagine.  As my father slept, my sister and I had to prepare the journey of father’s final days.  As the doctor shared the news, my heart was depleted.  Reality was hitting me in the face, I didn’t want to awaken to it.  Nothing more could be done to medically assist my father, so we had to honor him now.  Too sick to receive hospice care, my father had to be placed in a nursing home since my sister and I live out of state.  It was the most difficult decision of my life but it was for his best interest and care.  So, we had to clean his apartment, it was no small undertaking because my father is a pack-rat! 

During the move, I stumbled upon a piece of paper in my father’s nightstand.  I was so surprised at the words it was entitled, “My Million Dollar Dolls.”  As I read it, I was so touched of the tender words my father described my sister and I.  As I read the note, it brought so much healing to my soul.  Each word described our differences and similarities but a love from a father’s heart.  Although my father was too weak to speak it, he spoke what I needed to hear.  God does all things beautiful, perfect, and with loving care-I found the letter.  As I read each word, my heart began to realize how much my father thought of me and how much he loved me, “I was worth a million dollars to him!” 

 My heart still grieves over the relationship we didn’t have on earth but I have peace about it.  Heaven will give us plenty of time to catch up!  Although my father accepted Christ at the ending of his journey, I will rest that love keeps no record of wrongs; grace erases it.  Mercy approved a place for my father to be-the blood of Christ paid for it. 
 
 

As I silently watch you sleep,
May your soul Our Savior keep.

Your earthly journey is about to end.

The moment God calls you to ascend.

 

It’s a moment, we all must face.

Only in Christ can the sting escape.

Death has no victory; no power to hold thee captive.

No longer are you called a savage.

 

With the Spirit of Christ your spirit is sealed,

So your salvation will be revealed.

It’s a precious moment; a celebrated time.

Even when the church bells chime.

 

Oh Death where is your sting?

No power can you hold to ring!

Jesus, my Savior, stole thy power!

His love shouts even louder.

 

Love surrounds your soul,

It’s so hard to let you go.

My father I want you to know,

I love you so.

 

Accept the Savior’s hand,

Walk with Him to the Promised Land.

One day we will reunite

When my faith shall be sight.
 


 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Renewed, Rekindle, Set Ablaze


Progress is all about the willingness to mature; it’s learning to change as the Spirit instructs.  If we long to mature in Christ, we must be willing to change.  It’s allowing the Spirit to speak into the secret places of our lives, the parts we don’t want to expose or allow.  We wonder what can be preventing our growth or why does God’s voice seems so silent or faint?  Even though walking backwards is a motion, it doesn’t mean it’s a proper way to walk.  If anything, it’s a sign we need to evaluate what happened or where are we going?

If our spirit isn’t at peace within; we need to allow the Spirit to search deep within.  I want to challenge your life with some questions my pastor recently asked the congregation, Do we mourn spiritually over the lost places in our lives?”  “Do we mourn how we have lost our hunger for God?” “Does the memories of our passion burn brighter now or in days of old?”  It’s not wrong to evaluate our hearts before God; it has to be searched completely.  So, what is your life is stagnant at the moment?  It’s time to come to flowing river of God!  It’s time to be RENEWED, REKINDLED, AND SET ABLAZE!  As this New Year began, I was determined to get renewed in my Spirit.  Yet, as I prayed for this the Spirit of God gave me those three words as a point of direction for this time.  Also, God gave me two precious promises found in His word to keep me secure in the days ahead. 

“As Christian’s our spirits can do either two things: allow the Spirit of God to flow as a mighty river or we just become a lake to consume the water.  Life may be dwelling within but it’s not transforming our surroundings.” Gretchen Bracero

A stagnant spirit can only be changed by being made new; we have to become new wineskins.  We can’t receive the refreshing from God in the same state; we have to be changed.  Only new wine will be filled in new wineskins or it will cause it to burst.  It will burst the wineskin and spoil the wine, so both can’t be preserved. (Matthew 9:16-17)  In other words, God wants to pour a blessing into our Spirit, one that will be preserved.  It’s out of desperation we thirst; the question is what are doing to quench it? 

Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: "This is what the LORD says: "'I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. ~ Jeremiah 2:2

REMEMBER who has your devotion; has your heart!  RETURN to the devotion of our salvation, so love will be found.  REUNITE your commitment to follow Christ wherever He leads.

 It’s only after our heart’s renewed, we can be revived!  When true revival is experienced, we are revived to follow WHOLE HEARTEDLY what God requires or asks.  When we are revived, love awakens our soul to pursue only the audience of one.  We don’t make excuses for our sinful behaviors or worry about the opinions of others when our hearts are rekindled.  We have tasted the love of our beloved!  We don’t chase or desire other lovers, we desire only our lover’s kiss.  We will seek intensely through the night until our lover is found, our soul can’t rest until we are reunited!  It’s only through seeking with all our heart and soul, we find Him! 

Deuteronomy 4:29 ~ But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Once our hearts are renewed, love is rekindled, our lives become ablaze!  As a match ignites a candle, so our lives will be in the world.  His word consumes our being we can’t stop proclaiming it, meditating on it, or singing hymns or spiritual songs!  It’s what our lives are all about-allowing God to consume us!  At this moment, this challenge may seem difficult but it’s not impossible.  It’s about being mournful of what was and choosing to return home!  Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."  God's not desiring to destroy you, He longs to comfort you with His love.  His love awaits you!  He longs to celebrate your return but you have to run!  It's not a place you have never been, it's home.  Out of discontent and rebellion the son left home, a journey of self-destruction.  Mournful of loss and hunger the son ran home, he remembered who loved him.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised. ~ Genesis 28:15

God hasn’t stopped desiring your fellowship, He is waiting for you!  Regardless of length of your last visit, it’s only one step home.  Even if you squandered your entire inheritance to be found in pig slob!  Or if your heart feels stagnant, it's not impossible to rekindle.  It's just coming back to loves first kiss.

 

 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

IN THE MIDDLE OF ZIKLAG

Have you ever heard the expression, "I am stuck between a rock and a hard place?"  I am not sure who spoke this famous phrase but it's has been a familiar location in my life once or twice.  Sometimes, I have wondered, "How am I going to get out of this one?"  As we clearly evaluate our surroundings, we have looked at ALL our options but we see no clear solution in sight.  With no clear direction for our problems, we begin to allow the spirit of fear to overcome us.  No matter what direction we turn, it seems as life is going to stay in the middle of Ziklag.

 As the oil is poured over David's head, I wonder what he thought of Samuel's prophetic word over his life.  Was he afraid?  Did he feel insecure?  Was he shocked?  Scripture doesn't record David's feelings on the matter.  Nevertheless, David wasn't aware of God's calling or Samuel's purpose to his house, he was faithfully attending the sheep.  David's calling was confirmed through the prophet Samuel, witnessed in front of his family, and a promised word waiting to be fulfilled.  When the Spirit of God calls us to serve the body of Christ it will be confirmed through the Word and the witness of the church.  It's never goes any other way! The call of God is always with a promise and everything in your life will be used for preparation.  David's reign as king wasn't instantaneous, so he was being prepared the moment the oil was poured.  The anointing separated him for God's work, empowered him, and left a promise waiting to be fulfilled. (I Samuel 16:13)

With only a promise and a life changing experience, David returns to be a shepherd under his father to start his preparation.  First, David had to learn the PURPOSE of a leader-it's risking your life to save others. Second, he had to learn the call doesn't come without a BATTLE, the enemy will use different weapons to wage war. (Lion/Bears) (I Samuel 17:34)  Third, he had to learn WHO to trust in this battles; it wasn't in his own abilities and he couldn't rely on others-he had to learn to trust God.  Next, he had to personal experience God's miraculous deliverance, so he gained confidence of WHAT he believes.  As his past experiences TAUGHT him, he could run towards his enemy to overtake him. (1 Samuel 17:48)

In Ziklag, David faces opposition not from his enemies but his followers - they want to kill him.  Once the "popular boy" the city sang praises about, he is now a wanted man by the king.  As the king hunting pursues David for eight years in the desert, he nearly lost it all.  He has no homeland, no close friendship, and no normal way of life, so he finds escape in the enemies camp.  David serves as a bandit under the Philistine army, he serves faithfully to destroy the Amalekites.  David was so faithful to the mission of the Philistine's he would destroy everything in sight: men, women, children, and keep the livestock.  (I Samuel 27:8-9)  So to add salt to injury, the Philistine rulers have convinced the king to dismiss David from the next assignment because of their fear of him. "Isn't this the David they sang about in their dances: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens thousands?"

"It's not easy to wait for God's promised to be fulfilled especially when the enemies taunt us with their songs.  If we long to be fulfill God's call upon our lives, we have to willing to go through the desert.  The desert experience will cause us to feel "pressed down" or "winding" (the meaning of Ziklag) with no shelter, resources, or anyone except God alone.  Moses was led into the desert for forty years, David was wandering for eight years, and Jesus was LED by the spirit to the desert before his earthly ministry began.(Matthew 4:1)  It can be an uncomfortable experience but it's can't be passed. It can only be passed as Jesus said, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that come from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4)  As David and his men arrive in Ziklag, they are expecting the joyful reunion of their families, the comforts of home, and peace.  Instead of joyful reunion the men are distressed with sorrow, they have no strength left to weep. (I Samuel 30:4)  No comfort of home or possible future ahead, it's burned to the ground and their families taken.

 We have to learn, Gods Word is sufficient in our lives. It has the power to transform, empower, and to encourage us. David had to learn to STRENGTHEN himself in the Lord. David had to draw from the SOURCE of his life, God was enough to deliver him. David had a mob of men wanting to kill him, so he couldn't seek for their wisdom or support.  He wasn't going to find the support of the sheep, His support was His Shepherd.  Only in Ziklag could David learn a valuable lesson God is ENOUGH!  Yet, in all of this God had mercy upon David because his enemies didn't destroy him or his family.  Also, David and his men were dismissed from the army before anything worse could have happened.  David had men who desired to murder him, so what's are you facing today?

What are you facing in the middle of your Ziklag?  Are you standing in the middle of ashes with no hope, support, or shelter?  Are you questioning if God's promise will come to pass?  If all you have is a promise of God; it's all you need.  Besides Ziklag meaning "pressed down" or "winding" it also mean's fortress. ( http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/ziklag/)  You are not without HOPE!  Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved!  As David inquired of the Lord, He found his fortress who strengthened him, answered him, and led the way to destroy the enemies plot.  Not only did David get his family back but everything the enemy took from him. (1 Samuel 30:19)  So, if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, it's ok!  The rock is all you need to stand secure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Take Me to the Cross


Recently, I was asked to speak at a youth event-a bonfire.  It was the first function for the youth group, so I was honored to attend.  Before the event, the youth pastor asked if I would speak on the topic, “Take Me to the Cross.”  So, I agreed to follow her instructions for the event. As I started to meditate on the phrase and study the scriptures, I couldn’t get my mind off a man named Simon.  Who is Simon?  Simon was the man who carried the cross of Jesus. (Luke 23:26; Mark 15:21; Matthew 27:32)  A man on a simple journey – with no agenda; he is just passing by.  He has just left the countryside, walking into a peaceful journey until he encounters Jesus.  Oh, who wouldn’t want to personally meet Jesus!  Yet, may I remind you Jesus isn’t preaching to a multitude, healing the sick, or raising the dead.  Jesus is on the road that’s leading to death, a hill called the “Skull.”  A place of death for horrible criminals to face their punishment for their crimes committed.  Yet, at the end of Simon's peaceful journey, he is placed in the center of a road to a crucifixion.

 Life will take us on several different journeys, some we don’t want to walk down.  Yet, if we truly want to walk with Jesus, we have to follow the road to Calvary.  Nevertheless, I am wondering what’s going through Simon’s mind?  Was he trying to figure out the charges of Jesus?  Why is heading to the Skull?  Although the cross is a public, humiliating, and horrific death for our Savior to suffer, He did.  Before the cross is placed in the ground, Simon got to visually see the aftermath of the beating of Jesus.  He was completely unrecognizable as a person, “Who could do this to another person?”  The back of Jesus is scared from the repeated whips tearing His flesh apart.  His face is beaten, bruised, and bloody from the thorns upon His brow.  “What did this man do?” Simon had to wonder as his eyes met the Savior’s.  As Simon carries the cross down the road, he hears the voices of others.  He hears the women weeping and wailing as they follow Christ on the road.  As he continues to carry the cross, he sees the soldiers with their swords.  The soldiers are reinforcing the decision of the government to punish this criminal.  Other voices are yelling for Jesus to be crucified but the voice of Jesus is comforting towards the women.  “How can you comfort people on the way to your death?”  Simon had to ponder.  “Who is this man?”  “If anyone needs comfort-it’s this man!”  He understands the people are divided about this man but he is asked to carry HIS cross.  Simon doesn’t know anything about the man except what the many voices are saying.  

A simple walk through the country would forever change the life of Simon.  He will always be known as the man who carried the cross of Jesus but he was a follower too.  According to Bible scholars, “Rufus” found in Romans 16:13 Paul was referring to Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross. So, although Simon had a personal encounter with Jesus it changed his life.

What can we learn about Simon’s journey?  Eventually in our lives we will encounter the life of Jesus, we will either choose to be a spectator of the events of Christ or become a devoted follower.  What we must understand, God calls us out of the crowd to make a public choice about Him.  WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?  Which voice will lead your path?  Will it be the mockers who didn’t understand?  Will it be the followers who walked closely behind?  Sadly, some chose to sit with the mockers to gamble their eternal destiny.  Besides mocking the mission of Christ, they mock Him directly to His face.  Although they mock Him, He longs to forgive them.  Others walk with Jesus closely behind him; they truly know WHO He is.  As they walk with Him, they suffer with Him.
 
Calvary does demonstrate the love of the Father but it also demonstrates the cost-death. 

We can’t follow Christ without their being a death to sin and to self.  So, we can’t have the abundant life or eternal life without believing in Jesus.  Besides dying at salvation, it’s a continual journey to die on a daily basis so the will of God is done.  (I Corinthians 15:31)
     Simon was passing by but he was called out of the crowd-to follow Jesus.  It’s a personal journey down the road to Calvary, only the footprints of Jesus and yours.  It’s a personal and public declaration to the world-not for popularity.  If we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow Him to Calvary.  At Calvary, Jesus suffered a public, shameful, and horrific death to publicly carry my penalty, shame, and sin.  He publicly demonstrated His love for us, so why is it so difficult for us to publicly demonstrate our love before the world?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Old Fork in the Road

As we journey in this life, we will eventually come to the old fork in the road.  As we stand gazing down each path, we can start to feel overwhelmed about the choice we have to make.  Whether the decision is about getting married, selecting a career, or moving to a new location for better opportunities-it’s VITAL to seek God’s face for every important decision for your life.  One of my spiritual mentor’s, my Aunt Elaine said, “Never go where the peace of God isn’t leading you.”  Although this statement is quite simple, it’s guided me during through some critical decisions in my life, especially in recent events.

When we have the peace of God in our lives it will keep our hearts and minds at ease.  Peace should rule our lives, so we can walk confidently with God regardless of the circumstances ahead. 

 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 

Our faith begins in a relationship with God, grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and ends with the reward of those who keep the faith.  So, if it begins and ends with God, so why would God stop in the middle of the journey? “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Recently, I had the privilege of preaching at my home church, I was so excited to pour back into the church family who lovingly supported me.  I couldn’t wait to share updates with all my family and friends about what God was doing.  Yet, on the other hand I was deeply saddened about where my life was, especially in ministry.  I felt as if I was a disappointment to everyone, even God.  A few days before my departure, my husband started teasing me about moving back to Maryland.  Honestly, it wasn’t even a decision I would consider because I knew God’s call for my life.  As I boarded the plane, my heart stayed focused upon “my expectations” for this phase of my life.  In my eyes, I failed miserably.  Nevertheless, God was testing my heart, drawing me deeper, and spoke directly into my life during this trip.  It wasn’t what I expected but it was what I needed, a timely word from God. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11 

Upon arriving at the airport, I was greeted by my biggest fan, my mother who lovingly kissed my face.  As she promised, she was going to “spoil me” during my visit at home.  She didn’t go back upon her promise; we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Olive Garden-one of my favorite places.   Although dinner was short, we were expected at the pastor’s house for dessert, so we drove to their home.  Upon arrival, I wasn’t sure what to expect during this visit.  As I was getting acquainted with the pastor and his family, enjoying the dessert and fellowship with godly people-God arrived in the midst.  In the middle of dessert, the pastor and my mother laid their hands upon me and started praying for me.  As they prayed for me, the Holy Spirit spoke prophetically into my life through the pastor.  It was a timely word spoken directly to my heart and changed my outlook of “my expectations” for my life.   Yet, God was testing my heart!  After Sunday night service, I thanked the pastor for allowing me to share the Word of God.  We had a brief conversation, encouraged each other and he asked me if I would consider being his Associate Pastor.  I advised, “I wanted to fast and pray before my answer and to speak to my husband.”  What was I tell my husband? 

As the next several weeks unfolded I continued to seek the Lord’s face, sought godly counsel, and made a list of pro’s and con’s.  Yet, I finally asked God to “open the door and close the door to what He wanted” so I could walk clearly.  As I waited upon God the door was closed at the moment to go back home.  As I was listening to the results of various decisions, my heart was completely crushed.  Why would this great opportunity arise?  Why would God speak so clear with a timely word?  We must remember the greatest call of all!  As Christians, our goal is to simply grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.  It's not about titles or callings; it's simply to know Christ in the fullness of the Spirit.  Sadly, we can get so sidetrack with life’s responsibilities that we neglect the reason for living-to know God! 

It’s only through loving God will our purpose be made known; His perfect will come as a result.  We can't force the will of God into our lives; we have to allow God to open doors for us.  Until God opens the door to His perfect will; rest on His perfect Word spoken in your life. "Then Job replied to the Lord : "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:1-2   One of the reasons it's so important to have the Word hidden in your heart, so you learn to encourage yourself. The Word hidden keeps us from sin but it also builds our faith to endure any test, especially if we stand alone. 

While tending the flock David is completely unaware of the prophet of God coming to Jesse’s house.  He is working faithfully in his father’s field; he doesn’t understand why he is being called out.  As Samuel anoints David with oil, he receives a prophetic word about his life. After this prophetic call, David returns to being a shepherd, he wasn’t escorted to the throne.  At the moment of anointing, David was being PREPARED for the call of God not only to be king but to be the man after God’s own heart.  David didn't force his way to the throne, he waited on God's timing and promise.  His heart of worship led him to the palace but it wasn’t the RIGHT MOMENT to rule; he was used to comfort a tortured king.  As David was faithful and gained the trust of the king, he was led into battle.  It wasn’t just a battle against his enemies but his family, King Saul, was his father-in-law.   As David won battle against his enemies, his calling became evident to all; God’s anointing will be recognized.  Yet, David wasn't lazy while he waited he served his father's flock, played harp for the king Saul, and in battle. Yet, it was all used to equip David to be King, so be faithful with your hands and heart. 

WHAT SHOULD WE DO WHEN WE COME TO THE OLD FORK IN THE ROAD?

1.       When the call of God is summed; it’s time to realize EVERYTHING in your life is being used for PREPARATION.
2.       God’s purpose can’t be stopped for your life; He is the author of it.
3.       WRITE DOWN spoken promises to build yourself up when life’s circumstances are not clear, family isn’t supportive, and rejoice on the day of God’s timing.
4.       God’s call doesn’t come without a battle, so BE PREPARED for warfare against the enemy.
5.       REST IN GOD where you are; God will open the doors at His appointed time.
6.       REALIZE your greatest call is BECOMING CHRIST LIKE; not the title you carry.
7.       While waiting SERVE FAITHFULLY with the responsibilities you are given.

When the fork of the road seems to overwhelm you; go to the road map-the Bible.  God will make His will clear but be willing to walk in whatever direction He asks.  If there is a check in your spirit, it’s time to stop what you are doing and listen.  If you have heard directly from God which direction to take; don’t fear it!  He is walking each step of the way because He leads us in the path of righteousness for His name sake. (Psalm 23:3)