Saturday, October 29, 2011

Faith Requires Action

"When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. " John 6:5-6
 Oh, I just love this!! I can just picture this scene. Jesus is watching all this from the Father’s eyes and knows the answer even before the question comes about. The disciples are worried and trying to figure out in their human logic, how can they begin to feed all the people. They seek human solutions and have not opened their spiritual eyes. They have not begun to believe in Jesus, that He is the son of God, even after miracle upon miracle. Hello?! Don’t you guys get it yet? Jesus says that He came from Heaven and that God was His Father and yet, the disciples go back to the same old human thinking and reasoning. Jesus was testing them with a real life situation. They could say with their mouths that they believed, but unless they put their faith and belief into action, it really does not mean anything. (James 2:17) This is the same for us. We can say we have faith and trust in God but when the real life situation comes to test our faith, do we exercise our faith? When the medical tests show a negative report, can you walk in faith? When you get laid off a job and there is no work in sight, can you walk in faith? When your aging parent is slowly declining, can you walk in faith? This is where all that we have learned in scripture is now going to take a physical action and response from us. Now we have to walk it and not just talk it! Jesus tested the disciples in their faith and in the end, Jesus performed a miracle not with the purpose of feeding the multitude, but to point the way to God through himself. He was the Messiah, the son of God. I am grateful for this verse today for it is about not just knowing about scripture and God’s promises, but it is about when the rubber meets the road, how are we all going to do? Will we actually put our faith into action?  We are to give Jesus what we have and then He will provide the miracle. It starts with us - we do our part and He will do his.
Question: Is your faith being tested? How can you walk in faith through this challenge?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jesus Transforms

"Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.  “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:9-11)
The entire chapter of John 2,  had so many things that I could write about but as I sat here and meditated on some of the details of the first miracle of Jesus, it became really clear to me that there was a deeper significance of the changing of the water to wine. Let me begin with a scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:7. It says:
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
Our bodies are considered, “clay jars”. We are like those water pots in John 2. But what I know of these waters jars is that the Jewish ceremonial washing was to take  dirty hands and to wash them in these jars as a purification and cleansing. So think about that jar! The jar has dirt and filth from the many washings. Get a picture of this when you think of washing your hands after being outside in the yard and then washing over and over again in the same filled sink. Ugh! So we know that these water jars were filthy and people would NEVER drink water from those jars. Not only that, the water that was poured into the jars, probably was not drinking water from the well, but household water for cleaning. So you get the picture now...really nasty water in really dirty jars. Gee, we are like those jars. Before we were born again - before salvation, we were like those filthy jars and then the miracle that happened, was Jesus pouring into us and changing us from the inside out. We have now gone from filthy water to the best of wine! We are transformed by Jesus! So the image I got this morning was deeper than just the first miracle of Jesus, it was symbolic of the ministry of Messiah, it was the transformation of our lives into being vessels to hold the living water. It is done only though Christ Jesus himself, son of God!! Boy, was that an eye opener for me today!
Question: What condition is your fragile clay jar today?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taking Every Thought Captive

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:3-5
I teach in the Prayer 101 classes, this very concept when it comes to Spiritual Warfare. We come against the schemes of the enemy and his plans to “steal, kill and destroy” our identity in Christ and to steal our faith. It would drive you crazy if you had to try to hold back every single thought you have and try to take it captive. So what is it saying here? What thoughts do we take captive? When we find ourselves in spiritual warfare, that is the time we are called to action, to begin to identify our thoughts, match them up against God’s Word and to cast out those thoughts that do not line up with God’s Word. Let me give you an example. You are in a meeting and you represent a project that you had spent time, energy and it is your best effort. At the meeting, all the other projects are being discussed and your project is not. Everyone there is lifting up and praising the other projects with the exception of yours. The discussion ends and they go on to another topic, and your project was never mentioned. Now, you begin to feel offended. This is where it starts. Feeling insecure and unworthy the thoughts, “see, you didn’t do a good job”, “you are not important”, “everyone is better than you”. Are you getting a picture of the thoughts and lies that the enemy is influencing you to think. This is spiritual warfare! You can begin to believe the lie and accept the sadness, rejection, insecurity and unworthiness that the enemy is enticing you to believe OR you can stop and recognize these thoughts as coming from the enemy and TAKE THOSE THOUGHTS CAPTIVE. How do you do that? You tell your thoughts, “STOP”, those are lies and I will not believe them. Because they did  not mention my project does not define who I am nor does it say that my project was not acceptable. You stop that thinking, you begin to refocus on truth of who you are as defined in God’s Word. I am HIS masterpiece, I am the apple of His eye, He delights in me, He sings over me, I am a Child of God...”. Taking thoughts captive is to stop the negative thinking and replace them with God’s Word and with affirmations of who you are. We choose to not be offended for it is by accepting lies about who we are that we can become oppressed by the enemy. The best way to always come against principalities and strongholds is to use God’s Word to see the truth and be set free from lies of the enemy. It will become more automatic as time goes by, to renounce the emotions/lies and to redirect our thoughts to God’s Word and to thoughts that line up with it.
Question: What lies have you been believing that you need to renounce and take the thought captive?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Purification Process

"With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let's make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let's make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Becoming pure is the topic for today. It is like a water purification system. When there are elements in the water that can be harmful to us physically, we can use a water purification system to take out all the impurities of our water before we drink the water. Isn’t this exactly what Paul was writing about to the  Church of Corinth? What he had to do was to be honest and have to correct the members of the church. If you have never been corrected, then you have been spared a painful, but necessary process. What may happen,  is that well-meaning people start to get off tract and away from biblical practices and they believe they are doing things the right way – but they are NOT. One with spiritual maturity or one that is in authority over the person, sees that a correction needs to be made. Correction is not pleasant, and it is often painful. I have been corrected by those in authority over me and it does not feel good but it was the necessary growing process that I needed. The intent of correction is NOT to make you feel badly. It is to help us grow and get us back on the right tract and to make us more “pure”. We are humbled, repentant and begin to change in our ways. It is that purification process – like the water purification system. God’s Word does that same thing. We read the Logos (written word) and the Holy Spirit teaches, guides and corrects us (rhema). We  are convicted of our actions, deeds, words and the course correction or purification begins to take place. We now can remove the pollutant from our lives and we can begin to become more like Christ. This process is called “sanctification”. It is going from one level of learning to another and always be filtered through God’s Word and becoming more pure, through correcting our behaviors, actions, deeds and words to become more like Christ. This process is life long and we continue to keep working on being filtered everyday and staying in His Word. Honestly,  I don’t know what I would do if I was NOT in God’s Word everyday. I learn more and more about how God wants me to live this life He has given me. I am to be obedient and when I get corrected, I am to thank Him and know that it is that purification system that is taking out all the pollutants from my life.
Question: Are you reading God's Word daily as a purification process?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Choose Your Perspective

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
I bet that you are looking at the image above and wondering, "What does that dual-view screen have to do with our bible verses today?" but it is an important visual that will reinforce the concept of our perception of situations. One day, I received this visual revelation from the Lord and I have shared it many times in my teachings on spiritual warfare. You will see that there is one screen in the center and there are two screens on either side of the center screen. The middle screen represents a situation and/or event in our lives. That seems pretty simple, right? Things happen to us all the time, but I am talking about an EVENT, one that has an emotion attached to it. Let’s say, a co-worker comes to you and tells you that the project you worked on for months and have just submitted to the boss for approval, that it does not seem to fit the standard of the company and it will not be approved. Now, here is where the dual screen comes in to play. We have two ways to perceive this event (middle screen). We can see it through the world and the image that the enemy has created (left screen). This screen would show discouragement, despair, self-doubt, insecurity and the list goes on. Now, what is playing on the other screen? This is the perception from God’s Word (right screen). It is everything that God tells us who we are and what is truth according to the Heavenly Kingdom. This would be that of success and the perception that God inspired the project and through us during our best, it WILL be approved by the boss and he will see it as wonderful and just what he wants. So, we always have two choices of which screen to watch. Do we want to filter the world through the eyes of the Lord or the eyes of the enemy? It is your choice! You do not need to not get offended or hurt in situations  but you are  to focus your perception on God’s Word and what He would say about the situation. Just as it says in verse 18, we can fix our gaze on troubles OR we can fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen, that is God’s Kingdom and truth. Here is what we do according to God’s Word and it is to begin to take your “thoughts captive” and we focus our thoughts on:

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8 NLT) 

We can choose which screen to watch, it is your choice! Once you begin to watch the movie that the enemy has scripted just for you, you begin to watch it, continue to focus on it and then your mind gets on a “roll” and all you can do is play that movie over and over again in your mind. Begin to realize today that we have our free will to say “no”, I will not watch the screen that was created by the enemy and begin to look through the perception of God’s eyes, through His Word and through the thoughts that are “excellent and worthy”.
 I have used this example over and over again to minister to others about God’s perspective vs. Enemy’s perspective. We need to always remember which screen we want to watch. It is a choice we make daily.
Question: In the situation you are in today, which screen are you viewing? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God Never Wastes a Hurt

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Why do we have to go through those tough times in life? The Apostle Paul writes to the church of Corinth his thoughts about the tough times and challenges that face us. When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble and strife we know that we can look to the Lord and He is the one that will provide comfort. It does not say that God takes it away, it says that our Father  “comforts us in all our troubles”. What was written in the same verse is the “why”. We often go through these struggles because we then can comfort others. I remember hearing that “God never wastes a hurt”. Often we go through those tough times because we will be so equipped to minister to others. I have so often ministered to others and when I share, “I have been there also”, helps them know that I understand what it is like to be in their shoes because I too have shared the same struggle. It is so often that God will give us the ministry of the area in which we have struggled the most. If you are a cancer survivor, guess where God is going to have you minister? If you have gone through a rough divorce, guess where God is going to have you minister? Yes, the toughest times that God got you through, that is YOUR ministry area. God is our comfort and the way to get through those tough and dark times. We can go into those dark places to find hurting people and take their hands and walk them through their pain. There is always a God purpose in healings and it is to point the way to Him. May we be the ones to point the way and to show others the way to light, life and salvation. He is the great Healer and He will do the same to others as He did for us.My job is to always point the way for others. As God has rescued me from the pit and a lifetime of hurts, He too can use me to now, show others that there is a God that will comfort one through life’s difficult trials. God will get others through the tough times, just as He got me through them too. 
Question: Can you identify the past hurts in your life and begin to see that God had you go through that, so you can guide and comfort others?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Heat of Temptation

" So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Cor. 10:12-13
Certainly we have all been tempted. Temptation comes from the enemy. Once I heard a person say that God was tempting them, and there seems to be no biblical base to say that God tempts, but he "allows" temptation to come you way to see how you stand up to it. What God will use challenges in our lives to see how we respond and how obedient we are to His Word. The enemy is the one that tempts us to fall. Oh yes, we have that carrot dangled in front of us, the Holy Spirt is telling us “don’t go there”. The enemy is on the the other side saying, "go ahead, no one will know" or other justifications to fall into sin. There is that moment in time where we are to make that choice. Which way do we go. Do we give in to the flesh, the desire, the want...or do we use the fruit of the spirit (self control) to be able to withstand the temptation? It is our choice. Do we feed our fleshly desires or do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and follow His Way, the Truth and the Life? What I like about these two verses, is that God tells us that He will “provide a way out” so we can ENDURE. Notice that it does not say that God will remove it...but we are to ENDURE IT. I heard a wonderful example of this. God never gives us anything that is too hard for what we can “bear”. It is like an iron. On the iron you have many settings. Each setting is selected for the specific material type. So when you have linen, you put the iron setting on linen. If you have a synthetic setting, you put the iron on that setting. Why? Because if you use a higher setting than the material requires, it will burn. Well, that is like the temptation and challenges that come our way. God will only press into us, like the iron, just the proper setting. We will receive the heat at the right setting. Hot? Yes, but it will NOT burn! God knows just how much we can endure, but endure we must. So this scripture is so true when you look at the iron example. We will NOT be given more than what we can bear. Isn’t that reassuring? God knows our settings and He will only use what we need to straighten out the fabric in our lives!
Question: Have you found yourself in an area of temptation and had to go through the process of ironing to get out the wrinkles of your life?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Embroidery Behind

”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”-Isaiah 55:8,9
 As I read this scripture, I saw a vision of an embroidery piece. From the top, you see the beautiful stitching and how every stitch has a pattern and is connected to make a design for us to see. But what do you see from below? You see a tangle of thread, knots, unrelated threads tangled with others. It is chaotic...well that is what we see. God sees it from the top. His pattern is different from what we see. We see it from the bottom. So true of life, we may see tangles and twisted knots but God see the ultimate and beautiful hand crafted design — designed by the master craftsman himself. When we are going through challenges in life, we should think of the embroidery design from the top and not from behind so that we can begin to realize that God's plan is bigger than our plan.  Often times, we don't understand why things are going the way they are. That is why faith comes in to play a big part of this plan. We need to trust, that God has the perfect plan for our lives, even if we cannot see it ourselves. Bottom line here, God has everything under control, we just need to trust in His perfect plan for our lives.
Question: Are you seeing your life through the perspective of the embroidery design from below?