Sunday, April 29, 2012

Are You Doing All You Will Ever Do?

God has far more in mind than bringing forth one kind of fruit from your life.  The harvest God desires to produce has the potential of abounding variety.  I believe the promises God made to the Israelites for their Promised Land in the tangible realm parallel ours in the spiritual realm. You and I weren't called to become machines of mass-but-monotonous production.  Just when we decide our lives  are all about figs, God starts mixing up  the soil underneath our feet to bring forth some pomegranates.  Have you too quickly decided that what you have done or what you are doing is all you'll ever do?  Ah, God's far too creative for that.  May God use our present journey to shake up some soil.

If you can't imagine God ever delivering you from the corruption of evil desires and bringing forth a great harvest through your life, you've bought into the lie that God's promises don't apply to you.  The Amplified version of Ephesians 2:10 says that you and I are "God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live."

Ephesians 1:18 says, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."  Our glorious inheritance in Christ is not meant for heaven alone.  The primary context of Ephesians 1 is the impact of our heavenly inheritance on our earthly existence.  God knows the plans He has for us, Dear One, but He will not force them on us.  Don't miss the word hope.  Nothing about your calling or mine is compulsory.  God is going to accomplish His agenda regarding heaven and earth no matter what you and I do, but we get to decide whether we're going to be part of His process in our generation.  Our callings remain a hope until we allow the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened and choose to accept them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God Honors Faith

Faith honors God and God honors faith!  A story from the life of missionaries Robert and Mary Moffat illustrates this truth.  For ten years, this couple labored in Bechuanaland (now called Botswana) without one ray of encouragement to light their way.  they could not report a single convert.  Finally, the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work.  The thought  of leaving their post, however, brought great grief to this devoted couple, for they felt sure that God was in their labors, and that they would see people turn to Christ in due season.

They stayed; and for a year or two longer, darkness reigned.  Then one day a friend in England sent word to the Moffats that he wanted to mail them a gift and asked what they would like.  Trusting that, in time, the Lord would bless their work, Mrs Moffat replied, "Send us a communion set; I am sure it will soon be needed."  God honored the dear woman's faith.  the Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the villagers, and soon a litttle group of six converts united to form the first Christian church in that land.  the communion set from England was delayed in the mail;  but on the day before the first commemoration of the Lord's Supper in Bechuanaland, the set arrived.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Weary Times

"And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”  1 Kings 19:3,4

Elijah was tired.  So tired that he was too tired to even vocalize the feeling.  There were no words to express this degree of consuming exhaustion.  Where was his reward in serving God?  he wondered.  Was this the thanks he got for standing up to the prophets of Baal?  For making a mockery of their so-called god?  He could still remember the absolute incredulity that came over their faces when God's fire fell and consumed the sacrifice he had prepared for Him.  The fire had consumed everything --the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, even the water in the trench that had been dug around it.  that was all the people needed to see to fall on their faces and worship God.  Incensed against the prophets of Baal, the crowd rose and slaughtered them all.  And then Elijah had prophesied an end to the drought in the land.  As the rain fell, Elijah, overtaken by the power of the Lord, ran ahead of Ahab's chariot all the way to Jezreel.

You would think that with all these supernatural manifestations of God's Spirit at work, Elijah would get a little respect.  But no, that evil queen Jezebel had the nerve instead to threaten his life!  Her spirit of oppression spread throughout the land, gripping everyone with fear, including her husband, who yielded to whatever she wanted for fear of being confronted by her wrath. And now Jezebel was infuriated at the death of her lackeys, those false prophets of Baal she surrounded herself with.  And her undesirable attention was now vindictively directed toward Elijah.  Needless to say, this seriously dampened his exhilaration of calling down fire and rain from heaven.  His victory felt short-lived as he ran for his life.  He felt so isolated, so spent, so depressed.  How God could leave him at the mercy of this wicked woman was beyond him.  Why hadn't God struck her down while He was on a roll?  After all, Elijah had confronted God's enemies and wiped them out with a vengeance.  Didn't one good favor deserve another?

And yet here Elijah was, fleeing for his life.  Perhaps he was getting old.  Maybe he couldn't take all this excitement anymore.  With resignation closing in around him like heavy velvet curtains, he concluded he might as well die --he had definitely had enough.  He was too tired to be startled by even the angel of the Lord who appeared to him, instructing him to eat.  Almost in a dreamlike state, Elijah did as he was told, eating enough to strengthen himself to make the journey to Horeb, the mountain of God, driven by nothing more than the desire to get some sort of answer.

And then He was there...God, asking Elijah why he was there.  How could God ask such a question?  Didn't He know how hard Elijah had been working for Him?  Didn't He know how badly the rest of the people were behaving?  How they had persecuted and killed everyone who made a stand for God?  Why, Elijah was the only one left.  The only one who hadn't compromised his standards.  The last one...and now they were trying to kill him!

He didn't know what to expect as the Lord invited him to stand in His presence on the mountain.  At this point, facing the great and powerful wind that tore the mountain apart as well as the earthquake and fire that followed was better than facing Jezebel.  But then came the gentle whisper of God, humbling him and asking once again, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  But Elijah missed the real question.  "How could you ever feel alone after I've revealed My presence to you in such undeniable ways?  Will you always need a major display to be convinced that you're not alone?  Don't you know I'm bigger than the box you've put Me in?  Don't you know that I am nearer to you in the stillness than I am in all outward manifestations?  No, My son, you are not alone.  You have reinforcement beyond what your eyes see and your senses conceive.  You should have learned that lesson when you were waiting for Me to send the rain."

As Elijah descended from the mountain, reenergized, refocused, reassured, he felt renewed purpose.  He had to work to do.  It was amazing the difference a conversation with God could make.  How kind He was, always faithful to meet those who called out to Him at their point of need.  Not only did He offer food for the body, He gave fortification to the soul.


How many times have you become weary of well doing when you see no immediate rewards in sight?  We struggle even more when we suffer for righteousness' sake-- especially when God doesn't seem to come against our enemies the way we feel He should.  We can stand in bold, unwavering faith one moment and plummet to the depths of despair and doubt in a matter of seconds once the enemy of our souls rises up to retaliate against us.  And we begin to take the spiritual warfare that ensues personally instead of remembering that we never stand alone.  It is the One who is within us that the enemy hates.  Therefore, an attack against us is an attack against God, and He takes it personally.   For this reason we have His promise that He is able tot keep that which is committed to Him, for God defends His own.  In that promise we can rest secure that no weapon the enemy fashions against us will ever prosper.

His Love Always Finds Me by Michelle Hammond McKinney

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count." Psalm 40:5 (NAS)

Rain is depended upon in the jungle.  Without it, wells will dry up, crops will die and the temperature will continue to rise. 

One Sunday as I sat under the tree where we had church, my thoughts turned to the rain, or more correctly to the absence of rain.  I then realized that in the 14 months that I had lived int he jungle, no church service had ever been canceled for rain.  I felt God saying to me, Of course not.  You meet under a tree.  You can't have church if it's raining.  I've got that detail under control.

What an amazing realization!  It had never occurred to me that we had good weather for church, but God had been taking care of it.  I never bothered to pray about having good weather for church.  Yet God already had it under control. 

When I think about what that means in the rest of my life, I am almost overwhelmed.  God proves daily that He is ordering my steps and planning my days.  If He takes the time to plan good weather for believers in the jungle who meet under a tree, won't He be planning my life and your life as well?

--Kristee, South America
Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore and Friends

Sunday, April 1, 2012

King of the Jungle

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."  John 12:32 (NAS)

The Lion of Judah commands and deserves focus from us.  We must stay so intently focused on the King of kings that when distractions come, we are not moved!  For when our eyes are fixed on Him, we exalt Him, and others will be drawn to Him.