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Archive for March, 2013

In generations past, folks were willing to adapt their lifestyle to fit their income. Families were willing to sacrifice financial gain for the sake of their children and grandchildren. Parents were willing to teach their children the Word of God. Relationships  and time spent with friends and family were treasured.

The large majority of our nation was willing to make Sunday a holy day, a day set apart to worship Jehovah God. Establishments chose to forego Sunday’s profit and closed their businesses. Churches were full and America was a nation united under God.

Americans, Congressional Representatives, and Judges would not have believed a time would arrive when they would be voting to kill babies and allow men to wed men and women to marry women. There was no conversation about death panels or shredding our Constitution. Because our people, our courts and our government obeyed the God given laws of the land. But Americans grew complacent, then greedy and sluggish. And they took a nap. A long, Rip-Van-Winkle-nap. And many are still sleeping.

Two thousand years ago a very different form of government ruled. The Roman Caesars. The rich were very rich, the poor were very poor, and there was no in-between. Times were brutal. The Sabbath celebrated by only a handful of Jews. Crime and violence knew no bounds and corruption marked and devoured the world.

Yet on that appointed night in Bethlehem a King was born. Born to die. Anointed by God, before the foundation of the world, to be crucified on that cross. Jesus would pay the penalty for all of mankind’s sin and rebellion against God—and this King was willing. Willing to die for you and for me.

Jesus was willing to leave behind His right to rule at the right hand of the Father. Willing to confine Himself in the human womb of a young Jewish girl to be born a helpless baby. He was willing to step out of immortality into mortality. Willing to suffer and ridiculed for thirty-two years before being tortured and crucified by those He came to save.

This perfect Lamb laid His life’s blood on the altar of God. So that any person who would accept and believe that His indescribable sacrifice would pay the penalty for their sins, would be washed clean with His blood, and would receive God’s promise of eternal life. With Him forever.

He was willing to trust the Father’s power to raise Him from the dead and give to Him an eternal kingdom that He would rule and reign from David’s throne in Jerusalem. Jesus was willing to wait for His Father’s instruction to collect those who have received His gift of new life at Calvary. Willing to forgive, comfort and love each one who comes to Him, believing He is Immanuel—God with us; if we are willing to honor, obey and love Him in return.

Our culture is changing, like ancient Rome, and those changes headline the news each day. We have moved the ancient boundaries God set in place for our protection. Please explain to me, how a man, woman, boy or girl who names the name of Jesus can support what God calls an abomination?

Many Americans don’t have a clue who God is nor are they interested in finding out. Many have turned their backs and walked away from the only way to the Father—His Son, Jesus Christ. Many have chosen to worship at the feet of false gods, and are still choosing to scream, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”

This Easter Season what is the Spirit of God saying to you? He whispered to my heart during the Lord’s Supper this past Sunday evening “…and He was willing.” Which begs the question, what am I willing to allow the Spirit to accomplish in me?

What are you willing to allow the Spirit to do in you?

Are you willing to lay aside pride in order to repair and restore family relationships that have been damaged in a sea of turmoil and misunderstanding?

Are you willing to crucify secret sins, addictions that require repentance and God’s forgiveness?

Are you willing to turn loose of the mess of anger, hatred, and bitterness you’ve harbored, asking Jesus to replace those destructive habits, thoughts, and emotions with His love, grace and mercy?

Are you willing to stand firm, speaking the truth of God ‘til Jesus comes? No matter the cost?

He was willing to suffer and die for you. What are you willing to put to death for His sake? Because you love Him and desire to be like Him?

“Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep…For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:15-18 NAS).

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It can begin with a thought, a song, a word. Or perhaps an emotional tug that swirls through your heart like a recurring melody that refuses to depart. For a moment, a day, maybe much longer. Ever whispering. Ever nudging. Ever growing.

That is, if you listen.

In the beginning the  Holy Spirit moved over the dark, formless void of the waters and stirred them in preparation for God’s magnificent work of  creation. This same Spirit now rouses the believer’s heart to accomplish the Lord’s sovereign plan in this age.

Have you experienced this flow of the Spirit that moves through you like a current? How have you responded? Have the crashing tidal waves of life drowned the sound of His whisper and swept you away from the blessing of obedience? Or have you disciplined yourself to be still, to be quiet, and tuned your ear to hear when the Spirit of God stirs your heart?

If you turn away from the Spirit’s prompting, He will find another heart. A heart that desires to please God. Another heart who will do what you refused to do and you will miss the blessing.  But if you choose to allow the Spirit to fill you, you will become like a mighty river that swells and grows with purpose and direction under the power of God’s hand.

In 539 B.C. God stirred the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, just as Isaiah prophesied.

“It is I who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire. And he declares of Jerusalem, She will be built and of the temple, Your foundation will be laid” (Isaiah 44:28 NAS).

God called Cyrus by name, one hundred seventy-five years before he was born. His purpose was already anointed and at the appointed time the Holy Spirit stirred this king’s heart. And Cyrus listened.

He released those Israelites whose hearts were also moved by the Spirit of God to return to Jerusalem to build a house for the Lord God. And Cyrus paid all the building costs.

Then the king went into the treasuries of Babylon and brought out all the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had removed from God’s temple, before he destroyed and burned Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and Cyrus returned them to the new temple in Jerusalem.

The Book of Ezra records how God moved the heart of this pagan king, the Jewish people, the priests and the Levites to rebuild the House of God and the Holy City of God at the appointed time.

But how about your appointed time? How long has it been since the Spirit of God stirred your heart? To rebuild a broken relationship. To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s direction to complete God’s plan in your family, your church, or your nation. To anoint you as a conduit to pour out His love, His grace and His mercy on the hurting folks your life touches every day.

The Book of James tells us faith without action is dead faith. To maintain true faith we must be continually stirred, filled and spilled by the Spirit’s work in our heart.

“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NAS).

God uses the testimony of His work in our lives to encourage and give understanding to others for the sake of the Kingdom. Would you tell us how God, through His Spirit, has stirred your heart. Did you respond? When? How and what did God do as you listened and obeyed?

Or perhaps yours is a word of warning. A warning that teaches us not to quench or ignore the whisper of His Spirit. A warning about missed opportunities for blessings.

I encourage you to encourage one another with an affirmation of your words that God’s Spirit still moves in obedient hearts today.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (II Chronicles 16:9 NAS).

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What mom or dad hasn’t heard these words? Many times. And what did you say to that frightened child? Be quiet and go to sleep? Did you fuss and tell your child you needed to sleep? Or did you get up, go to your son or daughter and lovingly give them proper comfort and instruction?

But where does a parent go when shadows fall like a shroud and pitch you into the depths of unknown terror?

If you haven’t been there yet, just wait. It will come.

Twenty years ago my husband had an aneurysm rupture in his leg. Petrifying weeks followed as we waited to see if he would loose his life or his leg. Waited to see if he would be able to work or still have a job. Waited for that time of unequivocal darkness to pass.

Until job loss, heart attacks, financial distress, deaths—all long black tunnels of fear, sucked the light from our lives and plunged us into the inky abyss of anguish. We couldn’t hop over ‘em, dig under ‘em, or run around ‘em. I sobbed, “Abba, Father, it’s so dark and I’m afraid.”

And when I cried, my Father was faithful to hold me, comfort me, and give me His strength. Strength to put one foot in front of the other.  One step at a time. And travel with Him through the sightless night back into the light. During that time I feared I might stumble and die in the process.

But God taught me there were lessons I must learn in the dark. Lessons I can’t see in the bright light of day. Lessons I must learn in the discipline of darkness.

This discipline required me to walk in lock-step with the Lord Jesus, forced me to focus on His face, instead of the things that creak and groan in the night. And reminded me to call out, “Daddy, I’m afraid.”

I only do that when I’m forced to abide behind the sooty curtains of heartache.

God shines the truth of His love on me in the light of day. But in the darkroom of trouble He develops the knowledge and understanding of my faith in Him. Then I see the profane and unclean things lurking in my mind, things I have refused to acknowledge in times of blessing. I see pitfalls and traps that would have entangled me, had I not slowed my pace and clung to Jesus. And I am convinced it is better to walk with God in the dark than to stand alone in the light.

But as sure as day follows night, turmoil will pass and His light, like the sunrise, will disburse trials and tragedies. I will blossom again, strengthened by His comfort to know when darkness returns all I have to do is cry “Abba, Father—Daddy— I’m afraid.”

And if you’re His child, He will wrap you in His arms of comfort and carry you through ’til morning. Because He loves you.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but  you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15 NAS).

“What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3 NAS).

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