Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marvin Sapp - "My Testimony"


Are You Wrestling with Making the Right Choice?






We discussed in a blog earlier this week about the necessity of bringing our thoughts subject to the obedience of Christ.  In today’s blog we hold our choices up to the light of God’s love and discover the challenges of making a godly choice.



“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua chapter 24 verse 15 (New International Version)





The wisdom in this verse is acknowledging that our choices reflect who we serve. If we are serving God, we will make the choice that best pleases Him. That choice will line up with God's Word and God will give us a peace about making that choice because He is pleased.



The challenge is that there are other contenders for our service.  Joshua refers to these contenders as the gods of our ancestors or the gods of the Amorites. First, consider that contender # one, your family--mama, daddy, granddaddy, great great grandmama (ancestors) and other relatives have opinions about everything and you've been exposed to and influenced by them for years.



Any thought that rules you might as well be a god because you bow to it.



If you are trying to decide whether to leave or stay in a place or relationship and all your life you've been taught to be loyal, you just might choose to stay even though everything inside you is saying go. In this case loyalty is the ruling thought. Your dad was loyal, your granddad was loyal, therefore you must be loyal and stay. You choose to obey the little god thought and stay, even though the Spirit of God inside of you is saying go. On the other hand if family tradition has taught you to get going when the going gets rough, you will do that—even when the Spirit of the Lord is saying hold on. Sometimes we can’t forgive others because retaliating is in our bloodline and we just can’t let an offense go.  Wow!



Contender # two is the opinion of those in our everyday world who have influence over us--friends, bosses, landlords, spouses, co-workers, the media etc. (the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.) We are commanded to be in the world not of it. (2 Corinthians 6:17) The world has its own way of doing and thinking. The only opinion that ought to matter in our lives is God's. The only thought that our choices should be based on is a God-thought. People in power who sign our checks or hold our leases or hand us our report cards are no match for our God. They may condone sin or live shabbily or spout their homemade philosophies and want us to agree or be silent. They may even twist a scripture to suit their way of living. We have to consistently choose to serve the Lord. Our loving service to the Lord is about submission and obedience to Him and His Word. We can't necessarily shut our ears to influences past or present, but we can choose to hear and obey God in spite of them.



We live in a day and age when sin runs rampant and what is politically correct or pleasing to man is more important than what is pleasing to God. As believers, we don't have to fall for the okey doke. We don’t have to conform to the ungodly influences in our lives. If we don't stand for something, we will fall for anything.



As you contemplate making a choice in 2013, diligently seek the Lord and see if that choice would be pleasing to Him. Search God’s Word. Get into God’s presence (Psalms 100:4) until you experience His peace about the matter. Then by faith, go for it.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sparkling Clean for the New Year






“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19b

 

A few days ago I was at the Hayward Plunge water walking when the scripture above came to mind. The Lord dropped it into my spirit at precisely the time when my thoughts were wandering down a dangerous road. Usually when I water walk early in the morning, the calm of the water and the scarcity of people make for an excellent time of fellowship with the Lord. That morning though I allowed the enemy a tiny opening in my mind and he was about to stir up a flood of stinking thinking. Fortunately for me I serve a faithful God and God raised up the standard of Isaiah 59:19b in my mind. My entire pool time was transformed by the Lord’s insights on this scripture.

When is the first word that the Lord addressed.  The word when in this scripture means that it is inevitable that the enemy is coming. The scripture does not say if, it says when. The word when suggests that eventually the enemy will show up. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8 that the enemy goes to and fro like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the enemy is either here now, has just left or is on his way into the circumstances of our lives.

Next, the Lord tackled the word enemy and reminded me that the mission of the enemy is to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) Since I know the enemy is coming I can recognize him by assessing the situation to see if it will kill, steal or destroy me, my relationships, or something of value to me. The enemy is especially hungry for my faith, my love and my peace. If he can devour one, both or all three of these, then he wins. If he can stir up faiths opposite--fear or doubt, or stir up hatred and confusion, he will.  If he can flood my thinking with ungodly thoughts, he will. And if I let him, those thoughts will wreak total havoc in my life.

God then made plain the word flood by bringing to my mind a story a Hurricane Katrina survivor shared with me a while back. The survivor said he didn’t take seriously the first few orders to evacuate and when he finally did respond the water was up to his chest and he had to wade to safety holding his seven year old autistic daughter above his head. He said he didn’t respond sooner because he thought they would be alright.

Then, to make the image of the flood even plainer for me, when I got into the Plunge’s locker room a 91 year old woman named Betty told us that the sewers backed up in her complex earlier that week and her ground floor apartment was flooded with sewage. She didn’t have the physical strength to shut off the water herself, could not reach her landlord, so she called 911 for help. Another woman in the locker room told Betty that her landlord probably hadn’t done the necessary maintenance on the pipe lines.
 

I knew that Betty telling her story that morning was no coincidence. Often when the enemy comes in like a flood it is just like sewage running over in my mind.  The Lord reminded me that the trigger thought that started me down the destructive path was not a new thought. It was back up from some thinking I should have nipped in the bud when it first popped up.  I know that Betty’s house stunk when the backup happened just like my spiritual house does when I engage in stinking thinking. Thanks be to God that when the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard. That standard is the Word of God and if I take heed to that Word my spiritual house will stay clean. Just like Betty’s landlord, I have to do the necessary maintenance on my thoughts.

In Ephesians 5:26 Paul said we are cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word . In John 17:17 Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the Word. Ezra in Psalm 119:9 said if we want to be clean we have to take heed to or rather keep watch on ourselves and conform to the Word.

Gospel recording artist Donald Lawrence wrote a song that tells us to ‘Let the Word do the Work’. That’s great encouragement for this season. I don’t know about you but I intend to close out the year sparkling clean through and through. So, what about you?
 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free Christmas Books


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(Note date each book is Free – dates vary!)
MAID FOR MURDER: Deadly Business
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ON MY OWN
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Patrick Willis Gives God the Praise, Glory and Honor

Patrick Willis Gives God the Praise, Glory and Honor

Searching for God After the Newtown Tragedy (TD Jakes)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Great Guide for Praying in Troubled Times





 A wonderful tool by Cynthia Hyle Bezek to equip us to pray "Prayers of Hope in Times of Calamity".




Helping Children Cope with Tragedy


Children's Book Reminds Readers to Keep Christ in Christmas (playlist)

Trusting God When Bad Things Happen




 Just discovered a great little book by Shelley Hitz that you can slip in a reading of between your shopping and cooking and it's priced just right for frugal living at just 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Be sure to check it out.


When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” --Corrie ten Boom            
 Hitz, Shelley (2012-12-09). Trusting God When Bad Things Happen (Forgiveness Formula: Finding Lasting Freedom in Christ) (Kindle Locations 389-390). Body and Soul Publishing. Kindle Edition.





Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving: The gift that keeps on giving



“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1Thessalonians 5:18

There is much talk today about the will of God and those of us who really love the Lord and are called according to His purpose can simplify our lives by heeding the word of the Lord in this verse.

So, do you want to be in the will of God?  Then begin by giving thanks in everything. Over the years many writers have encouraged us to ‘make our thanksgiving thanks-living’. What an awesome way to end 2012. We can do this, ‘yes we can’ because we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
God in his infinite wisdom knew that we’d be living in tumultuous times.  God knew that job and housing losses, relationship challenges, black Friday frenzy, closed doors, haters, issues of the soul, moral depravity, deception, lawlessness, disappointment and doubt would beset us as we approach 2013.  God knew that the events described in Matthew 24 would play out in the headlines right before our eyes. That is one of the many reasons I love our awesome, mighty, powerful, loving God so much.  Our God loves us so much that He gives us the prescription long before the dis-ease even shows up. The Great Physician prescribes preventive medicine. Take note; He says ‘in everything give thanks’.  Wonder what our lives would be like this holiday season if we just committed to obeying that word.
Thanksgiving magnifies God
 Let me paint a brief picture for you.  In Psalms 69:30 David connects thanksgiving with magnifying God and that’s great news considering how huge our circumstances can loom before us. I don’t know about you but if all I have to do is give thanks to make my God bigger than my rent when my job lays me off , that’s what I am willing to do.

Thanksgiving is the gateway to God’s presence
In Psalms 100:4 the psalmist tells us to ‘enter into His gates with thanksgiving’.   In Psalm 16 and Psalm 91 he says in God’s presence is fullness of joy and security.  Then in Philippians 4:6-7 the writer Paul connects thanksgiving with peace.  If I follow the biblical prescription to the letter then I will consistently give thanks no matter what.  My thanksgiving will gain me entrance into His gates. That makes me an insider and when trouble comes my way my God will be so large that all I will see is Him.  That gives me yet another reason to thank Him and it also stirs up my praise so I can get into his courts, draw even closer to Him. In his presence is fullness of joy.  The closer I get to Him the safer I feel.

Thanksgiving guards our peace
That safety or security is grounds for more thanksgiving, more praise.  I never shut down my thanksgiving and He delivers me out of all my fears.  He even gives me irrefutable evidence of His ever present help in time of trouble---A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. (Psalm 91:7) I can’t help but thank and praise Him.  He’s so worthy.
 I love also that He tells us to clothe our petitions and prayers in thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has to be our ever present attitude. He doesn’t want us to be anxious or fretting in any regard. (Philippians 4:6) If we’re practicing thanks-living our prayers will be full of expectation and we will be content with whatever state we find ourselves in.      
That’s peace.
That’s being at ease.
That’s a divinely healthy way to live.

I cannot encourage us enough to choose thanksgiving as a 24-7 preoccupation in every season.  We’ll all be glad we did.