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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My MRI appointment and Contemplative Prayer

   What I learned while I was in a MRI machine this morning

"Man, I'm glad I'm not claustrophobic."
"Oh boy, maybe I am claustrophobic."
   While I was in a MRI machine this morning at Smith Northview Hospital, with the MRI doing its best impression of a bad "European disco-tech drum machine" pulsating through my ears for over forty-five minutes; I was trying to be still before the Lord and listen to His voice. While I was in the MRI machine and trying my best not to move or look at the small space above my head, I spent my time being still before God. But I asked myself; did it take a hurt lower back, 45 days of denial, and then a MRI appointment 48 hours later, to get me to the place of being quiet and still before God… unfortunately it did. You see, I am a person who loves to move, to be on the move, and sitting still, unless it involves watching Jack Bauer on "24" or Liz Lemon on "30 Rock," it does not appeal to me to sit still. I remember reading an article by Jim Baker, the television evangelist who was sent to prison, that during his stay in jail he spent an entire day with his son on the prison grounds. Before leaving, Jim's son told him that he had just spent the best day with his dad. Jim realized that it took God putting him in prison, to see what was really important in his life.
   I realized that I had been neglecting being still before God. Being still before the Lord to me is different than my normal prayer time. It is being calm, reflective and quieting myself before the Lord and listening to what God wants to tell me. Sometimes God will speak to us when we are still before Him and at other times He will just surround us with His presence.
   "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
   What I felt God tell me when I was still before Him was that I cannot earn my way to heaven. I don't believe that one can enter into heaven by doing good things for the Lord, but I was, in my own way, still trying to earn my way to heaven. Salvation is a gift, a free gift. And due to the price of that gift, God's Son Jesus Christ dying on a cross for you and me, I cannot earn it. In fact, I can never begin to repay any part of it; it's too great a price. The price that was paid was an exchange of each person's sins for our salvation and restored relationship with our Father. To begin to think that we can ever earn that within ourselves is foolish and lessens the price that Jesus paid for us. I'm not saying that we need to stop doing well for others; I'm saying that salvation in and of itself is a free gift that must be willingly accepted by us, with no reservations and a thankful heart.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What I need to understand...

   What I need to understand is a forgiveness that transcends that time, understanding, and human reason. A forgiveness that was purchased through blood in the name of love for me. A love that requires my willingness to exchange my wrongs in exchange for One that committed no wrong but willingly gave up life and blood for a relationship with me. Such a love seems beyond human reasoning and intellect but is just as real and concrete as me. A love that harbors no resentment and keeps no record of wrongs suffered, of sins committed, but instead sees me pure, forgiven, and clothed in a wonderful place of grace and love. This is a love I commit to understand with my frail, human reasoning.
   Ephesians 1:7, He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
   1 Corinthians 13: 4-5, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Questions to ask yourself while reading the Bible during your devotion time...

Questions to ask yourself when reading the Bible during your devotion time

1. What is revealed about God in this story?

2. What is the main point of the story?

3. What character do you relate to the most in the story? Why?

4. In what ways do you relate to each of the different characters found in the Story; whether protagonists or antagonists?

5. What is God be speaking to you through this story? What is God trying to affirm in you about who you are as His child through this story?

6. What areas of life may God be calling you to move forward in?

7. What sin areas may there be in your life that God is using this story to cause you to confess?

8. How do you think this story might cause you to more fully experience the healing, freedom and life Jesus came to offer us?

9. What is the "call to action" for me or the church to accomplish?

Compiled from "A story approach to understanding scripture" by Mark Krick with some additional points added by me, Bill Meli.

My example after reading Hebrews 11:8-12:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

 1. What is revealed about God in this story? Sometimes God calls us by faith, to do something, or to go somewhere, that we don't fully understand in the beginning. Walking by faith in the land of obedience takes faith and determination.

2. What is the main point of the story? God calls us to do impossible things that can only be accomplished by faith and trust in God.

3. What character do you relate to the most in the story? Why? Sarah, she held onto God's promises when it looked like all hope was gone.

4. In what ways do you relate to each of the different characters found in the Story; whether protagonists or antagonists? Sarah realized that God did not give up on her even when the world did and she impacted future generations!

5. What is God be speaking to you through this story? What is God trying to affirm in you about who you are as His child through this story? God calls us to obey and to "go" without giving us the whole picture. God wants me to develop my "faith muscles" and to get to the point where I don't care where He takes me as long as He is the one guiding me there.

6. What areas of life may God be calling you to move forward in? God is faithful to the promises He has given my family. I need specific promises from God, from the Bible, that I need to believe God for. Jesus asked God to answer specific prayer requests when He was here on earth; I need to be more specific as well.

7. What sin areas may there be in your life that God is using this story to cause you to confess? I need to move in instant obedience and not allow a debate in my mind. God knows more than I do and His commands are for my benefit. God has the benefit of seeing my entire life in one thought so His commands are for my benefit.

8. How do you think this story might cause you to more fully experience the healing, freedom and life Jesus came to offer us? God is taking me and my family to a land of greater promise and my obedience will have results on generations to come.

9. What is the "call to action" for me or the church to accomplish? This experience I am going through is temporal. Follow God through instant obedience even when I can't see the big picture.

 What are some other questions do you ask yourself after reading the Bible?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Who is your Delilah?

After feeling prompted to read the story of Samson from the Bible recently, "Lord, you mean the guy with really long hair?" I was surprised how much I received from the short story after reading it a couple of times.

The story of Samson and Delilah

Samson dates a girl named Delilah whose name means feeble. Anytime a name is mentioned in the Bible, its meaning relates to the person's character. In this instance, Delilah means feeble which means someone who is morally weak. We could probably stop here, "Don't date or associate with anyone who is morally weak" but we would miss a great story.

So, everyone knows that Samson is the strongest man around, probably had to do with the fact that he killed a thousand men with a donkey's jawbone earlier in the story. So, a group of men bribe Delilah with lots of cash to find out where Samson's strength comes from so she keeps pestering and pestering Samson to tell her his secret; and so the term "Gold Digger" is created for the first time. The first time, Samson tells Delilah that if he is tied up with fresh bowstrings he will lost his strength. So, Delilah waits for Samson to fall asleep, ties him up, allows the Philistines, Samson's enemies, into her house, wakes Samson up and discovers that Samson is lying to her, after Samson easily breaks the bowstrings. This goes on two more times. What is Samson thinking? He wakes up on three separate occasions to realize that his girlfriend wants him dragged off to jail. I think Samson would be a good candidate for The Bachelor.

Finally, in Judges 15 - 16 Then she (Delilah) said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies." She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.

Samson finally tells her the truth, he gets his strength from his hair which has never been cut, so Delilah cuts his hair when he falls asleep, he loses his strength, and he is dragged away by his enemies to be tortured and imprisoned; what a caring and thoughtful girlfriend. Samson is eventually imprisoned, his eyes gouged out, and is made fun of of in front of his enemies.

So, "Who or what is your Delilah?" What, or who, in your life, is…

• Taking away your strength little by little?

• Holding you back from your destiny and life's vision?

• What are you allowing in your life that you are sick to death of that you are refusing to let go of?

• What are you putting up with today that one or two years ago you would have dismissed in your life?

What are the consequences of putting up with a Delilah in your life…

• The eventual loss of your vision and life's calling (Samson was called from birth to a particular task but Delilah derailed his life's vision and he paid for it with his eyesight and his life).

• You will eventually be worn down to the point of putting up with things you would normally not put up with (Samson allowed Delilah to try to tie him up three times before he told her his secret).

o Toxic friendships and relationships will do that to you.

What to do, what to do…Get rid of those things in your life, those habits, or those toxic relationships that are wearing you down little by little. You know you need to and your life will be so much better once you do!

Friday, June 10, 2011

His name is Wonderful...

And the Angel of the Lord said to him, "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?" or, He replied, "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.*" Judges 13:18.

Jesus’ name is beyond our comprehension…

Jesus’ name is wonderful…

Jesus’ name is LOVE…

I am becoming More and more Amazed that Jesus invites us into such an intimate relationship with His Father. The love and pride that Jesus has when He introduces us to the Father when we come into Relationship with God for the first time or after we have strayed and returned …”This is My brother, this is My sister, “Father, this is your daughter, this is your son…””

Jesus' name is love because He is LOVE.
"If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away! Matthew 8:12-13.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Leaving the 99 to minister to the 1 and the Need to Feel Connected…

   “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14
   There are times when we need to see beyond the masses and go and minister unto the one. With the direction that social media is heading it makes it difficult for us to do so. It is easy to feel a false connection with others in our media circle, "Hey, I have already posted my FB status update, twitted, and emailed my friends.”

But have we really made a network-connection that is able to support us when we need it?

   My mind goes to the movie "Surrogates" where the dirty work of living has been turned over to humanoid robots. Citizens recline comfortably in their homes, linked remotely to younger, stronger, sexier versions of themselves, who work and play and do all the things that humans once used to do. It's an entrancing vision: In the future, we can let our surrogates take risks for us, do our jobs for us.

Do we let our social media outlets take the place of human connection?

   When Mary ran to Jesus‘ tomb after Jesus had been crucified, she encountered an angel who told her, “But go, tell His disciples--and Peter--that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you,” Mark 16:7. Did you catch that; and Peter? Jesus is moving beyond the masses to reach out to Peter out of love. Even though Peter denied the Lord, the Lord is reaching out to him with love and forgiveness. We find out later in the book of John, that John reaches out to Peter in person. "He (Jesus) said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep" John 17:21.

   Who do you need to personally reach out to today?

   We all need to be like the shepherd mentioned in Matthew 18 and leave those around us to minister to the hurting person who is alone, frightened and praying for someone to come alongside them with friendship and an encouraging word.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Shepherd and the Butcher

A friend of mine recently told me a story of shepherding in the Middle East. My friend watched a group of sheep being lead by a shepherd from the front and a shepherd from the back. When my friend asked which was the lead shepherd she was told that the true shepherd lead from the front and the shepherd in the back, was not a shepherd at all, but the butcher; the shepherd guides and leads the sheep and the butcher drives the sheep. This is an interesting way to look at the decision-making processes that we go through occasionally.

• Are you being lead or are you being driven to make a quick decision?

• Do you lead others to make the right decisions or do you drive and force others to rally around your decision?

Sure, there are times when a decision must be quickly made; I’m talking about decisions that require thought, preparation, and homework. And the occasional cold-call of course!

In the New Testament book of John, Jesus is asked to heal a man named Lazarus. John 11:6, “So, when He (Jesus) heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” Jesus doesn’t immediately leave what He is doing but stays two more days where He is. Lazarus actually dies and Jesus raises him from the dead later on in the story. Jesus even catches some heat from Lazarus’ sister Martha in John 11:14, “Now Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” A friend of mine waits at least three days in making a major decision, similar to the number of days Jesus was in the grave. Making an impromptu decision can have disastrous results. Remember to bring your decisions to the Lord and wait for His answer before making a decision; the results will be worth it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"The cart before the horse"

   It’s interesting the political rhetoric that comes up every four years with our elections. I can almost see the new crop of bumper stickers; and yes, they’re already available for purchase on the web for the 2012 presidential elections. However, with all the energy that is out there to make a change, either to the left or to the right, no change can be made from the top down. Even if each political party had its complete way, our political, social, and religious climate would be the same. Why? Change begins with each individual allowing change into their heart. Let’s take a look at Nehemiah.
   In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (445/444 BC), Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down he asked the king for permission to return and rebuild them, and Artaxerxes sent him to Judah as governor of the province with a mission to rebuild the walls.
   Nehemiah 1:3-7, They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

What steps did Nehemiah take?

• He prayed and fasted. Notice he did not speak his mind, send out an email, write a blog, he simply prayed and fasted to the Lord.

• He reminded God of His love for His people. He repeated God’s word, the Bible, back to God. Not that God needs to be reminded of His covenant towards His people, but His people, Nehemiah in this instance, needed his faith built up in the Lord. Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

• He personally asked God for forgiveness before he asked God to forgive his people for their sins committed against God. Humility is always the best step when coming to God, and praying for forgiveness of sins teaches us our humility and reminds us how far we have strayed from the Lord and His commandments.

Part II to be continued at a later time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Our longing fulfilled"

   Lean on Me, lean on My breast, as My disciple did at the supper table. I long to commune with you, I long to fellowship with you, My child. We are one. Come to My banqueting table; it is prepared for your nourishment and enjoyment. Learn to take your nourishment from Me to feed on. As I fed and received My nourishment from the Father, I gave to the disciples and they fed the 5,000. In order for you to be fed and give out of your abundance you must spend time in My presence. You cannot give out of your lack, you can only give out of your abundance. Spend time with Me, spend time in My presence and I will allow you to feed the multitudes, the nations, the peoples and tribes of the world that are searching for nourishment, for substinence only I can fill, only I can nourish. Only I can fill the longing of your spirit man. Look to Me. Look to Me My child and I will fill your longing.
   Song of Solomon 2:4,  "He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love."
   John 6:5-11, 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?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,  “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
   John 13:23, There was at the table reclining in Jesus bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Calmness in the Storm

   Allow My calm spirit to invade your presence; to shower your soul with an everlasting love, with an everlasting calmness that will bring joy and health to your body, your spirit and soul; yes your soul, your mind, will, and emotions. Speak to your emotions, speak to your soul, be calm and be in perfect peace. Learn to set your emotions on Me, allow Me to be your rock in the storm, your strong tower that you run into and abide in. Amen.

   Only by learning to dwell in My presence will you find My peace for your soul, for your life.

Matthew 8:26, And He (Jesus) said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? Then He (Jesus) got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Speak God's Word!

   I will speak to you My child, I will speak to you; but you must learn to speak to Me. You must learn to speak My words back to Me. My words in your mouth have creative power to change the Earth. We work hand in hand with My words, believed in your heart, spoken from your spirit, declared out loud! 
   Proverbs 4:20-22: My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

God delights to talk with us

   It is my good pleasure to talk to you My child. I am always willing to talk to My children. Never be afraid of not hearing My voice. I look and long for your presence throughout My day. You are precious to Me and I long to hear your voice.

   Spend time with Me and I will spend time with you.
A portion from Solomon 2:14 "show me your face, let me hear your voice..."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“Learning to Listen for God's Whisper”

   1 Kings 19: 11 – 13, The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
   Patiently listen for My voice, patiently listen for My voice My child, patiently listen for My voice. At times I May come across as loud as a thunderstorm, but at times, the majority of time, I will come across as a whisper. Learn to feel My movements, learn to hear My still, quiet voice. My word is always going out upon the Earth. It is your decision, your right and privilege as My child to hear it and discern it. Listen to Me; you can be so close to Me, that you will be able to feel and hear My heartbeat for you My child. Listen, I am moving upon your heart and life. Listen for Me. Your Beloved.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What do call the circumstances that are in your life?

   What I call you means everything; it is who you are. I brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. What do you call what I bring forth in your life? Do you call it and name it as a blessing or as a curse? Do you see it as an opportunity for Me to move on your behalf, for me to strengthen your faith, or do you see it as a death sentence. That which you call it is what it will become. It is formless and void when I bring it to you. Name it and proclaim it for My glory. Expect Me to move on your behalf. Call on Me to move on your behalf. Name that which I bring forth in your life for My glory and My glory alone.
   Genesis 2:19-20, Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Compassion Requires Action!

   John 5:19, Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."

   Compassion requires action. I am always, constantly calling you to action. Even patiently listening for My still voice requires an action on your part; developing a calm, still spirit in My presence. Allow My action and compassion for the world to awaken and stir your soul to movement, to action from My heart to yours. Move with compassion, move with grace, but move in the direction that My heart moves you. Do you see My Son reaching out to heal, then you reach out your hand to the sick, the afflicted. Do you see My Son extending grace, then you extend grace to others. Do you see My Son offering forgiveness, then you extend that same forgiveness to others. When you see My Son move then you move. Seeing My Son always will require an action on your part; either in solitude, when you spend time in My presence, or action; when you move when you see the Son move.
Action is always required.
Get going.
Your Father.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Holiness of God's Name

I am. I am. Meditate on My greatness and My Majesty. I am Creator God. I stretched myself out across eternity to make My name known unto you. My name is so Holy, the aspects of My Being so profound and holy that the Israelites were not even allowed to write that name down on parchment. I am holy. I am approachable. Can you grasp that? Can you understand that I long for you to enter My presence; My tabernacle of holiness. I hold out the scepter for you. I grant access for you to enter the Holy of Holies; My very Holy, awesome, majestic presence with your praise, worship, and adoration of Me. Enter into My Presence My child, enter in.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Heart mold

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the Life. Jesus Christ is truth, but your heart has to conform; it must take the shape and conform to the mold of truth that you allow in your life. Are you putting your heart in the mold of truth; of Jesus Christ? Jesus always demands a choice from us. Choose truth and life.
Matthew 9:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Compelling Love

Love is compelling. My love is compelling. My love is compelling you unto Me, unto My Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. When you sin, when you fall, come quickly to Me, come quickly and find forgivenss, grace, and mercy. My mercy is extended unto you; but you must come to receive. Receive My forgiveness, receive My love in you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Start your day with Me

Dwell in My presence. As I was with Adam in the garden so shall I be with you. As a friend longs to hear the voice of his companion, so I long to hear your voice. Let us walk together, two by two, side by side in the cool of the day before the day dawns, before the worries of life creep in. Keep them at bay, worries, scratching at your door, begging to come in. Receive from Me in the early hours and I will give you a word to keep the world at bay. Adam had already started without Me. Don't. Take the time, awaken your soul, and start your day, My day, with Me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the hands of the Potter

"Allow yourself to be molded, allow yourself to be shaped. Allow yourself, will yourself, put yourself willingly on My Potter's Wheel. For I know the shape and destiny of your life. I know the design and purpose I have created your life for. Mot man, but Me; I'am. I have created you for a purpose. Stop looking to the world to create and mold you, look to the living God. I create and mold different individuals for different purposes. Some are in the beginning stages, some are in the refinement stages, some have taken themselves off of My wheel. Don't be hard, don't be bitter, I can't work with a hard heart, it will just break on the wheel. Allow your heart to be soft, moldable and pliable. For I have created you for a purpose. To be a willing, moldable creation of Mine for a purpose to display My glory and My glory alone declares the Lord!"