Saturday, May 05, 2012
Mark 7:6-8 And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy to you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.”
Gerald and I had to take a trip this weekend to deliver the boat seats that he sold, so it happened to be in the same area as where some friends of ours live so we decided to make a fun visit out of it instead of just shipping the boat seats to the man. So, here we are and in my hurried desperation to get everything loaded that I thought I would need, I inadvertently left my Bible behind. Oh my, I have not gone anywhere without my Bible is such a long time! So the folks we are visiting graciously loaned me a Bible to use for my blog this morning. It's good that I can get around pretty well in the Word because it is an older KJV with no concordance.
As we traveled yesterday Gerald and I were talking about the differences we've seen over the years in worship: we now sing primarily choruses “off the wall” instead of out of a hymnal; ministers use all sorts of special effects to illustrate their messages; and even gospel singers that traditionally sing Southern gospel are incorporating a rockier type of melody in with their music. We had a young man in last Sunday that came from a family of Southern gospel singers and his music was not as Southern as we had expected, however, he was very good and ministered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit with great success!
As I was praying this morning about my blog I felt drawn to the above scripture in Mark where Jesus was chastising the Pharisees and Scribes about their complaint that Jesus' disciples did not keep the tradition of washing their hands before eating. Their complaint was not based on a cleanliness aspect, but simply finding something to accuse Jesus of doing that fell from their traditional keeping of the law. Jesus told them that their worship of Him should not arise from a tradition but from the heart. He said in essence that the tradition of men makes the word of God of no effect! They held more tightly to their traditions than the commandment of God.
I am amazed at how traditions can hold us in their grip to the point that they often interfere with our worship. We know some people that refuse to enter into praise and worship at church because they will not adjust to the choruses and different methods of worship. Some people think the pastors who use illustrative means to enhance their messages have taken the way of the world instead of simply adjusting their delivery style to reach the younger generation. If we don't teach people in ways that they can relate we will lose the upcoming generations. Children's church workers teach on a child's level so they can understand what is being taught. As long as the message is the same, why do we allow the method of delivery to affect our worship?
Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:22-24 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
God looks at a person's heart more than their performance. When we come to the point where our worship is simply an act of duty rather than a heart love for Jesus, we lose the true meaning of worship. As long as the message of the gospel is the same, the manner in which it is delivered is really not too important. The end result is in looking at the fruit of the message. Are people being saved? Are their lives being changed? Are they drawn to the Lord in a more intimate manner?
Father, I thank You for creating me as an individual who hungers and thirsts for You. Thank You for giving me a heart that desires to worship You and is not thrown off by different styles of worship. I love You, Lord, and want to worship you in spirit and truth. I pray for my Spark Friends this morning that they might have hearts that desire You above all else. I pray that they will not get accustomed to worshiping You in a certain way, but will be flexible and easy to change to worship as You desire, in spirit and in truth. Help us, Lord, to not be condemning of the changes that life brings to us, even in our worship styles. May we always put You first and worship from our hearts! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, May 04, 2012
John 7:37-39 AMP Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water. But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) in Him were afterward to receive. For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor).
Those who believe in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the Cross on their behalf have a river flowing from their innermost beings. Jesus said that when we cleave to Him, trust in Him and rely on Him that the river within would flow freely and continuously from inside of us! That river is His Spirit that resides on the inside of believers. Did you realize that the Holy Spirit didn't come just to live within you, but He wants to have an active part in giving His life-giving flow to not just you, but those that you come into contact with? The river of the Spirit wants to flood your life with His life and then flow from you to those that you come into contact with. But the first requirement for a healthy, life-giving flow is that you become thirsty and then come to Him and drink!
So, let me ask you a question this morning.....when does your favorite meal taste the best to you? Is it not when you have thought about it, anticipated it, worked up an appetite for it and then waited for it to be set before you? You have concentrated on that meal from the planning, to the preparing, to the cooking and then finally to the eating! You have made that one special meal your focus.
That's how it is to be with us in our desire for the Spirit of Christ within us. We are to focus on Jesus, desire to know Him intimately, spend time praying to Him, and studying His word. We crave our relationship with Him and desire to be filled to overflowing with His Spirit and then we trust Him and rely on Him for the essence of life itself! Every day He is on our mind, in our hearts and flowing from within us. That is when we have the life-giving flow of the Spirit within.
What is holding you back from experiencing the fullness of His Spirit today? One of the reasons that we don't allow the Spirit to flow freely from us to others is that we are afraid that people will reject us. We are afraid to say what we feel we should to someone about the Lord, so we dam it up. We resist the prompting to speak as we should. Paul dealt with this problem in Galatians 1:10-12:
“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah). For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man's gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard]. For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”
Paul said that when we try to win the favor of people more than we do the Lord we become people-pleasers; those who seek the popularity that comes from saying what is politically correct instead of the truth!. It is more important to them to please the folks around them than the Lord. But the river of the Spirit within comes to us from the indwelling Christ within us. He wants to be released to flow His life through us to others. That's God's desire for each one of us that know Him. Do those around you know that Jesus lives within you? Can they tell by your speech that He is first in your life?
Romans 5:5 says that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. He lives within us; His love has come to reside in our hearts. If He lives within us and His love has been poured out in our hearts then we can either dam it up and hold onto it just for ourselves or we can let it flow freely to those around us. The choice is ours.
When Paul came to the Corinthian believers he told them in 1 Corinthian 2:1-5 that he came to them in fear and trembling, but he spoke to them what was in his heart about the Lord Jesus and how He was crucified for them because He wanted them to know that the power within him was not his own words of wisdom or persuasion, but it was the power of the Spirit operating through him. When we come to the Lord on a regular basis to fellowship with Him, He fills us over and over again with His life-giving flow so we have a fresh infilling to spill out of us on those around us. His river never runs dry; but is full of life. Where the river flows there is life.
Ezekial 47 speaks prophetically of the river of God and it says in verse 9 that the river flows out to the sea and everything that comes in contact with it is healed. The analogy of the sea is referencing the masses of mankind. The Spirit's river within you wants to touch the masses for Jesus Christ. His healing waters are still flowing from believers all over the world. You can be a part of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world when you allow the Spirit to flow freely from you, but if you dam it up it will stagnate within you.
Father, I thank You for the river of Your Spirit within me. I long to touch others for Jesus. Please flow freely from within me to those around me. Make me a light shining into the darkness for Jesus. Spirit of God flow Your healing power through me. Touch through me, Holy Spirit! Release Your life through me!
Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning, that You would make Yourself real to them. Open the eyes of their understanding, Lord, and give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You. Show them Your power residing within them. Give them boldness to speak for You around their friends. Let Your river flow freely from within them and spread the good news of the Gospel through them. Thank You for them, Father. I pray Your blessings on them today. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Mark 6:30-32 NLT The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught. Then Jesus said, “Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn't even have time to eat. The left by boat for a quieter spot.
Are you so busy that you don't have time to eat? How about rest; are you getting the proper amount of rest? Your body will not function at its maximum without proper food and rest. Jesus knew that His disciples needed to eat and they needed rest. They had been so busy they had even had time to eat. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that it controls our every move. We don't eat or sleep properly. Jesus took them away to a quiet place so they could get some rest.
Jesus often went away by Himself to rest and pray. He knew that the power He needed for ministry came through the time He spent with His Father. He knew that if He didn't get that “away time” to rest and re-fuel that He wouldn't be able to meet the needs of the multitudes that were coming to Him for help. Likewise, if we don't spend time praying and resting we will not be able to handle the stresses of our lives.
It has been scientifically proven that improper sleep cycles hinder weight loss. If you are not getting enough rest your body's hormones do not function properly and you will have difficulty losing weight. There are so many things that can affect a person's hormones and if they are not in balance your metabolism slows and the weight continues to hang on. People need rest!
I'm sure some of you will remember the Calgon commercials in past years that had that one line that said “come away with me”, with the lady sitting in a bath tub full of bubbles. It gave the impression that their product would give an escape from life's worries. We all need that “time away” from life.
Not only do we need physical rest, but we need spiritual rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Rest – a cessation from toil, a refreshment, an intermission.
Have you ever gotten so tired that you just wanted to take an intermission from life? Is the load that you are carrying too heavy to bear? Jesus said if we would come to Him in those times when life seems overwhelming and trade our burdens for His that He would give us an intermission, a refreshment in place of the toil of our lives. That sounds like a pretty good trade-off, don't you think? He said that we could yoke up with Him and learn how to shoulder the responsibility and work of everyday life the way He does it. He said His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. That brings a refreshing just thinking about it!
Many times we become “yoked” to our problems. We are tied to those things that we want to get away from. In Biblical times a team of oxen would be “yoked” together to work a field. An immature oxen would be yoked to one who was more mature in order to train the less mature one how to plow the fields. When we are “yoked” to our problems they become a constant drain on our energy, physically, emotionally and mentally. We may not understand why we constantly feel drained, but Jesus said that if we would come to Him and yoke up with Him He would take the heavy load and pull through life showing us how to be free from the drain of our problems learning to shoulder them as He does. He is the mature One and we are the immature. He gives rest in place of the heavy burden of life.
What are you carrying around today that needs to be released to Jesus? Are you getting the proper amount of sleep every night to enable your body to release the excess weight? Are you emotionally drained? Why don't you come to Jesus today and receive an intermission from life?
Father, I thank You for providing for our every need. You are the way-maker; the One who shoulders our load and carries our burdens. You are our Peace. I thank You that when we come to You we can lay our burdens on You and know that You will take the heaviness away and give us rest. Thank You, Father, for giving us an intermission from the busyness of life. You are our strength and source! May we all come away with you. I pray for my Spark Friends this morning, Father, that they might lay their burdens on You and learn from You how to deal with life in a manner that is easy and light. Take their heavy loads, Father, and give them Your rest. Shoulder the responsibility that they have today and give them peace in it's place. Fill them with an assurance, Lord, that You are taking care of their problems. Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Genesis 16:1-6 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid servant is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.
Is it an Ishmael? How many times have we thought we knew what we were doing and created a plan that turned out to be nothing but a fleshly endeavor to bring about a God idea? That's where Abram and Sarai found themselves in this story in Genesis. The knew God had given them a promise to have a child and they had waited so long for that to happen and when it didn't they decided maybe God needed a little help in getting it done. So they took things into their own hands.
As a result Hagar hated Sarai for what she had forced her to do. Here was a young Egyptian servant girl, unable to make her own choices in life, now forced into a position that someone else had chosen for her. And then mistreated for it. So she did what her emotions told her to do: run away. How many of us would have done the same thing? It's the flight or fight syndrome that kicks in when our adrenal glands recognize “danger ahead”.
The Angel of the LORD found Hagar sitting by a spring of water in the wilderness and asked her an important question: “Where have you come from, and where are you going?” That's an important question that He presents to all of us at one time or another. It's good to assess our past failures and future goals. Where have we come from? What is it that we have done in the past that is affecting our future endeavors? We can't really see what we've done wrong to get us to the place where we are until we face the past. Hagar needed to face the mistreatment and injustices that were done to her in the past in order to accept the blessing that God had for her in the future. Running away was not going to solve her problem. So what did the Lord tell her to do?
Genesis 16:9, 10 The Angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”
God told her to go back into that situation where she had been so mistreated, face the problem, and do what was right! Nothing gets better until we face our mistakes, our injustices, and do what is right in relation to them. There is a right way and there is a wrong way in dealing with hurts of the past. Running away is not the right way, but the wrong way.
You may be fearful of your past; maybe you've run away from some things. It's only human nature to want to run away from unpleasant experiences, but it doesn't solve the problem. Facing the problem, assessing it for what it is, learning from it, and then choosing to do the right thing is the only way the problem can be solved.
God had a blessing in store for Hagar, but she couldn't fully embrace it until she faced the mistakes of her past. As a result of that encounter with the Angel of the LORD, Hagar learned a valuable lesson about God. He revealed Himself to her as the God who sees; one of His covenant names: El Roi.
God still sees today. He sees the mistakes that we've made in the past. He sees the injustices that may have been done to us; the unfair treatment that we may have received through a broken relationship; a failed job; a lost loved one. He sees and He cares!
God sees and knows exactly where you are today. He has a plan to bless you. But until you face the fear of past hurts and disappointments, you will not be able to embrace the good plan that He has for your future.
What is it this morning that is holding you back from being all that God has created you to be? What is it that is tying you to food, emotional eating and low self-esteem? You may say, “but it's not my fault”. It wasn't Hagar's fault either, but she still suffered the consequences of the wrong choices made for her. It may seem like a giant in your land, but God has a plan for you to overcome!
Father, I thank You for seeing our lives from Your perspective and not ours. You see the whole picture, Father, not just our limited view of what has happened and what might happen in the future. Thank You, Lord, for making a way for us to overcome past hurts and failures. Thank You for preparing a blessing for us in our futures. Thank You, Lord, for being our deliverer! Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning that whatever they have encountered in the past may be washed away, no longer able to hurt and hold them in bondage. Father, I ask You to help them see past hurts as stepping stones to future victories. Lord, show them how You see them as blessed children of a loving heavenly Father. Help them to face the past, overcome it and move on into the good future that You have planned for them. Thank You, Father. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Isaiah 43:18, 19 AMP Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
New things! God is doing new things in our lives. Today is May 1st, a new month, a new beginning; time to forget what happened in April and move on into May.
Likewise, there are times in our lives when God will say, “I'm doing a new thing; time to forget the past and move on into the future!”. He did that in my life after my husband passed away and it was time for me to move into the things that He had for me in the future. I was sitting in church one Sunday morning listening to my Pastor preach and in his message he said, “God has something good for you in your future. You may have lost a loved one in the past year, but you can't fully embrace what God has for you in the future if you don't turn loose of the past.” That was when the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “The best is yet to come”. I knew He was moving me into “new things”.
This scripture says that God doesn't want us to “earnestly” remember the former things. That doesn't mean that we are not to think about what has happened in the past, but we are not to let the past hold us back from what He wants to do in us, for us, and through us in the future. Many times we are so tied to past things that everything that we do in the present is based on what happened in the past. The Lord asks us in verse 19: “do you not perceive and know it”. We can feel the move of the Spirit in our lives. Sometimes we just sense that something is changing; that change is in the air. There may be a restlessness in us and we start thinking about moving forward into some other endeavor. God goes on to say, “will you not give heed to it?”. Here's where the rubber meets the road. Will we hear and obey His plan to move forward, or will we stubbornly hold on to what is over? Sometimes we can't see beyond what has happened in the past. We think things can never be as good as they were back then. But God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask and think according to the power that works within us! (Eph. 3:20) He is God. There is nothing too difficult for Him. He can move mountains; He makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters! (Isaiah 43:16) The question then becomes, “will we go with Him; will we cooperate with what He is doing in our lives; will we embrace the change”?
Maybe April wasn't a very good month for you. Or maybe the past year has been the pits! Paul said in Philippians 3:12: Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”. Paul knew that there was more in the future than what he had in the past. He realized that he had not arrived yet! He continued to press on into what Christ Jesus had for him; what the Lord had died to give him!
Don't hold onto your past! Let it go! Let's move on without regrets into what God has for us in the future. You may not have lost the amount of weight that you wanted to lose last month. You might have experienced the loss of a relationship. Your job might have come to an end. But it's not the end of the world. It may seem to be, but God is still God and He has a good future planned for you.
Jeremiah 29:”For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God's plan for you is so much better than anything man could come up with. He desires to bless you with good things; to give you peace instead of evil, a future filled with hope. The past may have been the pits for you, but the future ahead is bright and peace-filled. The turmoil of the past is over and the future lies ahead of you. Will you embrace it? Will you allow God to move you into the things that He has planned for you? Will you turn lose of that which has held you back for so long?
Questions....all at a crossroads in life. Which way will we go? When my husband passed away I would go to his grave and cry because I missed him so much. One day I went there and the Lord said to me, as He said to Mary and the other ladies that came to the tomb looking for Jesus that early Sunday morning, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” And then He said, “don't camp out at the tomb”. Are you camping out at the tomb of dead things in your life today? Why don't you give the disappointments to Jesus and embrace what He wants to do for you now?
Father, I thank You for the new things that You are bringing into our lives. Thank You, Lord, for healing the brokenhearted this morning. Thank You for healing the memories of failure and defeat in our lives and for giving us a new beginning. Thank You, Father, for doing what only You can do to make a way where there seems to be no way. Thank You for changing us and preparing us for the good things You have for us. I pray for my Spark Friends today, Father, that You will comfort those who hurt and restore hope in their hearts. Thank You, Lord, for wrapping them in Your arms of love and carrying them through to the new things You have planned for them. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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