Friday, June 15, 2012
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
As I reflect this morning on this scripture, I think about the awesome responsibility that the Father has given us as believers to be His ambassadors. When I think about an ambassador I think about him being a representative of a ruling authority. He speaks on behalf of another. Ambassadors were chosen from the rank of mature, experienced men. They were loyal to their ruling authority and could be trusted to always speak the right thing at the right time. What a privilege to think that God has entrusted us with His word to speak reconciliation to those who are separated from Him. The word says it is like He Himself is speaking to them through us.
Being an ambassador for Christ reminds me of the role of the High Priest in the Old Testament. The High Priest would go before God on behalf of the people and then take what God said back to them, standing before them on behalf of God. Jesus is our High Priest. He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf and then the Holy Spirit brings back to us what the Father has said.
Hebrews 7:24, 25 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
As I was praying and meditating on these verses this morning the Lord began to speak to me about being His ambassador. It is impossible to represent someone that you do not personally know and understand. In order to speak for another you must know the other person's heart. Jesus' disciples learned about Him and how to speak on His behalf by spending time with Him. As I prayed about this I heard the Lord so gently speaking to my heart:
“But a disciple learns what to do by being with the Master. You are changed into My likeness as you spend time with Me. You will look and act like the person that you are with the most. I am changing you as you come to Me and spend time in My presence. Nothing can take the place of our time together. I will share My heart with you as you share your heart with Me. I care about what you care about.”
This conversation with the Lord brings back memories of the old commercial that used to be on television of some people and their pets and how they actually looked alike. We reflect that which we behold. When we see the Lord high and lifted up and spend time under His influence we begin to look, act and speak like Him.
Psalm 32:8, 9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.
God can't guide us with His eye if we are not close to Him. But many times we avoid spending time with Him because of busyness. We get caught up in so many of life's happenings that we just don't have the time to give to Him. If we are going to be ambassadors for Christ it is of utmost importance that we make time for Him!
The Psalmist said in Psalm 45:1: My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
His heart was overflowing with the King's thoughts because he was used to being with the King. His tongue was ready to speak what was overflowing from his heart.
Father, this morning I want my heart to overflow with Your heart's desires. I want to be a good ambassador for Christ. Father, as I spend time with You, please fill my heart with Your thoughts, emotions, words and feelings. Cause me to be like You, Lord, in all that I say and do. Father, I pray for my friends this morning that they, too, will have a desire to be Your ambassador, to speak what You want to say to those around them. Teach us, Lord, to lay aside our own desires and to embrace Yours. Help us to hear clearly what You would have us to say to those who are around us that need You, Lord. Fill our hearts to overflowing with all that You are, Father, that You might spill out of us onto those around us! Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
John 4:1-4 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciple than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria,
Why did Jesus need to go through Samaria? It wasn't a direct route to Galilee....it was a side trip! The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans because they were a mixed race and the Jews referred to them as dogs. But the Word says that Jesus needed to go through Samaria. He had a specific purpose for making the side trip! He had a divine appointment! Jesus knew that a woman would be at a certain well at just the right time for Him to stop and ask her to draw Him some water. He knew that that would open the door for Him to offer her the living water that she so desperately needed! He needed to go through Samaria to keep a divine appointment!
Acts 9:1-5 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Saul had a divine appointment with the Lord Jesus when he went down that road to Damascus. He had a purpose in going there, to persecute the followers of Jesus, but God had a different plan for Saul's life. He had a divine appointment set up with Saul that would forever change his life and, ultimately, the lives of all who would follow after the God that he would soon be representing!
Divine appointments.....God is still in the business of setting up divine appointments. I went with Gerald on Tuesday down into Alabama to take the boat in for some service work to the motor. On the way back we stopped at Jason's Deli for lunch. While we were sitting there eating Gerald said that after we finished he would like to go by a certain car dealership and test drive a particular model vehicle that he had been researching. So off we went on what we thought was a new car test drive. But God had a divine appointment set up for us!
We got to the dealership and a young female sales person met us in the parking lot. She seemed somewhat nervous in asking us what particular vehicle we were looking for, and other various questions. So we went through all the preliminaries and finally got into the car to make the test drive. She said she needed to drive the vehicle off the lot in order to comply with their rules. So, as we were leaving Gerald began talking with her, asking just some ice-breaking questions to get to know her a little bit and she mentioned that she was from Miami, Florida, and had recently moved here. When it came time for Gerald to drive the car she pulled into a church parking lot and turned off the motor. We continued to converse with her and found out that she moved because she felt led of the Lord to make the move. Well, that was the door that we needed to see opened to begin our divine appointment! As it turned out she had begun to question whether God was really real and had become very confused about her Christian upbringing. She knew the Lord, but she was really confused on some certain biblical issues and it had caused her to stop praying and reading her Bible. She had a lot of questions. She was ready for a divine appointment! We both shared with her about Jesus and the plan that God has for her life and how she needs to receive Him by faith and walk according to what God says in His word rather than what she thought or felt. We explained to her that God is not the author of confusion and when you have confusion you can know that it comes from the evil one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. I talked with her about how it seemed that God had a divine appointment for her to meet with us because she knew very few people and had no family. She was alone and needed encouragement and God brought someone to help her. When I talked with her about that her eyes lit up and she began to cry. She said there was one salesman who always ran out to meet the customers and she never had an opportunity to get a customer for herself but that day he simply looked over to her and pointed to us as we walked across the parking lot. That was what convinced her that God really was real and that He cared about her enough to send someone to talk to her. We talked a little more about how we receive Jesus by faith and continue our walk with Him the same way; by faith. We can't intellectualize God because that takes place in the mind and Jesus comes to live in us through His Holy Spirit in our hearts, or our inner man. It is a spirit to Spirit connection that we have with Him, not a mental or physical relationship. As we closed our conversation I asked if we could pray with her and she readily agreed to let us do that so we did and when we finished with the conversation she was fully convinced that God was real and He had just made the way for her to have a personal encounter with Him through a couple of people who simply thought they were on a quest to test drive a car. We all left that place encouraged in our walk with the Lord, knowing that He still sets us up for divine appointments!
Father, I thank You for arranging for us to minister to that young lady this week. I thank You for making a divine appointment for her to meet with You through us. What a privilege it was to be able to encourage her and pray for her. Thank You. Lord, for opening the door for us to share with her how much You love her and want her to experience Your good plan for her life. Thank You, Lord, for drawing her back to Yourself. It's exciting to know, Lord, that You care for us so much that You are willing to direct others into our paths to bring us encouragement and to help us on our walk with You. Thank You, Lord! You are awesome! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Psalm 46:10,11 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
There are so many things running through my mind this morning. Many times I have to just put on some quiet worship music and rest in the presence of the Lord to escape the ramblings of my mind. I have to quiet myself before Him in order to hear from Him. That means I must lay aside the thoughts of all that I have to do and just be still and trust my God to wash over me with His very own presence to calm my anxious thoughts.
I love Psalm 46:10 in the Expanded Translation. It reads as this:
“Be still, let go, cease striving, relax and know that I am God.”
There are times when I just have to let go of things. How about you? I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I find that when I do something, I put my whole heart into it and want to complete it with excellence. There is no room for failure in my vocabulary. I push myself to finish with perfection. But this scripture says that I am to let go, cease striving, relax and know that God is who He says He is.
This morning as I was praying the Lord drew me to Himself and whispered comforting words to me to not fear; only believe and trust Him. I have a final exam coming up for my current college course. I have 13 pages of type-written notes to study, a teaching for tonight's class at church to complete, a short financial message to prepare for the offering time at church this coming Sunday, two women waiting for counseling sessions, and my own personal responsibilities and obligations with home, family and fitness. Needless to say, my mind wants to go in all different directions. It is during times as these that I have to force myself to be still, let go, cease striving, RELAX, and know that He is God.
How about you? What do you have going on that pulls you in all different directions? We all have busy lives, but there must be that time when we pull away from life and rest in the Lord.
Hebrews 4:9, 10 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Have you entered into the rest of the Lord? Or are you still trying to do it all yourself? How about just relaxing before Him and allowing Him to wash over you with His sweet peace? I have found that the times when I just bask in the presence of the Lord is when I am able to relax and let go of all the striving that comes with the pressures of life. Years ago I found a sweet release by sitting in the dark with worship music playing as I rocked back and forth in my rocking chair. I couldn't see anything and it was easier for me to turn loose of the things that were pressuring me because it was dark. It was a way for me to release all of the tensions of life and those times were sweet times of fellowship between me and my God! Now in the early morning hours I found that sweetness as I call out to the Lord and yield to His Spirit within me to touch me and fill me to overflowing with His very presence. Each of us can find that special time and way that speaks to our hearts of rest and relaxation. Times change and we move into different places with the Lord. We move from faith to faith and glory to glory and as we grow He directs us into deeper worship experiences. God is God and there is no other above Him? He is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present! He knows what is going on in my life and yours. And He has everything under control!
Be still....God is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Father, this morning I want to thank You for your very presence with me. I sense the sweet presence of the Lord in this place this morning. I thank You for washing over me with Your peace. Thank You for preparing me for what lies ahead in these times of sweet fellowship with You. I will trust You, Father, to lead me in the way that I should go. I will not fear, but I will trust in You alone. You are the One that I lean on, that I trust in and that I cling to, for it is in You that I live, and move and have my being. You are on the throne of my heart, Lord, and I will yield to You only. This morning, Father, I pray for my friends who may be weighed down with the pressures of life. I pray that they will be still before You and release those cares to You. I pray that they will relax and stop striving to do things under their own power and ability. I ask You, Lord, to carry the heavy load for them, to give them peace in the midst of the storms, Father. Thank You, Lord, for hearing and answering my prayer this morning! You are My God and there is none above You or beside You. Thank You for leading us and guiding us into sweet rest! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Habakkuk 2:1-3 I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
Have you ever thought that life just isn't fair. Habakkuk felt that way. He was disillusioned by all that was going on around him. He complained to the Lord about the injustices that he could see in those around him and he couldn't understand why God didn't act immediately on what he saw as unfair. He took his complaints to God, quieted himself before the Lord and waited for Him to answer. Habakkuk focused his attention on the Lord and waited for God to speak, even though it meant he might be waiting for correction from the Lord.
Many times we feel that our prayers need to be answered according to how we think or feel about our situation. When we direct our prayers to God with our solution already in our hearts, what we think we hear from God will be filtered through our own thoughts and emotions. God's answer seems to get jumbled up in how we feel, and what we think we hear from the Lord is often mixed in with the emotions of the answer that we want. Habakkuk realized in order to hear God clearly and to receive a pure answer from the Lord, he needed to focus his attention on God instead of the injustices happening around him. So he quieted himself before the Lord, waited, and when the Lord answered he wrote it down. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk needed to shift his focus from the proud who were controlling the justice system of his day to his God who was trustworthy. His thought that the proud was winning and God wasn't doing anything about it was suddenly shifted to the reality of who His God really was. Was He a God of unfairness, of injustice; an uncaring God with no compassion for His people? Absolutely not! His answer from God brought him back to the root of his problem; lack of dependency and faith in His God. He needed to shift his thoughts from the sense realm to the spirit realm. He was living by what he saw, not by dependence on His God.....”but the just shall live by his faith”.
Walking by faith is totally different than walking by your senses. Faith arises from a heart that is focused on God, that listens to what God says and lives according to what he knows and hears from His God. It looks at life's occurrences through the filter of God's Word. Walking by sight looks at the situation at hand and acts according to what it thinks, sees, and feels rather than by what God says. Habakkuk learned that God was still in control and that he needed to adjust his thoughts and actions to line up with God's word.
Hebrews 11:1 NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
Faith sees what we hope for as already being in existence. Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, but the actual Greek word for “hope”, which is elpis, means confident expectation based on solid certainty. The solid certainty that faith sees as already in manifestation is what God says, not what man senses. In the Amplified Bible in God's Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11 we see the faith walk of many of the old saints described as being “Prompted, actuated by faith”, “Urged on by faith”, “Aroused by faith”, “Motivated by faith”, “With eyes of faith”. They moved through life according to their faith, not what they saw, felt or thought. They were empowered to live life by what God said.
Do you feel that God isn't acting in the difficulties in your life? Do you already have the solution figured out and God just isn't doing what He should do to bring this problem to an end? God has the perfect solution to your problems. His ways are so much better than ours! His plan far outreaches anything that we could ever conceive on our own. He spoke a word and the world came into existence! He breathed the breath of life into the man he had formed from the dust of the earth and that man became a living soul! Just one word from God can change your problem into a praise! When you place your hope and trust in the Lord, your victory is only a prayer away! You can live your life by faith just as the old-timers lived theirs.
Father, I thank You for being bigger than the problems in our lives. And I thank You for taking care of all our needs. You long for us to come to You for the answers to life's questions and You are always ready and willing to answer our prayers. Thank You for giving us pure solutions to those things that we bring before You. Thank You for hearing and answering as we cry out to You for help. Please help us to focus our attention on You, Lord, and not on the problems that we encounter in this life. You are worthy, Lord, to receive all glory, and honor and praise! You don't just have the answers to life's difficulties, You are the answer! All life is held in You, Lord. You hold everything together by the word of Your power and You are all-powerful! How could we ever think that anything we would encounter in this world could ever be bigger than You? Forgive us, Lord, for focusing on something that You say is a light, momentary affliction. Help us to turn our eyes on You, Lord, and to look to You with expectation of the miracles that You are waiting to work in our lives. Thank You for the good plan You have for us, Lord. May we see the manifestation of all that You have created us to be and do. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Psalm 25:14 AMP The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.
When I first started developing a daily relationship with the Lord, He brought me to this scripture. It became a burning desire within me to know Him, to experience Him and to have Him reveal to me the deep, inner meaning of the covenant I have with Him purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. I still have that burning desire today to move up higher in my relationship with the Lord. He constantly draws me to new levels in Him as I pray and study His word. It is my relationship with Jesus Christ that brings me satisfaction and contentment in my life. Nothing else works; but the word here says that it is a secret of sweet, satisfying companionship with the Lord.
It is through that daily interaction with the Lord that the mystery of Christ is made known by His Spirit to us. Paul speaks of that mystery in Ephesians 3:3-5 “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets;”.
Paul had a living and vital relationship with Jesus Christ where the Holy Spirit could reveal to him the mysteries of Christ. He became that trusted companion that the Psalmist described in Psalm 25:14. It was as he spent time with the Lord that He entrusted him with the gospel and was able to make a difference in the lives of those that he came into contact with.
Ephesians 3 goes on to tell us that God intends for His church, those who are in sweet, satisfying companionship with Him, to be able to reveal the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. He wants to bring each one of us believers to the place where devils tremble at our sight; where the principalities and powers see in us the image of Christ and where we are living examples of the wisdom of God. He wants His church to be the force that conquers evil in this world; that brings salvation to the lost, healing to the sick, deliverance to the oppressed, and sight to the blind! It is as we experience the sweet, satisfying companionship of the Lord that He reveals the deep, inner meaning of His covenant so that we can become His body, the church, that shows the principalities and powers in heavenly places His manifold wisdom!
How can we do that? It begins by spending time with Him and grows through interaction with Him; through prayer; through Bible Study; through fellowship with the Spirit. It begins small and grows as it develops. As God began to draw me up closer in my walk with Him I was praying about the enormity of what I was discovering that He intended for us to be and do and I asked Him how I was to do this. A God-birthed idea is always bigger than anything you can ever expect to do on your own. He quickly reminded me of a verse in Zechariah 4:6:
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts.'”
You see, it's not up to us to do these things on our own. He doesn't intend for us to be a powerful force that the devil reckons with alone, but it's by His Spirit within us that He will show the principalities and powers in the heavenly places who He is! It is as He moves through individual believers that the world around us comes to know who God is! The Lord goes on to tell us in Zechariah 4:10: “For who has despised the day of small things?” He begins working in us in small things, through daily interaction with Him and then develops as we mature into the bigger plans that He has for each one of us. People like Billy Graham, who have touched untold millions for the cause of Christ, each began with a small, daily interaction with the Lord. For, you see, God is no respecter of persons.
Acts 10:P34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality,”
God looks for willing vessels that He can flow through to further His kingdom in the hearts and lives of people! Are you willing to be one of them?
Father, I thank You for giving us each the opportunity to be in Your plan to show the principalities and powers in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom that You have. I thank You for revealing through us the mysteries of Christ to those who are lost and without hope in this world. Thank You, Lord, for counting us worthy to be vessels that You can flow through to bring healing and wholeness to the sick and hurting. Thank You, Lord, for speaking through us to effect change in people's lives! You are awesome, Lord God and I praise You this morning for revealing the deep, inner meaning of Your covenant through a living and vital relationship with You. I pray for my friends this morning, that You would continue to give them understanding of Who You are. Father, that You would satisfy them with through their relationship with You so they would not seek love from food, or addictions, whatever it might be. I pray that they would be satisfied with their sweet companionship with You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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