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November 2005
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January 2006

Moving On

How many times have you wanted something for someone more than they wanted it for themselves?  If you are like me, probably a lot of times.  What do you do in this situation?  When they refuse to listen do you keep "beating" them or do you walk away and devote your time to someone who wants to change?  In Christian counseling, we are often faced with this dilemma.  It is hard to determine where to draw the line; and when we do walk away, it is sometimes difficult to not take the "rejection" personally.

I think that Paul and Barnabas had plenty of practice on handling rejection.  We find them in Acts 13 boldly preaching the gospel to the Jews.  Let's look in on part of their response to rejection:

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.  (Acts 13:46)

Praise God that they turned to the Gentiles (aka, Me) ! Okay, back to the story...

Do you think that Paul and Barnabas sulked away when they realized they weren't being listened to?   I think not.   After all, in v 48 we hear of many Gentiles that believed and received eternal life.  If Paul and Barnabas would have gotten their feelings hurt, think of how many people wouldn't have heard the gospel.  Of course, then the Jews wouldn't have gotten mad again and kicked P & B out of "their coasts" (v 50).   

Here's where the application to us comes in.  Think about the following verses and put yourself in Paul's or Barnabas' sandals.  If you were "kicked out" would you have done the same?

But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.  (Acts 13:51-52)

I bet they kept their heads held high because they did what God asked them to do and rejoiced in the good things that happened instead of dwelling on their misfortunes.  What a lesson.   If we keep our focus in the right place, we will be joyful no matter what happens.   


Prayer Works

Hmmm...I just got a prayer request from a new online friend and wouldn't you know that my reading today made me think of prayer.  Prayer really works and is so much more powerful than we often give it credit for.

In Acts 12, we get to witness another jailbreak.  Now who said the bible wasn't action packed? It is!  Peter was put in prison by Herod, for preaching Jesus, but lo and behold, God got him out...again.  But this time, it was because of the prayer of the church.

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.  (Acts 12:5)

I won't quote the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that the angel of the Lord broke the chains from Peter's hands and led him out. (v 7-11).  Now that was some powerful prayer!  :)

How is your prayer life? Hey, God is asking me once again about mine, so I'm sharing it with you.  Do you pray specific prayers in expectation of specific answers?    We have the power of God at our fingertips if only we would pray.  I better sign off and get to it...I can think of a "few" things to pray for tonight.  Until tomorrow, my friends...


Preach at All Costs

Back to Acts today.  I think that I've mentioned this before, but this time around in my reading through Acts I'm really noticing the power of God and the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles.  Did you realize that we have the same Holy Spirit inside of us that the apostles had so many years ago?  That power enabled the apostles to preach the gospel to the lost world in spite of the constant threat of being beaten and put in jail for their faith.

In Acts 5:17 the apostles were imprisoned for preaching the gospel, but guess what?  The angel of the Lord freed them from jail (v19) with the instruction that they were to stand in the temple and preach the gospel.  Keep in mind that the apostles were told not to preach by the high priests not too long before.  To make a long story short, the apostles preached  and even the Pharisee lawyer (sorry, any lawyers out there) realized that the work of God could not be stopped (see vs 38-39).

Acts 5:38 And now I say unto you.  Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Apparently, the men of Israel here did not mind fighting against God because they gathered up the apostles and beat them, telling them again to not speak in Jesus' name.  How do you feel when you get "beaten up" for your work for God's Kingdom?  Do you jump for joy? Smile and laugh with glee?  Take a look at how the apostles took their beating, for to me this is the key to continued work for Christ:

Acts 5:41-42 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing in that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION: The Holy Spirit should be my source of strength to continue daily in service to my God.  God's work will not be hindered!  No matter what resistance comes across my path, I must and can continue serving with joy.  Thank God for the real-life examples in His Word! 


Who Should God Be to Me - Part III

Here we are, my final post in my first series.  This topic has been interesting to me and I hope that it has been edifying to all of you in some way.  We've examined the importance of being able to relate to God as our heavenly Father and what a perfect earthly father or parent should look like.  But today I would like to address how, if we have not seen a good example on earth of a good father, we can start to relate to God as if we were His child.

STEP #1 - GET TO KNOW WHO GOD IS.

God is everything perfect in a relationship that we can possibly imagine, all rolled up into one being.  I wish I had friends here on earth like that.  I wish I could be a person like that.  As we seek God and a close relationship with Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  Any relationship grows slowly at first but over time as we get to know the other person, we can trust them with our dreams as well as our greatest fears.  The thing with God is, He already knows us completely (Psalm 139:1-3).

STEP #2 - ASK GOD TO HELP YOU GET CLOSE TO HIM.

God is looking for individuals who will worship Him (John 4:23) and will  show us through His Holy Spirit how to love Him.  We can get close to God through His Holy Spirit in our hearts because of His Son, Jesus:

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

STEP #3 - REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE TO GOD.

All of us are precious to God.  Through Jesus, we are adopted into God's family, making us His children, and are joint heirs with Jesus.  Again, note that the Holy Spirit inside us will help us to understand God as Father.  (Romans 8:14-17)

We just need to believe by faith that God is who He says He is and that we are to Him who He says that we are.  Not necessarily easy, but true nonetheless. 

IN CONCLUSION...

I am so thankful that God has given me His words to reference when my feelings lead me astray.  His Words to us are never changing and ever true.  If we can remember that God is perfect, loves us more than we can imagine and believe that we are His children, we will be on our way to a close relationship with Him as our heavenly Father.  As a result, we will have no choice but to live powerful lives for Him as we grow closer to Him each day through our prayer and daily bible reading.

I'm attaching a song entitled "When God Ran" , by Phillips, Craig and Dean that almost never fails to bring tears to my eyes because it shows God's Fatherly love to me.  I hope you are blessed by it too.


Who Should God Be to Me? - Part II

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20)

What is a Good Father?

In my last post regarding our relationship with God, I explored the importance of being able to see God as a heavenly Father.  It can be difficult though, for some of us, for a number of reasons.   In the verse above, the bible tells us that spiritual things are always shown to us in the physical realm so that we can better understand them.  Therefore, today I thought I would touch on the characteristics that a father should have and show you some bible verses related to each.

For those of you that do not or have not had a good father image in your life, I pray that as you read these characteristics that you have experienced them firsthand somehow in someone close to you.  Remember that God is perfect, and does possess all of these traits...ALL THE TIME!  What a gracious God and heavenly Father we have!  :)

A good father(or good parent)...

Loves and cares for His child. (1 Peter 5:7)
Protects his child. (Matthew 18:6)
Provides for his child. (Philippians 4:19)
Guides and teaches his child. (John 14:26)
Helps his child. (Psalm 46:1)
Will not discourage his child.  (Colossians 3:21)
Disciplines his child.  (Hebrews 12:5-11)
Feeds his child. (Matthew 4:4)
Has a plan for his child. (Romans 8:28-29)

(Note: Taken from Biblical Discipleship - Lesson 1, Reality Publishing, Inc. 1999)

As I review the above qualities I am reminded of how complete God's love is for me.  Have I experienced all of these things personally from my own parents?  Yes, and it is definitely helpful in my seeing what each of these traits looks like applied to life rather than just reading about it in a book or blog.  If you haven't seen these qualities in your own father, have you seen them at all in perhaps one other person or maybe a variety of individuals?

If we as children of God can imagine love, protection, guidance or help at all, then we should have some concept of how God can be a Father to us.  It may take some work, but I think it can be done  if we just believe in what God says to us in His word.  (If any of you readers have some personal insights you would like to share for others struggling in this area, I would love your comments!)

Final Thoughts

It may be hard to imagine a perfect parent, but just think how easy it would be to obey, respect and trust that perfect mom or dad.  I assure you that none of us have seen perfection in our parents, and none of us will ever be perfect parents.   Hmmm...I wonder if my dog-children realize how imperfect I am! Thankfully, they can't read my bible to see what I should be!  :)   Tying this in to "part I", if we know how perfectly caring and loving God is as a "Father" to His children, we are more apt to depend on Him.  Once we know we can trust Him fully, we will automatically come to Him frequently and humbly as only a child can come to His parent for help. 


Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday

Hello everyone,

I wonder if everyone else has been as busy as I've been the past couple of days cleaning house for the overnight family guests, preparing meals (getting ready for the big meal - there must be an easier way to make deviled eggs!) and wrapping presents.  I will continue my thoughts regarding "Who God is to me" the day after Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you, my online friends.  May your day be awesome and may you find some time today to just be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10), that Jesus is with you today and always.

Now though, I would like to wish my Friend a very Happy Birthday.  I went to a Christmas Eve service at my church tonight, and you know, I've only been to two Christmas Eve services in my lifetime? Ever.  The first was probably 13 years ago, and the second was about 9 hours ago.  Please keep in mind that our church meets in a middle school (for just a few more months though - yeah) and we have just not had the opportunity to have a Christmas Eve service until this year.  At any rate, I can think of no better way than to spend the night before Christmas with my church family.

So, Happy Birthday, Jesus.  I'm so glad that we've made it through another year.  Our Friendship grows more everyday and I am so thankful to Your Father (oh, and I know He is mine, too, in a spiritual sort of way), that He gave You to me more than 2000 years ago on this day. 

I can hardly imagine You as a tiny little baby, but yet I know that You were.  I bet You were cute.  Thank You for coming down to earth, wearing diapers, learning how to walk/talk, and going through those teenage years just for me.   Oh, and last but definitely not least, thank You for your walk up that hill to cross where You died for me too.

I hope the angels are singing "Happy Birthday" to You today, even though they sing praises to You every day.  Please forgive me ahead of time for getting so busy with the festivities on Your birthday that I might forget about you for brief moments in all of the hub-bub.  Help me to take a few seconds out of each minute in internal solititude to say "Thanks" to You and smile about You.

Thank You for being my Savior, my Lord, my Friend and My King.  Happy Birthday!


Who Should God be to Me? - Part I

Why Father?

Continuing on from yesterday, I think that our view of God as our heavenly Father is one of the most important stepping stones to our spiritual growth.   If we can call God our "Father", not only does it imply a closeness to Him on our part, but it also implies a childlike dependence on Him and thus less reliance on our own gifts and abilities to make it through life.  Hence, dependence is key!  Before thinking about this in depth during the past month, I had never before tied its importance into a relationship image such as one of a Father to His child.

CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCE LEADS TO HUMILITY

Thinking back to when I was a child, I was well aware that I could not live on my own.  I remember worrying one time as a young girl that if something happened to my mom, I would not know how to fix my hair!  When I was in college, I knew very well that if I did not do as my parents asked (good grades, behavior, etc.) that I would not be able to afford the lifestyle (living away from home) to which I'd become accustomed.  It is a very humbling experience to be dependent on someone else, isn't it?  Don't miss this --- God wants us to be totally dependent upon Him so that He can use us to accomplish mighty things for His glory!

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

James 4:10 Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. 

When we can come to Him with total trust for everything in our lives, knowing that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) and that He has our best interests in mind (Ro 8:26-28), then we can know we are on the way to seeing God as our heavenly Father.

CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCE LEADS TO MORE POWERFUL & FERVENT PRAYER

The closer we get to God, the more we will pray.  The more we pray, the closer we get to God.  Am I talking in circles?  Maybe, but isn't that how it really works?  To approach God with the innocence of a child approaching a caring parent results in more sincere and specific prayer for our wants and desires. Remember that God wants to grant our requests!

Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

As we see God answering "yes" to our small prayers, we eventually start trusting Him with bigger requests and relying on Him for guidance and help.  We start becoming more dependent. Our relationship with God becomes deeper as we converse more with Him through prayer and listen to Him through our scripture reading.  Just a a relationship with a friend grows with intimate conversation, so does our relationship with God.

Final Thoughts

Childlike dependence.  We've all experienced it in some way or another.  If not with our physical father, maybe with another parent, grandparent, guardian or even an older sibling in some cases.   We rely on mentors and friends for guidance and support.

My question is this:  How dependent are you on God?  Are you an "adult" or a "child"?  Just remember, just because we've grown up, doesn't mean we need to grow out of our need for dependence.  We just need to be careful that our dependence is on God, and God alone.  After all, He is the only true dependable one.


Who is God to You?

I'm going to take a little diversion in my posts for a few days (not that I'm not itching to write about Ananias & Sapphira and Peter's "jailbreak" facilitated by God's angel!) and discuss something that I believe is key to how close of a relationship we can have with God - our relationship to Him as our heavenly Father. 

I think I've taken for granted all of these years as to how normal (okay, there were some abnormalities, but for the most part we had a pretty average home) my childhood was.  My dad was  a good man and a good provider for our middle class home. Although he wasn't perfect, I always knew that he loved me and felt safe as a kid.  More and more, I'm realizing that this was not what many people grew up with, and as a result, they have a hard time seeing God for who He is because they associate the word "father" with so many negative memories.  I pray that you will stick with me as I explore this topic for a few days, even if your own relationship with your dad was good.

So...for now, I think I'll attempt to address the following questions:

1) Why is my view of God as a Father so important?

2) If I didn't have a good relationship with my physical father, can I still have this Father - child relationship?

3) How can I change my current relational view of God to see Him as my Father, Who is in heaven?

I want to leave you with a quote from Andrew Murray's book "With Christ in the School of Prayer" (from Chapter 4):

The knowledge of God's Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer.  Prayer begins in a personal relationship with the living God as well as a personal, conscious fellowship of love with Him.  In the knowledge of God's Fatherliness revealed by the Holy Spirit, the power of prayer will root and grow.  The life of prayer has its joy in the infinite tenderness, care and patience of an infinite Father Who is ready to hear and to help.

Deep thoughts.  Again, I am amazed at how a God so infinitely big and powerful can also have that infinite tenderness.  That's definitely something to think about.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15 NKJV)


Unlearned and Ignorant

When we left off last time, Peter was preaching Jesus to the Jews.  Well, guess what? He is still preaching in Acts 4, only this time I believe it is even more powerful.   Apparently he and John must have been causing quite the stir because the priests and the Sadducees came upon them and asked what was going on, and apparently took them captive overnight (Acts 4:3).

Peter was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he couldn't help but proclaim the gospel, even to the high priests the next morning.  No more denying Jesus for Peter.  He learned his lesson.   He kept repeating that the reason for the miracles was of the power of Jesus in him and while the priest couldn't deny that the miracles happened, they didn't know what to do.

Have you had a miracle happen in your life?  I bet if you think hard enough, you will find one there somewhere.  One of my recent "miracles" was when I was the emcee at our Ladies' Retreat this past fall.  Through the power of God, this lady who used to be terrified at doing presentations in college, stood up in front of 80+ ladies with a microphone and actually had a good time doing it.  Now, I'm not saying that I was this incredible speaker or anything, but I think I pulled it off.   So, let me ask again, have you had a miracle happen in your life?

Miracles through ordinary people speak to the masses.  My favorite verse in Acts 4 is this:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Peter and John weren't noticed because of their education, intelligence or skills.  They were noticed because they had been with Jesus.  And because of that, many were saved. What will you do with His Spirit?


Give Credit Where Credit is Due

The power of God is an incredible and life-changing site to behold.  Have you ever been "freed" from something that had been bothering you for a long time?  Has God ever come through for you in ministry? Did you give God the credit for your transformation?

In Acts 3, we see a lame man healed by Peter and John...or rather by the Holy Spirit that was in Peter and John.  This lame man, lame from birth, had apparently been begging every day at the temple for quite some time.  Imagine his good fortune to be found by Peter and John soon after the day of Pentecost! They were definitely feeling the power of God.  Look at how the lame beggar reacted:

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God: And all the people saw him walking and praising God:  (Acts 3:8-9)

All of the people who saw him knew that he was the lame beggar at the temple and were amazed at what happened to him.   Apparently, they were giving credit for the healing to Peter and John or Peter wouldn't have reprimanded them by saying

Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? (Acts 3:12)

Peter made sure that those people knew that God was the one who empowered he and John to heal the beggar.  I'm proud of Peter.  He sure has come a long way since the "Feed my sheep" conversation with Jesus!  And wasn't Peter the one who denied Jesus three times in one day?  Good job, Peter.

What can we learn from this passage?  It was a reminder to me that no matter how talented I am or the people who serve with me are, that is God's power that makes every success possible.  I should always remember to give credit where credit is due.  Praise be to God!