Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say What?

Has anyone ever told you to do something that really you thought was crazy? Maybe you had a desire to do something those closest to you thought was stupid or unrealistic. They may think the profession you have chosen for your life is not the best because you either don't have the ability, or it isn't a good way to bring in an income.

Maybe you have a dream that only you can imagine.What are you doing about it? Have you allowed what others have told you to stop you from proceeding and doing what is in your heart?

As believers God gives us dreams. He gives us vision. That is the way of life for the believer. He gives us purpose.

After God created mankind He became disheartened by what He saw happening to His creation. He was disappointed in what He saw when He looked upon earth, except when it came to Noah. Noah "found favor in the eyes of the Lord." Gen. 6:8 NIV The Messages says, "Noah was different. God liked what He saw in Noah."

When God looks at us does He like what He sees? It doesn't matter what other people see as long as God likes looking at us and sees the potential we have in Him. Noah was righteous and walked with God. (Gen. 6:19) Noah was human, so I know he made mistakes; so when we fail and make mistakes, acknowedge them and move forward. John Maxwell calls that "failing forward."

Noah also listened to God's instruction and did everything He told him to do. Try to imagine what it would be like to be Noah...you are living your life, minding your own business. You are having your quiet time with God and He tells you He is tired and fed up with the human race, so He is going to destroy it. What kind of a reaction would you have? That is hard to imagine, but first off I think I would be speechless and not know how to react. I might think, "Are you serious?" The Bible doesn't really tell us how Noah reacted, it is left for us to use our own imaginations.

So often when we read scripture we read it like it is just words on a page, with no personality. I believe in order to truly understand what we are reading, we need to look at the circumstances surrounding what we are reading, and put ourselves in the situation. When we do that we can understand it so much better. Now, with that being said, how would you react? What would you do or say?

Well, all we read is how Noah listened to God tell him to build a huge boat (an ark) that was to be 450 feet long and 75 feet high and 45 feet wide. Now remember, up until this time there has not been a boat that size, maybe not even a boat. God was asking Noah to build a cruise ship for animal's and a few people! God continues on by telling Noah He is establishing a covenant with him, he and his family will board the boat and will take on board all the animals he tells him to take. Genesis chapter six of The Message ends with, "Noah did everything God commanded Him to do."

Ok, now the Bible again doesn't go into detail on what happens while Noah is building the ark; but, again, use your imagination. It could be that Noah's closest friends came up and questioned him, saying he was being ridiculous, maybe even losing his mind. His sons and their families were more than likely ridiculed as well.

Do those closest to you talk down the dreams you have of doing amazing things and accomplishing awesome goals? DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. GOD HAS CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE AND WANTS TO SEE YOU DO EXACTLY WHAT HE IS TELLING YOU. Do not allow other people's insecurities keep you from accomplishing what God has designed you for.

I did a google search on "They Said I Couldn't" and I found this story of a young girl from Tennessee desiring to be a country singer. Dolly Parton was her idol. She described herself as "dorky." Well, this girl attended a drama summer camp in upstate New York one year. Despite 3 years of singing lessons at the end of the summer camp her coaches told her to forget about singing. They suggested she think of another career. She was an impressionable young girl and took these "professionals" words to heart.

When she arrived home her mother would not let her feel sorry for herself and her dad encouraged her to achieve in school. That is what she did and was accepted at Stanford University. When she was 19 she got a part in a low budget movie Freeway, which led to a role in the movie Pleasantville. She decided that if she couldn't sing she would "play to your strengths" and "focus on what you're good at. Celebrate yourself." That is exactly what she did. This actress, Reese Witherspoon, was cast in the role of June Carter in the movie "Walk the Line;" where she played a country singer.

I know that story is not so spiritual; but, how much more should we do what she did as believers. When those around us tell us we can't do a certain thing and you know it is something God has placed in your heart...GO FOR IT! DO NOT GIVE UP! It may not come about the way you planned; but listen to God, follow His instruction and He will get you where you need to be, in order to fulfill the dream He placed within you.

What are you doing, right now, that is setting you up to do what God is calling you to? It may not look like you will ever get there, but do not stop what you are doing. What you are doing NOW is preparing you for when God brings about His dream in you. Listen to God's instruction. Follow His advise. Do everything He commands, even if it doesn't look like much. Do not lose hope. God is still with you, even though what you are doing may not seem like much. With God behind you it will be amazing.

Remember, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13 NIV

Next post we will learn more from Noah's encounter with God and the ark.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Contentment vs Striving for the Goal

It is a wise person who knows how to be content in their circumstance; yet, striving to reach the goal, to which God has called them.

Our lives can be like a tug of war with contentment on one side pulling for our attention and stiving on the other side pulling for equal time.

Now, there are those who are content with where they are...they are comfortable and don't want to "rock the boat." Things are fine, so don't mess with a good thing.

On the other hand, there are those who can't seem to relax. They are always on the go, but are they doing anything?

I am reminded of a human video our youth did several years back to an Insyderz song. There were several teens on either side of a person in the middle...one side representing evil, negative things in our lives...the other representing good, positive things in our lives...the one in the middle having to make the decision on which way to go.

If we are in ministry, or just a person living the Christian life, we are the person in the middle of contentment of where we are and striving/reaching for the goals we set. They are both tugging at us, vying for our attention, pulling us to their side. In the end we need to make up our mind to balance our lives. it is so important to make sure we are content where God has us at this time in our lives; yet still striving to reach the goals He has given us.

Being content doesn't mean being lazy. Being content means KNOWING WE ARE IN GOD'S WILL and doing what we can, at this point in our life, to position ourself where we need to be, to reach our goals. We need to be taking in all we can to absorb what He is teaching us; doing a little at a time to get to where He is taking us.

Don't rush it. Be available and ready for when He say...NOW.

That is hard to do if you are a doer, or someone who has to be in the midst of the action. Sometimes God just wants us to be on the sidelines, observing and gathering information. During these times we need to do what we can; but soak up as much of what He is showing us as we can. That way when He is ready to "let us loose" with His plan we will be ready.

So, think about our arms being stretched in opposite directions by contentment and striving for the goal. Ask God to help us relax and do what we can, where we are, so we will be ready to do what He has called us to in His time.

Phil. 4:13, "I've learned by now to be quite content..." The Message

Phil. 3:12-14, "...I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ...I've got my eye on the goal...I'm off and running...I'm not turning back." The Message

Paul had learned both...he was content, but look what he did for the church world!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rebuilding Our Lives!

"This is stupid!"

"I can't believe I have to do this!"

"Why do I have to do this? Why can't someone else? Don't they know who I am?"

We have all been in situations where we have thought those same thoughts, or something similar, before. Hopefully, we have matured past these thoughts. In our journey as leaders there will be days when we just don't get it. It seems as if nothing is ever going to be like we thought it would be.

Our lives are inundated with aspects of ministry, but is this really what God wants for us? The Israelites were in the midst of captivity for seventy years. The only thing that probably kept them going was knowing in seventy years this all would be over. Still, seventy years is a long time. Some of the ones who came into captivity would die before they saw God's promise fulfilled. To be honest, it was probably difficult not to get weary.

The promise was God's redemption. God says, "Once the seventy years is up, I'll punish the king of Babylon and the whole nation of Babylon for their sin. Then they'll be the wasteland...They won't get by with anything." Jer. 25:12-14 The Message

When it seems as if we are never going to get out of the situations we are in, we have the promise that God will come through.

The key is this:

We have to make sure we have set our eyes, our spirits, on seeking God and His will, not ours. Seek Him with all our heart. He says that when we look for Him we'll find Him. When we call on Him and pray He will listen. When we truly get serious about finding God and want Him more than anything else, He will make sure we are not disappointed. Jer. 29:10-14

Over the years I have pondered why we, as believers, do not see more miracles around us. Is it because we have so much going on in our lives we do not take the time to seek God with ALL our hearts? Are we so busy doing ministry we do not allow us to be who God so desires?

Take time to search our hearts and ask God to reveal to us what we need to do in order to become who He wants. When we do this He will show up. Pray for those who are giving us a hard time. Pray for blessings on them. God told the Israelites to pray for Babylon, that things would go well for, not only Babylon, but them as well. Jer. 29:7

We need to make ourselves at home, because God will restore and bless us in His time. Pray for those who are giving us a hard time. Pray for the parishoner that is always "on our case." Pray for our children who are "driving us crazy."

He says in Jer. 30:10, "...find life good, safe and secure." "I'll come with healing, curing the incurable." v17 "I'll compassionately come in and rebuild homes...things will get better and better...they'll thrive, they'll flourish..." vv18-21

"...You'll be my very own people, I'll be your very own God." Jer. 30:22

Jeremiah chapter 31 is awesome! God says he will restore and the people of Israel can resume their singing. Their lives will be like a well watered garden. He is going to make sure His people have more than enough. He is going to create a new thing. He will restore tired bodies and tired souls.

What is going on in our lives right now? Are we weary? Are our bodies tired and worn out? Have we been doing ministry because it is our responsibility and duty? Have we lost the joy of ministry? Are attitudes of people getting to us? Be encouraged and read through Jeremiah 24 through 31.

God is with us. We are where God wants us to be. Allow Him to speak to our spirit and restore our soul.

"'Be ready. The time's coming'-God's Decree-'when I will plant people and animals in Israel and Judah, just as a farmer plants seed. And in the same way that earlier I relentlessly pulled up and tore down, took apart and demolished, so now I am sticking with them as they start over, building and planting.'" Jer. 31:24-28 The Message

"This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them - write it on their hearts! - and be their God. And they will be my people...They'll know me firsthand..." Jer. 31:33-34 The Message

Wherever we are right now in ministry God is with us. If we feel broken and torn down; God is here for us, to rebuild and give us a new start. He loves each of us deeply. He knows the plans He has for us...plans to take care of us and give us a the future we hope for.

Be encouraged and blessed! You are on the edge of great breakthroughs with God!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shut up! Let God Speak!

Last post was seeing God's purpose in our lives, even when circumstances are not so great. God's purpose prevails. This post we are going to read about God's intervention in our lives.

Again God was telling Jeremiah what to tell the people. Throughout chapters 24 - 28 Jeremiah is warning the people to repent and maybe God will hear them and not be so harsh. When we get to chapter 29 Jeremiah sends a letter to the exiles in Babylon explaining what God wants them to do;

"Build houses and make yourselves at home. Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. Marry and have chidren. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you'll thrive in that country and not waste away. Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare. Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you." Jer. 29:5-7 The Message

Wherever we are in our lives...if we feel we are not going anywhere...if we feel we are suppose to be doing something other than what we are doing right now...if things just seem to be falling apart...take heart. Listen to what God says, "Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare."v 7 Maybe we are sitting under the leadership of a ministry and we want to be on our own..."work for the country's (ministry's) welfare." God is with us.

Listen to what He wants to teach us. Glean from the ministry. We need to take in all we can, BUT also give our time and energy to help that ministry. Do life well. Allow God to mold us into the person He wants us to be; not what we want to be.

Jeremiah 29:10 tells us that Babylon is going to flourish and be blessed for seventy years...not a day more...not a day less. So the people of Israel had better learn to adjust.

Are we learning to adjust? Are we making it hard on ourselves? God doesn't want us to do that. That is not his plan. His plan is for us to be blessed along with the ministry we are in. Take in all we can. And when the time that God has for us to be in that place is up, and no sooner, we will be free to do what God intended in the beginning.

It is so encouraging; read what He says, "'I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.' God's decree. 'I'll turn things around for you...You can count on it.'"" Jeremiah 29:10-14 The Message

So here is what we get out of all this. Israel did their own thing. Jer. 25:7 They did not care about what God wanted. They listened to the "prophets" that told them what they wanted to hear.

How often do we only listen to what we want to listen to, not what God is truly saying? We get caught up in what we think is God, but the reality is...it is our own desires. It is not wrong to have our own desires and dreams; the key is...have we been in touch with God in our prayer and Bible study? "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God!" Pr. 3:5-7 The Message

We see in all these passages God's intervention. He knows what He is doing. We usually don't. In the ministry I am doing at this time I don't have any idea where God is taking me; but, I do know this...He is in control. I am taking one step (day) at a time and as He gives me ideas I plan them, pray over them, do what I can and leave them in His hands to bring things about in His timing.

Here is what we need to do in order for God to be able to intervene in our lives:

1- Change the way we're doing life - if we are not doing life the way He wants.
2- Change our behavior to conform to His, don't be rebellious and "do our own thing."
3- Listen to God's message and what He is telling us, not the message we want to hear.

When we begin doing these things we will see...God's redemption...which will be the next post.

Be Blessed!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Really? This is what God wants? This is His Purpose for Me?

Many times we are in the midst of life and wonder..."Is this really where I am suppose to be?"

We may even think God has made a mistake, or we have missed His direction. Hang on a minute, because that is not what Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah chapters 24 - 29.

Many of us know the scripture, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11 NIV

Have we looked at the scriptures leading up to that scripture and really thought it through and applied it to our own lives?

God tells Jeremiah that He (God) is the one that sent the Israelites into exile to Babylon. But, He also says "...I'll make sure they get good treatment. I'll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I'll bring them back to this land. I'll build them up, not tear them down; I'll plant them, not uproot them." 24:1-6 The Message

The other scripture we all know, "And I'll give them a heart to know me, God. They'll be my people and I'll be their God, for they'll have returned to me with all their hearts." Jer. 24:7 The Message

Up to this point Israel was doing their own thing...prophets proclaiming to be sent by God, but only telling the people what they wanted to hear. They didn't want to listen to Jeremiah, the one who was truly God's messenger.

God had enough! So, He did something about it.

How often do we do things "in God's name," but it is more our own initiative and not His? As minister's, women called by God, and leaders we need to be careful what we say is of God. We will have to be accountable for how we have led people.

God's purpose will be fulfilled. We may get caught up in how things are done or have been done and miss where God is taking us; where He is leading us. It may take some chaotic circumstance to get us back on track; but, again, He is leading. We may need to be pushed into hearing Him and seeing where He is leading. Be encouraged, though, because He did it with the Israelites in Jeremiah's time.

Where are we right now in our walk with God?

Where are we in our ministries?

Where are we in listening to God's voice?

Take time to seriously look at our spirit. Be open enough to hear the truth about where we are spiritually. Just because we are ministers and leaders does not exempt us from being led astray; in fact satan will try even harder to lead us astray. He is a deceiver and can make the decisions we make seem ok and of God, when really they aren't. Our marriages and our children are vulnerable to various kinds of attacks from satan. We need to be alert and "on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet." I Pt. 3:17 The Message

Be strong in spirit and how we deal with circumstances in our lives.

Remember, wherever we are right now, if we are seeking God honestly and sincerely (Jer. 24:7) He will be there for us.

This post has been focused on seeing God's purpose in our lives, even when things seem to be going wrong. In the next post we will see God's intervention in our lives.