Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kentucky Derby

"If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?"

Have you ever wanted to run faster then horses? Fly like the wind? Soar like the eagles? Feel the wind beating into your face, stealing your breath? Feel the exhilaration pumping through your body?

Look at the obvious context of this verse. If you want to race against horses, then you need to beat men first. Because if you can't last against a man, then you will go down against a horse.

Spiritually speaking, racing against "men" in this life will weary you if you do it in your own strength. All the "horses" the enemy throws at you will destroy you.

Either way, it would take something supernatural to run and not grow weary.

Paul told us to run the race set before us.

There will always be a race set before us that we need to run. And if we don't want to pass out from exhaustion, then we need God's strength (God in us). We need the Holy Spirit training (Scripture to back us up). We need some awesome running shoes (Application/We need to use His strength, and Scripture!)

I want to race against horses. I want to beat them, too. How about you?

---Joy

"Stand Therefore"

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, ... Ephesians 6:13

There is a thought here at the beginning of this passage of scripture about the armor of God that I think often gets overlooked. After all the armor is pretty cool. Belts, helmets, breastplates, shoes, shields, and swords. Personally I think that it is just as important as any one of the pieces of armor.

He tells us to take up the whole armor of God so that we will be able to withstand because all those elements... truth, righteousness, salvation, faith, gospel of peace, and the sword are what equips us in the fight. Then he goes on to use these words, 'Having done all to stand. Stand therefore' and this is the thought that I would like to talk about today, Standing. I think its important because this is where the choosing takes place and this is what makes the whole armor of God effective in our lives.

He used these words, 'Having done all to stand. Stand therefore' and the word that stands out here is the word all. Having done ALL to stand. Stand therefore,' meaning when you've already been doing all you know to do to stand and to fight.  Stand some more.' There is a choice here that takes place to stand, to not give up, or to be overcome. The choice to stand and to keep on standing no matter what. You've taken some hits, Stand! You don't know what else to do? Stand! That choice to stand is what makes our weapons of warfare possible.

We choose the gift of salvation. We choose to stand in truth. We choose to stand in righteousness. We choose to stand for the gospel of Christ. We choose to stand in faith. We choose to stand on the Word of God. We choose to stand and then stand some more. We choose to stand and to stay in the fight.

When I was reading this verse I remembered a scene in the first Rocky movie that I watched years ago. There was a scene at the end where he was all beat up. He was all swollen, bruised, bloody, and exhausted. There was a moment when he chose not to stay down. He decided he would do the impossible and go the distance. He stood there and would take the hit, go down and jump right back up, take another hit and get back up and he kept on till the hits had very little effect at all. My point here is, there was a moment when in his heart he made the choice, the determination to stand, to make it to the end.  At the end of the fight the other guy was declared the winner but nobody really noticed that. Everybody treated Rocky like he was the winner because he went the distance when no one thought it was possible.  

Point being... Victory is in going the distance! The choosing to stand and to stay in the fight! 




Friday, June 28, 2013

Vows to the Most High

"Perform your vows to the Most High." Psalm 50:14b

Jesus is often referred to as The Bridegroom, and the church is referred to as the Bride of Christ.

The proposal: Jesus proposed to us when He sacrificed Himself for us on the cross. When we are saved, we are saying, "Yes!" to Him.

And there is our first vow to God.

We are vowing to love, honor, and cherish God forever. We are vowing to stand before everyone and proclaim our love for Him. We are vowing to spend the rest of forever with Him.

These vows should not be taken lightly! We meant these vows when we said them. Then the "wedding planning" began. We see how much preparation, detail, resources, and personal time go into planning a wedding to the Most High. We know we will need to change some of our rotten habits for The Bridegroom.

This is enough to make some believers completely turn away from The Bridegroom. They never perform their vows to God.

But what about you?

We have each made the same vow to God. And we all know we love Him. A man and a woman in love don't let the challenges of planning a wedding stop them. They press forward! And so it should be with our Heavenly Bridegroom!

Press forward! Perform your vows!

---Joy

(What can I say? Wedding analogies are a good reflection of us and God. And they are all just so apparent to me right now :D )




Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Brave And Heroic"

I remember when, what feels like a 100 years ago, I was filling out my application to attend Bible College and it came to a part where there was an essay question. To be honest I don't really remember what the exact question was. It must have been something along the lines of, "Why do you want to attend Bible College?"  I remember my response, and it may sound ridiculous to you, but my response was, "Zorro." My explanation was all about how as a child I loved Zorro. He was my hero. I loved how He stood up for the downtrodden against injustice in impossible times. He always prevailed against evil because he was skilled with his sword. I remember using sticks and sword playing with my brothers and sisters in the backyard pretending to be Zorro. I explained that now that I was grown up and saved I had a new hero, and that it was my desire to be trained and to become skilled with a different kind of sword, ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17  So anyways, I was accepted and here I am 26 years later about to use Zorro to once again illustrate what is in my heart.

I say all that not to even focus on any of that, but to give you a little background for the message I would like to share with you today.  For that part of my life Zorro was my hero. Not Batman, not Superman, not Spiderman, etc. who all, like Zorro, battled evil, stood for good, and defended those that needed help. So why Zorro? We'll come back to the answer to that question in a just a bit.

I was reading in Daniel and asking Him what I should share today when He pulled out this verse. "I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you." Daniel 5:14 As you read the book of Daniel you see these words or words similar to them in numerous places to describe Daniel. His reputation was one of 'having an excellent spirit.' Read the book and you'll see it all throughout, but nowhere do you get the feeling that Daniel was full of himself or that he thought any more highly of himself, even though three different kings saw it and promoted him to positions of power. You don't get the impression that Daniel thought that he was anything more that your average guy doing his best to faithfully serve his God.Throughout the book you don't see a man that is using his positions of authority to lord it over anyone instead you see his humble attitude in all his encounters. Throughout his life others saw in him 'a greatness' that he didn't really see in himself.

So, as I was contemplating this verse in Daniel He reminded me about "Zorro."  See, those early years when I picked Zorro as my hero it was because I could relate to him.  Zorro wore a mask in order to be effective in his fight for justice and the people close to him, his family didn't even know that he was Zorro. By all outward outward appearances they thought he was weak and a coward, when in reality there was this other part of him that was brave and heroic. As a child I wanted to be that. Brave and heroic. Someone who would stand for what was right and good. I was quiet and shy, a tomboy, from a family without a lot of money, in a small town. Nothing special. Your basic insignificant nobody from nowhere special.

When I was nineteen, shortly after Jesus became my one true hero a new youth pastor came to our church. For some reason, after talking to me a couple of times he and his wife asked me to 'help' them with the youth ministry. Remember even as a child I had this secret desire to 'make a difference' so I agreed even though I didn't know how much, if any, help I would be. A few years later when I was running the Jr high program as well as helping with the high school he told me He was glad that he had asked me instead of listening to the advice of others. He told me that a number of people in the church had advised him not to ask me. They had told him I was, "too quiet, too shy, and I would never be able to do it."I asked him why he hadn't listened to them. His response was simple.  He said that when he had talked with me he "saw" potential in me and decided to risk it. He said, "That he saw something in me." Thank God for those that have "spiritual eyes' to see what the world cannot!

When I went to Bible college I took a course were I had to do my first student teaching. It was supposed to be only 2 - 5 min. Something short on a topic of our own choosing. I picked, 'Taking the Lord's Name In Vain.' Don't forget, really shy, quiet, took 0's in school rather then do oral reports. So I'm really scared, nervous, basically terrified to do my first teaching. I get up there, got it all out and ended with, "I'm done. I have to sit. I'm going to pass out." I grab the first chair I can get to and put my head between my legs hoping I don't faint. Meanwhile, silence. Not a sound anywhere in the room. In my head, you know, the one that is down between my knees I'm beating myself up for blowing it! I didn't even rate the polite clapping everyone else got. The instructor hadn't come up front yet. After everyone else she had come to the front added a couple of comments and introduced the next one. She hadn't moved. I picked my head up she came forward and the clapping began. She said I was getting an A and thanked me for the anointed message.

So the point of today's personal ramblings? After all it is so not like me to share such personal details, especially with perfect strangers, from all over the world. Is it to lift myself up? Definitely not! I just told you that my first attempt at using the "sword of the Spirit" ended with my head between my knees. I told you all this because I know, because I know, because I KNOW, that there is someone out there right now reading this that needs to hear... That God sees you. He knows the real you. The you that is down inside. He sees your gifts, and your calling. He has a hope and a future in store for you.He doesn't look at you the same way that the world does! Outward appearance isn't how He measures a man. He knows you. He loves you. He'll make a way for you. He will even help you to be brave and heroic despite your fears and weaknesses! I'm still an insignificant shy nobody, but I now also know I am brave and heroic when I surrender my fears and insecurities to be used for His glory.  Trust Him. He sees beyond your potential to the real, deep down you!

As a youth Daniel was first know as a 'captive from Judah'. After honoring God he was known for having 'light and understanding and excellent wisdom.'  Don't let the world's definition define who you are. Go after Gods!










Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rainbows

"And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living that is with you, for all future generations: I have set  my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all the flesh. and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."" Genesis 9:12-16

The rainbow was never seen until after the flood, and it came to mean that the earth would never be destroyed with a flood.

The rainbow has come to mean a lot more to me. When I see a rainbow, it's not just a, "Thanks God for not flooding the whole earth again." It has become a beacon that God is not going to flood my life. That no matter what good or bad thing that is happening to me, God is not going to let me drown. You know when people say that God will never give you more then you can handle? To me, the rainbow is the physical expression behind that statement.

God loves us. He cares for us. And the rainbow can be viewed as another way of reminding us.

It makes life so much easier when you remember that God cares for you. When you remember how He cares for the little birds, and realize, how much more does He care for you?

"Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:10

God has us. He cares for us. He holds us in His hands. Remember that.

---Joy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So Here We Are: "His Last Words"

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

 His last last words are up next: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Church its time, its time to hear! Its time to hear that He is speaking and He wants us to know That its Him!  Church its time to choose Him wholeheartedly instead of with a lukewarm attitude! Its time to stop loosing focus by the of day to day distractions of life and instead look to Him as our source! Church its time to acknowledge His words of conviction, to repent and to be zealous for Him! Church it time to respond to His invitation and not to leave Him on there knocking! Church its time to welcome Him in with a renewed passion! Church its time to overcome and follow His example so that we too can be able to respond with, "I must be about my Fathers business!" Church its time to hear what the Spirit says to the churches!

Church its time for the church to once again 'be in one place and in one accord' and with one voice  cry out, "Here I am, use me!"

Monday, June 24, 2013

Weapons Of Warfare

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

I just want to talk about spiritual warfare a little. Don't let the physical world blind you: we are fighting a war we can't see.

And our weapons of warfare have power to destroy enemy strongholds.

First, guard you heart and you mind. Ninety percent of your personal battles will be fought there. The enemy loves to attack there, and you won't believe what he will do and twist around to try and make you fall. Guard yourself.

Second, get some time, get into your prayer closet, and get on your knees. Spend regular time in prayer. That is our number one weapon against the enemy. Prayer affects things unseen. Just think about it: our prayers could sway a battle. Prayer has a divine power. A power that we need to stop ignoring! We need to give our all to battle prayers. We need to be available for God to use us, our prayers.

We need to start preparing for battle. We need to be focused on God. Because the battle is already at hand.

---Joy

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Next up: The Promise"

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

So far we have covered His address, His rebuke, The cause, His solution, His invitation, and now we have His promise; "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne."  To him who 'overcomes.' I looked up overcome in the Strongs. It means to subdue, or have conquest over. So, to him who is able to 'subdue' or have 'conquest' over temptations and the distractions that would take us from wholeheartedly serving Him He will grant to sit with Him on His throne with Him.

He also gives us a key to overcoming with His next few words, "as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne." We know that He was tempted and overcame the temptations that the devil brought to Him with the Word. We know that He stayed one hundred percent focused on serving His heavenly Father because of the words that He spoke on different occasions, such as, "Not my will be done but thy will be done." as He was preparing to go to the cross. He didn't serve His Heavenly Father with half a heart. He wasn't lukewarm in His devotion. He is telling us that if we will follow His example and love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength then we too will overcome, subdue and have conquest so that we to will have access to the throne room as well. We will have the pleasure of being with Him if we will stay focused on Him!




Friday, June 21, 2013

God Delivers

When Jeremiah first started prophesying God's words, he was, " only a youth." So he was a wee bit afraid of this whole prophet thing. God specifically told him, ,twice, "For I am with you to deliver you."

Jeremiah was probably thinking, "Dude, the religious leaders will not appreciate me saying this stuff. They will kill me. Or just laugh me out of town because I'm a 'clueless kid.'" Safe guess that that's how most of us would have felt if we were in Jeremiah's shoes.

But God told him, "For I am with you to deliver you." That is awesome. That is power. That is strength. That is confidence.

Take that personally for all of your struggles. No matter what they are, take this to heart. God is with us to deliver us. Anxiety? God delivers! Fear? God delivers! Doubt? God delivers! Death? Everlasting life, so I'd say God seriously delivers! Emotional, physical, spiritual, God delivers!

That hedge of blessing, protection, and God-power is around us. Use it.

---Joy



Next Comes: The Invitation

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

Next, after He calls for repentance, the solution to their lukewarm attitude He moves on to His invitation. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me." This verse if often used to witness to the lost when in reality the thing to remember here is that  He is speaking to the church! He is knocking on the door of the church of Laodicea and asking them to hear His voice. He is asking them to respond to the knocking His words have sounded on their lukewarm, indifferent hearts. He tells them that if they will open the door (repent) then they will dine together. Think about it. Who do you invite to dinner? Who do you hang out with? Family and friends, the people you have a relationship with! He is asking them to repent and renew their desire to be with Him!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Breath of LIfe

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." Genesis 1:1-2

"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." Genesis 2:7

What I really wanted to say with these verses was that without God, we are a lot like the earth was before God did His amazing work. We are void and without form. Just like the earth.

Without God breathing into our lives, we are nothing. Just a pile of dust.

We NEED God. So much more then we realize or acknowledge. We need His breath of life in us. When you hear someone say, "He (God) is the air I breath," it's true. Not just figuratively, but literally. God is our physical air. Without His breath of life, we are not alive.

And without His breath of life to our souls, we are not spiritually alive.

---Joy

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Next Up: The Solution"

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

So, first He makes sure they know its Him talking and then He goes straight to the heart of His issue with them. After that He lets them know that He understands the how and why  of it and then the next thing up is the solution; "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, Therefore be zealous and repent.

The city's three main sources of wealth were --banking, production of wool cloth, and medicines. (including a tablet that was powdered, mixed with water, and smeared on the eyes.) By telling them to buy refined gold, white clothes, and eye salve He was addressing the areas of their life that had caused them to look to their own riches and caused them to be lukewarm so that they had need of nothing.

He was telling them to repent and make Him their provider, to make sure to put on the garments of praise and of righteousness so that He would cover their 'shame,' and to look to Him and have eyes that look to Him so that they could see Him. At this point He is telling them that He as telling them to repent because He loves them. He wants them to repent and is giving them such a stern rebuke because He wants them to look wholeheartedly to Him as their source. The had become so involved in their culture and way of life that they had become  indifferent towards Him. He was asking them to repent and become zealous once again for Him.




Monday, June 17, 2013

Wedding Clothes

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10

I like this verse because I am getting married in two months and 7 days ( I don't count today), so I saw this verse in a new light.

I am wearing a combination of my grandmother's jewelry and sapphires pieces that my fiancĂ© has given me. Add my gown, veil, and sparkly sandals, and my fiancĂ© in a nice suit, and we are going to be seriously decked out. I can't wait!

And so it should be.

Basically, salvation and righteousness are being paralleled to a groom and his bride dressing up for their wedding day.

Weddings on earth are supposed to reflect The Bridegroom and His Bride, the church, us.

So I just want to say, deck yourselves out!

Put on your garments of salvation! Put on your robes of righteousness! This is an honor! This is a joy! Every bride is excited to get all dressed up in her special gown with her special jewels. This is just like that! Realize that The Bridegroom loves you and wants you. So wear your salvation and righteousness like they were meant to be worn. As garments of undying love.

---Joy

"Then Comes: The Cause"

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

First He addresses them in a way that makes sure they know its Him and they need to pay attention! Then He gets to the heart of His issue with them, the fact that they are lukewarm, Then He goes straight to the cause of how and why they became lukewarm. "...Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' - and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

He said that they became lukewarm because they got to a place where they were depending on their own ability to provide and they no longer had a need to look to Him as their source. In Matthew 19:22 it says that the the rich young ruler went away sorrowful when he chose his money over putting Jesus first. He chose to depend on his wealth, power and position over following Jesus. When he made his decision he left 'sorrowful.' He made the choice and was saddened by it. Here in Revelation in addressing the church He tells them that they are lukewarm towards him because they are living as though they are depending on their own wealth and no longer have a need to depend on Him and that they aren't even aware that they have made a similar decision.

In Mark 4:18-19 He puts it like this, 'Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.' He told them that they didn't even know that they had stopped making Him their focus, that they had made the 'deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things' more important than Him. The cause for their lukewarm attitude, life. Life stuff happens and if we are not careful then we to can become unfruitful or lukewarm without even knowing it.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wishing Away

"I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it." Isaiah 60:22a

When we were kids (hi any kids out there!), we would know we were too young to do some things. Too young to babysit. Too young to have our own phone. Too young to go to high school. Too young to drive. Too young to graduate. And the most common response is, "I can't wait until I'm old enough to do that!"

We would wish our time away. We would wish our year away wanting to be another year older. Then we would be satisfied for, like, a day and then start the cycle all over again.

So, first, don't wish your life away. Everything happens in its time.

And second, don't spend your life wishing away. Especially for things that won't live past today. God will do what He needs to do for us in its time. Don't worry. God will hasten it in His time because He is the Lord.

---Joy

"Next Up: The Heart Of His Rebuke"

"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

The very next thing up after He makes sure the church knows it is Him talking and that they are listening is the heart of His rebuke. He said, "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth."

He starts with, "I know your works." Remember, He is talking to the church and what He is telling them is that He knows! He knows their heart attitude!  He knows that when they were praying it was halfhearted and not focused on Him. He knows that when they were worshiping Him it was in a way that was without a heart that was wholly devoted!  He knows that when they were serving others in His name it was with an indifference that didn't bring glory to Him. He told them that He knew they were lukewarm!  He knew that  their works for Him, lacked a passion for Him and if that halfhearted attitude didn't change then He would spew them out of His mouth.

He said, "I wish that you were cold or hot." He would prefer that they totally turn their back on Him or serve Him with their whole heart then to serve Him out of habit or with an indifferent, complacent attitude. He was telling them, "Choose Me."

 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Drinkable Kind of Peace

"...'Peace, peace to the far and to the near,' says the Lord, 'and I will heal him.'" Isaiah 57:19

A line from a famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, immediately kept going through my head after reading this verse: "Water, water every where, nor any drop to drink."

Drinking water and peace...

I think a lot of people ask God for peace. But they never truly experience it. That's because they are in a spiritual prison. God's peace is just within grasp, and yet, every drop is unattainable to them.

You can ask God for all the peace you want, but unless you are free, then it's like being stuck in an ocean of salt water, dying of thirst.

From this verse, I get the impression that the peace to us was a command on God's behalf. And there's more! God will heal us.

I think originally, God was supposed to give us the peace, then heal our hearts, and free us from the bondage that keeps destroying our peace. Because once the Great Physician heals the spiritual wound, then peace is real. Not fleeting.

It's a matter of us allowing God to heal us, so that we may drink of His never-ending peace.

---Joy

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"First things First - The Address"

     "These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
     Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - "I counsel you to buy gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
     As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
     Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
     To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne.
     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22

It looks as though I will have to share with you in "bits and pieces" on this section of scripture as it would be too long to share everything I noticed in this one all at once.

So first things first, His address to the church of Laodicea; "These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God."  He is very clearly stating who is talking! He wants to make sure there is no doubt because of the things He is about to say to them.  He knows that He is talking to the church! He knows that He is about to give them a very stern rebuke and He wanted to make sure that the church knows that He is the one addressing them! He refers to Himself as the "Amen, the Faithful an True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God," and by doing so he is declaring his sovereignty and His position of authority to speak what He was about to speak.

In the Old Testament when Moses was standing before God and asked Him,  "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ' The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say?" God responded, "I AM WHO I AM."  Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you." Exodus 3:13-14 God is establishing to them that "He is the One who Is." He is the Sovereign God. We need to understand that when Jesus declared up front that He is the "Amen, the Faithful True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God,  He is declaring that He is "The One Who Is," the "So Be It." in the same way that God did with Moses and the purpose is the same in both cases, to declare, "Its Me! Pay attention and listen to what I have to say!"
 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Our Biggest Fan

God wants to be close to you.

Do we really understand what that means. God wants to be close with us. He wants to know us.

Now when you read that statement, it probably sounds a little...stupid. God is God. And He already knows everything about us. So why would He want to get to know us?

Here's an interesting way of looking at it: Movie stars a very popular and their life stories are on the front cover of magazines every other week. And the fans follow every story. Every appearance. Every interview. Every tweet, Facebook, or blog post. They can't get enough! They know everything there is to know about their favorite star. Now, if the fan had an opportunity to meet their favorite movie star in person, they wouldn't pass that up! If they actually had the chance to became friends with the movie star, then they would have a new best friend!

It's kind of like that with God. God allows us to be a star, and He is our biggest fan! He's been following our story since before time began. But He would never, ever pass up a chance to be friends with us directly. To talk to us every day.

Now imagine if God was the star and we are the biggest fan.

God gives us the chance to get to know Him. He wants us to get to know Him, but we often respond poorly. We snub Him. God doesn't snub us when we come to Him. He doesn't ignore us for days at a time.

God is our biggest fan. We need to be His biggest fan, too.

---Joy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"All Things"

.."'if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  Immediately the father cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:22-24

Jesus said, "All things are possible if you believe." In this case He spoke these words to a father who had come to him for help for his son.  He hadn't come full of faith knowing that Jesus could set his son free but instead he had come out of desperation, hoping that Jesus could help.

 Even though this father was asking for one particular, specific thing to happen here Jesus doesn't respond in a way that address it directly. He didn't say, "I can deliver him." or "I can help your son" Instead he said, "All things are possible." I think He used the word all for a reason. The word All encompasses everything. It means surviving floods, fiery furnaces, and lions dens. It covers healing blind eyes, taking down giants, raising the dead, healing leprosy, winning battles with a jawbones or torches. It means speaking to the sun and the moon, walking on water, raising up the lame, and even talking donkeys if its needed. ALL things are possible to him who believes. 

He used the word all to speak to this father because his sons need wasn't a small specific need to him. It was huge. It was "all" to him. It was everything. His sons deliverance was his hearts desire. It says that immediately the man cried out. "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."Immediately he jumped at the possibility!

You and I, we need to remember when that need is looming up there all huge and gigantic that, All is possible!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Transforming Ashes

"For the LORD comforts Zion; He comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song." Isaiah 51:3

This is a good reminder verse when we are hurting, or when we feel like we are too far gone for God to save us.

God will comfort us. He doesn't want you to feel like you are unlovable to Him. He doesn't want you to feel like you are too messed up for Him to love. And He doesn't want you to feel like you are a piece of trash or waste.

God will whisper comfort to your hurting soul. He will turn you hurts into beauty. He will turn your ugly into a garden. Your song of sorrow into one of thanksgiving, joy, and gladness.

If you will let Him.

He wants to turn your ashes into beauty.

---Joy

"History with God"

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; And ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

A few years back our Pastor, Dr Eva Evans, from our home church came for a visit and was giving the message at our midweek service. She started the message by handing out this little tiny speck of a seed to everyone in the congregation. There we were, the whole congregation, sitting there with this little tiny seed cupped in the palm of our hands.  I can't speak for everyone else, but I know what I thought. At this point you may even be thinking the same thing. I thought we were going to get a really good message on 'The Mustard Seed' and 'Faith' that moves mountains.  I was wrong!

I don't remember every word of her message that night but what I do remember is this one moment when she told us to take a good look at that little speck of a seed cradled so carefully in the palm of our hands. As I was looking at my seed I remember hearing these words,  "Before you were the size of the seed in your hand you had a history with God." Those words had such an impact on my understanding of how much He loves me. Think about it, the future is unknown, but the past, our history, that is a different story. If you have a history with someone then it means you have intimate knowledge of them. You can describe times and events and things about them.

Before I was even a speck He had a history with me! He knew me! He knew my strengths and my weaknesses. He knew I would have brown hair and hazel eyes.  He knew my hearts desire. He knew about my sense of humor and how much I would love kids. He knew that I would have my heart broken and He knew how much I would love His Word. He knew that I would love Him and He knew that I sometimes I would mess up and would miss the mark. He knew me and He loved me long before I knew Him.

My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. Psalm 139:15-18

I still have my little seed. Its in a little bag that I take out and look at once in a while because it speaks to me. It  reminds me and reassures me that, God and I, we have history together, because He first loved me!



Friday, June 7, 2013

Without Ceasing

In 1Samuel 1, Hannah desperately wants a son, and she was barren.

There were a lot of days where all she could do was pray. All she could do was pray to God. Her husband was getting annoyed with her, her rival continuously taunted her, and the priest thought she was a crazy drunk.

It was completely beyond her control. The whole situation was way outside of her realm of power. There was truly nothing she could do. But pray.

There are a lot times in life, when we have two choices, pray or freak out.

1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."

There are millions of things in life, that are beyond our control. We can't do anything, but give the situation to God.

And when those moments feel overwhelming, pray. Pray without ceasing. Don't stop!

Hannah received her son.

Pray.

---Joy

"He Is With Us"

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"  

And Gideon said to Him, "O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us unto the hands of Midianites."

Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"

So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."

And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." Judges 6:12-16

Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed and less than adequate, this is the place in the Word that I go to be reminded that He doesn't see me the way that I see myself. Gideon sees himself as being the least of the weakest!  A feeling that I think a lot of us can relate to. God sees him differently. He sees him as a mighty man of valor, as being sent and equipped with His Presence!

Remember, its no different for you and I.  When we are feeling small, weak, alone, forgotten, or just plain overwhelmed we need to focus on what His word says about us. He loves us! He has called us! It is in His might that we are sent! We are not alone but completely and totally equipped because He will surely be with us!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Jonah Equation

When a child gets angry, he may not stop to think about the situation past getting what he desires. Children know they have multiple choices, and they are still learning how to make the right choices. We know that, so we tell them to make the correct choice, like not getting mad, turning into Godzilla, and destroying their room.

Now adults, well, be honest with me, most of the time we can pin-point the exact time we made the stupid choice. Such as choosing to be upset and make a big deal out of something that's, well, not a big deal.

I call it The Jonah Equation.

Jonah made some whooping big mistakes. He ran from God, put a whole ship of people in jeopardy, became moody because God saved the people of Nineveh, and then became even moodier because his plant died. So he wanted to die.

I see moment after moment of bad decision here. I bet when we read theses chapters, we can pin-point the moment every bad decision was made.

Truthfully, we are no better then Jonah.

We are the modern Jonah Equation. Only worse.

We cling to junk that won't live past today. We hold junk inside until it destroys our spirits. We become selfish and conceited.

Living life to the fullest doesn't consist of begging to die because something is "unfair."

Life lived for God is the exact opposite. It's crazy, confusing, and blessed. Full of salvation and incredible journeys.

Jonah's experience would have been completely different, had he made some different choices.

God-given situation + our response =

Well, that part is up to you.

---Joy


"The Question"

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Luke 18:18

This verse talks about a 'certain ruler,' or rather, one particular guy that spoke up and straight out asked Jesus the question that was foremost on his heart. The truth is he is not alone! After all isn't this the question we all ask somewhere along the way? "What do I have to do? How do I get to Heaven?"  It also says that he addressed Him as, 'Good Teacher,' which means he had been hanging out, watching and listening long enough for him to believe that Jesus knew the answer.

Jesus doesn't respond in a way that I would expect. I would think something like, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me," would have come up next, but it didn't. Instead He says, "You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother." All of which are the commandments that have to do with our relationships with one another. The man's response, "All these I have kept from my youth." A point that Jesus doesn't dispute. Which basically means he is a "good guy," and he is NOT DOING all the right things.

Jesus' next words get to the heart of things, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." I believe Jesus didn't use the first five commandments for a reason. I think if he had, the man's answer would have been the same. "All these I have kept since my youth."  I think he would have sincerely believed it to be a true statement. He seemed to be your everyday 'nice person' not doing all the right things. He had spent his life focusing on not sinning to the best of his ability, to the point where he had stopped doing what he needed to do the most, focusing on loving the Lord God with all his heart.

With His statement, "You still lack one thing..." Jesus, put the man in a place where he had to choose and make a decision to follow Him. Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:14 We all come to that place of having to choose and no matter how good  a person our reputation says we are or how many sins we are good at "not doing" we can still miss out on heaven unless we do the one thing that matters most. We must choose to love Him above all else!


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Golden Years

"Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save." Isaiah 46:4

This verse is just really cool to me for a few reasons.

1. God is THE GOD, even in old age.

2. God will carry us through life. Through all of our gray hair days.

3. God made us, and He says because He has made us, He will bear us. He's not like, "Well, yeah, I made you, but you're not so cool anymore, so I'm just going to leave you in the closet. I'll deal with you when the time comes." God is not cold and distant. He will bear us through the good, bad, and ugly.

4. God will carry us. He will save us. All of us need saving.We need saving from our sins. We need saving from the daily problems in our lives. Financial problems. Addiction problems. Worry. Doubt.  Every person reading this needs saving. And this verse says He will save. Not maybe or can or might. HE WILL SAVE.

And sometimes, He will save us, by carrying us.

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you." Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson

---Joy

"A Girl Named Rhoda"

So, when he considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It was an angel." Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. Acts 12:12-17

Back in verse 5 it tells us that Peter was kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. God sends an angel, Peter is released and ends up here, knocking on the door.  I think its pretty interesting to note that Peter thought it was a dream and didn't even realize it was actually taking place at the time as well as the fact that the people who had been praying on Peter's behalf had to be convinced that it was really Peter at the door. It almost seems as though no one really thought that God would answer their prayers. Well, all but one.

For me, Rhoda is the hero of faith in this encounter! She not only recognizes the voice as Peter's, but immediately runs to tell everyone that their prayers have been answered and Peter is at the gate! When no one believed her, she insisted and kept on insisting. She didn't let anyone talk her out of what she knew to be the truth! In verse 14 it tells us that the reason she left Peter standing there was 'because of her gladness.' Some people might view this as silly or find it amusing that she left him standing at the gate. I think that her response when she realized it was Peter and the joy she felt when she understood that God had heard their prayers is how we all should react! I love that she was so excited that she forgot to stop long enough to let Peter in!




Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just Burn the Other Junk

Isaiah 44:9-20. In my Bible, this section is titled, The Folly of Idolatry.

This section of Scripture goes on to talk about a man making an idol. At one point it talks about a man who cuts down some trees, and plants others. The rain nourishes it. It is even fuel for the man. He takes part of it for fire to warm himself, and some more to bake bread.

Oh, and also he makes an idol and falls down before it.

The rest of the tree he makes into a false god, and falls down before it, worships it, and prays to it.

This piece of carved wood.

Now, hopefully we are all smart enough to see that this is just a piece of wood.

But back then, people would carve something from a slab of wood, and call it a god.

That's not too common these days.

Is it?

Some people choose to worship the moon and stars. Some people choose to worship their "inner god." Some people choose to worship their possessions (TV's, computers, cars, houses, etc.).
Some people just choose to worship the devil outright.

So while the slab of wood is left alone (sometimes), we have chosen to worship  a lot of other things.

And because of today's culture, most people don't even realize they are worshiping their TV.

Do we really have so little discernment?

Anything can be an idol. And anything that takes precedent of God is just that.

Are we really going to fall down before a block of wood? Or whatever it is in our lives?

"I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:22

We have only one GOD.

Just burn the other junk.

---Joy

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"The Stones Will"

Then as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and to praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:37-40

In today's world we understand the idea of being replaced by technology. People have lost jobs and have been replaced by more efficient machines that can do the job faster, safer, more efficiently so as to produce a greater return or rather better results financially. In this exchange the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke His disciples because they were offended at the way the disciples were praising and worshiping.  The key word being disciples.  Jesus responded by telling them that "If these (His disciples) kept silent then the stones would immediately cry."

In Esther 4:14 Mordecai is standing in front of Esther and telling her, "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" He was telling her that she had a job to do and that the time for silence was past. It was time to speak.

 As His servants, His disciples we have a job to do!  For 'such a time as this' you and I have been called to declare His glory to this, our generation! We who are called by His name have been given the most amazing opportunity to declare all His mighty works and to cry out His praises! It is our job to declare, 'Blessed is He.who comes' and 'Glory to God in the highest!' It is our job to praise and worship Him, but if for some reason, any reason, we don't, the stones will!

Will we keep silent and allow a rock to be better at our job then we are or will we declare His Glory?