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Just Be Held – Casting Crowns


“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

This song was posted this morning by a dear friend and sister in Jesus.
I pray you will allow God to minister to your soul this morning through this message.
Blessings and Peace Always,
~Robert

The SACK


“At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you have missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram……The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  What a fool you have been.  From now on you will be at war.’ ”  2 Chronicles 16:7, 9

Chinese Christian Brother Yun, known as the Heavenly Man, tells of this happening in one of the Chinese house churches.  The Chinese believers regularly send off other believers to go into surrounding towns and villages to share the love and life of Christ.  Before each sending, the group would take up a collection for the work.  Many of those who were in attendance had nothing of material or monetary value to give. These believers, with tears streaming down their faces, when the large sack came to them, would literally place themselves in the sack.  Yun said that by doing this, these gentle folk wanted to signify to God that their lives were all they had to give and that they were willing to give all of themselves for His glory.  I’m humbled by this.  Are you?

Here in the west, there are many who are willing to give….up to a point, or as I heard one man put it, up to a tithe.  There are also those who are willing to go…..again, up to a point or a place.  How many of us are really willing to give all of ourselves to all that is Him?  When “the sack” comes to us, are we willing to put many “things” in it, but not all of ourselves?  Is giving, to us, a matter of percentage, or totality?  How many invisible lines have we drawn, and boundaries placed on how much of ourselves we’re really willing to be sacrificial with?  Who are we really more like in Jesus’ story of the rich Pharisee and the poor widow?  Jesus watched the Pharisee give a large amount of money out of his  wealth.
The widow gave two pennies, which was all she had.  The first gave out of his surplus, the widow gave all with nothing held back.  Who are we more like?  When the sack comes our way, to which heart attitude are we really drawn to?  What have we really put in the sack?  Every moment of every day, the sack comes before us.  What’s really going into it.  A percentage or a person?

This is not just a matter of our resources or time.  It’s a matter of the self.  All of the self.  The past, present and future.  They all go into the sack. Our motives.  Our dreams, desires, disappointments.  People.  Both those we love, and those we perhaps do not love so much.  All of it goes into the sack.  When the sack comes to us, we cannot stop with a check or a volunteering for some needed church ministry or job.  We cannot stop with a part or percentage.  It cannot be the part. It must be the whole.  The whole of us.

Asa the king had trusted God with much.  He could not trust Him with all.  “War” was the fruit of that.  For us, this means that all that we hold back from him will be under attack from our enemy satan, and we will spend ourselves on trying to protect in our strength what can only be kept by His.  If this is not so, just think on how much unrest is in our lives as the result of trying to bring about the results we desire by our own efforts, be they relationships, professions, and especially ministries.  Like Asa, we suffer constant “war” and have no peace because of it.

The Lord continues to search the world for hearts fully committed to Him.  As He searches, what does He find in ours? Percentages?  Bits that are His, but pieces that are not?  Asa lived in this way, and the Father called him a fool.  What does He call us?

Blessings,
Pastor O

(A special thanks to my brother in Christ and friend for allowing me to share this devotional message.)

What Is Your ALL IN?


God is so cool. Seriously, haven’t you noticed that HE loves to be in the details of our life? Last night in our Bible study we continued a conversation about our “All In’ or full surrender. For context we were discussing Jesus in the garden prior to His arrest and how it was there that Jesus surrendered His all to the Father’s plan. Knowing before hand that He would suffer unimaginable pain and that ultimately His life’s blood for all of humanity! The only thing that would resolve the Father’s requirement for the restoration of mankind back to Himself. Jesus made His commitment in the garden, it was settled.

On the heels of that we have this verse from a devotional this morning:

“After visiting Ephesus and Macedonia, the Apostle Paul got an “ask” from God the Holy Spirit to go on to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21). The Spirit warned him, however: if he went there, he’d be arrested. Paul’s friends begged him not to go. Paul answered: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

We will all come to our time in the garden, some reading this may have already been in the garden.  As we discussed last evening, in this life’s journey, we will find ourselves in the garden many times as the Holy Spirit speaks to us about the things that stand in the way of our “ALL IN”.  The question is will we trust Him and surrender that which prevents us from being completely emptied of self and open to the fullness of HIM?

Blessing and Peace Always,

~Robert

Life’s Tools


“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools—friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty—and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
~Anne Lamott

Amen!

He Keeps The Key


Is there some problem in your life to solve,

Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.

Is there some door closed by the Father’s hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait–for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought ‘twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.

Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees ’tis best,
Will give it THEE.
–Anonymous

The poem was part of my devotion this morning and I had to share it with you.  I have personally struggled for a long time with my work versus my call.  To be fair, I ran away from God’s call on my life for several decades.  God tarried with me for a very long time and I must now be willing to wait.  During this time, I must be active in growing by His grace, learning and preparing for the day when HE opens the door.

The rub, the issue for is figuring out how to be “all in” while not being in ministry full time, i.e. earning my living from full time ministry.  There is this truth; as a child of God, saved by grace through Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are ALL in ministry!  We are all called to as ambassadors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the reconciliation of man back to a right relationship with God.  There is no other calling for us as we journey here on our way to our eternal home.

What we do to fund our ministry may be as a homemaker or professional or clerk or craftsman…  Who we are though is not based on our vocation, we are children of the KING, the Creator of everything, and Savior of all mankind!  As I type this, I’m getting excited about what we are called to do and there is the rub for me.  I’m not wired to be bi-vocational and this is because God created me for full time service.

“He keeps the key”, this IS right and true.  When HIS timing is right and true and we are prepared, then He will open the door and provide the key.  We are all called to share God’s Gospel of Grace and we should be looking for those opportunities all the time, regardless of where we work.  Our labor is for the LORD!!!

Blessings & Peace Aleays,

~Robert

“He Leads Us On”


2015, the newest frontier for everyone today is the same.  What does 2015 hold in store?  What new challenges and new opportunities await?  How will you and I purpose to embrace all that 2015 has in store?

Make no mistake, life will happen and we must decide today to participate in the journey of 2015.  Whether we get to today only, a few days or weeks or months, or the entire year… One thing is certain, we will either join in the journey or watch it pass by.  As a child in Jesus Christ, you and I are called to embrace each and everyday of this journey!

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:10  God our Father expects us to live this life to the fullest and doing so means we participate and do so with intention.

We get to know right now that God is in this journey with us!  He will provide for our every need and that regardless of what takes place this year, HE already knows what is in store for this year.  He has already provided for every mountain, valley, and obstacle.  He already knows the great heights of joy and the deepest of hurts and sorrow that we will face; these too HE has already provided the way for us to experience with HIS grace and strength.

“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.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

Make no mistake, God is already active in 2015.  He is eager to fulfill HIS plan in our life and to see us fulfill His will for ours.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~Ephesians 2:10

God calls us to enjoy this journey we call “life” and to do so means that we must actively participate in every aspect of what is to come.  We must intentionally move toward all HE has for us this year seeking to be walking in harmony with HIS perfect will.  The “Great Commission” calls us to, “… go and make disciples of all nations…” ~Matthew 28:19.  The key word to focus on here is “GO”, participate in God’s plan.

The choice IS ours, participate or spectate.  I respectfully submit to you that the great experience will be had in choosing to join in with God.  Seek to walk in step, in harmony with God our Father to fulfill HIS plan to reconcile mankind to Himself!  The glory and honor will all belong to HIM and we will get to enjoy the moments of victory along the way.  2015 will be filled with victories and losses, make no mistake HE will be in it all and go through all of it with you and I, such a great blessing!!!

In closing, I pray that you will experience the very best that God has for you.  That you will know the depths of HIS peace as never before and that HIS blessings upon you will flow as rivers into the lives of those you encounter.  Lastly, in my quite time this morning, the following poem stood out to me.

He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.
He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o’er clouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on.”

–Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf

Blessings and Peace Always,

~Robert

Always Thank God the Father…


I have a classmate from an online class that stays in contact with me.  Today’s post is the result of his challenge to me in that email.  He called my attention to Ephesians 5:20 and believing that God’s word alone can rightly divide itself in context, I backed up to start with verse 17.  I hope you enjoy this and I look forward to your comments.
Turning our attention to the passage you referenced yesterday, it is very familiar to me.  I read it though for the first time in the God’s Word translation and noticed a couple of “new” things.  Here’s the translation for easy reference: 17So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. 18Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit 19by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. 20Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
First; “Instead, be filled with the Spirit by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…”.  The NIV says, “…speaking to one another…”  What caught my attention this time is the implication that being filled with the Spirit starts with reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to ourselves, first.  As with everything else in our lives, the spiritual, emotional, and physical all begin from within and work their way our in our actions, deeds, and words.  This is why is it so important that we constantly fill our heart, mind, and soul with God’s word and everything that will edify our spirit.  Jesus said, “…it’s what comes out of a person that makes him unclean.” God’s Word  The original question was about physical food and Jesus declared that what goes into the stomach doesn’t make us unclean.  But, what we take into our souls can corrupt.  So, we must be diligent to feed our souls those things which edify.
Second; “Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I believe that Job said, both good and bad are from the LORD.  Meaning that HE allows both to come into our life.  Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom He has called according to HIS plan.  This is true because He already knew His people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of His Son.  Therefore, His Son is the firstborn among many children.”  Everything that God allows to take place in our life has the sole purpose of bringing us into the image of Jesus.  So even though our life is filled with what we call “good” and “bad,” the best and worst of what takes place (when we are pursuing a relationship with Jesus) has purpose in God’s plan for our life and growth into the image of Jesus.  Every time that I think about this, I am reminded of Paul and Silas singing in the prison.  Arguably, to us, the worst of times for them and yet their joy in Jesus overflowed from their hearts and into the air.
I believe, if we follow God’s word and fill our spirit with only those things that edify and vocalize those same truths, we will soon find ourselves being able to live out verse 20.

John, Peter, Paul…


“Which disciple do you think you are most like?”  This was the question I recall that started a conversation not long ago from my pastor.  Honestly, I returned the question to him knowing he’d say Peter.  I am a bit impulsive and can be more than just a little direct.

Being the first-born, most first-born children will agree, you find yourself in a leadership role at a very early age. In this position you necessarily feel those burdens of setting the example and the need at times to choose a course and stay with it, believing it will work out and that you have the unction to get it done and see it through.

Then, by God’s amazing grace you discover that you need redemption, salvation, a savior who you can trust and lean on. In accepting Christ there is relief and hope. Now, all of that energy you had as the first-born becomes focused on intentionally living out this new life. So you are still the example for younger siblings except, now you are not focused on setting an example for them. Now you are focused on Jesus and in that focus, brazen statements are made. Commitments are made that without the Holy Spirit’s power can never be kept.

Over the course of my life, I have found myself joining Paul in being content in all situations. “I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter that the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13 (God’s Word) We have had plenty in our life and we have had very little and eaten what we could. Sometimes, having less has been the greater blessing.

The greater struggle is in learning to be content in my spiritual walk. Knowing that regardless of what I feel, faith is not about what we feel, Christ is with me in the trenches through His Holy Spirit. When I am seeking Him with all I have and He “seems” very far away, He is closer still than my own breath. Lord help me to know Your presence at all times and in all things—to be content in Your blessed presence when known and when unknown without any doubts!

I recently read a devotional and agree with the author that, God sets a grand tapestry before us for our pleasure to view. He also sets before us a field of harvest that needs workers. I pray in both that He will fit me for His use and that I will always be found faithful to be available and submissive to His call and will.

Blessings and Peace Always,

~Robert

Quote:


As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.”
Henri Nouwen

FAITH is a Verb!


Faith is declared to be a noun according to Webster’s Dictionary and yet it acts like a verb. Faith is used as a name and, as such, it makes perfect sense to be a noun. However, when we say he or she has faith or is exercising faith, this is an active statement for faith. Faith involves unquestioning belief, complete trust, and loyalty.

Unquestioning belief is the state of believing or having no doubt. This unquestioning belief is the driver of faith. The active part of faith is the state of being. We say, you exercised your faith today when you approached that individual and witnessed to them about the good news of Jesus. Your faith enabled you to share the Gospel through the action of faith. “What does Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abraham’s approval by God.” Romans 4:3 “Then Abram believed the LORD, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abram’s approval by the LORD.” Genesis 15:6 (God’s Word) In both cases his belief and faith are the same; the action of his unquestioning belief, his state of being, and having no doubt was faith.

Complete trust is a matter of being confident and having assurance in someone or something. How often do we display complete trust? The answer is daily: in things like the brakes on our car or truck; when we want to stop we simply put our foot on the brake pedal and press the brakes into action. We display our faith in each other in varying degrees, our spouse to be faithful or our doctor to know how to help us get well. “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (God’s Word) Faith is the action that builds our confidence and assurance into complete trust.

Loyalty is dressed in the faithful adherence to the word of God. We learn as we grow in our journey with Jesus; faith is a companion who works along side us in our endeavors to fulfill the great commission. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” Matthew 28:20b (God’s Word) Our best friend is Jesus and he has promised to be with us always! God faithfully adheres to His word. This faithful adherence of God is shown through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us always…this is loyalty.

Because faith is unceasing belief, absolute trust, and devotion, we know that faith is a verb. Sure we are able to say, “Hello Faith, how are you today?” and calling her by name is placing faith in the context of a noun. When we then say that Faith displayed her faith in the word of God, faith was a verb.

Blessings and Peace Always

Brian L Powell

#chasingJesus

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