Tag Archive | God the Father

The first gleam of dawn…


“So, stop being so hard on yourself…surrender those thoughts to HIM! It’s a new day to love the Lord and to recognize how much He loves YOU!”  ~Julie Harris

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 2 Corinthians 10:5  

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,     which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.     They have no idea what t…

Source: The first gleam of dawn…

Heart Thoughts – EXPOSED!


“…that we would be in a place where He is able to “hit” all the spots in our hearts and spirits that He longs to minister to, and bring healing and wholeness” (Pastor O).

What follows here is a message given to a dear Pastor friend who being guided by the Holy Spirit shares with us today.  My prayer is that as you read the message, that the sweet Holy Spirit will guide you into a deeper walk as you meditate on these words.  You will not happen upon these words by accident or happenstance, you are here by the appointment of God and have a choice before you… Read and accept or push aside as not relevant…  Having read this far, I pray your heart and mind will remain open and eager to receive!

“For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” Hebrews 4:12………”I like to open my Bible and pray, ‘Lord God, let the words leap off the page into my soul, make them vivid, powerful, and fresh to my heart.’ ” Charles Spurgeon

A friend recently shared the response of someone he had ministered to and the words of wisdom and spiritual insight spoken to them. They told him that his words had really “hit the spot.” He said his reply to her was that he was very glad that she was in the spot where the Father could speak and minister to her. Thinking on that great response, I thought of an add on: that we would be in a place where He is able to “hit” all the spots in our hearts and spirits that He longs to minister to, and bring healing and wholeness. Hebrews 4:12 is so wondrously true, yet how many of us have really experienced that truth in our relationship with Him? How deeply are His word and Spirit able to penetrate into our lives and hearts? What is it that keeps it from being so?

Moving targets are hard to hit. Our flesh is expert in being just that when it comes to the probing, cleansing, freeing word of the Father. It finds endless ways to avoid Him. Pursuits of pleasure. Accumulation of goods. Unending forms of escapism. Busyness, and yes, even “ministry” pursuits done in His name. Anything that can keep us from being perfectly still before Him, allowing Him to search us and “see if there be any hurtful (wicked) way within us.” David asked the Father to do just that. When did we last do so?

Have you ever tried to hold a cat that didn’t want to be held? Near impossible is it not? This is exactly how we can be with Him. When His Holy Spirit starts closing in on us, and what is the truth about us, our squirming, like the cats, grows more and more frantic. There are areas of our lives where we don’t wish to know the truth, where we prefer the lie, the delusion. That’s far more comfortable…..and much safer for our flesh. We don’t want our true motives exposed. Motives that seem so noble on the surface, but at root are centered on ourselves. We can see that in so many of our prayers. Yet how many of them will have ourselves as the main beneficiary if He should answer as we want? How many people’s lives and life situations do we intercede for that in being answered will in the end make our lives better. Difficult mates, children, congregants coming to Christ, surrendering all, being delivered, will result in our lives being made less difficult, and a lot more content, and in ministry, successful. We can pray and seek for many wonderful things with so many impure motives.  Yet we can go on deceiving ourselves about it all so long as we keep moving….squirming….avoiding.

We won’t be doing this forever though. Sooner or later, He will pin us down on it all. For all of our sake, I hope its sooner….on this side of eternity, rather than later, when we stand before Him, and everything becomes known. Everything exposed………May His word never cease to “hit the spot” in you and me. Giving life to us, and crushing death within us. Exposed but whole. Exposed but free.

Blessings,

Pastor O

Heart Thoughts – Wineskins


Today, Pastor O challenges us to realize that we might have again placed God in a box, an old wineskin…
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins.” Mark 2:22……..’We know God easily if we do not constrain ourselves to define Him.” Joseph Joubert….”The life of a disciple may be rigorous, but it is never rigid……Though we can certainly expect Him to be constant, we cannot expect Him to be predictable.” Chris Tiegreen
 
Judging, if I may use that word, from what I see on Facebook and other places these days, there seem to be a great many people who feel they have pretty much figured out what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will do and how They will act. We’ve done quite the job of putting labels upon each other, so its small wonder we should try to place labels upon Him. We see ourselves as flexible and would reject the idea of being considered, “old wineskins.” Yet our flexibility seems to disappear whenever we come into contact with anyone who might not agree with our concept of the 3 in 1 God. There is much tragedy to be shared in all of this, but the greatest tragedy is that we have succeeded to a very great degree in removing the mystery of who He is. Our western minds want a Father, a Jesus, a Holy Spirit that we can have reasonable expectations as to how They will show up in our lives. We don’t like surprises, and we certainly don’t like living in the unexpected. I believe very strongly in having correct doctrine and theology. However, we can construct a God that we insist stays within the bounds of our doctrine, theology, and especially the characteristics of our own group. We don’t want Him to step outside the boundaries we’ve set for Him. When that happens, we become old wineskins, and we can be just as unaware of that as were the Pharisees Jesus spoke of.

Chris Tiegreen writes, “Do we take the time to ponder which of our own wineskins have attempted to accommodate Jesus and failed?….On what points are we rigid? Where do our expectations lie? Do we insist that Jesus bring about our own vision for the future? Do we try to constrain Him to our church structures? Do we rely on methodology in our ministry? (They)….may be good, but Jesus will not fit. He defies constraint. The Lion of Judah cannot be tamed.”

Jesus said in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.” We cannot control the wind. Why do we seek to control He who is the Source of the wind? Joubert’s quote is powerful. The less we seek to define Almighty God, the more we may know Him. And the desire of His heart, His greatest desire, is that we know Him. He is a mystery. He says so Himself. But He invites us to enter into His mystery, and behold Him to reveal Himself in its midst. To do that, we have to let go of all of our presumptions about Him. I had a very great friend who has since gone home to Him. One of the favorite things he used to say was that he had an “Oops theology.” As in, “Oops, I guess I was wrong.” Old wineskins can never live in such a theology. Only new ones can. He will never violate the truth and authority of His Word, but we must know that our limited minds cannot begin to understand how deep, high, and wide His truth really is.

I continue to grow older, and my natural skin is losing the soft, flexible feel it once had. Yet it is my fervent hope that the “skin” of my heart remain as tender and pliable as that of a child. How about you? In the spiritual realm, we’re all wineskins. Are we old ones…..or new?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Create in me… by Julie Harris


Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…”

 

Source: Create in me…

Love is moving


Source: Love is moving

“Sometimes we want God to use us to do “big things”… but I am finding the greatest joy in doing the smallest of tasks.” ~ Julie Harris

Are you and I willing to be used by God for His glory, regardless of how “big” or “small” the opportunity will be? For that matter, beyond the opportunity to serve and in that give glory to God alone, are we willing to go and serve?

The Timekeeper – by Pastor O Shell


Pastor O asks these questions: “Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?”
  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.” Galatians 4:4…..”His (Jesus) peaceful pace seems to imply that He measured Himself not by where He was going and how fast He could get there but by Whom He was following and how closely they walked together….deeply contented in the Company.”
Alicia Britt Chole

“How long O Lord?” This is the cry from millions of hearts. Likely from our heart as well, and often. We spend so much of our life energy setting, focusing on, and striving to reach goals, accomplish agendas, and bring to pass the deep desires of our hearts, but all we have in the end is exhaustion. And more often than not, disappointment and frustration as well. We do seek Him in it all, but mostly as a means of reaching our desired end. He said He’d give us the desires of our hearts, and we mean to hold Him to His word. Even if we do get what we want, we miss what we truly need, Him. We can do this in every facet of life, and may well be most guilty of it in the area of ministry. We have good ends that we want to reach, and we’re in a very great hurry to reach them. Jesus said that He “must be about the Father’s business.” Well, so are we. The problem is, we don’t understand what His business is really all about. We have allowed working for Him to take the place of knowing and loving Him. We can have lives dedicated to Him, but I’m not so sure the same can be said of our hearts. This may be best seen when we’re forced to deal with the delays that can come along in getting to the place we want to be. Achieving the end that we’ve been aiming for. Jesus didn’t live this way. We ask what would Jesus do? Will we ask as to how Jesus really walked….thought…..lived?

Jesus spent 30 years in obscurity. In that time He had an ever growing picture of what He had been sent for, particularly by the age of 12. Yet He didn’t deal with the delay with impatience or frustration. He knew what He was here for, but He was at total rest as to how and when the Father would bring it all about. Chole speaks beautiful words as to how He walked in this time. He did not just have His eyes on where He was going. He had His eyes on the One He was going with. He had zeal, but that zeal was first and foremost in His walk with and in the Father. All the energy of His ministry flowed out of that relationship. He didn’t come to show us how to “do.” He showed us what to be. What we can become in Him. That’s why His Life, amidst all the delays, difficulties, trials and tears, was marked by the total rest and contentment He had in His Father. The One He trusted to bring about all things for Him in the fullness of HIS time. Can we?

 
Chole asked a question along the line of “Who will hold the clock as to the timing of His purposes in our life?” Who does hold that clock? As concerns His promises, our calling, our ministry, everything that concerns us, who holds the clock? The Father, or us? Whose timetable are we on? His, or ours? Yes, the seconds are ticking away. Will we trust Him fully as they do? Do we really believe that He’s never late, that He’s always on time? Can we surrender to Him who is “the Timekeeper?

Pastor O

Published by Permission

A GREATER PURPOSE


“Three times I begged the Lord to take it (His thorn in the flesh) away. Each time He said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ ” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9….”Broken things in life find their greater purpose in His story of redemption.” Laura Story……”God takes broken pieces and makes them masterpieces.” James Robison
 
In the reading of Pauls words in 2 Corinthians 12, did you catch the fact that not only did Paul ask the Father to remove the terribly painful “thorn” in his life, but that after each request, God said the same thing. “My grace is sufficient for you.” Apparently Paul had a very difficult time accepting and believing this the first two times He spoke it. We do as well. We feel and experience the pain, the need, and it blinds us to the truth of His promise.

Laura Story, a singer and author of the book “When God Doesn’t Fix It,” tells the story of her 10 year walk with the Father through the brain tumor that afflicts her husband. This tumor has not only robbed him of the sight in one eye, it has also caused him many mental and emotional problems as well. Much prayer has gone up for his healing. Yet he is not healed. At least in the manner that most of us understand healing. We expect when we pray that the Lord will answer and fix everything. But as Story writes, what happens when He doesn’t? What happens when the thorn remains? What happens when He either doesn’t remove the problem, or remove us from the problem? What happens then? What are we left with then? If someone tells us that we are left with Him, all that is Him, and nothing else; no change, no healing, no deliverance, can we accept that? Is He really enough?

Story said that “He doesn’t have to ‘fix it’ in order to get us where He wants us to be.” Can we accept that? Are we really willing to walk a road with Him that leads us through places we don’t want to go or see? Are we willing to go to the place in His Life He calls us to be even when He allows all the mountains, giants, and needs to remain? Do we have a trust that goes that deep? Do we even want to?
 
When we think of the blessed life, our flesh is usually it’s definer. We’re comfortable, safe, provided for in all ways. Troubles come, but they don’t touch us because He makes them disappear before they can. This is the usual western/American church view of the blessed life. Story, in a song she entitles “Blessings,” sees this life not through eyes of flesh, but of His Spirit. She asks in song, “What if Your blessings come through raindrops, What if Your healing comes through tears, What if a 1000 sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?…….What if my greatest disappointment or the achings of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.” 

We are so rooted into this world and its ways that we can be staggered at the thought, the truth, that His ways with us have their end in eternity and not the here and now. Paul had a great desire to have that thorn, whatever it was, gone. He had an immeasurably greater desire to know Him in intimacy. If that meant that the thorn would be the Father’s path to that intimacy, He would go there. Willingly, joyfully, completely. That path will meet all who seek to be His entirely. It is human to cry out to Him for the removal of life’s painful thorns, but it is the truly God centered life that goes on with Him even if it’s not. Trusting, believing, knowing, that there is a greater glory to be had when we do. Who do we really want? God the Fixer, or the God of Glory?

Blessings,
Pastor O

Published by permission

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

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

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