Tag Archive | New Testament

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

Heart Thoughts – A Reputation


But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive.”
Shared by permission from Pastor O
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis……I know all the things you do and that you have a reputation for being alive – but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to Me again. Unless you do I will come upon you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” Revelation 3:1-3
 
I realize that there is disagreement in the Church as to how we are to apply the book of Revelation to it’s life today. Still, regardless of where your “theology” fits into it’s message, to deny that His Spirit speaks to the Church now through it all is the height of foolishness. What the Spirit says to the church at Sardis scores a direct hit on me as a pastor, an individual, and as a part of the Body of Christ. We disregard it to our great peril.

The “angel” the Spirit of Christ speaks to is the pastor of the body of believers found in Sardis. What pierces my heart here is the use of the word “reputation.” For most of us, our reputations mean everything. How we are viewed by those around us carries tremendous weight. What the Lord is saying to the fellowship at Sardis is that in the eyes of the culture around them and even in the sight of other believers, they have the reputation of being centers of His Life. It would also seem to be the opinion of those in that church as well. What should shake us to our very foundation is that it was not the view of Christ. He saw a tremendous amount of activity for Him, but He did not see a body of believers rooted and grounded in Him. Think on that for a moment.

What do we generally see as being a church filled with life? Top of the line worship with high quality skills in musicianship and voice. Skilled communicators in the pulpit. Many and varied ministries that care for children, youth, singles, as well as home and care groups geared towards those with special needs. A ministry pointed toward reaching out to the community and drawing them into the fellowship. An atmosphere where there is a sense of excitement, of something “happening.” I think that these are just a few of the things we’d define as a church with a reputation for life. I think that much if not all of these were found in the congregation at Sardis. All of them are good things. Very good. Yet none of them seemed to enter into Christ’s assessment of them as to their being a true Life giving fellowship. How could this be? What could be missing?

It’s human to desire that all that is listed above be found in a church. They should be. But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive. They move and are active, but they have no soul. Without realizing it, a living body can become the same. Sardis had crowds. Sardis had ministries. Sardis had a name. Sardis did not have life. His Life.

The question we have to ask ourselves, whether we are the “angel” of our fellowship, a leader in it, or a member of it, is, are we, in the midst of all we do, really producing Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ? Are we overcoming the world both within and without by the power of His resurrected life? Is real transformation taking place in the lives of the people, and are those lives marked by maturity, victory, and wholeness? Are we trying to take flesh, and by our efforts, make it better flesh, or are fallen, lost lives being laid hold of by the power of His Life and made new? Completely new. Have we drifted from the “first things” into just doing church things? Have we become so enamored with our reputation among men that we no longer really know, or care what our reputation with Him really is? Can He even speak to us about it? It starts with the “angel” but the speaking goes on throughout the entire body. He’s speaking. Are we hearing?

 
He speaks today as to our reputations.  What does He say about ours? What is our reputation…..with Him?

Blessings,
Pastor O

That Brick Wall Was Meant to Be Climbed


An honest observation about the obstacles that come along in life and then the TRUTH about HIM who gives the plan and leads the way!!! Be blessed by this post.
Blessings and Peace the THANKSGIVING season. ~Robert

Coffee with a Shot of Faith

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I am sure you have had one of those periods in life. When you are skating along and everything seems to be going great. You feel confident in the direction in which the Lord has you moving. Then-BAM! WHACK! You slam right into the makings of a brick wall. Or two.

A wall of defeat, maybe.

Maybe it’s a wall of criticism. Or self-doubt.

Hurt. Grief. Loneliness. Sin.

Regardless of what that brick wall may be, it begins to slowly tear away at any progress you have made. Making you feel that instead of moving ahead, you are now starting to move backwards.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

This is what I had been doing. I had been letting Him lead me. Allowing Him to show me the path. I had a renewed sense of passion. Of…

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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

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

Glory to God Alone


As a New Years Resolution, no as a LIFELONG RESOLUTION… ALL GLORY TO GOD ALONE.

In seeking a verse for this year and maybe now my life verse, I’ll wait for HIS direction on the last part, several thoughts have formed a recurring theme in my mind.  Since I’m not given to simplicity, wish that I were…, below is what is on my heart, mind, and soul for 2015 and beyond.

” Whoever speaks must speak God’s words. Whoever serves must serve with the strength God supplies so that in every way God receives glory through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to Jesus Christ forever and ever! Amen.” ~ I Peter 4:11

The overarching theme has been this:

Is there any work I will not do for the glory of God?

Is there any place I will not go to the glory of God?

Is there anyone I will not approach for the glory of God?

Is there any ministry I will not engage in for the glory of God?

Is there any thing in my life that does not bring glory to God?

Is there any thing in my life more important than the glory of God?

Am I truly willing to do ALL HE has and is calling me to do for HIS GLORY and KINGDOM?

At the end of these questions comes the realization that answering in the affirmative is only the first step.  I will have to be dedicated to this purpose above all else!  I will have to engage in the constant practice of being in HIS presence constantly.  I will have to rely on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit more than at any other time in my life from this very moment on.  That this dependency will necessarily grow because the reality of spiritual warfare is in full swing with this decision.

How will I be able to give “Glory to God Alone?”  There is only one way, this must be the only purpose in my walk and then only by the power God provides through the Holy Spirit.

” Whoever speaks must speak God’s words. Whoever serves must serve with the strength God supplies so that in every way God receives glory through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to Jesus Christ forever and ever! Amen.” ~ I Peter 4:11

I ask for your prayerful support over the coming days, months, and years.  To GOD ALONE be the GLORY!!!

In Service to Jesus and you,

~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

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

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