Monday, May 11, 2015

The Adventure of Living for God

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” 
-Romans 8:14

Living for God is an exciting adventure!  When Jesus called his disciples to follow him, they probably didn’t realize all they were getting themselves into.  At the end of their lives I doubt any of them said, “That was boring.”  They saw Jesus perform incredible miracles, walk on water, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, frustrate the religious establishment, and teach with great authority.  They were challenged, instructed, rebuked and inspired.  In the end, they changed the world.  For sure, it was a great adventure.

Following Christ can be wonderful and challenging, and at times difficult and painful, but never boring.

Several years ago a friend and I went on a trip to Florida.  I was looking forward to a nice vacation.  Most of my thoughts were not on doing the work of the Lord, but my friend was focused on being an evangelist.  Before leaving, a couple different people said something to me about our trip plans or prayed for me.  There was something about what they prayed or said that made me feel like God was up to something, something more than us just having a fun vacation.  I had a sense in my spirit that God wanted to do something.

On the fourth day of the trip we arrived in Hollywood, Florida, in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area.  We visited the apartment where my friend had lived a few years prior.  A girl named Shay was living in his old apartment.  For about 1 ½ hours we sat by the pool and talked with her about the Lord.  I say “we,” but, really, I didn’t do much talking, if any at all.  I sat quietly while my friend talked with her.  As we got up to leave I felt God wanted me to say something to her.

I wasn’t sure if this “word” was from God or not.  But I felt like I had to say it, so I did.  The Lord told me that she had been abused by a man and that God wanted to heal her heart and be a father to her.  It was actually pretty simple.  God said it was a “man,” and I assumed it was her father, but she said it had actually been her uncle.  As I shared the “word” with her, it was obvious that the Lord was genuinely touching her.

After talking with her we visited another apartment where a man named Tony lived.  He had recently suffered a stroke.  We felt led to pray for his healing.  As we prayed I felt the Holy Spirit rise up in me in a strong way.  It was so strong, I couldn’t stay in the apartment.  I went out into the street and began to pray loudly, interceding over the apartment complex and declaring salvation to the city.  I’d never had an experience like this before, to this intensity.  My hands and arms seemed to be full of electricity.  God’s anointing was all over me.  I knew there had to be people around who could hear me, but I could not hold back.  I felt fear, but, at the same time, I felt the power of God rising up strong inside of me.  It was an awesome moment.

The trip to Florida was a learning experience for me.  God got me out of my comfort zone.  He showed me that He wanted to do great things through me despite how I sometimes felt about myself.  He gave me greater confidence in being led by Him; that I can be led by Him.  I can do great things for the Lord!  He can speak through me and use my prayers to bring change in the heavenly realms.  Despite my times of discouragement, my struggles with sin, my battles with the enemy, and all the times I feel like I fail, God still wanted to use me.

After our experience in Hollywood we drove to the Florida Keys and set up our tent at a state park.  The next day we took a sailboat ride and went snorkeling miles out in the Atlantic Ocean by a coral reef.  The next morning, my friend and I both remember waking up feeling this amazing supernatural peace over us.  It was like the bottom of our tent was a pool of peace.  God seemed to be saying to us, “You did what I brought you here to do, you obeyed me, I’m pleased with you, now have fun and enjoy my peace.”  We felt God’s pleasure. 

Serving God can be a lot of fun, an exciting adventure!  I believe very strongly in being led by the Spirit.  This doesn’t mean that we need to get a word from God regarding what we should wear every morning, what to make for dinner, or what gas station we should stop at when we need gas.  It means being open to the leading of His Spirit every day, sensitive to His voice.  Every day is not a Florida adventure.  Sometimes we simply need to hear from Him for strength to carry on through the day.  He is always with us and He speaks to His children.  You can be led by God’s Spirit.  You can hear His voice.  Take a leap of faith and watch God lead you on a great adventure.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

To Be With Him

“Then He appointed twelve,that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach...” – Mark 3:14 (emphasis mine)

The first priority of the Christian is “to be with Him.”  In Acts Chapter 4, Peter and John were recognized as men who “had been with Jesus.” (vs. 13)  I hope people can say that of my life.  Here is a man that walks with Jesus.  When we spend time with the Lord it shows.  When I spend time with the Lord, I can sense His Love, His peace, His Spirit flowing more freely in my life.  That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, or that I don’t still get frustrated or angry sometimes, struggle with temptation, get discouraged, or say things I shouldn’t say.  Nevertheless I can sense God’s Spirit in my life, and I hope others can see Jesus through me too.

I think it is important to spend quality time with the Lord.  Some people may talk to the Lord as they go through the day or as they commute to work.  Of course, that is great!  I don’t want to take away from that.  God certainly speaks to us as we go through out our day. We can worship Him at all times and in every place.  Yet, I also think that quality time alone with the Lord is important.  We need time alone with Him (or as alone as is possible), in a room, or perhaps in the living room, in worship, in the Word, and seeking His face.  I know that often the busyness of life threatens our ability to seek the Lord.  Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to make time with the Lord a priority, and we don’t have kids yet!

Perhaps the greatest impact on my life, as a child, was seeing my mom worshiping and seeking the Lord in our house.  It was common to hear her seeking God.  She was not quiet about it.  I believe mom’s relationship with God impacted me profoundly.  She was a woman who was hungry for God.  She also had some intense struggles in life, and I think she was often crying out to God for help.  But I believe I grew up knowing God's presence because mom prayed.

I want to challenge you (and myself) to spend more time with God, to “be with Him.”  Maybe it’s getting up 15 minutes early with coffee and your Bible at the breakfast table.  Or maybe it’s an hour in the morning or evening, seeking Him.  Prayer is life-changing.  God is powerful in us when we pray.  He changes us, and gives us His power to change the world. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Come Forth!

Have you ever felt like you were wrapped up in grave clothes, unable to break free?  You’ve walked a hard, disappointing path.  The life has left your body; your spirit feels crushed.  You get up and do what you need to do, but without energy.  Today Jesus wants to breathe His life into you.  He says, “It’s time to come forth!”  It’s time lay aside the grave clothes of doubt, discouragement and despair, and come alive.  It’s time to be free from the bondage that has held you captive for so long. 

The enemy has wrapped his grave clothes around you.  Negative thoughts swirl around your mind.  You feel suffocated by a demonic cloud of confusion.  You feel stuck inside yourself, banging on the outer wall of your own soul, but unable to break free.  These wounds may be rooted in your childhood, no fault of your own.  You feel trapped, but you can be free!  God has not called you to remain in this tomb.  It is for freedom that He sets you free! (Gal. 5:1)    

In John Chapter 11, Jesus knew that Lazarus, the one he loved, was sick.  He had within His power to go to him and immediately heal him.  But he chose instead to wait.  His reason?  So He would be glorified.  When Jesus finally arrived Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs. 21)    

Sometimes it seems that God waits and delays.  We pray, fast, cry out to Him.  We live in expectation of His deliverance.  We persist, longing for the freedom we know that He offers.  Yet, the enemy seems all the more persistent in keeping us in our grave clothes.  Lord, if you would just do something, I wouldn’t be stuck here.  But Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  (vs. 25)  Jesus weeps over our condition.  He is moved with compassion.  He steps up to our tomb.  He says, “Take away the stone.”  (vs. 39)  Yes, the odor of our condition is bad.  But Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  (vs. 40)

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’” (vs. 43-44)

I know that the journey towards freedom can be difficult.  The struggle towards freedom can seem unending, but it is not impossible.  Often it is a process of walking with God and trusting Him.  Sometimes freedom is hard-won, but victory is yours!  You can be free.  You can be whole.  You can be delivered.  Reach out to God today and believe that His glory will be revealed in your life.  It’s time to come forth!