Friday, May 29, 2015

Suffering

“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Not too long ago a lady that I went on several mission trips with died.  She was such a wonderful person.  She loved Jesus and was on fire for the Lord.  And she was always so nice to me.  I considered her my friend.  Her death was hard to understand.  Why would God take someone that seemed to be so effective for His kingdom here on earth? 
In my dream last night my friend was with a few other women.  One of the women, I believe, stated that my friend could be healed.  But I stepped forward and said something like this:  “No, sometimes God allows us to go through a special suffering to reveal Christ in our lives.”  As I was about to walk away I said to my friend, “The only thing that matters is Jesus!”  I said it so loud that I think I surprised myself and embarrassed myself a little.  Then I woke up. 
The Scripture says that there is a suffering that is according to the will of God (I Peter 4:19).  “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”  The Scripture says, “…rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (vs. 12, 13) 
Why does God allow us to go through suffering?  God’s purpose is to perfect His children through suffering.  Not a fun topic, I know.  Not a topic to jump up and down about.  But God reveals Himself through our suffering.  God is forming Christ within us.  He is making us more like Jesus.  When we press up against the cross, embracing the death that Jesus died, we are truly in a place where we can become like Christ.  But the story does not end here.  “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).  After Jesus’ suffering came a resurrection!  God’s purpose is not that we suffer on and on, forever and ever.  His purpose is that we also experience His resurrection life.  Things that need to change in our lives can be changed.
I believe in divine healing.  I believe with all my heart that God can, does, and will heal.  But I also believe that sometimes God calls us to through things that are difficult.  This difficulty could come in the form of persecution.  It could also come in the form of some other difficulty.  He does not always remove our problems.  We cannot pray away every problem.  If we suffer according to God’s will we need to submit ourselves to our Faithful Creator and realize that God has a purpose in it (see I Peter 4:19).      
Last night, after going back to sleep, I dreamt more.  When I woke up again the song was in my heart, “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.”  Beloved, God loves you.  The suffering you may be enduring is not a sign of rejection.  It may, in fact, be a sign of God’s approval on your life.  You are His child, His son or His daughter.  He is at work in you, forming you into the man or woman of God He wants you to be.  You may not see the progress you are making, but you are getting stronger!     

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” – I Peter 5:10

Monday, May 25, 2015

Spirit and Truth - Video

Leslie and I recording some short devotional videos during our trip to Shenandoah National Park.  The video below is about 2 1/2 minutes.  Hope you enjoy!


Jesus said, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 
- John 4:23-24




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.  

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...