Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Are You Listening?

John 10:12, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me."

Are you familiar with sheep and their shepherd? I have heard many times how each shepherd's sheep distinctly know his voice. Even if sheep are mixed up in two herds, when the ones hear their shepherd, they go with him. 
God compares us to sheep in the Bible many times. (Partly I think because sheep aren't really the most intelligent animals). LOL I mean that in the nicest way.
It's my belief that God wants us to be like sheep in how we follow Him. We tend to do things on our own. We think we've got life by the reigns and we can handle whatever comes to us.
Let me just enlighten you for a second. The void that you feel in your heart... you know, the one you try to fill with everything BUT God? Yeah, it was meant FOR God.
If you will take the time to allow Him to fill that voice, and listen your life will change. He wants to be your Shepherd. He wants to talk to you, walk with you, and help you through life.
The key is... you have to listen!
I listen to God by reading my Bible, reading devotionals, and just being quiet and listening.
Anyone who knows me personally knows I struggle with being quiet! LOL I'm just being honest.
So, that's not a trait I was born with. I have to MAKE myself be quiet to listen.
God speaks in different ways to us. It is not going to look the same for all of us.
I am doing Priscilla Shirer's Bible study "Discerning the Voice of God". There are many many distractions and things that can cause us to be not sure if what we hear actually is God. 
She's come up with the 5 M's.These are ways to know for sure if it's God speaking to you.
  1. Look for the message of the Spirit. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Don't just casually ask God for guidance. Consciously turn your attention inward to see if what you are sensing carries the weight of God or if it is the unsure, unsteady voice of your own conscience.
  2. Live in the mode of prayer. Submit what you hear back to God in prayer. Throughout your day, when the issue comes into your mind, don't spend time worrying; spend time handing the issue over to God.
  3. Search out the model of Scripture. Carefully consider the Scriptures. Does what you think you're hearing in any way contradict the character of God or the Word of God?
  4. Submit to the ministry of Eli. Seek the counsel of a wise, more mature believer who can discern God's leading in his or her own life.
  5. Expect the mercy of confirmation. Ask the Lord for confirmation. God desires for you to know His will. He's not hiding it from you.
Will you try to follow these and listen for God's voice in your life? You can't have a relationship that is only one communicating. You've probably gotten your prayer life down. So you talk to Him... but are you letting Him talk to you?
I pray that this helps someone slow down and listen.
God bless you today and always!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Lesson From The Ants

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
    Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
    or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
    gathering food for the winter. ~ Proverbs 6:6-8 NLT

We have three big outside dogs. One of them likes to bark at the other as they eat. I think she's just trying to protect her food...but still.
The other day things went bad when my kids were out there doing something. 
So, a couple of nights ago, I went out to feed them. In order to keep the barking down and all, I sat out there on this bench we have.
As they ate, I started noticing something.
Dog food pieces were walking off the porch. LOL
I looked closer and there were clusters of ants carrying the dog food. I bent down to watch.
They were crowding around all of the sides, some big ants, and some much smaller.
The first piece of food had already traveled a good distance. There was a clump of moss from the tree on the porch, and I thought to myself, "Uh oh, wrong way."
Somehow, they knew it, and turned. I was so surprised.
The another piece of dog food started moving... and I realized that some of the ants from the first piece, left it, and went to help the ants at this new one.
Several larger ants went in between the pieces, as if giving directions and orders.
They too, avoided the moss.
Suddenly, a third piece was being carried away. 
Now, the Scripture I posted above talks about how they gather their food in summer. Which is exactly what they are doing.
BUT... I want to talk about something else.
They were working TOGETHER to get what they needed. They were helping each other.
The larger, stronger ants were guiding the group.
They AVOIDED danger walking together. 
We can have that in small group settings, or Sunday School class rooms. When you are doing life other others, they help you. That's the point.
The New Testament church took it further than we do. Most of them sold their land, and gave everything they had to the church. They met together in homes and ate together every day.
We are designed for community. We are made for relationships. 
When you share the good and bad times of your life with others, it makes all the difference in the world.
My heart is breaking at the high rate of suicide at the moment. Now there even a Netflix show, that from what I have heard seems to make suicide cool. There is a girl in the news on trial for convincing her boyfriend to kill himself. 
People feel isolated and alone. But they aren't. If they would get into community with others. It doesn't have to be church, that's my preference though. 
The Broadway Show called Dear Even Hanson is dealing with suicide too. I was afraid it was making it cool, but they are actually reaching out to people to tell them that you aren't alone.
Do you have a community of people in your life? I sure hope so. If not, please reach out. Attend Sunday school or small groups. You NEED other people. We all need each other.
God bless you today and always.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

"But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment." Jesus in John 16: 7-8

I realize this is a very touchy subject among Christians. I am not writing this to start a debate. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is something everyone can have, but not everyone HAS to. A lot of people do not think it's still something we do. And that's OK. It's ok to agree to disagree. I merely want to talk about what I've learned.
Jesus told His disciples that He had to go away so that Advocate aka The Holy Spirit could come. Later, in verse 13 of that same chapter, in John, He said, "When the Spirit of truth comes; He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future."
My Bible study book says this:
"The Holy Spirit is a Person. In other words, when we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive Him, the third Person in the Godhead, not an "it". Jesus said, "that HE may abide with you forever" John 14:16
It is the Holy Spirit that imparts eternal life to the unregenerated spirit of the sinner. (Titus 3:5-7) It is the Holy Spirit who recreates the sinner's spirit and makes him a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness with the spirit of the born-again one that he is a child of God. (Romans 8:16)
Now, this all shows you that when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your heart. He leads, guides, directs you, and helps you understand Scripture.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is when He comes UPON you in a different way.
There are several Scriptures that talk about when the Holy Spirit came UPON people. This is after people became Christians or had an encounter with Jesus. I will only show you what happened to the disciples.
The disciples and many others, around 120 to be exact, where in an upper room waiting.
In John 20: 19-23 we see Jesus giving them the Holy Spirit by breathing on them: "19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! "Peace be with you," He said. 20 As He spoke, He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again He said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." 22 Then He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
So, this is where they became Christians with the Holy Spirit came in them for eternal life. This is when their name was written in the Lambs Book of Life. This is when their sins were forgiven and they claimed Jesus fully as their Lord and Savior.
Later, Jesus told them in Acts 1:5, "John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Then He went on to explain in Acts 1:7-9, "He replied, "The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes UPON you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts Chapter 2 describes the Holy Spirit coming in the room with them in what looked like flames or tongues of fire and it settled on each one of them. (Acts 2:1-4)
Do you see how these are two separate things? They had already received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, then, when the tongues of fire came in the room, the Holy Spirit come UPON them. This is just one example. There are many others. You can do a search of the word UPON to see where the Holy Spirit came upon people.
Now, let me clarify this. You DO NOT have to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As long as He lives in your heart as a Christian, that's your salvation, your eternal life.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that gives you more gifts and like Jesus said, power.
Sometimes, I think Christians are too timid and scared because they don't know the power that is in them. Having Holy Spirit means you have power.
If you don't know much about the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to learn more. Read the Bible and all that it has to say about Him. I'm so glad I have been learning. It's been awesome.
God bless you today and always!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Holy Spirit Within

"If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you." Jesus in John 14:15-17 NLT

When you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit to live in you. The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate here by Jesus. He is also called The Comforter, and several other names.
I want to share what my Bible study book says to help you really grasp this:
"There is not need for any believer ever to feel comfortless, bereaved, or forlorn. Christ's purpose in sending the Holy Spirit was so that the Holy Spirit, a Divine Personality, might come to LIVE in us and be in us.
The New Testament gives us three relations that God sustains toward man. First, God is FOR us. Second, God is WITH us. And third, God is IN us"
1 Corinthians 3:16 says, "Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives IN you?"
1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 says, "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives IN you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body."
Another part of my Bible study book says, "He lives and dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some Christians constantly talk about their LACK of power, and their LACK of ability. But if they realized that God is IN them, they would know that there is nothing impossible for them."
1 John 4:4 says, "But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives IN you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world."
The Holy Spirit is in you to guide you, to be your Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Intercessor, Advocate, and Strengthener. He will do all of this if you yield to Him. If you LET Him.
Then, you must learn to listen to Him.
This statement from my Bible study book really rang true for me: "The trouble with many folks is that instead of looking to the Holy Ghost within them to guide and lead them, they are looking on the outside for their answer. They are running around looking for another person to give them the answer they need."
OUCH! Isn't that true though? I know I've done it. I have talked to people and asked their advice before I ever prayed about it. 
Let me share this with you as well.. maybe you are thinking, "But how do I know if the Holy Spirit is leading me, or says something to me." The answer is.. He will NEVER tell you anything that goes against God's Word. NEVER.
I hope this helps someone today. I really have enjoyed what I've been learning and just want to share it.
God bless you today and always!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

God Is Not Mad At You

"He does not punish us over our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve." Psalm 103:10
My Scripture writing for today was Psalm 103:8-12. I felt like someone needed to be reminded of this today.
The top Scripture I posted is somewhat out of context alone, so let me share all of it with you.
Psalm 103:8-12 NLT
8 The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us over our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.
It's my opinion that some churches/ Pastors/ Teachers have depicted God to be this angry white haired man in the sky waiting for us to mess up so He can strike us down with lightening.
I also think we get some of our ideas of what He's like because of how He was in the Old Testament.
Now, what I've quoted is an Old Testament Scripture. So, that right there should tell us something.
God is a just God. He can't hang out with sin. He doesn't want us just living however we want to. As Christians, when we do sin, we should still ask for forgiveness, because that keeps us in right standing with God.
BUT... when God looks at someone who is saved, do you know what He sees? JESUS
If you are a born again believer, and you've asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. You are covered in His righteousness.
So, if that's the case, why would God try to "deal harshly with you" or "punish you for your sins"?
Jesus paid for our sins when He died on the cross for us. He took our place.
Stay with me, I have two more points:
  1. God is not your accuser. When you feel bad for your sin, it's not God making you feel that way. Satan is the accuser. He wants to keep you away from God, so he will make you feel bad enough that you don't pray, don't go to church, and don't fellowship with other believers.
  2. Look at Jesus. When you aren't sure what God is really like, read the New Testament. There are only a couple of times when Jesus was really harsh on folks. A few times it was the religious leaders, and once in the temple when they had turned it into a store.
You are loved by a compassionate, merciful, slow to anger Heavenly Father who has unfailing love for you.
Let that sink in your head and heart. It's the truth.
God bless you today and always!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Gift Of Prophecy

"A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another; and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown tongues, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. Is it the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have." 1 Corinthians 12: 7-11 NLT

I wanted to start of talking about the gifts of the Spirit by explaining one that is very misunderstood.
The gift of prophecy brings up red flags for some people. They automatically think about demonic activity because they think "prophecy" means to tell someone their future.
In 1 Corinthians 14:3, Paul tells us, "But the one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them."
The Hebrew meaning of the phrase, "to prophesy" is to FLOW FORTH.
The Greek word that is translated "prophesy" means to SPEAK FOR ANOTHER.
Now, this actually is a gift that everyone can have. It just happens to be one of my strongest ones.
I say that everyone can have it because in 1 Corinthians 14:1, before Paul explains what prophesy is, he said this, "Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives- especially the ability to prophesy."
The reason Paul that we should all desire this gift is because it helps other people.
This is not foretelling anything. This is not being a fortune teller. This is not weird at all.
It's the simple act of encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.
In my life, and probably for others as well, it is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
For example: I have times I read a devotional or Scripture, and feel like I need to share it with someone. 
OR I feel led to pray for someone, so I do. Like out of the blue type feel a call to prayer.
The King James translation of the Bible has 1 Corinthians 14:3 written like this, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort."
In the Greek, the word "exhort" means " a calling nearing to God or an invitation."
Edification means to lift up and encourage.
So when you have the gift of prophesy, you are encouraging others and calling them near to God, while being a comfort to them.
Isn't that awesome?!
I hope this helped someone not only understand this better, but even desire to have this. Paul said it's good if we all do. I know some really are gifted in it more than others...and that's ok.
Just follow the Holy Spirit's leading. If you feel led to pray for someone, give an encouraging word, or say a kind word, DO IT! That person might really need it.
God bless you today and always!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Fog

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1 NIV

Saturday morning, my son had to be at school early for a yard sale. I have to tell you, that is my only day to sleep in, so I was not really a happy mom that morning.
He had to be there at 6am. UGH!!
However, on the way home, the sun was just starting to rise. At one point in my drive, I could see it. The sky was turning pink and orange as the sun rose up over the trees.
Then, with one turn, I couldn't see it anymore and I was in the fog.
Fog covered the rest of the sky until I got close to home. Once I turned again, I could see the sun coming up.
I was suddenly reminded about how life is like that. There are two things that came to mind.
First, we have great things happen in our lives. Just like the sunrise, it's beautiful and life is going well. But then the fog sets in. It distracts us. It clouds our view. Suddenly, we can't see the good because the bad is covering it up.
Just like the sunrise though, it's still there. The fog couldn't stop that from happening.
Second,another type of fog we can deal with in life, is depression/ anxiety. I think the same thing applies.
Life isn't "BAD", if you will, but there is a fog of that keeps us from seeing the good. We get stuck in the fog and can't see in front of us.
Have you ever felt like that?
I can tell you that God is always right there, wanting to pull you out of that fog? He loves you so much and He doesn't want any of us to feel like that.
Just like the sun was still coming up behind the fog, God is always with us and wants to walk with us, even if we can't see the next step.
You see, my friend, He CAN see it! He knows what's going to happen in our lives, and if we trust Him, and walk with Him, no matter what, He will see us through.
Fog stinks. It's scary. But with God, He is the light that shines through it.
If you are in a fog, please contact me so I can pray for you! I would love to do that.
Remember one thing too... the fog won't last forever. It's can't.
God bless you today and always!