Are you Paying Close Attention?

1 Feb

During my college days, one of my professors excitedly said “pay close attention” whenever we discussed a topic we were sure to find again on an exam. The professor wanted everyone to excel in his class. He took such joy in making sure we were actually present, not just physically, but mentally during class.

Our Heavenly Father, God, is even more excited when we “pay close attention” to His word.  And yes, God still speaks.

He speaks in countless ways. Sometimes it’s through the Holy Spirit deep within us. Other times it may be a faint whisper. He speaks through His word, through dreams, visions, as well as through people.

Unfortunately, we are sooo busy these days until we’ve frequently missed messages at times when we should have “payed close attention”.

Like the professor, Our Father desires that we pass every exam, or trial so to speak. However, if we aren’t making time to read, to pray, and to listen carefully we are missing out on being filled with God’s will and His strength that will enable us to pass the tests that life brings.

You may be wondering how you can be sure that our Father is attempting to get a specific message across to you. God confirms His messages. If you hear a message repeated, no matter how simple, more than likely, this message is designed uniquely to encourage and strengthen you.

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For example, a family member shared an awesome testimony stating that we need to remember how God worked things together for us in the past, and know that He will work out our current circumstance too. Later that day, I read similar words in a devotional. I realized that God was speaking and wanted me to “pay close attention”!

What message has our Father attempted to get across to you? No matter what you’re facing today, “pay close attention” knowing that the Lord will bring you through stronger, moving you from faith to faith (Ro. 1:17), and glory to glory (II Co. 3:18) as you “pay close attention” to the messages He’s sending specifically to encourage and strengthen you, enabling you to pass the tests of life.

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22

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Pray For…

25 Dec

It’s so easy to get caught up in praying for myself, my family, my friends, and my church family.

 

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While it’s true, we should continuously pray for those closest to us, our prayers should extend outside of our family and friends. We should pray for our leaders, including pastors, supervisors, government officials, police officers, and oh yes, by the way – we should pray for everyone. Yes, you read correctly, the Lord expects us to pray for everyone.

The Lord recently convicted me, reminding me that my prayers have not been broad enough. What a wake up call. It’s a call that I answered and take seriously. He’s calling you too right now to extend your boarders.

Xiamen, Slum Dwellers

The problem with many of us is that we look around and complain about the happenings in the world. How quickly we forget that we know the answer to every injustice, crime, immorality, infirmity, mental illness and poverty.

Children Of War, Hungry, Sadness

 

There’s One answer. For there is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (2 Tim. 2:5)

Printable Cross PicturesGod wants us to have His heart for the world, not condemnation, but mercy, just as He has mercy on us. He desires that we pray for everyone!

Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty,  for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

Its starts with us. Let us humble ourselves and pray and seek His face, turning from our sins. Then the Lord we hear us, forgive our sins and heal our land. Let us pray! II Chronicles 7:14.

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The Power of Your Song

30 Oct
I’ve come to realize the days I don’t feel like singing are the days I need to sing most.
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Before knowing Jesus, I “sang the songs that made the whole world sing” with Barry Manilow. Maybe you’ve never heard of him. But surely you’ve heard of another of my old favorites, Stevie Wonder and “I’ll Be Loving You Always”.
Now, I awake hearing songs in my soul such as Hawk Nelson’s  “Live Like You’re Loved” and Hillsong’s “So Will I”.
Jesus changed my song, just as He changed my life. He surrounds me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7). His songs confirm that all is well, even when my natural eyes only see the opposite.(ll Corinthians 5:7)
There’s a Bible story that clearly demonstrates the power of deliverance through songs along with prayers. The disciples were beaten and thrown into jail after delivering a young lady from a spirit of divination. They began to praise God through prayers and songs. Consequently there was an earthquake that shook the place, opening all of the jails doors and loosening every chain. Everyone was set free! (Acts 16:26)
Many of us are not inclined to pray and sing when we feel as though we’re beaten by our circumstances. If we could only get our eyes off our situations and focus on the Lord, hope would rise. Worshiping the Lord, especially when we don’t feel like it can produce power that delivers us and those around us from a victim mentality into victory.
Be intentional about your song in good times, for those songs can be used in trying times to deliver you from depression and oppression into spiritual victory. You may even set someone else free.
So what are you singing today? Are you singing at all?  It’s not too late for change.  Sing a song unto Him who is our Song and gain strength, delivering you into a place of miracles. (Isaiah 12:2, Psalm 118:14, Exodus 15:2 Psalm 28:7)
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.” (‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:3‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

Do You Love ME?

23 Sep

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Throughout my life, I’ve encountered challenges that overwhelmed me, almost taking my breath away. During those devastating moments, one unspoken question permeated the  atmosphere. It’s as though the Lord would ask through tough times “Do you still love ME”?

For example, I hate moving. Having lived in a few states, packing, loading, pulling up roots, friends, and familiar places is not my idea of a good time. Yet, I’ve done just that too many times. I’m thankful that by God’s grace, I’ve always had a roof over my head. Nevertheless, within the last four years, I’ve moved three time for reasons beyond my control!

During the last move, I consulted with four real estate agents and a government agency, none of whom were helpful.

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Surely the Lord who created me knows just how I feel about moving, yet He allowed the circumstances. It was during this time again I heard the unspoken question “Do you still love ME”?

Like Peter of old, my response was “Where else can I go but to you Lord, You have the words of eternal life”? (John 6:68)

He allowed me to be forced to move, to move me closer to Him, and to even love Him more. God’s move for me was perfect! It was me who needed to be moved (perfect-ed)!

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Your love for the Lord will also be tested through a variety of circumstances, some of which will almost take your breath away. Yes the Lord knows just what those situations will be and HE knows you.(Psalms 139)

So what’s the point of it all? God’s love for you is unconditional, time tested, blood given, sacrifice driven, and life giving through the death and life of Jesus. As you, as we endeavor to love Him unconditionally, we become more like Him, producing a purified love for Him and genuine love for others. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Whatever He allows in your life can move you closer to Him, and cause you to love Him more as well. His grace is sufficient as His strength is made perfect in your weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9)

Yes, come what may, LOVE HIM! For He loves us with an everlasting love, despite your failures, doubts, fears, anger and tears. HIS LOVE for you will see you through every challenge that comes your way. Know that HE will never leave you nor forsake you. (Jeremiah 31:3,Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Hebrews 13:5) Love HIM!

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Miracle On 34th Street

1 Feb

 
Yes, I know that Christmas has passed. But you’ve seen it haven’t you? It’s a classic movie called “Miracle on 34th Street”. Of course it has a happy ending as a gentleman who works in Macy’s with the name Kris Kringle proves to be none other than Santa. 

Last month, I happened to actually be on 34th street with a couple of co-workers and went with them to Macy’s. The Christmas window decorations were fascinating. The crowd was captivated by the moving figures, the glamor, and the wonder of it all, and so was I.

However, the memories etched in my mind from that day spark emotions that rain upon holiday cheer. We saw an elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk layered in winter gear. Her tattered cardboard sign said “mother & son homeless.” There was no son in sight. Touched by the scene, we gave her money.

As we walked that short distance of only a few blocks, we saw homeless people here, and another there. It had been a while since I visited the city. I was not prepared. I should have had more dollars ready to distribute. I was not prepared to see people lying on the street on top of flattened cardboard boxes in the winter.  

While waiting for the train to leave the city, a woman neatly dressed, within the fifty to sixties age range said hello and smiled. Her makeup was excessive, almost clownish. “Do you have money or food” she asked through her painted lips. “I’m pregnant”, she said. I gave her the unopened snacks I had taken with me that day. 

I prayed, knowing I had not done enough, nor could I do enough for the people that needed help that day. But what would the world be like if each of us did what we could to help at least one person each day? There would surely be more miracles on 34th Street! The people on 34th street, or maybe even on your street are waiting. 

““Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:37-40‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ 

You Are Not Forgotten

11 Jun

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So much is happening today. Corruption within the political system, terror attacks, nuclear threats, global warming, and the list goes on. Yet, in the midst of it all, God sees you and cares about your circumstance. Yes, in spite of all that you see happening around you, God sees you.

Long ago, a barren woman named Hannah felt forgotten by God, as you might be feeling right now. She went before God and poured out her heart. Eli – the priest, who was nearby, thought Hannah was drunk. Once Hannah explained, Eli agreed with Hannah’s prayer.

Hannah prayed. “Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant,  but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”” ‭‭(l Samuel‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).

Although Hannah felt as though she was forgotten by God, she allowed her faith to rise above her circumstance and prayed. Not only did Hannah pray, she completely trusted the Lord to answer her prayer. She left the temple relieved of her burden, no longer feeling forgotten. Later Hannah gave birth to a son, and gave this son to back to God. Eventually she had more children.

Just as God saw Hannah, He sees you. God sees your hurt, senses your despair and hears your cry. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You are inscribed in the palm of Gods’s hand. God saw you and knew you before you were born. And He cares about every aspect of your life. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8,Isaiah 49:16 Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5)

What are you trying to give birth to? Do you feel forgotten by God? Know that this is just a feeling and not a fact. God sees and knows everything. Focus on God and pray. Don’t focus on what you see or feel.

Remember Hannah. She prayed and believed that her prayers were answered even before she gave birth to her first child, and later gave him back to God. It’s your turn now. Allow your faith to rise. Pray to God. Believe that He’s working it out together for your good. Thank Him because you believe that He will answer you. Take the limits off God and allow Him to be Lord of your circumstance as Hannah did. Give the situation totally to Him.( Psalm 78:41)

God sees you, and He cares. Look to Him and trust Him now more than ever. Yes God sees you. You are not forgotten. (Hebrews 4:13, Philippians 4:6, lPeter 5:7,

Defying Your Adversary

28 May

Image result for picture of someone falling downMost of us don’t wake up each day looking for opportunities to fall short. Yet, because we live in a fallen world, chances are, we too will fall from time to time, due to our Adamic nature. (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23)

However, the good news presented by the gospel tells us that as followers of Christ, we are not defined by our failures. As new creations who have trusted in Jesus, we are now defined by the word of God (II Corinthians 5:17)

What does the word say about our falls or sins, to be exact? “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” ‭‭(I John‬ ‭2:1‬). ‭How awesome it is to know that Jesus is our advocate with Father God. Even when we sin, Jesus does not leave us. Instead, He makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25)

However, Satan, the accuser of the brethren, attempts to keep us down when we’ve fallen. ( Revelation 12:10)). Our adversary uses the weights of guilt and condemnation in attempts to prevent us from getting up again. His goal is to kill, steal and to destroy us. (John 10:10)

God is so good that He desires that we have continual fellowship and communion with Him, despite our inability to be absolutely perfect. He beckons us to come boldly (not ashamed) before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

The question is, whose report will you believe, the Advocates’s or the adversary’s? The adversary constantly says, you’re guilty, you’ll never get it right, you’ll never change, sin dominates your life. The Advocate says,  “But He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed”. (Isaiah 53:5)

Defy your adversary. Believe the report of your Advocate. Though you fall, you can and will get up. Keep pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. You are more than a conqueror through Him that loved you. No matter what the day brings, believe the Advocates report! (Philippians 3:14, Romans 8:37)