Happy New Year!

As the shepherds and wise men left the manger scene to head back to their work and lives, I pray we all can face our new year with expectant, inconceivable Joy in all things.  God sent His Son Jesus at Christmas to give us life abundantly in all seasons of life.  I want to feel the same passion and joy at the coffee pot on Wednesday morning, in meetings with conflict, when the impossible happens, when an insult pierces my heart, when illness lingers.  I want to decrease, and desire greatly for Jesus to be ever-present.  I want to die to Christ and ask Him for His power to be evident, and for me to decrease in worry, self-preservation, anxiety,  and fear.  Lord forgive us from starting from the center of US and THEN asking you to bless and provide.  Lord open our hearts and minds to the Truth of Your Word and help us to make changes that perhaps makes us tremble a little, stretches our faith, and goes against what man would say is right or good for us.

Proverbs 19:21

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.

Jeremiah 29:11 – 14

11For 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. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

Jesus,

I pray we seek you with all our hearts so that your light will shine in the darkest of places and bring healing.  I pray you will guide us in YOUR Truth and show us Your plans.  May we take away “our” center and place YOU there.  Amen


FASTING

January 1, Wednesday, marks a world-wide fast in many churches around the world.  The purpose of a fast is for us to decrease so He can increase.  We position ourselves to draw close to God and worship Him.  The fast lasts for 21 days. The pastor encouraged each person to seek God about what type of fast He would call each individual to participate in.  Some are doing the Daniel fast, a meal a day fast, a meal a week fast…  God will share what is right for you.  During the time of fasting, it’s a great time to categorize your prayers to pray for your spouse, children, church, relationships, our government, our community…

——————————————— The Message Today

The message today was on WORK. We work out of necessity, prosperity so we can share, and as a ministry.

“If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:10

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper and be satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4

We are called to see our work as a way to love God and a way to love people.

We spend 40 percent of our time at work.  If you are unhappy in your job the question becomes do you need a new attitude about your work, or is God calling you to do something else?  Something to pray about.  Any job will have its ups and downs, but is God calling you to a different ministry?

Until God reveals the answer we are called to work “as unto the Lord.”  If we begin to see our work as a ministry to love God and people we may find a new job within our current job.

————————————————Support during the Fast

On Wednesday nights at 7:00 Cloverhill Assembly of God will be providing a service that will concentrate on fasting and worship.

http://www.cloverhillag.org/index.php/event_details/awakening_jan_2_22_2013

The link above has information on fasting, services, and support.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Cessationism or Sensationalism

In Christian theology, Cessationism is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased being practiced early in Christian Church history.  Sensationalists believe  that the whole point of belief is miracles.  Jesus spoke to each extreme by saying those without faith to believe in miracles are an” unbelieving and perverse generation” (Luke 9:41).  On the other hand, He called those who focused entirely on miracles a “wicked and adulterous generation” ( Matthew 16:4).

In Judges chapter 6, Gideon asked God during desperate times where were the miracles of his forefathers?  At Christmas, I think of Mary and the miracle of Jesus.  Could God do something this powerful today? Jesus’ work is finished –He announced, “It is finished!” Yet, our world is plagued with destruction, disease, satanic seduction and assault. He will return and restore, redeem, and conquer.  Can we like Gideon ask God to deliver us and bring hope?  We need You God to reveal yourself in a powerful way that is filled with your mighty power and love.

As a believer we do not want to be unbelieving, perverse, wicked, or adulterous in our prayers to God.  He knows our heart.  We can try to save the world through our righteous acts, but God tells us that our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  All He truly desires is for us to believe in Him and His love lavished upon us that we would be called the children of God. (First John 3:1)

Mary was pre-cross events and Jesus was placed within her by the Holy Spirit.  We are post-cross events and by the Holy Spirit we are wooed into a relationship with our Savior, Jesus, and He lives within us when we say, “Yes!” just like Mary over 2000 years ago.  When Jesus walked this earth someone said to Him, “Blessed is the woman who bore you!”

Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

Are you desperate for miracles?  I am.  Perhaps the miracle is  found first in our believing in His lavish love for us.  For some of us to believe in this miracle love is a great place to start and linger even if you’ve been a Christian for years.  Is the love of Christ in your mind and heart based on confusing or false doctrine?  Have you ever experienced His love beyond what man has shown you?  Oh think of all the defining words and experiences that we base our definition of His love on in our minds.

Jesus reveal Your love and remove any evil or barriers that keep us from Your pure love for us.  Lavish us Lord with Your love.  Jesus help us to learn of Your love by hearing Your Word and putting it into practice!

(Based on the reading of Believing God, by Beth Moore)

A Puzzle Piece

My 8-year-old was reading the Christmas Story.  I closed my eyes and imagined myself there.  With tears in my eyes I rejoiced at the solitude of the moment and the stillness of the morning. Slowing down you notice things like the sun ray shinning through the window, and Santa’s red hat on your coffee mug.  The cleaning will come but for now let’s worship.  After her reading, it came time to tackle the list of chores and cleaning for family Christmas Eve party.  I thought to myself I did not want the worship to end.  When my eyes were closed, I was praying for God to take this overwhelming and persistent struggle and bring the puzzle piece that I needed.  I held onto the piece in my soul, but I wanted the matching piece.  Have you ever tried to put a puzzle piece with an un-matching partner?  We’ve all been guilty of forcing the piece, hoping this one will work.  Isn’t it funny to watch children putting puzzles together?  Who gets to put the last piece in its place? It is fascinating to watch!  I’ve seen a wrestling match over that one!

I get up and go to my phone thinking that I will listen to a sermon while cleaning.  I check Facebook and see that Tina has sent me a link to a radio talk that will rock your socks off–it matched my soul search unbelievably.  It was the puzzle piece I was looking for!  You are not going to believe this!!!!  This one is for you Linda!  The last line is about REJOICING! AH!!!!! GLORY BUMPS!

I’m certainly the million piece puzzle, and I think I might be up to piece 1,000.

Thank you Christian sisters and brothers for being a part of the puzzle and adding pieces to my life. Jesus is so good and so faithful to provide the pieces when we need them and how we need them.  Thank you Jesus.

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/women-anna-today/

I pray the link above works!  Click and enjoy!  It’s so wonderful!  Thank you Tina!

A Reader’s Response – REJOICE!

DEFINITION OF REJOICE:  : to give joy to

Even though…… (fill in the blank with your situation(s)

I will give joy to Jesus for all He had done…..

It is so funny you posted this for after last Friday and the tragedy that was in Newtown, CT so close to Christmas I too was thinking about this. Then at mass on Sunday morning as we celebrated the 3rd Sunday of advent which the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. Our pastor spoke to rejoice not in only the good things in life but also the difficult. For during these difficult times, that is when we look to Jesus more and need him more. He lifts us up on high for he experienced the struggles we have experienced and he and the father want only better for us as we want better for our children. We must endure/witness struggle and pain to overcome and triumph and be stronger as one. We are to go to the high father for our joy and sorrow and REJOICE. Hence my inspiration for my Christmas card, “REJOICE and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”. Matthew 5:12
I pray you all REJOICE during this Christmas Season and REJOICE during the new year. If you find yourself struggling on financial or emotional issues as so many of us do, remember to REJOICE. By rejoicing you will change for the good and so will others around you. My brothers and sisters, I pray you REJOICE in his name. AMEN!  Linda

The Nativity

My 8-year-old loves the move The Nativity from 2006.  I highly recommend the DVD.  We’ve watched this movie every night this week.  How long have you heard the nativity story?  For me, it’s been years.  My children have been in Christmas pageants and we’ve re-enacting the story line through the years through scripture and dressing up.  Somehow this year while watching the Nativity movie while snuggling up close, suffering was emphasized for me.  Who wants to talk about suffering a few days before Christmas? Please!  Can we not have a rest from bad news, sickness, tragedy?

Here was Mary and Joseph living a life of poverty and Roman rule.  They woke up each morning completing tasks that would keep them alive, like working the fields, washing clothes, taking care of children.  Upon occasion without warning, Roman soldiers would ride into their village of Nazareth and demand money for Caesar –taxes.  If you did not have money they would take one of your children to work the debt off.  You would never see your child again.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus within Mary’s womb which caused a huge emotional and spiritual outrage.  She stood alone in her obedience.  God was good to give Joseph a dream to confirm the miracle, and He stood by her.  When the ordered census came, Mary and Joseph had to travel over a 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey.  They crossed through the desert, hills, all kinds of weather while she was pregnant.  Upon reaching Bethlehem there was no hospital or home for her to deliver –only a cave with animals.

Stop and think–She was carrying GOD in flesh within her womb. JESUS.  Why didn’t God see fit to have Jesus just appear – mighty in power, perfect, courageous, strong and taking over the world?!  Why didn’t God place Jesus in the home of a King or a family of wealth so that He would have all the riches and access to health care?  Why did God use a teenage girl who would have to struggle with public humiliation while following God’s plan?  Why a cave?  Why with animals, dirt, grime, unsanitary?  Our babies today are born in the most protected, germ free environments, but not Jesus.

Perhaps suffering is a part of following God’s will.  If we were to truly follow the plans of God and remove ourselves from our comfort–the things that in our mind bring us happiness, safety, and prosperity, would we suffer?  Is suffering a bad thing?  Mary was purposeful in the one thing God asked her to do–be the mother of Jesus.  Nothing else mattered.  If you want me to carry Him in my womb and I’ve been with no man, so be it.  God if you want me to ride on a donkey, give birth in a cave, run to Egypt in the middle of the night for safety, so be it.  God was good to bring confirmation in her journey through wise men, shepherds, a star,  Anna in the temple, Joseph. Suffering and tragedy never left the story line of Jesus’ time on earth, yet what makes suffering bearable is His resurrection and conquering of death!  One day we will be with Him face-to-face.  Jesus said to us in His Word that He goes to prepare a place for us, and He will bring us to HIMSELF!  We think of arriving in heaven, but stop and think of Him receiving you to Himself!

I pray this Christmas as we look around our world, our communities, our family, and within ourselves that we will see the Joy of His birth and the Hope it brings to our suffering.  Jesus was born in the most lowest of places and is familiar with suffering.  He is our Hope. Please take two minutes to see an excerpt from the movie The Nativity!  It will bless you.  Share with your children….

Jesus desires so much more for His children. Are we missing it?

The Garden of Gethsemane –the night before Jesus was to face the cross was discussed in a sermon that I listened to by John Piper. I laid in bed with Iphone on my chest listening to this pastor ask what we would do the night before a tortured, cruel death?  Jesus prayed and spoke to his disciples about faith, peace, and joy.  He wanted his beloved children to know the faith, peace, and joy of Him, and not what the world has to offer. Oh how confused they were as Jesus told them He was leaving them, but He would send a helper –the comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide them, and show them truth.  Up until that moment they were all in for the Christianity sign up.  They saw benefits of miracles, healing, prosperity and popularity–Jesus was making things better!  Are we Christians today because we want better marriages, better relationships, better jobs, better parenting? Or do we follow Him all the way to the cross, dying, sacrificing, and if we never see better this side of heaven we would revel in faith, peace, and joy beyond what the world has to offer?

Two wonderful things happened to me over the past few days.  The John Piper sermon made me realize how far I am from following Jesus as Lord and Savior in the purest sense of the following.  The second thing was worship on Sunday. Two songs moved me.  The one I copied the lyrics after this post.  Oh Jesus, in my selfishness, You show me grace!  Maybe folks around me are frustrated but Jesus you will show me grace and teach me.

The other song is by Deluge, called Worshiping You.

“I’m gonna worship you forever, I’m gonna worship you.”

It’s sung over and over with a magnificent build of harmony and music. I don’t think my arms could reach far enough.  I wanted to reach inside the very portals of heaven and touch the hem of His garment.  My tears flooding out wanted to wash His feet. My movement wanted to dance before Him in gladness of being His child.  In that moment, that I did not want to end, I kept seeing myself as His Child.  I was not a social worker, a student, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a community helper, a citizen of earth, a sister, a volunteer worker…….I simply was His.  His child with no regrets, no pain, no anguish, no trying to rationalize or beg for love or understanding.  Oh Jesus I cried in my soul –that day will be glorious, when I see you face to face and I can shed this Earth!  The music stops. You always wish they would play one more stanza.  What’s the rush?!  This side of heaven it always stops because we have to go to the next item.  Can you imagine a day when we will worship Him for ever and the music never stops?

Aaron Shust – My Hope Is In You

I wait for You and my soul finds rest
In my selfishness, You show me grace 
I worship You and my heart cries Glory
Hallelujah, Father You’re here!

Chorus:
I will wait on You
You are my refuge
I will wait on You
You are my refuge