Thursday, November 22, 2012

So much to be thankful for

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. -2 Corinthians 2:14-15
What a privilege it is to be able to bring the love of God to others. As the verse says, we ought to be a pleasant aroma to all those we cross paths with. May we make the most of every opportunity; not to preach, not to tell people where they are going wrong, because trust me- they already know.  What they need to know is that our Father is all forgiving, merciful, and loves each of us as individuals.  No matter what we've done, no matter where we are in our lives, he is there for us the moment we seek him with our whole hearts. 
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.-2 Corinthians 4:1
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.- 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

We are nothing but jars of clay; bodies that are easily broken, but for as long as we last we are vessels that can be used for God's purpose.  I thank God for the honor of having him live inside of me in the form of the Holy Spirit, who guides us and comforts us.  
I thank God my Father for radically changing my life.  I was surely blind, but he opened my eyes to see. I was once despondent, not sure why I was here; but now I know.  I'm here to spread this very great love of God, even if it is only in my very small ways.  He changed my heart, and when my heart changed, so did my life.  What words can express my gratitude?  He has made me a new creation; an offer he makes to each of us.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them...
-2 Corinthians 5:17-19
I am so thankful that God has forgiven the sins of my past and given me a new life!
I feel like David did when he wrote:

I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.  O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.  O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit.  sing to the Lord you saints of his; praise his holy mane.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.- Psalm 30:1-5 (emphasis mine)

May God shower you with love and his blessings!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heartbreak in Israel

There has been a discernible escalation in rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip against Israel in recent years, especially in 2012. In 2008, when Israel was left with little choice but to launch “Operation Cast Lead,” rocket fire had reached an all-time high of 1,159 attacks from Hamas and all the other terrorist organizations in Gaza. But in the aftermath of Israel’s operation in late 2008 and early 2009, rocket attacks plummeted in 2010 to 103 in all. Since that time there has been a steady rise: 375 attacks in 2011 and 797 attacks in 2012 (up to November 13). According to the IDF, during Nov. 10-14 there were 217 rocket attacks. “News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (November 7-13, 2012), Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center,

No nation should stand by and let itself be continually attacked. In addition to the rockets launched from Gaza, how many car bombs have been exploded? How many buses have been blown up?  How many suicide bombers have taken out innocents?  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells it best:
Weapons and weapon launching sites are being stored in Gaza neighborhoods. The IDF faces great challenges in targeting terrorists in urban areas while avoiding harm to non-combatants.

A song for the brave soldiers. May God carry them


"Rahem" is translated here as mercy, but I've also heard it translated as "have compassion."
I pray God will have mercy and compassion on our brothers and sisters in Israel.

The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?  When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.- Psalm 27:1-3

The IDF has dispersed warning leaflets above several locations in the Gaza Strip. This video is from Thursday, Nov. 15, over Khan Yunis.

The Arabic leaflet reads: "Important announcement for the residents of the Gaza Strip: For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organizations that pose a risk to your safety. Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. This announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region. Israel Defense Forces Command."

Father, I lift up your holy land to you in prayer.  Please send peace among the people, comfort those who mourn loved ones lost, and above all, let your will be done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All the little things

For some time now, I've been feeling a little discouraged.  I'm not a woman of money; it seems that all I have to give are little things.

Like last Sunday after church;  I was walking to my car when I saw a familiar looking young homeless man.
He started into his spiel: "ma'am do you have any change...." when he suddenly smiled and said, "Hey! I know you. You help me out at Fast Trip all the time."  (I do stop there just about every day.)
So I introduced myself, and asked his name.  "Nick," I said, "I have just a little bit of change. But can I pray for you?"  When he agreed, I asked him what he needed prayer for.  "My health," he said, and so I took his hand, which was very swollen.  I prayed that God would grant him health, protect him, and draw him close and hold him. I gave him all the change I had and when his eyes met mine, I saw tears in his.
To him, I think it was a big thing.

I just so badly want to serve my Savior!

Well.  These past two Sundays my pastor has been preaching about these little things.  God sees them.
They matter.

What may seem like a small thing to us might be a big thing to someone else.

A little thing can change a life.

My mother told me this story:

She has an acquaintance who was in difficult circumstances.  This woman was extremely angry at my mom's church for something that had happened twenty years ago. My mom got the idea to give her a prayer shawl.
This is a shawl that's prayed over toward the one who will receive it with every stitch that creates it.  So when it was finished, she took it to her......and it touched the woman deeply.  My mom talked to her about how sorry she was about what had happened and that she hoped this would be a step toward forgiveness.
In fact, it turned out that her father had stipulated in his will that $25,0000. be donated from his estate to the church and this woman was going to fight the bequest.
But the prayer shawl softened this woman's heart.  My mother has been part of a ministry (through the church the woman was angry at) that builds houses in Mexico for many years.  Imagine the shock and amazement when the Mexico house building ministry received the check with a letter stating why they were receiving it.

Way to go, Mom.  Now that's listening to the Holy Spirit and being obedient.

Father, some of these little things only you see.  Help us to keep doing them simply to bring honor to where it belongs- to You.  Please put people in all of our paths that we might do some small act of good that reflects back to you.

Wishing you all blessings!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Answer for Anonymous

your website truely inspired me - I am doing a small talk in my school about being not of this world and instead living this world for god and you have really helped me to grasp some ideas! I would love to hear your views on 'conforming to the patterns of this world!'
Thanks - x

Let me answer in two parts- first about living in the world without being of it and then about no longer conforming to the patterns of this world.
When we become believers, we are changed. We continue to live in this world, but we are no longer of it. When we turn our lives over to God, accepting Jesus' sacrifice for our sins, we come alive spiritually and become a son or daughter of God. This is only the beginning of a brand new life!  Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"
-Matthew 16:24-26 
 In other words, our old selves with our old desires are set aside in order to seek God's will for our lives instead.  Instead of living our lives to satisfy ourselves, we live our lives to satisfy our Father and that is when we find peace and happiness beyond anything this world could ever offer.  After all, he is the one who sees the future and knows the best path for our lives.
 It's the Holy Spirit within us that is able to ascertain God's will and we understand his word through new eyes.  As Jesus said, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also..."-John 15:19-20  Surely our Lord was persecuted, even unto death; the very death that saves our souls.  So when others laugh at us or mock our faith, don't take offense and do what Jesus said: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven....-Matthew  5:44

As our souls are transformed, so must be our ways of thinking and living.  No longer should we conform to this world, because If we continue to conform to this world, we will be just like everyone else and have no testimony; and without a change in our lives we can't show others what God has done for us.  
As it says in Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.-Colossians 3:12-15 

So we live in this world as lights that shine in the darkness, and this world is dark indeed. 
Have you ever been in a pitch black room, feeling along for a light switch and unable to find one?  It doesn't take long to start feeling panicky.  But then a friend comes and throws on the lights and we can see everything around us.  The switch may have been right in front of us the whole time, but it took someone who knew where it was to turn it on.  This is what we should be like; one who floods the room with the light that is our Father and his love.   People are lonely, hurting, and grasping for any straw of love.  These are the people we are called to help.  Simple acts or words of kindness go a long way in a hurting heart.  When in doubt, ask what our Savior would do.   He always loved the down and out, even when the religious people of his day looked down on him for "eating with the sinners." 

If we stay in our tight little circle of believers, how do we reach the lost?
This calls for wisdom.  I wouldn't advise going to a kegger and preaching!  
But that girl that no one ever talks could look her in the the eye, smile and strike up a conversation.  When a homeless person asks for money, give if you feel led, but always ask if you can pray with or for them.  Sometimes instead of giving money I pass on by (if I'm in my car) and come back with a sack lunch and offer prayer then.  When we keep an active prayer life, the Spirit will direct us to those he'd have us minister to.

This world is all about me, myself and I.  What can I get?  But walking with God means asking instead: what can I give?

I hope I've answered your questions and that your talk at school goes well!  
Anyone else out there with questions, I welcome them and will always do my best to answer them.  Wishing you lots of blessings.