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Archive for October, 2013

Help from on High

God offers us some serious heavenly help.

It is a statement that could stand all by itself and on its own.  Yet, it is also a statement supported by all sorts of verses from the Scriptures.  The Book of Psalms gives us an array of God’s attributes such Him being “good and upright” (Psalm 25:8).  In particular, Psalm 25 shows us how the Lord offers us help from on high.

Show me Your ways, O Lord ; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
– Psalm 25:4-5

Good and upright is the Lord ; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. – Psalm 25:8-9

Who is the man that fears the Lord ? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.- Psalm 25:12

The secret of the Lord  is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. – Psalm 25:14

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. – Psalm 25:21

Look at all of the different types of help that He provides His people.  He gives us mercy and truth along with His covenant and “the way” as He teaches and protects us.

God gives us help from on high.  Take a moment and embrace every ounce of His help.

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But you shall receive power… – Acts 1:8

And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.- Mark 6:7

Power is a very important part of ministry.  Some may argue that we cannot give the same power that Jesus offered the Twelve.  However, we can empower those who serve alongside us in ministry as we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit.

Volunteers are the back bone of ministry.  The church survives on their dedicated and devoted service to congregaits and community members.  Volunteers make a difference by truly taking on thankless tasks for the benefit of others.  They constantly give and get little in return.

Motivate your volunteers.  Let them know that they are valuable to you and your ministry.  Do not assume that they know that.  Appreciate them in word and deed.  Share how much they mean to you.

Beyond saying how you feel about them, give them some added status and responsibility.  Challenge them to lead others and train others.  Someone’s lacking ministry power due to their lack of mentoring in their ministry, so no one else stepped up when someone else stepped out and everything just stopped because there was no successor.  Let your volunteers identify who they can bring in and build up to do what they do.

Inspire your people to get new things started.  New ideas come from people who have insights about how to do things better or differently.  Let them run with ideas that are soaked down in prayer and led by the Spirit.  Let them have at it since the Spirit has a hold of them and what is at hand.

The bottom line is that we need volunteers.  They step in and stand in the gap.  These are people who help us to help others who would otherwise be rendered helpless as they awaited government handouts or some miraculous movement of red tape for their benefit.  Let them have it as the Lord leads you as their leader.

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And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
– Mark 6:31-32

Sometimes you have to get away.  At times, you would be better off to simply leave your current location and get some time away from everyone and everything else.  You just might need some alone time with God in a different venue.

It doesn’t mean that you cannot come back.  You just need to get away to get better and go forward.

Look at the disciples.  They had just done some miraculous work in the name of the Lord.  Earlier in that chapter, the Twelve were sent out to remove unclean spirits and share the Good News (see verses 7-9).  Upon their return, Jesus listened as they gave firsthand accounts of their work done in His name.  Yet, after hearing this, Jesus instructs them to Go away and get some rest in a “deserted place.”

We need to see how the Lord wants us working but not worn out by the work.  Burning out may be biblical because we can see it at different instances in the Bible but so is blasphemy and idolatry.  Yet, there are things that we should just do to get better such as resting from our labor.

Do you recall the biblical incident when the disciples could not help the desperate father and his demon-possessed son? Jesus shared that this kind required prayer and fasting for it to come out of the person.  We cannot fast on an empty stomach nor could we pray effectively for others with hunger growling in our bellies.  Our human frailty remind us of our own limits.  We need a rest to revive ourselves for further work.  We need to appreciate the time away as more than a vacation.  We need to see it as a means of recharging ourselves.

As we go further in ministry, we will come to recognize the importance of rest in our work.  At some point, we just have to get away.

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But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

Have you ever just wanted to quit?

Elijah ran away into hiding to quit.  Jonah booked passage on a ship headed out of Joppa and headed to Tarshish.  Jeremiah wept bitterly before the Lord, swearing not to speak His name again.  If a prophet could cal it quits, certainly one of us can.

Or, so we think.

In Isaiah chapter 40, we are given a depiction of both God and His people.  The Word reveals the inner workings of the intimate relationship between Jehovah and Jacob, the Almighty and Israel.  A clear view of how God is miraculous and wondrous in His ways arises from the words of comfort offered to the Lord’s prophet to be spoken to the eager ears of the people of Zion.

We want to rationalize our decisions, especially those decisions that might cause us some conflicts with our walk.  It is even harder when we find our decisions to become contrary to all that we have preached, taught and counseled others not to do.  We become hypocrites at that point.  We are saying one thing for others to do in their daily walk with the Lord and not doing any of what we have said ourselves.  That is seriously hypocritical and outright dangerous.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.– Isaiah 40:29

The Lord’s words sooth the discouraged and encourage those running on empty.  He can renew you by refueling you with power and strength.  You can be ready to throw in the towel, but that second wind emerges from somewhere beyond your gut.  You can wish that it was all over and that God would just take you out of your misery, but He provides enough for you to keep going on and getting stronger as you serve more earnestly.  He is able to fuel you as well as fill you.

Let the Lord put your heart and mind at ease.  Don’t stress yourself over your next major move or serious decision.  Listen to His words through His prophet.  become encouraged by what He says he will do for the weak and the empty as well as “them that have no might.” He wants you powered up by what He can give to you.  He wants you strengthened to serve.

Let the Lord use you in a mighty way.

 

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Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Rome.  We come to know it as an epistle where we can find words like justification, redemption, and others that explain our prior condition as slaves to sin and the gift of our salvation.We can find key phrases in the Book of Romans such as “all have sinned,” “filthy rags” and “how shall they hear without a preacher.”. Yet, by further exploring the Book of Romans, we can discover a key verse of inspiration.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can  be against us?” (8:31, NKJV)

How can anyone be against us with God on our side? How dare Satan attempt to dreceive and detour the saints of God when we have the backing and full fledged guarantee of the Almighty working on our behalf?

Believers need to believe that God has their best interest in mind and at heart, even in His hands.  No demonic or satanic force or tool can devise a scheme strong enough or wicked enough to defeat God’s purpose and plan for us.  He is on our side.

Satan desires to destroy us and devour us.  He seeks to separate us from the love of God through Jesus the Christ.  He does not want us to embrace the idea that he cannot defeat us due to God who “is for us.”

Never expect the worldly and carnal people around you to encourage so.  Let loose of any idea of “good people” doing good deeds foe the good of all without any inkling of God actively involved in their lives.  Know that you cannot put trust in man who can do no good thing. As long as you have God who is love is on your side, for just as He told the prophet Isaiah, you will fully understand that the help of man is useless.

God is on our side.  Nothing can separate us from the bond that we have with Him.  Jesus sealed the deal with His sacrifice of blood and we entered a new age covenant with God, receiving the indwelling of His Holy Spirit upon our acceptance.

He is on our side.  Who can be against us?

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For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery. – Ecclesiastes 8:6

The holidays are rolling in sooner than we may think.  You can believe that for sure.

Retailers will soon pull Halloween costumes and decorations off the shelves in order to replace them with Thanksgiving items and eventually Christmas goodies.  The streets of major metropolitan areas will adorn themselves with seasonal themes and decorations, even lights on palm trees out here in California. 

So what is a Christian to do?

Let us spark good works in one another (Hebrews 10:24).  Keep things going for the good, not just to keep things going or to keep us busy.  Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1 tell us: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Now is the season to put into practice what can actually help folks beyond photo opportunities, lip service, campaign stunts or public relations.  Paul instructed Titus on how our people should learn to do good works unless they are to be considered “unfruitful” according to the New International Version.

This holiday season can be the time where you can support the work of others such as local charities.  Or, you can make a difference on your own with friends and family.  The key to doing good is that it does some good for someone other than you.  It is about giving of what you have or what you are able to do rather than exchanging gifts and pleasantries.  Beyond dropping a coin or bill into a bucket as you leave a store this holiday season, give someone your time, energy and ability through your availability as you make an impact on someone else’s life.

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Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those  who  are  wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! – Isaiah 5:20-21, NKJV

Some folks see preaching as a means to an end.  In fact, they rarely see visions full of prophecy.  These are the ones who seek to profit from the unlearned and naive within local flocks.

No, you may not detect their underlying motives because they offer sweet serenades rather than sermons.  You may not discern their diabolical schemes or plots to pilfer and plunder, for many have mastered the art of discourses of deception and trickery of the tongue.  They can rattle off verses of the Holy Scriptures to justify nearly any ploy.  Yet, their is uncovered beyond the naked eye.  God sees and knows all.

So what are we to do as defenders of the gospel and truth in His name?

We are to forge ahead despite their lies and treachery.  We are to profess and preach truth, never approaching this life in blind faith.  We are to continue as ambassadors of Christ and extend His love with our ministry of reconciliation. 

Jesus called out the religious leaders of His time.  The prophets spoke out against the ones who went against God’s Word and violated their covenant with Him.  Was Malachi talking to the common man about robbing God? Or, by reading it in context, do you discover that God is speaking to a different audience? Look at it and see for yourself.

Just know that Jesus warned us about such voices of violation.  Paul shared about such wolves among the flock.  Jude said such men had come into our midst.

There are men and women who speak with authority but not of God.  They preach for profit.  They seek your savings as much as your service.  They desire your abundance as much as they want you to worship God with your whole heart. 

Know that they exist.  Know that you have been warned.

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