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Sep 29, 2012

Some TRUTH from Bob Fitts...

So, I've been going through some old 'church notes' that I have taken (as I have tried to keep alot of them) and found a book from a conference I attended as a Young Adult. The guest speaker was Bob Fitts and the Worship Leader was Steve Kuban... oh the memories!

One of the sessions was called 'REALITIES OF THE FIRE" and I want to share bits and pieces of that one with you. One of the main points that popped off the page is "MISSIONS ISN'T 'CROSSING THE SEA' it's 'SEEING THE CROSS'."

It is so true, and missions is just sharing JESUS with others. Living the life and demonstrating the power of God so others will see (and hopefully want it too). You don't have to cross the sea, as there are those who have unbelief right in your own neighbourhood, and God will let you see them through the eyes of the cross.

Anyway, here are some notes for you to glean from today (since I haven't written any here for a while):

* God is a FLAME-THROWER
* Worship is a FRAGRANCE that comes from our lives. Everyone has music inside of them.
* Be a 'LIVER' - God wants 'livers'!!! (LIVERS OF PRAISE)
* DEMONSTRATE - show it!
* I HAVE BEEN CALLED TO WORSHIP GOD WITH MY LIFE!

LIFE LESSONS:
1/ Living Praise
2/ Learn to worship God in uncomfortable situations (listen to the words/message, not the singers)
3/ Holiness - He is changing our principle of Holiness. (recognize His mercy & His grace) - He makes us holy through His Son Jesus.
4/ Humility - seeking the 'low'. Humble ourselves like Jesus did.
5/ Praise is not just to God, its to each other.
6/ Know that we are in a battle.

GUARD AGAINST THESE FOLLOWING THINGS:
1/ Watch your relationship to your leadership
2/ Your key family relationships
3/ Be careful about your FINANCE$
4/ Health
5/ Your vision / Your destiny

BE ALERT!


BE BLESSED!

Jul 29, 2012

Refuse to be a Grasshopper...

FAITH...

Child-like faith is an amazing thing. I am privileged to have been a part of 2 kids/jr youth camps this summer. Watching those kids (aged 6/7-12ish) worship alongside some amazing JR youth leaders (13+) and their counsellors/lead staff (16+?) is a joy to my heart. They just believe in their heart all that is told to them about JESUS and His love for us. He doesn't have to prove alot, they just have to see it lived out in those around them. They sing from their hearts, and worship God in their own way, whether it be with clapping, dancing, standing, sitting, cheering, shouting, or being still. My passion for children's ministry and imparting into their lives is definitely deepening into much more... I am excited to see where God is taking me as well in this adventure. Living out the 'life verse' found in Psalm 78:1-8 {mostly verse 4 "We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done." & verse 6-7 "That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments;"}

God does indeed have BIG plans for us (no matter what our age is). Some of us have been Christians since we were little (like myself), and some of us just became Christians maybe even just today. God is never finished with us... if we are still breathing and living, God has plans for us. :) So why is it we feel like GRASSHOPPERS at times??


A grasshopper just hops aimlessly through a field, and blends in with the grass... he's a grass hopper. One who travels aimlessly through their life blending in with the world around him... just waiting for a 'GIANT' to come along and either catch him, step on him, disect him, or maybe even eat him. Do YOU want to be a Grasshopper??

The Israelites saw themselves as grasshoppers, and went by what they could see and feel, instead of using the faith they had in their God. (Well all except two faithful ones, Joshua & Caleb.) Here's the 'historical facts' found in Numbers 13; God told Moses to send out spies into the promised land, the land of Canaan. God told him to send out one man from each of the tribes of Israel. There were 12 in total, and they went to spy out the land. They were to see;
* what the land is like
* whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many
* whether the land is good or bad
* whether the cities are like camps or strongholds
* whether the land is rich or poor
* whether there are forests or not

He instructed them to BE OF GOOD COURAGE and bring back some of the fruit of the land, because it was the season for the first ripe grapes.

So according to the 'historical account', it says they returned with a cluster of grapes and some pomegranates & figs, and said in Numbers 13:27, “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. v. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. v. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” But thankfully Caleb stepped up and said in v. 30, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to come back with a good report, for the other 10 men replied in verse 31, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Telling the others that there were giants, and that they are stronger than them, and that they are like grasshoppers in their sight would not be an encouraging word to Moses and the other Israelites. Moses' instruction (from God) was to 'BE OF GOOD COURAGE'... these words don't sound very courageous to me. The fact of the matter is that they saw themselves as 'grasshoppers'. We are not to live by what we see or feel, we are to live and walk by our faith. The faith that we have in Jesus to receive the inheritance that He has promised to us.

Canaan was the 'promised land', the land flowing of milk and honey. God had led them this far, only for them to walk by fear and not by faith. If something is 'promised' to you, that means that it is yours. (usually) A promise from God would be more reliable than a promise from man. {as I remember a promise made to me when I was little, by a little boy that he was going to marry me - and then hearing the news that he was getting married on New Year's Eve several years ago was kind of disheartening, but slam, reality!! - seriously who keeps their childhood promises?? (still love you like a brother, you know who you are). But I'm definitely happy for whom I did marry! Love you Mark!} Sometimes however, we need to do some work to receive that promise. It doesn't always come easy, but if it's promised, it usually does come. :) The Israelites just had to obey God and walk out in the PROMISE that He had given them.

Why do we always question God? Why does God always have to prove Himself for us to listen? Why do we usually rely on the circumstances around us; what we see & feel, rather than Him and His Word? Why do we need to KNOW everything before we act? Why do we not always fully receive that which He has promised us? Why does our faith seem to grow 'weaker' with age... and not remain child-like, believing God will do what He says He will do?

We need to press through, and contend for the harvest or that which He has promised to us. We need to REFUSE TO BE GRASSHOPPERS. We shouldn't see ourselves as grasshoppers, nor should we allow others to see us as grasshoppers.

Step out of your comfort zone and step into the comfort of Jesus' love as you walk out blindly in an adventure with Him. Trusting Him alone in all that you do! For according to another one of my 'life verses' if you "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Refuse to be a GRASSHOPPER... and be a FAITH-GIANT! :D Remember NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

Check out this song that we sang at both camps:


Be blessed & be a blessing!

Jul 3, 2012

FAITH...

'FAITH' is such an easy word to say, and an easy word to use in a sentence, especially at church or in circles of Christian friends. But bring up the word in a crowd of non-believers, and I'm sure alot of different viewpoints will be brought forward. Most times they would first think of their 'faith', what religion or religious beliefs they have (or don't have for that matter). Their first initial thought, probably wouldn't be a thought, they probably won't even think before they speak, they would speak out in regards to 'keep your #!@* faith to yourself'. I am and have been a CHRISTIAN for over 32+ years now. I always thought I was around 5 when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, when I invited Him into my heart. My 'faith' is important to me, meaning my relationship with Jesus, and what I believe in. True Christianity is not a religion, or based on certain beliefs or creeds, it is just simply a personal relationship with JESUS. There are indeed more 'Do's' than 'Don't's' in the Bible.

This is not the kind of 'Faith' that I am talking about... the faith I am talking about is more of a 'VERB' to me, than a 'noun'. But the only faith found in the dictionary is viewed as a noun. Here is the definition of 'faith' according to Dictionary.com;

"Faith
noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith."
I am focusing on #'s 1 and 2 above... faith (a confidence or trust) in GOD and faith that is a belief that is not based on proof. FAITH itself is actually a VERB like LOVE is. There are many different viewpoints on living out one's faith, and proving to the world and yourself (and to God) that you are FAITHFUL. We need to live out each day, taking one STEP of faith towards the future that God has called us to. Each step of FAITH, shows us more and more of the staircase ahead of us. God and only God Himself can see the entire staircase, what obstacles might be sitting on those stairs, and where those stairs can lead us.

There are sooooo many quotes on 'faith' out there, and I have quoted a few below that have touched my heart and spirit (today while I was searching Pinterest & Google).
"Faith is seeing the light with your heart when all your eyes see is the darkness ahead".
"Faith in God includes faith in His timing." Neal A. Maxwell
"Faith is not believing God can, it's knowing that He will!"
"...to get something you've never had, you need to do something you have never done."
"Having Faith often means doing what others see as crazy." Francis Chan
"FAITH : Sees the Invisible; Believes the Unbelievable; Receives the Impossible." Corrie Ten Boom
"Continue to plant seeds of trust and faith, they will bear great fruit!"
"Hope is the ability to hear the music of tomorrow; Faith is the courage to dance to it today!"
"Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe." St Augustine
"The more you WORRY & STRESS, the more it shows how much faith you lack."
"WHEN YOU HAVE COME TO THE EDGE of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown FAITH IS KNOWING one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on or YOU WILL BE TAUGHT TO FLY." -Edward Teller/Patrick Overton
"When walking through the 'valley of shadows', remember a shadow is always cast by a Light." John Lancaster Spalding

Here's a cool video I found on YouTube (through Pinterest) with many different 'faith' quotes -



Now obviously, the best VIEW to take, and the best place to find QUOTES on faith, is in the Bible. The Bible is God's word directly and indirectly. There are ALOT of verses on faith, and you can google those, or look them up in a concordance, but today I am going to again focus on just a few.

* Hebrews 11:1 -- "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

* 2 Corinth 5:7 --"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

* Matt 9:22 -- "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."

Now, there are certain situations that come up in life, in a Christian's life and a Non-Christian of course. However the Christian has been given a sure-fire escape... not to the problem, but to getting a solution to the problem. A Christian's life is and never has been promised to be easy, but God is always there to help us through the 'storms' of life. He's more than just an umbrella though. Too often, we place God in a closet like our umbrellas, using it in times of 'storms'. But we never take our umbrellas with us on a sunny day, because people will laugh at us and think we are crazy. But in times like this, we must remember Francis Chan's quote above; "Having Faith often means doing what others see as crazy." I have heard of a story where a 'farming' church was in a time of drought, and they all needed rain, so they decided to have a prayer meeting at the church to pray for rain. One little girl brought a red umbrella with her, and she sat in the front row. The pastor went up to start the service, and he saw the little girl. He spoke to the congregation as his heart broke, and said something like, we all came to pray for rain, but this little girl brought her umbrella because she has faith that God will do what we ask. They had all come to pray for rain, but she had come expecting God to answer with the needed rain.

That story has always hit home to me, as I have grown through my Christian walk from that innocent five year old. The Bible says, we are to have 'child-like faith', and my 'faith' (verb) has always been a BIG part of my life. Yes, I have had troubles. Yes, I have walked through storms and deserts, or what seemed like storms or deserts. (They were more like puddles or ant-hills probably.) No, I'm sure they weren't as bad as others have had to succumb to. No, my faith wasn't always 'super strong', but Yes, my God did come through. There are things in life that we all desire and dream and wish for... through the years, our wishes, dreams and desires change...

Maybe like me, you wished for a puppy or a kitty cat... (or a hamster)
Maybe like me, you wished you could have your own Cabbage Patch Kid... (or other popular toy)
Maybe like me, you wished you could go to Disneyworld... to explore and see the things of the movies that you loved to watch as a little child with your family.
Maybe like me, you wished you could be a GREAT teacher like the ones that taught, equipped, trained, invested & loved me...
Maybe like me, you dreamed/wished for the 'cute boy' to look your way... or to have 'that boy' be 'the one'...
Maybe like me,  you wished that God would NOT send you away to Africa on a mission trip. (Check out the song, 'Please Don't Send Me to Africa' by Scott Wesley Brown)
Maybe like me, you dreamed that God was going to give you 'twins'...
Maybe like me, you wished you could meet and marry the man (or woman -if you are a man) of your dreams, and you would have a nice home (which you could always have open to strangers, family & friends - cause that's the way your home was when you were little), and you would raise little 'angels' to grow up in the love and admonition of God as you were in your home.
Maybe like me, you dreamed about your future...

Maybe NOT like me, you didn't have a 'family' that was 'perfect' like you thought your friend's family was, and you wanted to experience a home with a loving Dad & a Mom, that were married, and stayed married.
Maybe NOT like me, you dreamed and wished you could get out of trouble, and get out of drugs, sex, drinking, smoking...
Maybe NOT like me, you wished you were dead...

There is just ONE thing that could make all these desires/dreams/wishes/goals happen... and no, it's not pixie dust... but if you find some, give it a try, while you seek God and have FAITH. There is also a point to the above dreams and wishes... some good and some bad. God has to be in those plans. If those are not the plans He has for you, then you are much better off waiting for the plans He has for you. Sometimes we think that God didn't hear our prayers, or that He doesn't want to answer. God doesn't leave you with 'empty hands', He is preparing you to fill them with things that are BEYOND even our 'wildest' imaginings or dreams. (see Eph. 3:20)

Now don't get me wrong, some of the above dreams are great... and of course some of them have come 'true'...

* I had a LOT of pets growing up; a scotty dog named Scottie of course, was one of my favourites and a Calico cat named 'Buttons' was another fav'. But we did have responsibility when it came to receiving these wishes and dreams. We had to make sure they were watered, fed, walked, played with, in the house, out of the house, not scratching Mommy's furniture... LOL! I had hamsters that ran through our heat vents... eek!
But we received the dream, and when we get another 'home of our own' I plan on getting another pet to show love to.

* I had some special Cabbage Patch Kids (and I still own them) - Roger Bernard, Arlene Lilly, Felice Lynette and of course my homemade one Meagan Amy. My Mom created (or had someone create) Meagan Amy for me, and she is just as special as a real Cabbage Patch Kid. We weren't rich by any means (financially), but Mom and Dad gave us some of the toys we desired. But I was happy with 'no-name' brand items and clothes. You respect what you are given, when you know how much trouble it is to get it. :)


Some DREAMS you have to WAIT for... and wait a long time... DisneyWorld was one of those dreams. Now don't get me wrong, we did take family trips, and a lot of them, and I enjoyed all of them, and enjoyed the times and memories we made together. We travelled to BC on a few different occasions. We travelled 'down home' to Maxville/Glengarry area. We went to Canada's Wonderland, MarineLand, and more... but I never got to go to DisneyWorld with my Mom & Dad (& brother). My brother went to Florida with my Mom and family. But I wasn't bitter, nor was I mad... I just hoped that I would get to go there someday... and that day DID come... in 2003 when I was 28 years old. Mark took me there on our honeymoon... what a special memory-making time that was. I would love to go again, now that I have experienced it... and would love for my Mom & Dad to come too. :)

Some DREAMS God needs time to prepare you for... like 'teaching'... but I began my 'children's ministry' at the age of 11... when I started babysitting. Since I was 11, children have been a major part of my life. WOW! I know that God was indeed preparing me for what was to come... as I now have babysat, taught, trained, led, equipped, invested into MANY different lives from infants all the way up to teenagers. (and they are more similar than you may think) LOL! Teaching is a passion of mine, and I believe it was because of the relationships that I had with church teachers, babysitters, school teachers and leaders. God was preparing ME to do GREAT things for His glory through the generations behind me.
Some DREAMS & WISHES seem to be unanswered (or not answered 'right' according to us)... like the 'cute boy' (or girl if you are a boy). Now don't get me wrong, there were A LOT of cute boys in my life, and thankfully I was friends with most of them anyway, so I wasn't TOO upset that I couldn't 'date' them. Different times I caught myself praying to God for a certain someone... and then they would date someone else (or worse one of my friends)... or they would marry someone else... and there I would be 'alone' again. But when you give those hearts desires over to God, He comes through in HIS timing. You need faith to know that GOD IS. Of course, you try things in your own 'strength'... and phew, God helps you out of those choices too. Thank you Lord!! Of course, God has granted me more than my hearts desire in Mark... a heart for God most importantly, a heart of worship, a heart for kids/teens, a 'kid-at-heart', and of course my knight in shining armour! :) But we do need to remember, God is still 'answering' our prayers, whether or not its a definite 'yes', or 'no', because sometimes it's a 'wait, not yet'. There is a song out by Garth Brooks called 'Unanswered Prayers'. It speaks of the lives that could have been, the man went to his high school reunion/football game and saw his old High School flame, the one he cried out to God for back in High School. Then he looked at his own beautiful wife that God had given to him, and he thanked God for his unanswerd prayers, because if God answered his prayers with a 'yes', then he wouldn't have had the woman, or the kids, or the life that he had. "just because He doesn't answer, doesn't mean that He doesn't care..."


Some WISHES or DESIRES are altered... and through the hand of God are changed to be formed into His plan for your life. Africa was always a great place to hear about, to see and hear from different missionaries that went there, lived there and came to share at our churches. The little faces always broke my heart, and I didn't feel ever like I was led to go away on mission trips like some of my other friends... BUT, according to God I was to be a part of a Mission Trip. (Originally I was to go on one just before we were married in 2003 to Kyrgyzstan, Russia - but I stepped out of it due to the planning of my wedding, and I was still kind of unsure about mission trips.) In the Fall of 2009, Mark & I were blessed to be part of a mission team that went to Kigali, Rwanda, Africa for two weeks. It was a life-changing experience for sure, and now it is something that I would love to be a part of again... but maybe I was only meant for one... or maybe God has BIGGER plans for Mark & I in Rwanda.

Some DREAMS, DESIRES, WISHES, HOPES are hard to wait for... seem hard to believe that they will actually happen... seem hard to imagine that will actually come about... but that is when your FAITH is put to a test. That is when you have to PROVE that your FAITH can overcome ANY obstacle. That YOUR GOD is FAITHFUL and WILL DO what He says He will do. No matter how much time, no matter how BIG your dream seems, no matter if those around you (even Christians) tell you to choose to do it other ways... YOU CAN KNOW in your KNOWER that God is going to come through. He will be faithful to do what He says He will do!! Some of your DREAMS are altered a little, and ones like wishing for a child or a family of children can be answered when you are able to touch the lives of many children (through teaching like mentioned above). Spiritual children are those who are under your teaching and training, and those to whom you have planted seeds, watered them, and even harvested... BUT, somehow you KNOW that God has promised in the way that GOD says He will do. Do you give up the faith and again try it in 'your own strength'... do you stand in the gap and choose a fantastic adoption agency (because after all God did give us the adoption agencies, and wants those kids to have homes too)... do you travel to an orphanage to be there with several orphans and love on them (because they are important too, and God wants them to be loved)... or can you sit back KNOWING that God will come through with what He says He will do. It's easy to 'wait' for a puppy, or a doll, or even for a trip to DISNEY... it's easy when God says 'go' to Africa... it's easy when you have the gifts, talents, patience, passion & heart to teach, train play with & love children of all ages, no matter where you are, or who's kids they are, if they are 'dirty' or 'clean'... it's easy when through a 'blind date' (something you told God you would never do) that you meet the 'man of your dreams'...

... but why does it not seem 'easy' to trust God with your 'future'? Why does it not seem 'easy' when you see others around you having lots of babies (some of whom totally 'suck' as parents who swear, curse, & abuse, etc the gifts that God has given them), but even in 'upset' times your faith can HOLD STRONG... Why does it 'feel easy' because you know your FAITH is strong, yet it can easily seem to be 'undone' by others comments about 'there's always adoption' or 'maybe you two are just choosing not to have kids' or 'maybe its not God's plan' or 'well, you are getting up there'... or 'well Jesus is coming back soon, so you don't need to worry about it, cause you'll never be able to watch them grow up'... etc, etc. BUT, Why can it be 'easy' to remember the stories and truths found in the Word of God like Abraham & Sarah (who were way past conceiving age) who were given a child (and they became the FATHER of many nations). Abraham could have 'listened to the words of those around him' (not adding to the Bible, but comparing it to our lives) and saw that 'being the Father of many nations' being a 'spiritual father' was the plan that God had for him and Sarah. Sarah even herself laughed at the thought of her having a baby. They could have just left it there, and said 'thanks God'... But did they give up faith, or did they stick to the Word of the Lord that they heard from the servant of God? What happened? Isaac was born... and yes, I do know the rest of the story, Abraham was asked to sacrifice that which he had waited so long for. But, yes I do know the END of that story, God PROVIDED when Abraham walked in obedience and FAITH that God would PROVIDE! And Isaac became the father of another GREAT MAN of God - Jacob. :)  -- Then, there's the story of Hannah who cried out, and God heard her cries, and Samuel was born 'for such a time as this'. There are MANY stories of the faithfulness of God shown to those who were faithful and believed in their God. Why is it NOT easy for other 'Christians' to be proud of us in our 'faith' - to stand behind us in prayer?

As a child I grew up hearing the stories (historical facts) found in the Bible. They were not just stories to me. Each of the words in the Bible are there for a reason. God wanted them there to teach us and help us in our times of happiness and joy, yet even in sorrow and despair. God gave us Scripture so that we may learn it and utilize it in our lives. Memorizing Scriptures and Bible truths have been a part of both our lives. Mark's life verse (one of them) is 'Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' Matthew 6:33 One of mine is, 'Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths (or make your paths straight).' Proverbs 3:5-6 This verse is one that I have clung to throughout my life. It's not about us, nor is it up to us. We are NOT to lean on our own understanding. We are not to care how old, or how equipped we are, or if we even understand it all; if we are called by God, we are just to 'trust Him' and 'acknowledge Him' and to 'seek Him above all else', and He WILL direct our paths. The paths that lead to fulfillment through Him.

There is a MOVIE out called 'Facing the Giants', and the story is a tear-jerker, yet has a GREAT storyline for men & women alike. It is written, directed and produced by the Kendrick Brothers (same as the newer story COURAGEOUS). The family in the movie are faced by a lot of 'giants', things that are obstacles to them receiving the fulness of God. However, they are a family of 'faith'. They come to different problems in their family life, in their home, and in their careers. Different sized and shaped giants come out of nowhere, and try to bring them down. BUT GOD... those two words make a difference in anyone's life. Now I won't ruin the story, because I hate hearing too much of a story before I have seen it... but their life motto becomes 'If we win, we will praise Him; but if we lose, we will still praise Him'. That is the way that Mark and I are choosing to live our life, in all the areas of our life. God has BLESSED us in so many ways, and we have sowed financially and spiritually, and physically, and He will continue to bless us in ways that we cannot even IMAGINE or DREAM... those are the DREAMS I am waiting for, those are the WISHES & DESIRES that I want to see come to fruition in our lives. GOD's PLAN for us... whatever that may be.

When 'little giants' come into play or times that seem like a 'storm' or a 'desert', like a sore throat/summer cold... or an infected finger... or job mini-crisises... I remember that GOD IS. When we WIN, we will praise Him, but when we LOSE we will still praise Him!! (Just like the story of JOB... another great story in the Bible.)

Here are two trailers: one for 'Facing the Giants' and one for 'Faith Like Potatoes'... in Facing the Giants, the main character tells those around him that if you want rain, you gotta prepare your fields for rain. In 'Faith Like Potatoes' he doesnt just prepare his fields, he plants the seeds too... a true act of faith. So I thank God for His TIMING, and His time of preparation, and know that DREAMS can be fulfilled if they are in line with the Dreams that HE has for us.

Facing the Giants - trailer


Fath Like Potatoes - trailer



Now the last three dreams mentioned above, the ones that I personally didn't have, but I know some of you did... GOD can and will help you through those if you let Him. He CAN restore broken homes, and broken famillies... He CAN and WILL get you out of bad habits and FREE you from evil... and He is the giver of LIFE not death!

May God bless you as you walk out your own FAITH, and TRUST in Him!!

Jun 23, 2012

I'm BAAAAACK!! :) 'a little piece of my heart'

Hey All!

Sorry again I have been gone so long... I have been trying to stay away from 'computer devotionals' so that I do not get distracted from time apart with God... but then I realized that others may have been blessed by the devotionals I post. So I am truly sorry. :)

Well, today's post is kind of a random one, one that is in regards to my heart... what I am thinking of, what I have been kind of 'struggling' with in regards to decisions, etc... what can go on in my life, what is going on with life, and more... There are a lot of GOOD changes coming, and I am excited. I love CHANGE! :)

I have a lot of DREAMS, visions, GOALS, and more that I have just sitting in my heart and in my mind... I dwell on some of them, some of them I have let fizzle a little, and some I am trying to accomplish... BUT, I need to seek God and fulfill some of those. Because while I am supposed to be helping people find their DREAMS & GOALS and rise to the occasion and fulfill some of those through their walk with JESUS, I need to LIVE by that same viewpoint & be an example. What help am I to others, if I am not living up to my greatest potential either. As a Christian, I am inspired & called to help teach, train & equip young children, tweens & teens (but any age for that matter) find out more about God, Jesus and their love for us (& to have a right relationship with Him) As well I am inspired to help them find the M.E. that God has created them to be, and to walk out & work out their faith. M.E. = Maximum Effectiveness! The army calls you to 'BE ALL YOU CAN BE' and that's exactly what God wants in His army. We fight not against the world, yet we fight against our enemy. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12 NIV (1984)

I have a tendancy to put others needs and desires ahead of my own, as I enjoy helping others by raising their self-esteem to believe in themselves, and to see them reach their goals. But I need to step back and think about ME too... I realize that is part of my calling, as I need to see what and where exactly God wants be to be 'FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS'. There are many desires and dreams in my heart & mind; some family-related, career-related, Church Ministry-related, hobby-related, and more. I need to awaken those desires and set aflame the ones that I know that God is calling me towards. I IMPLORE YOU to do the same. Get a JOURNAL, and write down dreams (physical & spiritual dreams, but even just the thoughts you have about what you can see for your life - NO DREAM is too big for God!) or even some goals you might have for reaching some of those dreams & visions. God-given dreams & visions are always the best... but Holy Spirit can give you some insight even while you are writing. Creative Writing was always a favourite of mine, but I didn't journal alot. I enjoy writing, and would love to write & illustrate Children's Books (but would also like to write ministry style books or blogs that would help teach/train/equip young leaders). This is why I started the 'blogging' experience... not to showcase my talents or 'me', but to glorify God in what is written and shared. Everything I have, everything that is part of me, and everything I do is from God. All my talents and giftings, whether it be writing, art-related, or hobby-based is from God. I seek to glorify Him in all that I do and say. Other dreams/visions/goals are job related or Ministry related, and I am working towards those as well, and I will share more about those in the future.

As a JR YOUTH LEADER, a CHILDREN'S MINISTRY TEACHER and a REGISTERED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR I know that I have a love for children, and a passion to see them grow in Christ & His love. But my JOB and MINISTRY WORK do not define me. I walk by FAITH and want to see others do the same, especially the next generations behind me. (But also my generation and the ones before me, as we/they are the examples that the next generation has to follow. They are not the generation of TOMORROW, they are a generation for TODAY! They have been said to be the 'LOST' Generation, but I know that they are a part of the 'CHOSEN' Generation, and want them to know that too. All of God's creations are called to be children of the Light, but it is their decisions, life-patterns, consequences, and choices that can lead them astray. A high percentage of the world's population DO NOT even KNOW Jesus or have a meaningful RELATIONSHIP with Him.

As I write this, I am preparing in my heart and spirit for KIDS CAMP, of which I have the joy of being a part of 2 camps this year... Jr High Camp with the tweens (9-12 yrs old) in my church {my ABLAZE Jr High's} (and surrounding area churches) which happens in 2 weeks (11 more sleeps!!); and, Kidz Camp (for kids/tweens 7-12 years old) which happens in 5 weeks (30 more sleeps!!!). I know that these 'environments' make it easier on our children/tweens & teens; easier in the way that there are NO worldly distractions (other than 'crushes' - LOL!), and they can see other teens living the life for Jesus, worshipping Jesus at their own pace, and in the ways they can without anyone looking down on them because they are young. A camp experience can be life-changing, and although I am a CRAZY CRAFTS leader at the first one, and a PHOTOGRAPHY/WACKY GAMES leader at the 2nd one, I know that through those I can still impart God's love to the children/tweens that God has set in my path! The theme for the 1st camp is 'There's An Army Rising Up!' and the theme for the 2nd one is Circus Related, yet is important as well 'God Has BIG Plans For Me!'. The world is a circus, everyone wants to be the RING LEADER, but we all have to play the roles that God has intended for us, while each of us in our roles are serving on the FRONTLINE in an ARMY against the devil and the wickedness of his schemes in the world around us.

I pray that YOU will find fresh vision TODAY, and seek God for what He is calling you do be and to do (not as a job or a ministry title, but as a life-changing experience, one that you live out each day you are alive to do it!) <3

BE BLESSED and have a FANTABULOUS Day!


Jan 9, 2012

"Roamin' Through Romans"... Part 5

"Nothing but the blood of Jesus..." As I write this devo' thought I am listening to the newest JESUSCULTURE CD 'Awakening'... and the song 'Nothing but the Blood of Jesus' is on it, and it was just playing. A great reminder that NOTHING but the BLOOD of JESUS can wash away our sin. We can turn to those 'sins' mentioned in our last Devo', but they only give a temporary fulfillment. JESUS fills every void!!

Well today's journey begins in Chapter 2... and it's basically a continuation of our last chapter.


New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
Romans 2
God’s Righteous Judgment


1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” [a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

WOW! How many times a day can we catch ourselves in judgement against others... it goes along with the verses found in Matthew 7. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."  God is the only true righteous judge. For He is the only perfect one, that can be compared to. We need to gain our righteousness through Him, and Him alone, not through things we do. In some cases we are doing the same thing (which makes us hypocritical), or we are sinning in other ways, making it look/seem like our sin is less than theirs.

Verse 6, which I have underlined above, is the 'kicker'... the answer to those questions we hear, and even ask ourselves. What about the 'bad' people who get off, who aren't getting charged or blamed? Why do the 'bad' seem to prosper? etc... "God will give to each person according to what he has done.”  God is in charge, and He will see that we are judged fairly as to what we have done. If we have unrepented sin in our lives, He knows that already! We don't need to 'tattle-tale'. :)

...to be continued!! :)

GOD BLESS YOU!
check out this video from one of the songs on JESUS CULTURE Awakening...


  

Jan 8, 2012

"Roamin' Through Romans"... Part 4

Welcome back... let's get back into the Word and see what God's message is for us today! :) We are continuing in Chapter 1 with verses 26-32; The words ring true of much of the world today. We have certainly exchanged the truth of God for lies... lies that our lusts will give us what we need & desire. Parts of our Scripture today are a bit 'touchy' subject, but they are all sins against God, and need to be dealt with accordingly. ALL of them need to be repented for, even the ones we do/did when we thought we were doing 'right'.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

EEK... doesn't that sound like much of the worldliness that is going on now in the 21st Century? That list of characteristics is certainly not one I would like to hold on to, nor would I want a spouse, best friend, family member, or co-worker to be. But, verse 32 hits it on the head...  "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Some people are in the thought process that 'God can save me, so it doesn't matter what I do. I can do all of these things mentioned above, and then ask for forgiveness and God has to forgive me.' They think that they can call on God in the 11th hour, and then all will be well. What happens if God came at 10:30?? Eek! (That line is from a Christian T-shirt I have - 'Many who plan to seek God at the 11th hour, die at 10:30'.) It certainly does get you thinking... and it certainly does answer the questions we all ask like, 'why does God let this bad stuff happen?' He will allow you to be ruled by your depraved mind... He would much rather love and rule your hearts and minds, but he allows you to make the choices to be involved in things like sexual immorality (which is unfortunately rampant in the world, and some stars think it's funny to 'come out of the closet'). But there are also those that gossip, slander, murder, and those that are arrogant and boastful. These are definitely not characteristics that I would be proud of, yet that is what is happening in the world. They see the power in tearing down others, in boasting & being arrogant and rude. We as CHRISTIANS (true believers/followers/disciples of Christ) need to step above this darkness, and SHINE the light of TRUTH, the Light of God for the world to see. When they see the blessings that we receive for obedience, honesty, integrity, encouragement, humility and more, they will want what we have. They will desire the truth. Too often the world sees the 'so-called' blessings that last a moment, yet they don't realize they are missing the ones that last for eternity. Let's read verse 32 again, "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Do you see the words 'they know' (this answers the question regarding the people who have never heard the Good News or the Gospel or the truth of God... although they know... therefore, the ones who 'don't know' will not be judged as harshly. God will look at their hearts... well that is what I believe anyway.) They know that what they are doing will bring them 'death', now most of them think, 'well we're all going to die'... but this is more of an eternal death... and we have been set free from death. Jesus took our place ONCE and FOR ALL... did you read those words, 'FOR ALL'. People do have a chance to turn their lives around, they do have a choice because Jesus still died for them, whether they take up the option, or believe it, it still has been done. Are you reading between the lines for the last sentence... 'they not only continue to do these very things, but approve of those who practice them', meaning they are involved in the sins, and now approve and are trying to make the behaviour seem right. THIS IS A LIE... it is an ABSOLUTE TRUTH that God does not like these sins mentioned above. HE does however love the sinner themselves. Now what about those who may not be 'involved' or 'continuing' to sin... if they still APPROVE of the practice they are doing wrong, and basically sinning themselves. EEK!! Are you getting this?? YOU MUST LOVE THE SINNERS... but HATE the SIN! We cannot approve of that which we 'know' is a sin, trying to make it right. Even a little white lie, is still in fact a lie. And a liar is just as much a sinner as a murderer. All sins are the same size in God's eyes, and all sins no matter how big or small you think they are, are able to be forgiven... (well technically except one, 'blasphemy against Holy Spirit'-- but if you are repenting of that one, then you certainly haven't done it!) You just need to TURN AROUND. God never went anywhere, He is always with us and will never ever leave us or forsake us... even when we leave or forsake Him.

check out this song by Matt Maher, 'Turn Around'... it's actually pretty cool and goes exactly with this devotional (AND IT'S JUST FOR YOU -- or someone who is reading this -- SOMEONE right now will make that decision to TURN AROUND -- GOD BLESS YOU! We will be praying for YOU!!) <3



Here's the lyrics...

Young man on the side of the road
Lost and beat up with no where to go

Smells like a hangover from days ago
He does what he can to survive

Single mom with a dead end job
Ninety hour week just to keep what she's got
With the bills that add up and down she's caught
She does what she can to survive

Well, let me say

That love won't take away the pain

But don't be afraid

'Cause it will never walk away



(Chorus)

If you're scared that you don't matter

If you're lost and need to be found

If you're looking for a Savior
All you gotta do is turn around

Some turn to a bottle
Some turn to a drug
Some turn to another's arms

But it seems like it's never enough
Well I won't say, that you will ever fail again

But there is grace

To wash away your every sin


Chorus
No one listens to you anymore
And your heart has broken down
You don't need to move
Love has come to you
All you gotta do is turn around
All you gotta do is turn around
Turn around
You don't have to take the broken road
You can turn around and come back home
(X3)
Chorus


No one listens to you anymore
And your heart has broken down
You don't need to move
Love has come to you
All you gotta do is turn around
All you gotta do is turn around

May you be blessed TODAY...



 

Jan 5, 2012

"Roamin' Through Romans"... Part 3

Hey guys...

WOW! Here goes PART 3 of our adventure together... hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post 'DAILY' instead of what I started out the year doing... EEK!! :) I am so excited to be doing a ROMANS devotional here, and a 1 Corinthians devotional with my Jr High's... so I just might share some of that adventure here too! :)
Today we are looking at ROMANS 1:18-25
The subtitle in THE MESSAGE version says, "Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral"...


18-23But God's angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.


24-25So God said, in effect, "If that's what you want, that's what you get." It wasn't long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

WOW! Sounds like the world today for sure... which is going in a downward spiral. Even Christians sometimes are ignoring God at some points in their life. "People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand." This certainly speaks of our world... it wants everything cheap and fast, they are addicted to 'fast food', 'high speed internet', etc... and want to buy God like you can buy a Big Mac. They certainly have trivialized Him, and made Him seem like nothing in their lives, but infact He should be everything, as He is the One who gave them everything, including their lives. The world refuses to worship God and now live in a state of confusion for sure. They have heard the truths and choose not to believe. The stories in the Bible are just like FairyTales to them, and Jesus has become just like Santa. You believe in Him until you are older, and then decide not to anymore. There are alot of people who went to church and were 'Christians' as children, and now that they have 'grown up', they choose not to be a part of all that... they see it as foolishness. Our Jr. Youth 'Ablaze' were just speaking of this last night, as we started our 1 Corinthians study. In 1 Corinthians, it speaks of the cross being foolishness to those who do not believe. They came to the conclusion that its easy for the world to see it all as foolish, and we discussed how they are really the foolish ones. It says in Psalms that 'The fool says in his heart there is no God'. Therefore unbelievers are the fools.

There should be NO compromise in how we think or feel about God. He is the Creator, and we were made to worship Him alone. When I was in Youth Group, we were involved in dramas, and one of them was called 'The Statue', where a bunch of us were rocks, and then one of us  (me)was picked out by 'the artist'. He formed me and chipped away at me to form a 'beautiful statue', he then brought it to his 'city' and told the people how great it was and that they were to worship it. But while they were worshipping it (me), I would fall down. They would then pick me up and put me back up and bow to worship. Again I would fall, and again they would pick me up... and then I fell one last time, and I think they kicked me and walked off... (I actually forget the ending. I should look it up, and have our Jr Youth perform it at our church.) But then I stood and read the following verse, from the NIV (1984) Version which is actually v. 25 from above -- "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen."

My prayer is that the world once again comes back to the TRUTH, and that they will indeed worship our Creator who is forever praised, and that they will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! :)

God bless you!












Roamin Through Romans... Part 2

Hi Readers!!

Today we are looking at Romans 1:13-17 in our Romans Adventure...



New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[a] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Using a short section of Chapter 1, we are looking at why Paul has come. He has wanted to come to them many times, but it was not the appointed time of God for him to come until the time he did. Too often in our lives, we want to do things and we step out thinking we are doing it through faith, and sometimes we are doing it in our own strength instead of in the strength and wisdom of God. Even good things like ministry or things that are of God, can still be wrong if it's in the wrong timing. Esther was a perfect example of this... there is a scripture verse that Esther quotes, 'for such a time as this'. God desires us to do His will but that also includes doing it in His timing. Sometimes we try to rush God, or sometimes we even lag behind Him. Jonah is another example of this, I remember a lesson that I once heard on Jonah, and in his story (found coincidentally in the book of Jonah) he runs away from God, runs ahead of God, and runs with God. That always stuck with me, and I think of it when I have different ideas (even in church/ministry things) where I think it would be a great idea, but it may not be the right timing for it to happen. However, there is also a catch if you wait too long to do it. He may just call someone else to do it, and then you are left standing dumb-founded, thinking that God has left you alone. Our main goal in anything we do, should be for it to bring GLORY to the Father, and to Him alone. It is alright for us to get praise or glory, encouragement or a 'wehoo' or pat on the back when we complete a task, or do something that is great... but all the praise and glory should then go back to God. A humble heart is a happy heart... "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5) Paul did a lot of things for the glory of God, and in the verse he says 'that I might have a harvest' but really it is God who receives the harvest, we are just His hands and feet obediently doing what He asked us to.

Paul is obligated both to Greeks and Non-Greeks, the wise and the foolish. He comes preaching to EVERYONE... because when Jesus came He made a way for the Jew, and the Gentile. He is letting them know where he stands officially. For once he was a persecuter of God's Holy people, and now he is a leader for God, doing the will of Him who sent him. He is letting them know that he is NOT ashamed of the gospel, nor anything that goes along with it. The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. He is letting the Gentiles know that they are no longer lost, that they can believe and be made righteous too, just as he was. When one believes in God and the Gospel, a new life is given, and through the gospel a righteousness from God can and will be revealed. It can only be believed and revealed through FAITH though. One has to have the FAITH to believe, and then all things can be revealed to you. The righteous SHALL live by faith. Paul is a prime example, as his life before Christ was going in a 'DOWNWARD SPIRAL', but now that he has chosen to believe, and has had an encounter and EXPERIENCED the REAL GOD for himself, he now has the FAITH to believe and to go forth gathering a harvest of souls for the Kingdom.

Where does your FAITH lie? Do you think it's all a FAIRYTALE? Do you yourself persecute or make fun of Christians or believers? Are you a Christian who has 'worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator'? Are you RUNNING AWAY from God, RUNNING TO God, RUNNING AHEAD of God, or RUNNING WITH God? Or are you like Paul, trying to LISTEN for the voice of God, trying to do His Will, and seeking the harvest of souls for the Kingdom? Ask the LORD to show you where you are, and to help you get to where you NEED to be with Him! He's always there, and He will NEVER EVER leave us or forsake us. We may turn our backs on Him, but we just need to turn around again, and HE will run to us with open arms, as the father did in the Prodigal Son story. (See Luke 15:11-32) If you are a RUNAWAY son or daughter, read the story, and then RUN BACK to Him.

Check out this video, a song by Klaus (featuring Kari Jobe) - let the words sink in and let Holy Spirit minister to you as you listen and hear the music and words.


May the LORD bless you today and always!
See ya tomorrow... Click HERE to take you to the NEXT message...
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Jan 2, 2012

"Roamin' Through Romans"... Part 1

Hey 'followers'...

Join me as I follow Paul, who is following Christ...

~~ ROMANS 1 ~~
We will start out looking at verses 1-12 today... (verses quoted below are taken from THE MESSAGE version found online at http://www.biblegateway.com.) I always use BibleGateway.Com for my online Bible.
"1 I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God's words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God's friends. 2-7 The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God's Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!
8-12  I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That's first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don't think I'm not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you."

Verses 1-7 ~~ These verses are kind of an introduction made by Paul, explaining who he is, and what he is called to do. Do WE know who we are in Christ, and what He has called us to do? That is a great way to start out the New Year - finding out who you are in Christ! Paul is called to be an APOSTLE. This office is one of the Five-Fold Ministry positions held in the church body. (found in Ephesians 4 - Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher & Preacher) All of these are important in the body, but NOT all believers are called to the Office of the specific ministry. Yet all of us have been given gifts to use in these areas of ministry within the body. (See 1 Corinthians 12) Which one(s) do you see yourself as having? Which one(s) do you see as the one God has called you to? Do they match up? You may have the opportunity to be used in one or all areas, but you should have one main calling (not always the OFFICE of the specific ministry above). I myself am more of a TEACHER. I enjoy teaching, training, discipling, equipping the younger generations. But the evangelism characteristics can come out in me when I desire to share the Good News, as on mission trips, or missions in our own city.

Paul himself, is an Apostle, which by definition is; one who pioneers an important movement, cause or belief, as in a church or a ministry. He was called to go around the world sharing the Good News of Jesus, and 'starting' new churches for His (Jesus') Name's sake.

A little background on Paul, for those that may not know, is that he was a persecutor of Christians. He would kill those who believed in the God of the Jews. God took him, and changed him, giving him 'new vision' into the truth found in God. (read an important part of his story here, in Acts 9.) So he can truly speak from example, using his own important testimony to the Jews & Gentiles in Rome. The people he once 'roamed' with can actually see the 'change' and witness it for themselves. As he was once one who 'breathed out murderous threats', and is now one who is 'proclaiming God's words and acts'.

Do you share YOUR testimony, do you think it's important? I used to think my 'testimony' of coming to know Christ wasn't as important as those who have had the major turn-around like Paul for example; those that were drunkards, sexually immoral, murderers, thieves, etc... that found Christ and turned their lives around for the good. I came to know Jesus as a little child, through Sunday School and my family at a Pentecostal church, and have been in several different churches/denominations since my young beginnings. Coming to know God as a young child has great benefits, as when I went to a United church & later a Baptist church as a child & tween I learned the historical true Bible stories that helped to form who I am today. However, I did not truly experience God until I once again was a part of the Pentecostal church (where I had my beginnings). There I found God Himself, I learned who He was, who Holy Spirit was, and became water baptized and baptized in the Spirit. These changes made a BIG difference... it was like my 'mini road to Damascus'... God gave me 'new vision' (not as physical as Paul's changes but spiritually). I learned who I could become through GOD, His Son, and Holy Spirit. I knew ALL the stories, and could quote Scripture after Scripture, but until I truly 'experienced' who He was, I wasn't complete! (I am not totally complete yet of course, as we all grow day by day.) I have been through minor ups and downs, and although I haven't physically murdered anyone, I know I have 'murdered' with my words. I was once 'blind' to the things of Christ, which are now able to be seen through revelation, wisdom and knowledge of the Bible and the truths found within. I have been involved in situations that have taken me out of the 'obedience' of the Commandments, however I also overcame many temptations & possibly immoral predicaments. Through Christ's blood and the grace & mercy of God, and the consuming power of Holy Spirit, I can be made a 'NEW' creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) I continue to grow day by day, and am very excited to see where God will lead me, and what He can and will do for me, in me, and most importantly through me. I am an example of God's faithfulness through the years... and that is a GREAT testimony! What about YOU? Everyone has a 'story'... share yours with someone today!

Paul introduces the TRUTH of God's Word, in which Jesus is the Son of God and our Messiah. He then explains why he is doing what he is doing. "Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!" It is our job as well to receive the gift, yet then pass it on to others. We are who we are through JESUS. Several years ago, in my old church we did a Children's Program during March Break, 'Go M.A.D.' (Make a Difference), and the first theme lesson always sticks in my head and my heart, and I use it in my teaching lessons today. It was 'IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOU MUST FIRST KNOW JESUS!' I can't remember much else from that week of lessons or activities, but this always stuck in my head.

Verses 8-12 ~~ "I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That's first."
How often do we greet our Christian (or non-christian) friends like this? What would they do or say if we did? What would their reaction be? How would they then respond to us? How often do we TRULY thank God through Jesus for those that are our family, friends, co-workers, or just those that we come in contact with? Paul was direct in saying this statement, to ALL that he was speaking to. The 'first' thing he did was to thank God for those He had sent into Paul's path. So right now, I do thank the Lord for those of you who are reading this, whom God has sent in my path. Whether you got here through my Facebook link, or through a search... whether you know me, or you don't... whether you like me or you don't... I thank God through Jesus for each and everyone of you. May you be blessed in your comings and your goings!

"...knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time..."
WOW! What a powerful statement to make... how often do we tell someone we are praying for them, and really we may only pray once, or just every so often when we think of them? 'Practically all the time'... WOW! Sometimes when I am thinking of someone, I 'talk to God' in my spirit for them, I ask God to bless them. Just by thinking of them, means that God has put them into my head & heart for a reason. But I do need to remember to be in SINCERE prayer for certain requests that have come forth. (We ALL need to work on this I am sure.)

"I so want to be there to deliver God's gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don't think I'm not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you." This totally works for my devotional message to you... although I may not even know you, or know that you are reading this, it would be cool to see your spiritual development and growth right before my eyes as well. There are times when as a TEACHER, I have been able to see the growth and development in my 'students' as I was there physically to see them grow and develop physically as well as spiritually... and that is a major blessing to watch the positive changes unfold before your eyes, and see a living example of the faithfulness of God knowing that I had a small part to play in their growth (whether it be through planting the seed, watering it, or even harvesting it). But then you also see the ones whom have sat under your teaching, who have chosen to go the opposite way, and your heart breaks for them. PRAY! I also think of the ones whom I have had a small part in teaching (whether through church or babysitting, or daycare situations) and wonder sometimes how far they have come. It's the times when you don't get to see how people have turned out, and you MUST REMEMBER to pray for those as well. Pray that someone will come along to 'water' or even 'harvest' that seed that was planted. Sometimes we are called just to 'plant' into someones' lives... but we shouldn't just stop there, we should be continually praying that someone will come along to 'weed' (if necessary), 'water', 'harvest' and 'keep' them. Once they have been harvested, they need someone to keep up with the 'upkeep'... encouragement and such so that they then may be 'reproduced', in turn planting more GOOD seeds.


So in closing... I pray that the GOOD seeds that have been planted in this message today (and in the past) will come forth to fruition. Someone will be there to 'water', (or this was a little bit of water), weed, harvest and keep YOU until the coming again of our Lord! :)


GOD BLESS YOU as you go forth this NEW YEAR in the blessings of God!

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