Heavenly Father, we are grateful that nothing takes You by surprise! Thank You that You know the end from the beginning. Thank You that You will use ALL things for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose! (Rom 8:28) Father God, we trust in You alone! Father help us to see and hear You more clearly in these uncertain days. Help us to know what is happening from Your perspective. Help us position ourselves to be the peace in the storm to the world around us. Father use this season to turn hearts, eyes and ears to You! Use this time to wake up the Army of God! Pour out Your Spirit of courage, peace, wisdom, hope, truth repentance and love! In this time of isolation, we pray that all viruses, damaging bacteria, infections and flu germs would be starved and stopped! We pray that as Americans strive to cleanse and sanitize that You will do the work of cleansing and sanitizing the heart and soul of the Body of Christ! Draw Your Bride into the secret place of Your refuge and safety (Pray Psalm 91). Draw our unsaved loved ones unto You! We stand together against both sickness and wickedness that would try to take advantage of the weak and vulnerable! Father unite America! Unit the Body of Christ! Unit our family units! Let Your truths prevail in the land and let THE TRUTH BE HEARD in the land! Praying all in the name that is above EVERY name, Yeshua Hamashia...Jesus our Anointed Messiah.
ON CHRIST, THE SOLID ROCK, WE STAND!
The proverb from Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” has impacted me in many ways. With three sons who teased, hit, loved and tormented each other, I would say to them ‘well, the Bible says a brother is born for adversity: trouble, misery, disaster…, but it doesn’t say whether the brother caused this or helped you work past it’.
When it comes to church, I am often stunned by some of the words people associate with church such as ‘safe’, ‘peaceful’, or even… ‘conflict free’. There isn’t any Bible passage that truly supports this idea. We, like my sons, actually NEED each other: not merely because we can support each other, pray for each other, and be there for each other in hard times, but also because… we are different. We need each other’s differences, those different gifts and different perspectives that soften our sharp edges, that grow our patience, that help us see the silent ones that would otherwise not be obvious, hidden in their own ‘caves’ of self-retreat. The real trick is to show up when those differences are feeling like more than a person wants to deal with, to be the love of Christ, when you’d rather… not be the love of Christ.
In this internet age, good worship, good teaching… things we’ve traditionally associated with the right reasons to come to church… these aren’t the best reasons, actually, and can be found elsewhere than inside the walls of a local church, so why go? 1 Corinthians 12: 4-27 is something I’d tuck deep in your heart, if I could, to be the healing balm next time you feel ‘rubbed’ by someone else in church, or are feeling too busy to go, or just don’t get ‘the point’ of going to church any longer…and it’s this idea that we all are SO different and the body, to be complete and fully functional, this Body of Christ, needs you to show up. Show up ESPECIALLY when you are feeling less than safe, show up ESPECIALLY when you are feeling less than peace. Seek out relationships and seek to understand that that person that bugs you might be the ‘nose’ whereas you might be a ‘big toe’ in the body. Ask questions and listen closely. Pray for each other. When you show up and I show up, we help bring together the unified body of Christ in all its diverse manifestations. It’s not about this idea that you might find conflict there. If you attend long enough and actually hold your own opinions, I promise you WILL have conflict, but far more importantly you will discover friends and brothers, people whose ‘wounds’ are faithful, like Proverbs 27:6 says. You will learn patience and forgiveness, things that are harder to practice and grow in outside of Christ. Your love will deepen, and its passion will shock and bless and amaze you, because that’s the overflowing goodness of God, more than we could have guessed, and able to help us ‘deal’. Finding the well-spring of this ‘blessed fountain’ is worth the pain. It’s the hallmark of maturing Christians.
Ready to hit the 'I quit' button in your marriage? Before you do, take some time to read the complete books of Colossians and Ephesians. Then come visit Pastor Jim and Brook and let's talk about what's going on. While we don't do marriage 'counselling', here is what we DO: we'll be in prayer for you and your household and ask the Lord what He wants to say, before we meet. Next, once we meet, we will listen. Finally, we'll share what we felt God speaking to us. But first, yes first, read Colossians and Ephesians and YOU go talk to the Lord and ask Him what He wants to say to you.
There are lots of ‘common thoughts’. We go to our friends and family. We back up what we think by comparing it with what we think others think. The problem with this is that God is not common- he doesn’t think how we think and way too often, we assume He is okay with us not knowing what He thinks. In order to know what He thinks, it is essential we go to scripture. It is necessary to read scripture frequently enough that we are at least beginning to know some of God’s thoughts. There’s not a lot of substitution for this daily practice.
I would go into detail here, giving examples of things Gods really not okay with, but you might get offended and it would cut short your journey. Its equally possible you might not read any more and might not truly consider any more of the value of what I’m expressing… the need to KNOW God by exploring Him, chasing down recorded thoughts by many who’ve known Him. What’s more, you might not spend the necessary time to seek out God’s opinions on something. He is full of opposites, maybe you’ve heard of some: He encourages ‘turning the other cheek’ when someone strikes out at us, He encourages us to ‘pray for our enemies’ and to do good to those who treat us poorly. Those are just a few. He doesn’t have common thoughts. Before you assert you are certain of His opinion, be sure you have actually sought out His opinion. Nothing you think you hear from Him will be counter to scripture.
Endure what is hard. Take time. Dwell in patience- deliberately expanding your time spent in patience until the discipline isn’t quite so hard. Seek out Him in quietness. Quiet isn’t easily found these days. But it is well worth the effort. Blessings, Brook
One of my favor Bible Quiz questions is, “What is Prayer?” The answer, “Prayer is talking to God.” Profound, simple and accurate! But, when we “talk to God,” who is talking? What I’m asking is how do you sound when you talk to God? Do you sound like a beggar or a bride? Do you consider your personal relationship with the One you are talking to when you pray? In other words, do you sound like a victim or like a son or daughter? Are you praying “functional” prayers or “relational” prayers?
Author and speaker, Graham Cooke, describes functional prayer with an example. He states, “A functional prayer is, “Lord, could You give me strength so I can do this?” Now listen to the difference in Graham’s example of a “relational” prayer: “Lord…come and BE my strength so that You can do this through me.” Do you discern the difference?
Listen, there is a multitude of types and styles of prayer! Any prayer that comes from a humble heart is pleasing and acceptable! But the relational prayer is the prayer that invites a unique partnership with God. Relational prayer initiates the invitation for God to come into your low place and together, you walk it out into a higher place. But, it is in this relationship that God teaches and reveals something of Himself. You are saying to God, “I want and need Your help, but I know You want to teach me something in the process. Ok. Let’s do this Your way. Let’s do this together.”
Who are you when you talk to God?
When I was about 10 years old I was exploring the woods along the creek behind our 40 acre farm. I came upon a swampy area that had skunk cabbage growing in it and started tromping through it in my cool new black rubber barn boots. Suddenly I sank in over the tops of my boots and realized I was in quicksand! I stretched out my hands desperately looking for anything to grab on to. Then I was down to my hips. I realized what a desperate situation I was in and worked my feet out of my boots and grabbed on to a dead branch that lay nearby. I slowly worked my legs out of the sand. It took about 10 minutes before I was able to get free. Standing nearby the pit in my wet socks and jeans my heart beat rapidly as I realized I had barely escaped death.
I’ve thought about this close call many times since that day and have realized there are other ‘quicksands’ in life that are just as deceptive and just as deadly. Some of the characteristics I have noted are:
I gave my black rubber barn boots up in exchange for my life. So glad I did! What are you holding on to that could cost you your life?