Stepping Into the Unknown

When I think of the Bible characters that stepped into the unknown at the instruction of the known, my heart is encouraged. When I get ready to take my first step, it’s always a flutter. It’s usually followed by nausea and fever blisters. Weird right? That’s what stress and nerves do to me. Once I get past the first step and start walking on the new ground I settle in pretty quickly. But those first steps often feel like a cliff.

When Abraham stepped out of the Ur of Chaldees he may or may not have felt a little apprehension. The Bible just says he went. But in the book of Shari it will say, see went… but she didn’t feel good.

When Moses was told to step into the leadership role of Israel, He argued with the Lord that he wasn’t very good with a bullhorn. So God gave him a mouth piece named Aaron. But it didn’t take him out of the role of leader.

When God made David King, he was in one of the lowest positions of the day, a shepherd boy. But God used all that position to make him a mighty defender and a man who could lead people with the same passion he lead sheep.

When Christ picked “Team Jesus” from the crowd, He picked a variety of twelve characters with a variety of talents. We know their names 2,000 years later because of the impact they had in their work.

I just wrote myself happy.

I’ve never really got to experience a comfort zone, because God is always doing something in my life. Sometimes it’s because He’s fixing what I broke, and that’s very uncomfortable! Today is no different. A new ministry direction is on the horizon with doing things I’ve had a passion to do for 20 years. But this time it’s on God’s terms. So it makes me feel a little better about taking the first step.

I hope that in sharing my thoughts on my zone, that maybe it will help you navigate yours a little better.

Please make the following a matter of prayer when it comes to the new Jesus Chick direction:

  • That God would open the doors (not Shari)
  • God provides a team of people with a passion for the work.

The work will focus on the following areas:

  • Promoting the Gospel (always first and foremost)
  • Youth programs
  • Adult programs
  • Women’s programs
  • Senior programs
  • Substance abuse educations programs

That would be why I need a team. There is a huge amount of work on my plate. But I want to reach as many people as I can with this ministry and give them the tools to reach more.

Big Step… but I’m ready.

It’s Time to Come to Myself

Sunday is not my only day of listening to sermons. I listen to a variety of preachers and pastors throughout the week, some might surprise you and some may not. I’m no respecter of denominations. I’m a respecter of those who biblically speak Jesus. Period. It’s why, when a preacher that I’m “Facebook friends” with, and I use that term very loosely, went on a trashing spree of preachers my blood boiled.

There were a few that I utterly disagree with too, but I leave them to God. Although if someone asked, I’d willingly tell them why I disagree.  But this guy went so far as to say they were lost! My first thought was “who made you God?” The only One who has the right to call a man or woman saved or lost is God. I cannot look on the soul and tell. Nor do I want that responsibility.

I’m not sure he mentioned Perry Noble, though he probably would have; but I’ve followed the ups and downs of Perry Noble for years. I’ve wept with him and for him. He broke my heart when he fell as Pastor of New Spring Church. I cheered him on when he fought his way back. Though he didn’t know, because he doesn’t really know me. See… we’re “friends” too.

I like Perry because he’s real. Sometimes too real for me, I’ll be honest. He says some things that goes against my good Baptist girl grain. And he says some things that make me laugh really hard that really shouldn’t. But most important he gives me a desire to have a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. And that is what a preacher is called to do. Not judge other preachers!

So this week on Perry’s new podcast for his new church “Second Chances” he preached on the prodigal son. Not an unknown sermon for even a lost person. But Perry preached it from the perspective of the brother who stayed home. Again not an unknown sermon topic. But what was new to me was the thought about the “good” son didn’t have enough of a relationship with his father to know that (1) how upset the father had been (2) that the son had come home and (3) why there was a need for the party.

The prodigal came to himself, the farm boy needed a come to Jesus moment with Dad. But that’s not what he got. The Father had mercy for both. That was the gist of Perry’s sermon. But much better. I just gave the highlights.

What drew my mind into this today was my own relationship with God. How much do I know about what God wants for my life? I know what I want, but do I know what He wants?

It’s time to come to myself.

I am often guilty (really often) of studying for the purpose of others, and not for myself. It’s not that I don’t receive and need the messages I write and the Word of God that He speaks into my soul as well. But many of those messages are about general life issues, not personal life issues. If you’ve studies scripture for yourself, you likely know the kind; when the word of God cuts you open and fillets your heart like a fish! Showing you all the nooks and crannies of it and draws you into a conversation with Him where you almost feel like you’re sitting in His office on a crystal stool like a princess as He gives you the “Dad” talk.

Oh…. I so need to draw that someday.

But more importantly I need to be there.

I don’t need to preach to anyone about “their” life, nor do I ever want to be guilty of judging the soul of another person. I don’t know who’s saved. I only know that we all need to come to the knowledge of Who Jesus is and then grow in His grace so that we can know Him in a way that a child should know their Dad.

My girls have a very special relationship with their Dad. They adore him and when he speaks, they trust in his wisdom. That’s how a child of the King should be. Adoring. Listening. Believing.

When I lay down at night, I should listen for His bedtime story. When I rise in the morning we should meet at the table for a game plan kind of day. It should never be about you. It should be about us.

When the prodigal son came home His dad cleaned him up and threw a party. The other son threw a temper tantrum, complained about the slavery he had invested in for his Father and missed out on all the fun. Don’t miss the party because you’re looking at other folks. I’ve been guilty of it.

Do You Care?

We love Him, because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

There are some people in our lives that are easy to love. My bestie Gloria is one such person, so are countless others. I am blessed with people. Lots of people that I call and mean it when I say they’re friends. And then there are people that I am acquaintances with via life or social media and of those I may or may not have a great depth of concern for.

I would certainly pull them out of the path of a truck. But I might not take them chicken soup if they were ill. That sounds very mean. But it’s not meant to be. It’s not that I don’t care about their health, it’s that they are not on my radar of cares of the day. Nor am I likely on their radar either. So how exactly did God intend for us to love one another?

What is our level of compassion for those outside our immediate family and friends?

For me I only had to think about 1 John 4:19 for a split second before I realized that before I knew God, before I realized what He did for me and when I was just floating around in the world like a bubble on a summer day without concern for my soul or anyone else’s… He loved me.

He loved me when I was out in sin and behaving in a manner that would have made a sailor blush. Yes, I was that kid. I grew up fast when I married and had children, but I still didn’t know Jesus and was as filthy rags, and yet He loved me. He maneuvered my life to get me into a position to hear the gospel in a miraculous way that has me in awe today. He uses me even yet today when I still fail Him miserably.

Now… I ask myself that question again about the people I don’t know. “Shari, do you care?”  I asked myself that question about the people I’m pretty sure I don’t even like. “Do you care?”

I ask, because at any moment God could have given up on me or never thought enough of me to waste His time and yet He did.

This morning I was convicted by this thought because there are so many hurting people that I know via ministry and social media that I don’t care enough about. Ministry isn’t just to the pretty, easy to love people. Its’ for all people. Even the sometimes ugly, grouchy, negative, arrogant,  drunk and drugged up people. The latter of which I have an easier time loving. The grouchy, negative, arrogant people not so much.

I’m wondering who might cross my path today that needs loved on? I’m wearing a new pair of white jeans… I wonder if I’m willing to get them dirty. Isn’t that how we decide?

I have a doctor’s appointment for my knee this morning at 10 a.m. Perhaps it’s there that I’ll answer that question. Maybe it will be on social media, or maybe on an unplanned adventure. Like the one that got me saved.

The Concept of God

It was a thought that seemed almost foreign to me this morning as I read John 3:16…

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It’s likely the most widely known and quoted verse in the bible. We say it without thinking. It just rolls off the tongue of most Christians regardless of how long they’ve been saved. The point being, even if you can’t quote it, you know it. But this morning, it just seemed brand new.

Not necessarily the verse, but rather the concept of the depth of God’s love and the vastness of His being, and the fact… I need to repeat… the fact that He did what He did for someone like me. A nobody. That this morning in my living room and in the home of my friend LuAnn, God spoke to us and said, I have a work for you to do.

I received a message from my friend Faye yesterday, and through her God said… there is a work to do.

My friend Dewey and I speak most every day. But lately God has given us a deeper love for the ministry and a desire to do more. There is work for us to do.

Why me…

Why does God put these awesome people in my life?

Because His concept is beyond what anyone of us can imagine. And the possibilities of what He can do with us are beyond what anyone of us can even think. And I know this because today John 3:16 was a brand new verse in this ol’ girls head.

The concept of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” three in one has often boggled my mind. How can three be one? It just doesn’t make sense to the earthly mindset. I’ve heard it explained by using the illustration of the egg which has three parts (the white, yolk and shell) yet it is one. It’s a great illustration. But it’s an egg… not God.

But lately as God deals with me, trying to get me to a better place spiritually to where He can use me, He speaks to my heart about understanding who He is, so I can better grasp who I am in Him.

He is Huge!

Isaiah 48:13

Mine hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.

Who did that? My God! He is in the details.

If God can measure Heaven with His hand, that means He’s a pretty big Fella. That means that these people who make light of our God, should really think twice. He can flip them off of the planet. I have to be honest, that image kind of made me giggle. And kind of made me want to watch! But then I remembered that He could flip me off the planet too, and that God died for the “whosever.” Not only Shari.

He Has Always Been

How can God have “always been, and how did God, “beget” Christ, His Only Son? I don’t know. But when I think about the Creator of the universe and His Son, who were from the beginning, which is what the Bible tells us in John 1:1, I am somewhat awestruck like a rock and roll fan at their favorite concert. I want to get close enough to hear One whisper to the Other, and close enough to know them as intimately as a bestie. But in order to do that, I have to get out of my little brain get into Heaven as the Bible tells us we are in Ephesians 2:6 that says “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

That’s present time, not futuristic. So if I’m sitting in Heavenly places, that means I should be able to overhear a few conversations of God and His Son. So can you.

In Jeremiah 1:5 it also says that God knew us before we were in the womb. So… exactly how long has our conversation been going? I don’t know. But what I do know is that as a child, before salvation, I had a desire to know God. So Jeremiah 1:5 is not hard for me to understand. And because of that it is getting easier to understand John 3:16.

He knew me, before I was me. He chose me before I even came out of my mother’s womb and He placed me like He placed the stars in Heaven on this piece of dirt in Calhoun County, West Virginia. And He connected the dots with North Carolina, New Mexico, the Philippine Islands  and so many other places, in a way that others may not understand, but I’ve experienced. So yes… I’m a fan of my Savior. Yes, I reverently respect and fear Him because of the enormity of Who He is. And today I feel so loved because of John 3:16.

There’s a story of a little orphaned boy who is found on the street and a man sends him to an address with the instruction to knock on the door and say “John 3:16.” When he gets there he taken in, bathed, fed and tucked into his bed where he for the first time in his life feels safe. He later says when he becomes a preacher that he didn’t understand John 3:16 at the time but it made a dirty boy clean, a hungry boy full and a scared boy feel safe.

Yes… yes it does. I don’t have to comprehend the vastness of God. I can feel it.

Crash Test Christianity

That’s the thought that came out of the teen class lesson yesterday as my co-teacher Doug taught our youth. My brain goes strange places sometimes and either like honey or mud, it’s stuck in that place until I dig around and find out what the Lord needs me to know about that word.

The word was “prove”. Meaning to demonstrate, show, give evidence or verify something.

It’s what most of us want on the everyday front of life; we want evidence that we’re going the right direction, that God is pleased, that we’re forgiven. And God tells us that’s okay. He wants us to prove Him.

But sometimes proving Him leaves me feeling a little like a crash test dummy. Not that God wants me to be that. He’d rather I be the evaluator. Not the demonstrator. But I hit the wall again and again. I’m no different than the original crash test dummies, they however were on camels not Kia souls.

Behavior Lessons

In Exodus 15:24-25 it says

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?

There third day into the trip and they’ve already found something to complain about with leadership. They’d arrived at Marah and couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. And that was Moses’ fault.

Yesterday, my grandsons Luke and Parker were wrestling in the floor and knocked something off the table. Within a second of the crash Parker yelled, “Luke did it!’

We’re always looking for someone to blame for our problems in life rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves. I’m not apt to throw someone under the bus, though I might, but more than likely I’ll blame circumstances for my errors. Knowing it was my fault.

But God gives Israel the bitter water to prove something about Himself.

Verse 25:

And he cried unto the Lord and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, and said, if thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth you.

Praise God for grace! We are not bound by the law. But that doesn’t make the law nonexistent. It’s still there. But now it proves that we cannot keep ourselves. We depend on that grace to clean us up when we crash and burn.

And He does. The name of Grace is Jesus.

Faith Lessons

In Exodus 16 we find the children of Israel complaining again, but this time its about the food.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

For some reason that scripture struck me funny. Although I don’t find it funny when my provision isn’t coming in like I wish it would. If you’ve ever lacked (and we all likely have), you can understand the children of Israel’s mindset. We often chalk them up to being a bunch of whiners, but if you’re a million strong in the wilderness and you’re not seeing a Walmart, you’re worried. But the Lord intervenes in the conversation:

Vs. 4

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

More evidence. More being tied to the law. Again… praise God for grace! Our provision is not tied to the law, it’s tied to faith.

Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your  need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:6 ~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Verse after verse we’re given about the provision of God. And yet ye all know that there have been times when we’ve been without. Is that a lack of faith? Perhaps it’s just another way God proves Himself to us. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Sometimes it’s about learning that we can survive without it.

One of my nephews crashed a motorcycle one time and once the downed bike stop sliding and he stopped rolling, he jumped up and said, “I’m fine.” No one was any more surprised than he was. He learned that sometimes we can crash and not burn.

The last place I want to talk about being a crash test dummy is in Exodus 20:20

Grace Lessons

 We just talked about it through Paul. So how does grace work with the laws of God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Moses had just given them the Lord’s Ten Commandments. They had seen God come down as lightening, thunder and the noise of a trumpet and they wanted no part of it. They wanted an intercessor. So do we.

Remember, this was before the days of sci-fi and special effects. This was the real deal and I probably would be afraid too. The only one not shaking in his shoes was Moses and that was because this wasn’t His first rodeo with God. He’d been in conversations with God before.

But now. Glory to God!!! We don’t need an intercessor. We have a more excellent way. There is no need to go through a priest. Christ took care of that on the cross.

Matthew 27:51 – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Ephesians 2:18 ~ For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Second to the Resurrection, which proved my Lord’s power over death, my favorite part of that story is the renting of the curtain in the temple. The very thing that kept the common man out of the Holy of Holies was gone. Torn in two from top to the bottom, and opening our way to have direct access to God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

God proves that every day to His children by showing them His presence in their lives.

While the children of Israel felt condemned by the law, there is no condemnation in Christ, only grace for those who come to Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There is no crash and burn for the child of God. Just like those crash test dummies, we my crash, but  we’ll be fine. Because the Lord is on our side!

A Hippy at Heart

I truly am a hippy at heart. And by hippy I don’t mean the stereotypical one’s that those of us who were raised in the 60’s and 70’s remember. Though I must confess I would have fit that mold at various times in my life too. But by hippy I mean, tie-dye lovin’, peace seeking, freedom speaking child of God. I think God like’s the hippy mindset so long as He is the center focus.

Perhaps you agree. Perhaps not. Either is okay. But it’s where my mind is at this morning. I actually drew two images (one above and one below for this blog) The first was the dove below but then the blog took on a whole other direction. And thus the hippy Shari showed up.

My verse this morning for focus was Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

So you may be wondering how I got from the dove to the hippy? It was a short trip. It started with my niece Holly. She’s a little hippy-ish too. And she’s been on my mind a lot lately. She’s a single mom of three and such a free spirit. I love her. I love all my nieces and nephews and my children because each one is so different. I mean really!!!!! different. Out of the 12 they have a few commonalities, but their personalities are nowhere close. Much like the church of God.

We have a common bond, Christ Jesus; but our personalities are what makes us who we are in Christ, and it’s what makes each one of us cope with difficult times in a different way.

I cope with life struggles by relying on the freedom of Christ. That’s the hippy mindset in me. It’s not that I want to go wherever the wind blows, that’s not God’s way; but I want to go in the direction the Spirit leads, and sometimes that’s down weird path that other people don’t understand.  

So on a day that I’m struggling with some issues in life I turned to this verse and found the freedom for living that I needed.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Perfect Peace?

What does that look like? Well, first of all you have to tune into the first word of that sentence. Thou. Thou is God. And it is in Him only that you’ll find perfect peace.

It’s not that life is perfect, it’s that we can rest in the knowledge that whatever we’re facing is in His control. If He chooses to take us through it, we’ll go. If He chooses to remove us from it, we’ll go out or around, but some way, somehow God’s got it taken care of.

That sounds so easy right? But we know it’s not always. Life sometimes stinks and it’s not any fun, and that’s where the hippy attitude of the flower children and God’s children parts. We’re not escaping reality, we’re living in the very real knowledge that we serve a God who can and does amazing things in the lives of those who serve and trust Him.

That’s where that free spirit takes me that is my happy place!!! I can trust in Him who I have served for 23 years and watched as He brought me through time and time again. I know that if I keep my mind focused on the direction God, the Holy Spirit is leading, I’m going to come out a winner. Because I’ve read the end of the book.

Just as my 12 nieces and nephews and 25 great nieces and nephews (yes there is a boatload of us) differ and have many talents, so does the church. Find yours, give it to God, and then walk in the freedom His peace affords knowing He’s guiding you.

That’s my advice to my kids and grand-kids, and it’s my advice for you…

Let Them Have It

Do you ever have those days when it feels like your entire self-worth was wasted effort? I get so excited about projects and life and then in a swift swoop, on a day when it feels that I can do nothing right, I find  myself falling into this pit of despair (I know dramatic right?), but it feels very, very real and it’s very heavy on my shoulders. And the end result is usually a total mind melt down, followed by God prying my mouth open like a rebellious sick child and giving me a dose of the word. And then, glory! Miraculous healing.

That’s this morning.

Quite often the prescribed dose for days like this is from the book of Psalms. I love the word of God from Genesis to Revelation, but the books of Psalms has a special place in my heart, because it’s so often my go to place for days like this.

Like today. When Psalm 138 was spoon fed to me by the Lord in just the right measurement…

They Can Have their god

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

What gods you may be asking? There is none but Jesus Christ our Lord, right? Right! But the world didn’t seem to get that memo. People themselves think that they are sometimes gods and deserve our undivided attention, even over the things of God.

Tears just flowed from my soul and out of my eyes because I’ve been there too often lately. Too many things, some of mine, some of others that have taken my mind off the Lord’s work. I haven’t been singing His praises like I should.

They Can Have Their king

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

In that final day of earth, no man will bow before another man. We will all bow before our King. The One with a capital “K”. The One who resides in the Holy Temple of Heaven, who is kind, and honest and does not speak to me in a the condescending tones of the earth that I despise and it breaks my heart and spirit. Especially when it’s done by another Christian.

That was my day yesterday. Don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m fine. But it’s those days that we all have that the world takes it’s toll. And our focus gets off Heaven and I forget where my headquarters is. And they forget Who’s Boss.

They Can Have Their work

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Glorrrraaaaaay! Those words stirred me this morning. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve said it myself that I serve the God who sits high and looks low. And there it is in the word of God! Psalm 138:6

Though I walk in trouble, and there is plenty of it in my world; it is God who will revive my soul. God will not only take care of my enemies, He will give me the energy to thrive in my purpose.

Verse 8 really spoke to me in a way that I needed so badly today.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

God will “perfect” (finish) that which concerns me.

There is a work He has called me to do and He’s going to get it finished through me. That is such good news! I’m pretty sure I’m into overtime with Him but it’s okay, it’s in His time, not mine.

He has a work in you as well! And He’s going to get it done. But we need to stay focused on the One True and Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the world have their gods, show them how awesome ours is! Let me have their kings, they only “think” they have power. Let them have their work, show them what great and mighty things we can accomplish through Him. I hope your day is blessed with great eternal accomplishments. ~ Shari

A New Direction

I’m beyond excited about the direction of my ministry. Thanks to a generous act on my sister Shelia’s part and the grace of Almighty God, I will soon be a 501c3 ministry which will open the doors for me to do more and create a team of ministry people, not just solo me. Who is sometimes (oftentimes) so tired.  So what does that have to do with the message today?

It has to do with the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 ~ 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As children of God that should be our primary focus. So today is a Recharge Monday. I needed it. Not that I’ve forgotten that it’s my responsibility as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, but that my battery sometimes runs low.

So How’s your Battery Doing?

Who doesn’t need a recharge? I need one multiple times a day. Burdens get on me like cat and dog hair on a black sweater. That should sum it up pretty good if you’ve been around critters. So how does my ministry, your battery and all this tie together?

By me doing what I’ve been called to do, which on Monday is to recharge your battery after I first recharge mine.

I did that today as I read 2 Chronicles 15, verses 1-15.

Asa is returning from battle and he’s met by a prophet who encourages him to go on with the work of the reformation of Israel by promising him that the presence and help of God will go with him.

Well, I’m not a prophet, but I can make that promise to you today because I have it too. It is freely given to anyone who seeks God. He is a very present help available to us without even speaking a word. He just knows.

Whether or not you’ve been in a battle, Monday’s always seem to bring on the feeling of too much work for one week. At least that’s how mine is starting. 

So… back to the story. Asa is returning from battle. And the word reads.

1And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.

One sure fire way to get into trouble is to not have the teaching of God. As a teacher, I need taught.  I don’t profess to know everything. But I know where to find it. And if I can’t find it, I have a Pastor who can help me find it. He may not have the answer off the top of his head either, because he’s not done learning. So point one for today is

Seek Him While You Can

Finding time in a day to get alone with God may not be easy, but it should be a priority. Israel had gotten themselves into trouble, into a battle because they’d been without three things. The Power of God, The Prophecy of God and the Practices of God.

If you’re a child of God, saved by the blood of Jesus, you can’t lose God, but you can lose His power by not renewing your relationship with Him on a daily basis. Not just on Sunday, but every day.

The Word of God is forever, because it’s settled in Heaven. It hasn’t been the most read book in the world without reason. God made it that way. But our failure to read it, the very prophecy of God will suck the life out of you like leaving the lights on in your car. The juice, the water of the word eventually drains out like the juice in a battery if we’re not renewing ourselves by reading His word.

And while we’re not under the law as the Israelites were, being away from God for very long will cause you to forget the practices of Christianity. The behaviors. It’s so easy to get drawn away from the things of God and into the things of the world without warning when we’re not in a good relationship with God Almighty.

So every day we need to be seeking the power of God, Reading the Prophecy of God and living in the practice of God.

Serve Him While You Can

But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.

It’s a privilege to go, teach and observe everything that God shows us in His word. I know that not everyone is a teacher, but you are an example. When the children of Israel got into trouble they sought God. That’s good advice! And it’s always the example we want to set for others.

Everyone messes up in life. We all fall. We haven’t come very far, if any, since the days of the Israelites battle. We still need God to clean up our messes. But after the fall, after the struggle, pick yourself up and start serving again. Don’t let Satan convince you to delay it, because it can cause you to stay out way too long.

Always remember that Satan is a liar. And the last thing he wants is for you to receive rewards of God. So, he can stop them, by stopping you.

Succeed While You Can

There will be days of defeat. We all have them. But start every week with an attitude of successful living. Encourage yourself in the Lord because great is that reward and it is the Matthew 28:19-20 Commission. 

Listen to what happened when Asa got recharged:

And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.

And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

11 And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

14 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.

15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.

They won mighty battles, they celebrated their victories and they had rest. Who wouldn’t want their week to end like that!?

Take Heart Child of God

He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Room to Breathe

Have you ever been trapped in a small space? Even sitting in a crowded theatre where people are shoulder to shoulder is not a feeling I enjoy. I’m not claustrophobic but I still don’t enjoy it. It’s the same feeling that I get when trouble happens in my life. I feel as though the walls are closing in on me, breathing is difficult and being a heart attack survivor, those times are not what I want to experience.

I need room to breathe. And Praise God! He provides that room through His word.

Psalm 18, another of David, who assuredly had enemies, was likely written in his old age. Perhaps a reflection of his previous enemies, maybe new ones. As a child of God we all have enemies, the greatest being Satan. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Heaping and heaping things upon myself, until I’m out of room.

This morning I imagined God swooping in , brushing my burdens away and telling Satan, not today. She’s got no time for that. And I could breathe.

That place… that awesome large place… is Heaven. Me seated in Heaven with the Father as spoken in Ephesians 2: 6

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

There is plenty of room to breathe in Heaven!

Removed from Battle

He delivered me. I did not fight the battle because I didn’t have the strength.  If David was in his final days upon writing this Psalm, he likely wasn’t able to physically fight the battles any longer.  Regardless of age, life’s battles takes its toll on your strength.  It weakens the spirit and with it weakens my hope that I’ll win.

I’m in that place this morning.

It’s why I turned to the word of God, looking for hope in the only place it is a surety. It’s there I found the freedom to breathe and the relief of not fighting the battle. Just to sit and watch God as He removed me from the battle.

Raised in Belief

Belief that I am a favored child of the King. Raised, meaning lifted up and strengthened in the knowledge that He who sits high and looks low, not only controls my world but the world of those that would seek to cause anxiety and stress in my life.

He loves us! He does not want us to fight these battles alone and He desires that we talk to Him about it and get out of the mindset of defeat. He delights in you!

I can’t help but think about my own children and how I delight in them. I can’t wait to see them and speak with them. I love hearing what’s going on in their life, it’s not a burden, it’s a blessing. I want God to do amazing things in their lives and for them to have Victory.

Is it any different for our Father?

 Take heart child of God. You are loved and adored by your Father above. You are with Him in Heaven and He is with you on earth.  The battle is over with Him because He goes before us. We have His word as a promise and a reason to believe. I hope this encourages you today! It sure did me

How Thirsty are You?

It’s a thought that’s been so heavy on my mind and heart lately. I’m not thirsty enough. Not when it comes to water in a bottle, or the water of the Bible. I just don’t want it bad enough, knowing that it is the quencher to the thirst within.

Why is that?

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind. There are people all across the earth that would literally give their right arm for what I have freely flowing in the tap. The same holds true for what’s lying beside me on the couch. The water of the word that is all over my house, on multiple tables, bookshelves, and electronic devices, and yet I don’t thirst enough. I read it. But I don’t thirst for it.

In Psalm 42 David writes as he’s being persecuted by Saul for doing nothing less than trying to be of help in a position that he knows is actually his. He is on the run, driven from his homeland where he longs to be. Away from family and friends, away from the house of God. All these things that I have surrounding me and yet I take them for granted.

This morning I have burdens on my soul. Ministry burdens. Life burdens. But I’m not on the run. Sunday morning, Lord willing, I’ll be in the sanctuary of Victory Baptist Church listening to the word of God without fear of being persecuted or killed because I’ve openly walked through the doors in the free country that I live and am protected by.

However, today I’m so parched by the world around me. I’m thirsting. I’m tired. Maybe you are too. Maybe you’ve had enough of bad news, wickedness abounding and world of hurting people. If you’re ready to sooth your weary soul. Read along with me and let’s unpack how David lived on the run…

Thirsting for His Presence

One of my favorite, fav-o-rite songs that I sing is “Your Presence is my Favorite Gift of All” by Claire Lynch. It blesses my soul! It causes me to remember that feeling that I have when I’m in the presence of the Almighty God. It causes me to long to be there again. Imagine David, on the run and unable to attend a worship service that He so loved being a part of. That’s where he is in the beginning of Psalm 42. He misses being in God’s presence. So do I.

1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

The living God! Oh my stars if we could get a hold of that thought and take it in with every breath. God is not dead, He is very much alive! And He longs to be found alive within His church today. Not dry and dusty Christianity, but praise singing, hand raising, shoutin’ time Christianity. The real deal that comes from being thirsty.

I can imagine the hart (deer) running to the brook after being high in the mountains away from the water for a long time. Needing to feel that moisture running across his tongue and down his throat into the depths of his belly. What a relief! that’s where my soul was this morning. I needed to feel the Spirit of God like a glass of water from a well spring. Can you feel it? Just in the reading of a few lines of scripture I feel my soul moistening, tender, ready to receive His word.

Thirsting for His People

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

There was a time when many, many churches were on fire for God. They are few and far between. I need a church that praises and preaches the joy of God. One that I can feel the love of God through. I have that. David had that, he missed that. I long for a revival both in my soul and in my church. I want a soul stirring meeting that doesn’t want to end. We experienced one such in our church in 2010 when a 5 day revival went for weeks. We were thirsty. We not only thirsted for God but for each other. We couldn’t get enough of the fellowship. You practically had to throw people off the lot. David got that. He loved His people like that.

Thirsting for His Power

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

The Hermonians lived on a high hill, Mizar means little hill. I have to wonder if David isn’t reminded of times when regardless of being in a high place or a low place he experienced God’s power.

Am I thirsting for that? Do I even believe it will happen? I’m ashamed to say that there are times when I just don’t believe. Not because of God, but because of the flesh that I allow to rise upon with me.

I went to the Orthopedic doc yesterday for my knee injury. His diagnosis without the MRI was vague. He said it could be that when I injured it I flared up some serious arthritis. Or it could be the original diagnosis of a torn meniscus. Following the appointment I went to my friend Tracy’s for a new hair doo and she is a power packed prayer warrior. So as we discussed my knee I said, I’d rather it be arthritis than the tear. Which is crazy because the tear can be surgically healed, arthritis not so much. But I can’t have the surgery due to the open heart surgery being to close. To which Tracy responded and loudly. “Why are you not praying for complete healing?” To which I said inside my head, because I don’t have enough faith.

David was using the water that was overflowing him, that would have drowned a lesser man, to ignite the revival in his soul and the power to give God glory for the victory, even in the face of little hope.

Can I get a witness that that has got to encourage your soul!!!

Thirsting for His Praise

David was distraught and downhearted in a way I cannot even imagine. But I can imagine it on my level.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

I have never felt that God forgot me, but I can tell you that I’ve felt that God was choosing to ignore me. I always knew it was my fault. I allowed myself to get there, but I couldn’t feel Him moving in my life. And I can tell you that I did not praise in that moment. But David did.

When the doc gave me the diagnosis yesterday I said, “Okay… this is what it is.” But what if God said… “It ain’t what you think.” I didn’t even leave room for the option.

I need to be a little thirstier for God’s side of this discussion…