Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mourning into Dancing

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Ps 30:11-12 (NIV)

This is one of my favorite promises in the Bible — that God turns mourning (weeping, crying, whatever you want to call it) into dancing! He takes away the depression of being in sadness and replaces it with gladness. However, notice what God doesn’t do — simply stop your mourning and make it disappear. No, He transforms it…into joy! He turns your sorrow into gladness. He takes your failure and creates success! We serve an awesome and mighty God, who says, “all things work together for good to them that love Him, and to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Let’s take time to dwell on this promise. Our sorrows, disappointments, tragedies and failures are very real — but they are also the very things that our God loves to work thru for us, to provide a way of escape for us, which He will accomplish in His time for His glory. And we WILL dance! God will do it. Our part is simply to wait…believe…and cling tightly to this wonderful promise!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mighty to Save

"The LORD has taken away your punishment; He has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, " Do not fear, O Zion, do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" ( Zephaniah 3: 15-17).

I like this verse because contained within it, is a phrase that is found in of my favorite songs right now. Mighty to save.
These words from Zephaniah can speak truth and hope into our lives right now. If we are dealing with a temptation right now (and we all will at some time or another), remember, He is mighty to save.

Maybe you are discouraged right now. Sometimes everyday life can take our joy away and it seems like we are carrying a heavy burden. It is hard to take care of ourselves while taking care of others around us. It is hard to juggle the role of mother, wife, grandmother, aunt, etc and to complete all the tasks that need to be done and have the energy to get up tomorrow, to do it all again.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.

Maybe we are carrying a heavy burden. Many of us are caring for someone who is sick, or we have a friend who we are trying to help past their issues. Or we are awakened during the night and burdened to pray for someone. Maybe we get little sleep at all because of all of the things that are weighing heavy on our hearts.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.

But, according to the verse above, don’t let your hands hang limp. In other words, get your strength from the One that can save you from discouragement, the One that can carry your burdens. He can save you and is mighty to save. If Zephaniah were writing to us today, I wonder if it would go like this:

"Fear not, you members of the WVLUN Planning team, the Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Pray with Boldness

"Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn't believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose." (Acts 16:25-26--The Message).

Can you imagine the reaction of the other prisoners when the chains fell off and the prison doors opened? Some would have been shocked, others maybe ecstatic, while I am sure there were some that were puzzled as to how that happened, but Paul and Silas had a different response. They didn't move. They prayed boldly and they knew God would handle the situation. They didn't know how he would handle it, but they had confidence that God would handle their crisis. It really wasn't their place to break the chains and make a mad run for it. They had done all that was necessary by praying boldly. Now they awaited God's perfect answer and continued their work of telling other's of Christ's love.

This short story of how God works should not surprise us. It should teach us a couple of things: God is always in control and great things will happen if we continue to pray with boldness.

As we enter a New Year, let us each commit to praying boldly. Life will always hand us situations which we, with our own human minds, cannot figure a way out. That may come in forms of illness, relationship issues, employment issues, issues within our churches, or spiritual battles. Whatever it may be, know this: if we boldly pray, God will open the doors. We don't just run out, but we wait for his leading. He has never let us down, why would we think He would now? He is a faithful God, what He promises, He will deliver! Maybe, we just need some boldness when we pray and then stand amazed in His presence.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Be Patient in Times of Trouble

Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master's Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time. Friends, don't complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner. Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail. (James 5:7-11--Message Bible)

James is all about becoming a mature Christian. That is its central theme. This section in James is very encouraging because it addresses something that we all can relate to: suffering or troubles in our lives. James uses 3 examples of those who show a great deal of patience and perseverance in troubles. First, he uses an example of a farmer. Farmers are some of the most patient people you will know. They plant in faith that their crop will come up and they have to deal with things they have no control over, mainly the weather. Too much rain can rot the crop or too little rain will cause it to dry up. While that is out of their control, they patiently wait on the harvest. In the same manner, we wait for a spiritual harvest.

James' second example is the prophets. I never really thought about this before, but quite a few people (yes, even Christians) think that their trials and troubles are a result of something they must have done wrong. However, if you think about the prophets, they were totally in the will of God, yet were often persecuted for doing what was right. Many of the prophets had to endure great trials and sufferings, not only at the hands of unbelievers, but at the hands of professed believers. Jeremiah was arrested as a traitor and even thrown into an abandoned well to die. God fed Jeremiah and protected him throughout that terrible siege of Jerusalem, even though at times it looked as though the prophet was going to be killed. Both Ezekiel and Daniel had their share of hardships, but the Lord delivered them. And even those who were not delivered, who died for their faith, received that special reward for those who are true to Him. Why is it that those who speak in the name of the Lord often must endure difficult trials? It is so that their lives might back up their messages. The impact of a faithful, godly life carries so much power. We need to remind ourselves that our patience in times of suffering is a testimony to others around us.

A third example was that of Job. There is no better example in the Bible of someone that showed so much patience under such duress. He lost his family, health, and material blessings that he had. His friends blamed God and him and his own wife came against him. But Job endured patiently and in the end, he received more from the Lord than what he originally started with. Perhaps Job suffered so that God could reveal himself in a deeper way to Job. We don’t always understand why we go thru the things we go thru, but this we do know: God can be glorified and we can be purified thru difficult experiences. Just think, if there is nothing to endure, you cannot learn endurance.

So what is the answer? God’s grace is sufficient for us. When you find yourself in the furnace, go to the throne of grace and receive from the Lord all the grace you need to endure. Remind yourself that the Lord has a gracious purpose in all of this suffering, and that He will work out His purposes in His time and for His glory. James wanted to encourage us to be patient in times of suffering. Like the farmer, we are waiting for a spiritual harvest, for fruit that will glorify God. Like the prophets, we look for opportunities to witness, to share the truth of God. And, like Job, we wait for the Lord to fulfill His loving purpose, knowing that He will never cause His children to suffer needlessly. And like Job, we can have a deeper relationship with God.

Be patient in times of troubles.....God will work in you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Faith vs Fear

I have had conversations with friends in the past about fear. I had one person tell me they were convinced that fear was one of the most powerful tools that Satan uses against us. I have heard that there are those that believe we cannot have faith and fear at the same time, that having one cancels out the other one. That makes me pause and think for a minute and I would like for you to think about it as well today.

Our faith is in God, the Father, that He will sustain us through all difficulties. Our faith is not that He will give us what we want, but that He will give us what we need. Our faith is that He has won the war even though it may seem as if we have lost a battle. Our faith is that He will work through us to accomplish His will. We need not fear.

However, we all experience fear from time to time. Sometimes it seems so close and vivid to my life. We have a tendency to try to do things without God’s help. We tend to worry over things instead of giving them to God. We tend to do things impulsively, without praying about them first. I don’t like to think about how many times I’ve decided I could take care of things myself, or how many times I ended up “fearing” the consequences of those decisions.

Interestingly enough, I looked on the Internet on a site and asked how many times "fear not" or "do not be afraid" was found in the Bible. According to the internet site that was returned, it said that these phrases were actually found 366 times. Let's see......there are 365 days in a year, except when there is leap year, then there are 366 days in a year. I wondered then, if there was any connection between "fear not" and the number of days in a year. Perhaps, what I need to take from this is that each day, I should not be afraid as I know I am in my Father's hands. Then I looked at faith and the word faith or the concept of faith is mentioned a total of 528 times. What's the message there? We are to have faith instead of fear.

The point isn’t really that we will have no fear. No matter how hard we try, Satan will make sure that we do. The point is that we recognize what fear is, where it comes from, and know that all we have to do is take it to God and lay it at His feet.

This is where the real faith comes in.

Have a "faith filled" week....