Think on these things : Embracing the Mess

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“Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” Proverbs 14:4

I used to walk through a new home subdivision. Often I would see the street filled with red clay from the land as bulldozers clear it to lay a foundation. The job site is littered with lumber, all sorts of trash from workers, and is generally a mess. The house looks ugly; it has all its insides exposed as it is being pieced together, yet this process is necessary to get to the finished product. When completed, the home is beautiful. The landscaping looks like it came out of a home-design magazine. Everything is clean and perfect in order for the new homeowner to move in.

Our walk with God is much the same process. Often we must go through a messy period of our lives in which all aspects of it are in disarray. It is in these times that God builds a new structure. He might remove some structural timbers in our lives and replace them with new ones. He might even add on another room. And unless this process takes place, we will never see the end product. The goal is more Christlikeness. In order to achieve this in us, He requires a period of removing all that is not of Him. It can be a painful process.

It would be impossible to keep oxen in a barn without having to clean up the mess from time to time. It just comes with the territory, but the result of the oxen is an abundant harvest. God may be allowing a mess in order to ensure a fruitful harvest in your life. Learn from Him so that you might experience the fulfillment of His purposes for you in these times.

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

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Think on these Things : The Door of Full Surrender

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“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

I was recently sitting with the leader of a workplace organization as he described a question he poses to workplace believers. “What if there were two doors to choose from; behind one door was the complete will of God for your life and behind the other door was how life could be according to your own preference. Which door would you choose?” The struggle for most lies in the desire to follow God completely and the fear of what might be behind the door of full surrender. Most of us desire to follow God, but few of us will do it at any cost. We do not really believe that God loves us to the degree that we are willing to give Him complete permission to do as He wills in us.

If we desire to fully walk with Christ, there is a cost. We may give intellectual assent and go along with His principles and do fine; however, if we are fully given over to Him and His will for our life, it will be a life that will have adversity.

The Bible is clear that humans do not achieve greatness without having their sinful will broken. This process is designed to create a nature change in each of us, not just a habit change. The Bible calls it circumcision. Circumcision is painful, bloody, and personal.

If God has plans to greatly use you in the lives of others, you can expect your trials to be even greater than those of others. Why? Because, like Joseph who went through greater trials than most patriarchs, your calling may have such responsibility that God cannot afford to entrust it to you without ensuring your complete faithfulness to the call. He has much invested in you on behalf of others. He may want to speak through your life to a greater degree than through another. The events of your life would become the frame for the message He wants to speak through you.

Do not fear the path that God may lead you on. Embrace it. For God may bring you down a path in your life to ensure the reward of your inheritance. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17)

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

Morning Meditation: God’s Word has not changed on Homosexuality.

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God’s Word has not changed.

If 10,000 pastors declared they were #gay tomorrow, it would not change the truth of the #Bible one iota. If 10,000 worship leaders declared that God had made them gay, it would not change a single scriptural truth.

As I have emphasized repeatedly, despite the increasing number of professing “gay Christians”–-by which I mean those who claim that you can follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at the same time–there are “no new textual, archaeological, sociological, anthropological or philological discoveries [that] have been made in the last 50 years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.”

And so, once more, we see the fundamental error of “gay Christianity,” namely, people interpreting the Bible through the lens of their sexuality rather than interpreting their sexuality through the lens of the Bible….

via How Should We Respond to Vicky Beeching? by Micheal Brown

Morning Meditation: Importance of understanding Spiritual Warfare

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Spiritual Warfare

Over the past several decades we have watched as good, upstanding leaders in our churches have been destroyed by Satan’s strongholds in their lives. It appears to me that many of today’s Christians do not realize the importance of spiritual warfare, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We must take a stand against it and carry out the teachings from God’s Word, for without Jesus and His power we are nothing. Left to our own devices, we shall perish, and this world’s time is very short.

Truth and Love from God's Word

Over the past several decades we have watched as good, upstanding leaders in our churches have been destroyed by Satan’s strongholds in their lives. It appears to me that many of today’s Christians do not realize the importance of spiritual warfare, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We must take a stand against it and carry out the teachings from God’s Word, for without Jesus and His power we are nothing. Left to our own devices, we shall perish, and this world’s time is very short.

I am nearly finished with a study that I feel strongly God led me to – the book, “Reflections of His Image” by Nancy Missler. In her book she shares an example of Spiritual Warfare Prayer that, if we…

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Morning Meditation: God’s View of a Woman

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Re-blogged from charisma magazine
Frank Viola

Editor’s Note: What follows is the transcript of a spoken message Frank Viola delivered to a church in Chile. Keep in mind that the Chilean culture tends to have a very low view of women.

After tonight’s message, if this recording gets out of this room and someone hears it in your country, I will be declared a heretic. I may even be in danger of my life.

Further, after tonight’s message, some of the men in this room may not want me to come back. The women, however, will want me to move here!

Note the following passages:

“And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how His body was laid” (Luke 23:55, KJV, emphasis added).

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:14, emphasis added).

Let’s take a trip back to ancient Israel and look at how women were viewed before Jesus came. Generally speaking, the Jews had a dim view of women. Jewish women were not allowed to receive an education. Hence, they were largely uneducated. Their only training was in how to raise children and keep house.

Women were also largely excluded from worshipping God. In Herod’s temple, there was a special court that stood on the very outside. It was called the Court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles could go into that court, but they were limited to that area alone.

Five steps above the Gentiles court was the women’s court. The women were limited to that one area. Fifteen steps above that was the Jewish men’s court. Thus men were given far more privileges to worship God than were women.

A woman had no voice in her marriage. Her father decided whom she would marry, when she would marry and why she would marry. A woman couldn’t divorce her husband under any condition. Only a man could initiate a divorce.

Jewish women were to be seen as little as possible in public. In fact, young men were warned about talking to women in public—so much so that it was a shame in ancient Israel for a man to talk to a woman in public. Consequently, most women stayed out of the streets.

Women were regarded as inferior to men. They were regarded as property, just like cattle and slaves. Jewish males prayed a daily prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer shows how poorly the Jews looked upon women. It goes like this:

Praise be to God. He has not created me a Gentile.

Praise be to God. He has not created me a woman.

Praise be to God. He has not created me an ignorant man.

This was man’s view of a woman in first-century Israel. It was not much better in other cultures. In fact, ever since the Fall of humanity, women have been regarded as second-class citizens—inferior to men. But something happened that changed all that.

Jesus came.

In Jesus Christ we find God’s view of a woman. Not man’s view. Not the American view. Not the European view. Not the Asian view. Not the African view. Not the South American view. Not even the Chilean view. But God’s view.

Jesus Christ is God made flesh. As such, He embodies all of God’s opinions. In His earthly life, Jesus was the visible expression of God Himself. By His actions and His words, we discover God’s view of a woman. And that view was utterly contrary to the prevailing view of His day.

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the eternal Son, the Messiah—the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years.

The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed.

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord’s view of a woman. Take your high place.

But that’s not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed.

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples: He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed.

Not only was she a woman, but she was a divorcee. But not only was she a divorcee, she was actively living in immorality. Yet not only was she a woman, a divorcee, an adulteress living in sin, she was worse than a Gentile. She was a Samaritan—a half-breed. (A Samaritan was a person with whom Jews were never to talk.)

Your Lord talked to this divorced, adulterous, Samaritan woman in public, and He forgave her of her sins. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin.

He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets—a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling.

In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair.

This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed.

In the Lord’s last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the 12 disciples with the shorthand phrase “the Twelve.” The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere.

But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them “the women” (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used “the Twelve.”

They were the Lord’s disciples also—the female counterpart to the Twelve. The women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But there’s more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the women. The reason? Because they were more faithful.

When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. All the disciples (except John) said, “See ya!” But the women stayed with Him. They didn’t leave.

They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along—comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours.

To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Following His death, it was the women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him.

And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met—the first eyes that were laid upon Him—were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

On the day of Pentecost, the women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve.

Unlike His male disciples, the women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed.

Throughout the Lord’s life, it was the women who tended to His physical needs. It was the women who looked after Him. It was the women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3).

It was the women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed.

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you—a woman—to depict that which He came to earth to die for—His very Bride. And He is not ashamed.

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Brothers, honor your sisters in the kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn’t take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side.

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed.

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin.

So sisters, take your high place … this is God’s view of you.

Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God‘s Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, Beyond Evangelical, is rated one of the most popular in Christian circles today.

Morning Meditation: It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility as our guide to convict us

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“When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:8

I had recently come back from a mountaintop experience. As I attempted to get back into my routine, I found a great cloud of oppression come over me. Each day I attempted to press through it, but with no success. Fear, anxiety, doubt, and unbelief were setting in. I knew I was fretting over my future. I had been in a long period of transition in my work life and was tired of the place of waiting. Yet I didn’t understand the oppression. It was definitely spiritual warfare. That night I was reading a book regarding our calling from God. The author made mention that we can become envious of others when we get into a place where we are dissatisfied. Suddenly, I realized I was guilty of envying where other workplace believers were in their lives. I was “subconsciously” angry that the calling God had placed on my life had such adversity. I had to repent.

As if this were not enough, the next day the Holy Spirit confirmed my assessment in the most unusual way. That morning I turned on my computer to read my own Workplace Meditation that is sent to my computer. The message was on “Envying Others” and included the same Scripture reference as the author’s in the book. Imagine God using my own words to convict me of sin! The nerve of Him! To make matters worse, at lunchtime I tuned into the local Christian radio station to hear an interview with the same author as he cited the very passage I had read the day before. I was shocked to realize how the Holy Spirit could be so precise in His ability to convict and give proof of His activity in my life.

Do you question if the Holy Spirit is active in your life? The Lord has promised that the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin when we move away from Him. It is His responsibility as our guide.

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

Prayer for Pastors

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Dear God, again, I am led to pray for pastors–the shepherds you have placed over the church today. They have great responsibility as they “lead the flock.” They must set examples, deliver the Word, teach biblical principles, lead and instruct, counsel and pray, and so much more.

Sometimes their load becomes so heavy as they are scrutinized by others and looked up to by so many. I pray that each will have an Aaron to come alongside to encourage and pray for them and to help with the tasks of ministry each day. I pray that you will anoint them anew with power through the Holy Spirit, with wisdom and knowledge. I pray for protection upon them and their families. Bless your servants, dear God. Thank you in the name of Jesus, amen.

 

Prayer to be a good Christian example

kneeling to pray
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Dear Lord, If tomorrow never comes on this earth, I pray that I will leave behind a testimony that points to you. Help me to live as if today were my last before entering eternity, for I know not what the day may bring.
I pray that I will love others with a godly love, that I will be kind and considerate, that I will share who you are and what you have done, that I will smile at those I see throughout the day, that I will remember and pray for others, that I will appreciate every little thing and have an attitude of gratitude, that I will be honest and responsible in all things. Thank you for blessing me and loving me and filling me with your spirit.
Please feed my soul and give me strength this day. May you be glorified and my family be blessed. May I touch lives and sow seeds throughout the day. In the name of my Savior I pray, amen.