#Searching by Barbara

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!
Luke 24:1-6

Most of us are aware when reading this passage of scripture it is the story of Jesus’ resurrection. It is the first part of verse 6 that stands out to me the most; He is not here.

When reading the account in John 20, we find Mary Magdeline telling Simon Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and John then search the tomb and come to the same conclusion, Jesus is not here. The story discloses that they did not understand the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

When pondering this it brings back memories of my own search for God. From the time I was a little girl, I knew that God existed. Even though I went to religious schools for 12 years it did not help me in my search. Like I said, I knew He existed and I would pray to Him but He just seemed so far away and out of reach. Moreover, instead of being taught of a loving God, I always felt that God was disappointed in me and I would never measure up. For years, I felt that something was missing in my life and felt so empty all the time. I searched for God in all the wrong places and got deeply involved in the occult. I tried transcendental meditation and at first it was great. I felt very relaxed and peaceful but it wasn’t long before I started to experience things from the dark side and I will leave it at that. Just like the tomb, Jesus was not there. I experimented with astral projection and all that did was make my bedroom haunted. God was not there either. I read tarot cards for friends and family and I even dabbled in white witchcraft.  After all, it had to be noble as I was just trying to help people BUT God was not there and I continued to feel empty. The fear I felt all the time was debilitating. It is not too much of a stretch to say I was afraid of my own shadow. Sleeping with a light on every night was the norm. If the electric went out at night I turned into a total whack job. I could sense evil all around me in the darkness and I panicked. I even screamed at times.

One day, I was talking with a girl I worked with. A friend told her, she was walking home at night alone when a man approached her with wicked intent. She said something similar to, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” The man’s face became fearful and he just ran away. This got my attention real quick. I wanted to know, who is this man Jesus? Sure, I heard about Him in school but not like this. The pictures they showed us in school portrayed a pathetic weakling that couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. But this Jesus, had power and I wanted to know more. I can’t remember the details but somehow I heard about the Charismatic Renewal and discovered that my own local church was a part of it. I got saved and guess what? HE WAS THERE. I FOUND HIM and He found me! That was almost 40 years ago and I never looked back. That empty feeling? Gone! The fear? Gone! All those things I was involved in during my search were dead and empty but now I found the resurrected God. He is alive!!!!!!

Here’s a few additional Bible verses about searching for God.

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8 (NIV)

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV)

Most of us are searching for something as we know there is more to life than what we experience. If you are searching, I hope I can help you avoid taking the wrong paths that I did. Jesus is the answer to your search. He paid such a heavy price to have a relationship with us. He was beaten beyond recognition, spat upon, humiliated and crucified and died for us. It doesn’t end there. He rose again. The tomb is empty but our life in Him is not.

You may be searching for God and not even know it. If you have not asked the Lord to be part of your life, and you find yourself thinking, “there has got to be more than this!” That is God speaking to you. He is calling you and it is up to you to seek Him. If you seek Him you will find Him.

If you are a Christian and you are feeling the same thing, “There’s got to me more than this!” That is the Lord drawing you into a deeper walk with Him. This is where I am now. I know the Lord but I’m not satisfied. It is like my thirst can’t be quenched. It may sound like a bad thing but it is not. We should always want more of Him. We never arrive but like Andrew Wommack says, “but at least I already left.” In other words, take the first step and begin seeking the Lord for the deeper things.

Just to be clear. There is a difference between feeling there has got to be more and feeling empty. Empty is when we feel our life has no meaning or we just exist. The feeling we get that cries “There’s got to be more,” is because there is more.  We continually grow every day. As we spend time with Him, He reveals more to us but we should always be hungry for more. I read or heard about great men and women of God talking about their relationship with Him. They share some amazing stories regarding their encounters with the Lord. I yearn to be where they are YET they feel like they barely scratched the surface and still hunger for more. It is a never ending, exciting and wonderful journey so just enjoy the ride.  He lives and He loves us. Happy Resurrection day everyone!

Remember by Barbara

When Peg first told us about our November-December topic, “Remember,” I truly laughed out loud! My long term memory is uncanny. The earliest memories I have are sitting in a wooden rocking horse that had a bench and protective sides. Moreover, I recall being fed watermelon by my grandmother, sitting in a highchair. My short term memory on the other hand is pathetic and downright frustrating.   For instance, please don’t interrupt me when I am talking as I will forget what I was attempting to tell you. It drives me crazy to walk into a room because I need something and that quick forget what it was. As I was pondering this subject, I heard the Lord say, “it is not just what I want you to remember but what I want you to forget (or let go of) as well.”

Remembering can be such a wonderful experience. It is joyful to take a trip down memory lane and reflect about the good times with family and friends. Jesus tells us to remember when He said, “do this in remembrance of me.” I love The Message Bible translation.

“Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.

Do this to remember me.

After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:

This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.

Each time you drink this cup, remember me.

What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This speaks volumes to me. When I think about the Lord’s broken body and shedding of blood, I remember that not only has He made a way for us to be with Him for all eternity but He set us free. Because of what He’s done for us, we no longer live under the curse and are no longer under the law. I firmly believe we are free from all sickness and addictions but better than that we now can have a relationship with God. This is the new covenant! Is life going to be a breeze? Heck no!   But when we remember what He has done for us, we come into the realization that we are never alone, He is good, faithful and can be trusted.

Now let us look at the polar opposite of remembering.

 

 

The Lord says in Isaiah 43: 18-19

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

There is nothing wrong with cherishing our memories but there are times we need to let go. Say we find ourselves reminiscing about the times our children were young and now that they flew the coop, we wish we could go back to those days. Sure it is ok to miss them, but now let the Lord do the new thing in your life. Your life isn’t over. The Lord promises to “make a way in the wilderness and steams in the wasteland.” Ask Him what that looks like.

How about when the memories are not so good? We need to let go and if need be forgive and seek the Lord in the matter. I’m not saying it is easy but with God all things are possible. Take one day at a time.

It is those little foxes that can especially trip us up.   Offense is a big culprit. As I more of less said in the Conformity blog, I am able to shake offense off rather quickly but there are those times, I have a sarcastic comeback. I am not one to start an argument but my weakness is, if you want one you got one. For the most part, 5 minutes later I can put it all behind me. My prayer is, that I let go of the offense immediately, never to give it a second thought. Furthermore to be baptized in a spirit love is something I been asking of the Lord. I heard of people who received it and I want it too. As for now, there are still those that get on my last nerve. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning. That means everyday is a fresh start, no matter what yesterday looked like.

There are even moves of God that we may need to put behind us. Maybe you were part of a wonderful move of God such as the Toronto Blessing, or were witness to Glory clouds, gold dust, fire on the rooftop. etc.  Oh yes, these things were all so glorious but I don’t want to reflect on them in a way that keeps me from moving forward in the things of God. I want to be part of the new thing that God is doing. My question is; Lord even though those things I heard about or experienced were astonishing, I want to know, what are You doing now?

In conclusion, let us remember the good memories, deal with and give God the bad ones. I pray that no memory good or bad would hold us back from the things that God has for us. Here is another promise from the Lord:

However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Whoo Hoo!!!! That is exciting. May we all move forward in the things of the Lord!

Conformity by Barbara

Let’s start this topic by going directly to the Word of God and see what the apostle Paul has to say about conforming.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)  

There is a great deal of information and direction in this small paragraph.  It is clear, we are not to conform to this world but what are some of the reasons that make a individual or a group conform?
.The desire to fit in
.The fear of rejection
.The fear of criticism
. The need to be liked
.Wanting to please people
. One is not sure how they feel regarding  a particular issue, therefore they conform with the majority

To put this in a nutshell it all comes down to fear of man.

There are many great men in the Bible who conformed to another’s way of thinking but I will list two.

In their old age Abraham and Sarah were promised a child. This blessed event wasn’t moving fast enough for Sarah so she took matters into her own hands.  Sarah gave her servant girl Hagar to Abraham  to have a child.  Instead of waiting on the Lord, Abraham  conformed to Sarah’s wishes.  This caused quite a mess.  You can read the story in Genesis.

Solomon’s weakness was women.  The Lord told him not to marry the foreign women but he did it anyway.   His wives worshiped other gods and Solomon conformed by worshipping them as well. Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord.  This account is in 1st Kings.

The good news is God can take our mistakes and make something good out of it but most of the time not without consequences.  Abraham and Sarah had their promised child Isaac but the child Ishmael, that Abraham had with Hagar, caused many problems within the family.  Abraham loved Ishmael but because of Sarah’s jealously, both Hagar and Ishmael were forced to leave their home.  Hmmm, looks like Abraham conformed again.  Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastics.  For the most part it sounds like doom and gloom.  I assume because of Solomon’s sin, he suffered great depression.  Though this is a controversial topic, I believe Solomon repented at the end and got right with the Lord.  It states in the last chapter of Ecclesiastics, 12: 13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (NIV)

When it comes to nonconforming,  Daniel is the man.  He is the most remarkable nonconformist of all times.  Here was a man that put God first in his life and was ready to serve Him, no matter what it looked like.  It looked atrocious as King Nebuchadnezzar took him captive at the prime of his life. The king was looking for young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. Daniel fit this bill to a T and was everything a young man could hope to be. I think it is safe to say, this was not the life Daniel signed up for but he accepted his position in life.  We see Daniel and his friends nonconforming  many times .  The first time we find that Daniel was not going to defile himself by eating the kings food. So he asked to be given a diet of vegetables and water for ten days.  His request was granted.  At the end of ten days not only did he and his friends look healthier the Bible says they were fatter than the other men.  Next we have King Nebuchadnezzar wanting everyone to worship a statue he had made.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused. So they are told to either comply or die in the fiery furnace.  They would not conform to the kings wishes, they chose death but are saved. They come out of that fiery furnace without even a eyebrow singed.  Later, due to the jealously of the satraps, King Darius was tricked by them. The satraps had the King make a decree that if anyone prays to another god other than the king, they will be thrown into the lion’s den.  Daniel refuses to conform.  He prays to the Lord with the windows wide open like always and the King is obligated to throw him in the lion’s den.  The Lord shuts the lions mouths, Daniel is saved and his accusers and their families are thrown in the lion’s den and killed instantly.  Clearly as there were consequences to Abraham and Solomon’s conforming , there were rewards for Daniels nonconforming. The Kings Daniel served grew to love Daniel and showed him much favor.  What a witness, Daniel was for the Lord, as a result of nonconforming, the kings saw the power of the Lord and praised God for it.  I also find it interesting that in reading Daniel, he grew to love the Kings also but he would never to conform to their commands if it went against the Lord.  I would suggest studying The Book of Daniel.  It is an amazing book and is superb at demonstrating how to trust God, and what nonconforming is all about.

There are times when conforming is a good thing.  Take the set of circumstances of the apostle Paul’s life.  We first meet him in the Bible as Saul of Tarsus. He was a Pharisee and was a great persecutor of the Christian Church.  He was thrilled when Stephen was martyred.  Starting with Acts 9, Saul has an encounter with God.  The Lord speaks to him, strikes him blind but the Lord sends a disciple name Ananias to pray for him and he regains his sight.  This merciless persecutor of the church, now named Paul is conformed to the teachings of Jesus Christ and became the greatest apostle that ever live.  He was beaten, thrown in jail and faced many other trials and persecution but did not conformed to his old ways and stayed true to Christ to the end.

I was in my car the other day, scanning the radio stations when I heard a very upbeat song.  It was titled, “Shake it Off.” Grant you, I know this is a long way off from a Christian song but there is a powerful message in it.  In the song, Taylor Swift sings about the factors in her life, where people are putting her down.  The words spoken about her are critical, could cause rejection, and downright mean.  She continues to sing about how players are going to play and haters are going to hate. What does Taylor do?  She just shakes it off!  People are always going to talk, sadly even Christians will persecute other Christians.  What do we do when we are talked about or put down?  Like the song says, We shake it off, shake it off! I realize there are times when correction needs to be brought but the bible has an answer to this matter also. “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:15-17 The Message  Presuming we are not in the above situation, it is essential to develop a thicker skin, lose our fear of man, know what we believe and stand firm no matter what. When it is all said and done the only person we need to care about what they think of us is Jesus.  If we do this, EVERYTHING else will fall into place.  If we are pleasing the Lord we are in the center of His will.  If we in the center of His will then we are doing the things that Jesus is asking of us.  If this is the case who gives a rip what other people say and think?  If we fail, take comfort in Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. We serve a God who is slow to anger and forgives us, therefore  repent and ask the Lord to help you do better and He will.  God isn’t finished with any of us yet.

Though this topic  is on “Conformity” I don’t want to end it without talking about renewing our minds since it is part of Romans 12:2. So how do we renew our minds?  By means of going to church, praying, which is talking to God and studying the Word.  Studying the Word is extremely important.  If we don’t make the Bible a part of our lives it would be impossible to renew our minds.  The Word teaches us about our heavenly Father, His love for us, Jesus, Holy Spirit and how to live our lives and so much more.  There are many topics in the Bible that can be debated BUT when it comes to how we are to live, it is crystal clear.  If we know the Word, there will be no question regarding a particular issue.  Even with that being said there is a verse in the  Bible stating, ALL of us were born with an instinct of what is right and what is wrong. “When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” 
Romans 2:14-16 in The Message
One thing I learned to do is pay attention to what we call “red flags.”  The red flags could be the Holy Spirit talking to us or warning us.  It could be anything from walking away from gossip or watching a TV program or the decisions of life such as should I take this job, should I sell my house?  Hence, listen for that still small voice for direction.

Don’t despair if you have conformed to issues in the past.   As I said in previous blogs, this Christian life is a journey.  Take one day at a time an enjoy the ride.  This journey is a process and as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither is our Christian walk.  In my years as a Christian, I have conformed more times than I like to admit.  Spending time with the Lord everyday has helped me develop a thick skin but it wasn’t over night.  Are things said about me? Yes! Do I care anymore?  Nope!  I just shake it off, shake it off!  I pray you will as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Grace by Barbara

Grace is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I covered quite a bit of it in a previous blog, “Cocoon of Grace,” but I feel it is worth repeating. Once you get the concept of Grace, you will understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 11: 28-30 when He said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The Message

Receiving the revelation of grace is the best thing that ever happened in my Christian walk. Before that time, every day was an effort to measure up and I never could. I always had a picture of God the Father ready to squash me like a bug whenever I did anything wrong or some kind of punishment was always on its way. On the other hand if I was having a extremely good day, I thought I earned the Father’s love. The latter was very rare. Almost every day, I felt like I disappointed the Lord. Joyce Meyer calls this “stinking thinking.” It is a heartbreaking the way some Christians live their lives and I was one of them but not any longer. Thankfully, I had great teaching on God’s grace. I learned that when Jesus died on the cross for us, He died that we would spend eternity with Him in heaven, but He died for so much more. Jesus paid such a heavy price for us. He died a horrific death and He died in agony, all because He loves us with a love that is unconditional. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve the intimate relationship they had with God was broken. Men could no longer go to God directly. They had to go through a priest and every year they brought an animal to be sacrificed that was used for atonement for their sins. Jesus made us right with God again when He became the living sacrifice. All our sins were forgiven, past, present and future. In other words because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are righteous. With all the mistakes we make when God looks at us, He sees us as perfect. Furthermore, we do not need anyone to go the Father for us. Jesus destroyed that rift and we are no longer separated from the Father. His love is unconditional, it is not based on performance. There is NOTHING we can do to earn grace. It is a free gift, I can’t say it enough. God loves us. He always has and he always will. This does not mean that we can act ungodly or do anything we want. Clearly, God’s given grace and His love does not mean there are not consequences to our transgressions. You cannot rob a bank and think “it is ok, God loves me.” You would be right in thinking God still loves you but you would be wrong to think it is ok. Once caught, you will pay the consequences and most likely spend time in jail. The example may be farfetched but I assume it drives the point home. When we realize the grace of God and how much He loves us, we come to the place where we love the Father also and want to please Him. The Word tell us, We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (The Message)

 

My favorite example of the Father’s love is in the story of the prodigal son.

Luke 15: 11-32 (The Message)
“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand. He got right up and went home to his father. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’ “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!”

This is grace at its best. This son betrayed his father and broke his heart. As you can see the son came to his senses, decided to come back home and accept the penalty for his actions. When the father saw his son at a distance what does the story tell us? It tells us he ran to his son, hugged and kissed him. All the wrongdoing the son carried out was forgiven and forgotten. This is a picture of our heavenly Father, He forgives and He forgets. You may be thinking, “great story but that is not fair to the older son.” Yes it is. All the older son had to do was tell his father what he wanted as he was told, “everything that is mine is yours.” I believe there is another lesson in this. When we see a prodigal come home, don’t get upset when the Father blesses him as it is a time to rejoice, seeing that, he is no longer lost but found.

A couple of years ago, I had a vision about the Lord’s love. It was a black and white sketch. Jesus was hugging someone tightly. I’m not sure if it was me or not as I was intensely focused on Jesus’ face. His face was grimaced and His arms were firmly wrapped around the person and I knew by the look on His face and the way He was hugging them, that He did not want to let them go. The love on the face of Jesus was amazing. In reality, “amazing” does not even come close to the love I saw on the face of our Savior. He loves each and every one of us like this. That love like His grace is unconditional. I will say it again, no matter what you do, you cannot earn it. It is a free gift.

In conclusion, know that you are loved, know that your sins are forgiven, know that you have access to the Father at any given time because of what Jesus did on the cross for you and me.

If you want to learn more about grace and the love of God I would highly recommend the following books.

  • Unmerited Favor by Joseph Price
  • You’ve Already Got It! (So Quit Trying To Get It) by Andrew Wommack

 

Destiny by Barbara

Countless of times, I have prayed this prayer over numerous people, “Lord let them walk into their destiny as You have a perfect plan for them. Lord, order their steps. There have been times it was prayed over me as well. So, does God really have a destiny, a plan for each and every one of us? Well the Word says He does. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) Proverbs 20:24 states: “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?” (NIV) There it is in black and white, each and every one of us has a destiny.

One of my favorite Christian TV shows is “Joni Table Talk.” The show consists of approximately 4 women. Generally they have one guest per episode. It is quite interesting as they are courageous enough to converse on any topic. In a recent episode, Joni had film writer Randall Wallace as a guest. Mr. Wallace directed the movie “Heaven is for Real.” He actually went to seminary. He thought maybe there was a call on his life to be a Pastor so he met with his own Pastor to discuss it. Randall’s Pastor asked him, “Do you feel a call on your life to be a Pastor?” His reply? “No I don’t. I know it is the greatest call you can have BUT I don’t feel it.” I absolutely love his Pastor’s comeback. “You’re wrong! It’s not the greatest call. The greatest call in your life is the one God has for you.” Now that my friends is destiny! It is fulfilling the purpose, God created you to do.

Truthfully, thoughts regarding destiny was stressful. In my mind’s eye, it was being the leader of a full-size ministry, along with tons of work. “Thanks but no thanks, I think I will pass” was my stance but it troubled me continuously. My view changed when I spent time with the Lord every day. He taught me to take one day at a time, to relax and not dwell on it. He also taught me through His Word. When John the Baptist was in prison, he had doubts that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus sent word to him confirming:

  • The blind see,
  • The lame walk,
  • Lepers are cleansed,
  • The deaf hear,
  • The dead are raised,
  • The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. (Matthew 11: 4-6 ( The Message)

Listed above are some of the miracles that Jesus performed to prove He was the Messiah but He said, we would do the greater things. John 14: 11-14 commands us to perform the greater things. “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. Therefore, if Jesus affirmed that we can do the greater things, what should we at least be doing? We should declare that:

  • The blind see,
  • The lame walk,
  • Lepers are cleansed,
  • The deaf hear,
  • The dead are raised,
  • The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

Have I experienced any of this at all? Oh yes! I have been healed many times but that is for another blog. I have also prayed for people and saw them get healed. How can I do this? Easy, it is not me. It has nothing to do with who I am or what I have done. It is all because of who He is and what He has done. I am beginning to realize who I am in Christ. Romans 8:17 tells me that I am a joint heir in Christ. He said I was to do it and I’m stepping out in faith and walking into my destiny. Jesus has an additional responsibility that He wants us to carry out. It is called The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 instructs us: “Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (The Message) Simply put, preach the gospel, and lead others to the Lord.

Years ago, I heard this heartrending story about a believing couple that died never realizing their purpose in life. This is so distressing as it was right under their noses. All they had to do was act on what Jesus said to do. God has called many to have big ministries, become inspiring writers, paint awesome paintings, take breathtaking photos, etc. and this is the destiny the Lord as given them, HOWEVER if you are not among them, do not fret as what could be better than walking in The Great Commission and performing the miracles the Lord told you to do. To put emphasis on this one final time let us look at Luke 4:18:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (NIV)

This is the destiny for ALL believers.

Just a note of caution. When you step out in faith, alas, more often than not, you will deal with the skeptics, critics, naysayers or a phrase I recently heard, ” the dogs of doom.” Unfortunately the negative comments usually come from those that are closest to us as well as from the enemy. Don’t listen!!!! If the Lord has laid something on your heart to accomplish, walk in faith and go for it. It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes as you will probably make plenty but that is ok. We learn from mistakes. Just let Christ pick you up, afterward step up to the plate again. If Jesus said we can do it, we can and that settles it fully!!!!

In closing, the best way to discover what the Lord’s plans are for you is to spend time with Him. As I said in the last blog “Frazzled,” just start out with 15 minutes a day. Don’t make it complicated. Pour your heart out to Him but take the time to listen. Get into the Word also as that is another way that the Lord will speak to you. Remember, He has a perfect plan for your life. Give your life to Him and that plan will come to pass.

Frazzled By: Barbara

Which one of us has not been frazzled at one time or another? Can any of us honestly say they have not found themselves in this condition. I sure can’t. A number of the meanings of “frazzled” are: the state of being emotionally and physically exhausted, nervous fatigue, stressed, frayed at the edges. I’m almost humiliated to say I found myself in this state of mind many a time. The truth is being frazzled is a form of anxiety. The Lord tell us we are to be anxious for nothing. If Jesus tells us this and we know that Jesus in not a liar then we have to believe in faith that this is feasible. How do we get to this place where we do not become frazzled? Well I guess the best thing to do is tell you the circumstances that had me frazzled and then explain how the Lord dealt with me.
The first two testimonies coming under the meaning of “frayed at the edges,” nothing major but a nuisance. Years ago, I had a bit of road rage. Mind you, I never got out of the car screaming at anyone but I was incredibly fluent in the one finger sign language, and spewed out the vocabulary that went along with it. To answer the question you may have, yes I was a Christian at the time but as the saying goes “God was not finished with me yet.” I remember one particular summer night, I was on my way to a Bible study. On the seat of the passenger side of the car was my big black Bible. The windows of the car were wide opened and I was approaching a fork in the road. It was two lanes, drivers had the choice of either bearing to the right or going straight. The driver in front of me obviously could not comprehend which lane he needed, as a result, he was weaving in and out between lanes and he really had me frazzled. Bellowing at the top of my lungs, I screamed “would you make up your blank blank blank mind!” Instantaneously, I heard the booming laughter of a group of teenage boys in another car. To say conviction came upon me is an understatement and I came to the opinion that I was the biggest hypocrite that ever lived. I put my Bible on the floor as I would be utterly mortified should anyone see it. Sadly, I didn’t understand the concept of Grace* back then so I beat myself up needlessly.
Tailgaters were the most frazzling. I would put my windshield wipers on to spray water on the tailgaters windshield. Seeing the driver putting on their own wipers to remove the sprayed water made it a little less frazzling and oh the satisfaction that came with it. The Lord began to work on my heart about this and He convicted me in a loving way, whereas I felt no condemnation just a desire to change. The Lord provoked me to ask for His help and I did. Tailgaters are now a dilemma of the past. One of three things happen and it is almost immediate. The driver will either pass me, make a turn onto another street or last but not least, right before my eyes, I see them backing up at a safe distance. What is nothing short of a miracle is that this has been going on for two years now, each and every single time. All I say is “Lord, please get them off my tail.” I can’t help but wonder what is going on with the person that is backing up. Is the Lord telling them to back off or are they seeing fire or something coming from the car? When I say a safe distance, some of them back up about 2 and 3 car lengths if not more. One of these day I hope to be able to get out of the car and ask them why they backed up so far. I no longer get mad and I will ask the Lord to bless the driver. A relapse occurs now and then when a driver almost causes me to have a accident but I am no longer using sign language nor spewing out obscenities except possibly to call them an idiot but again I feel the nudge of the Lord and once again His perfect peace comes and I pray a blessing and a prayer of protection over them and of course thanking the Lord for His hedge of protection over me.
The next testimony comes under the meaning of ” being emotionally and physically exhausted.” My husband, Lou, lost a very good job through no fault of his own. The company was fighting the unemployment benefits even though it was his right to collect. The battle was going on for weeks and there was no way my income would see us through. There weren’t many times I was able to put into practice the words of the Lord, “be anxious for nothing” so many times my nerves were shot and I found myself imagining all kinds of horrors if the benefits did not come through. A lawyer was consulted and his fee was three to five thousand dollars and that was even if he did not win the case. Meanwhile, I had already planned a trip to South Carolina with one of my best friends. We were going to a Christian conference and Lou and I agreed I should still go. We would make up our minds about retaining the lawyer when I returned. The conference was amazing with anointed worship, great teaching as well as an awesome time in the Lord’s presence. During one session we were asked to just go up to people and pray for them. I met a man there and though we had brief conversations, he knew nothing about my circumstances and I did not tell him anything before he prayed. He began to pray over me but then he declared, “I will be your lawyer, I will plead your case.” He meant the Lord of course not himself. I knew without a doubt, I heard the voice of the Lord through this man and I was NOT to hire the lawyer and I was determined to stand on that word. Once I got home I told Lou about the word that was given to me. He was shaken but he also decided to stand on the word. You see, he was saved but I was saved quite a few years before him and he saw too many miracles in my life to discredit it. When my friend and I came back from that conference we came back different people and we never been the same since. I learned more and more about trusting God. This did not mean that everything would go my way but I trusted that my Daddy God knew best no matter what it looked like.
During the waiting period for the benefits and after the conference, the Lord began to show me that if I wanted to continue to grow in Him it was imperative that I spend time with him. I got up very early in the morning to do this and to be truthful I did not feel it was going well. In fact, I actually got mad at the Lord as it felt like a waste of time. I considered it a one way conversation with me doing all the talking but I persevered. Why was it like this? I have an though on that. Jeremiah 29:13 tells us, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” He wanted me to seek Him with all that I had, to make me hungry for him. To make me realize how much I wanted Him. After pursuing Him for some time and learning how to just listen, things began to change. I don’t remember how long it took but He showed up. Well actually He was always there but He finally revealed Himself to me. His presence filled the room, and I said, “Jesus you just walked in the room didn’t you? With His presence came the peace that passes all understanding. It is not like this all the time but after doing this for a few years now, I have to say it is more than not. The wait is not long, I just sit there with my cup of coffee to meet Him on my living room couch and I feel Him there. This is also when I spend time in His Word and He speaks to me through it. It is glorious. Just to be clear, spending time with Him does not mean countless hours on your knees. There will be times when we may need to pray like that but I always meet Him in the morning, in my PJ’s and as I already stated, a cup of coffee. I know some may find that offensive but keep in mind I am having real fellowship with Him!
So what you may ask does life look like without being frazzled? Well for one, even though the battle for Lou’s unemployment benefits went on for weeks afterwards, I did not have the anxiety anymore and I knew it would be ok. Lou did receive the benefits, and even when they ran out the Lord kept us and since then he found another job, not like the other one but the Lord continues to see us through. I also found I was no longer frazzled over other situations and one was most devastating. 2013 was a difficult year. I lost my mother, sister and an older friend in a 5 month span. Realistically it should have been a state of being emotionally and physically exhausted, frazzled to the extreme but I wasn’t. I know they are all with the Lord and that gives me a peace that passes all understanding. I got to be with my sister and witness her leave this life, into Glory and I will always be thankful for that. If I did not have the relationship I have with the Lord today, I’m not sure I would have gotten through it. Yes, I did mourn for a season but I’m ok, moreover I am at peace. I realize that everyone deals with the death of a loved one in different ways and that is normal just don’t go through it without the Lord. The Comforter (Holy Spirit) comforted me and He will do the same for you!
A lesser example. My daughter loves to travel. She takes a big vacation almost every year, out of the United States, in addition to a couple in the states. This consists of lots of flying. I found myself checking the flight landing status continually and became frazzled waiting for the time that the plane landed safely. When she was in another country, I was a total mess until she got home as I anticipated all the terrors that could befall her and her friends. Sleep was out of the question. “Lord PLEASE protect them” was my plea. I was begging. Oh my, it was pitiful. Presently, I do not get frazzled at all. I have peace whether she is in or out of the country. As far as checking the flight plans, I may look at it a couple times but for the most part I just tell her, “call me when you get there. I do pray Psalm 91, the prayer of protection, knowing that she is in the Lord’s hands. Oh and I no longer have a fear of flying.
Even my driving has improved. I was terrified of driving in the snow. Grant you, I still do not enjoy it and would rather not but I am not getting frazzled over it anymore and this winter certainly gave me a lot of experience.
I do not look at circumstances around me any longer as I know my God is faithful therefore I feel his peace. I’m also filled with the joy of the Lord and I am hardly ever in a bad mood. I can honestly say it takes a lot nowadays to get me frazzled. Do I have any areas where I still need victory? Yes! I have a difficult time being around people that are always negative. No matter what their circumstances, they can’t see the good. Yes I pray for them but I’m yearning to stop thinking about smacking them at the same time. Annoying people (thorns in my side) can at times get me frazzled. I have come a long way in this area. I keep in mind they are the Lord’s children too and for the most part I can ignore them instead of flipping out like I once did. Victory is coming so please pray for me.
In conclusion, I have learned, through trials and tribulations that having peace that passes all understanding is feasible. For me though it took developing that relationship with the Lord to get to this place and it is so worth the time. If we want a friendship we must spend time with that friend and it is the same with the Lord. Don’t worry about how much time. All our schedules are different but I suggest you just start out with 15 minutes a day if you can. I also like to add that some of the best conversations and experiences I had with the Lord were in my car on the way to work. He is always there you just need to make yourself available.
*Grace: If you do not understand the concept of Grace please see my article “Cocoons” on this blog.

Sojourn by Barbara

“Sojourn,” Now here is a word that does not get thrown around much in a conversation, however it shows up in the Bible many times. For example: Genesis 12:9-11 states, “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land,” Judges 17:9, “And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place,” Psalm 105:23, “Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.”  When we read these verses we comprehend that a sojourn is a place to stay, to lodge, a stop-over, to live or dwell in a place for a season.  Sojourns are temporary, just transitory moments in our lives.

Countless person, places and things  in life may be long-term such as staying married to the same spouse, keeping a house in the family, friendships, job etc., of course a few of them may be a sojourn.  Many are by choice but as we well know this is not always the case.  God ways are not our ways.

Case in point: Years ago I owned a pet grooming business.  My husband and I were married for quite a few years and we had no children.  We both agreed we were ok with that so off I went to New York to learn how to groom.  It wasn’t long after graduation that the Lord put me at the right place at the right time and my business was launched.  My plan for my life was to stay in this business until I retired.  I’m sure you heard of the old cliché, “Tell God your plans and he laughs at you.”  Well this is what happened to me which was a shock since the Lord opened all the doors for this to come to pass, nevertheless it was a sojourn in my life. After 3 years into the business and 11 years of marriage I suspected I was pregnant. I took one of those home pregnancy tests just to put my mind at ease as it just could not be after all these years. When the test came out positive, I actually called the company that made the product to let them know in no uncertain terms their test was wrong. The kind woman on the other end of the line declared, “Honey, if our test gave you a positive result then you are pregnant! Our test may give a false negative result but not a false positive.  You need to see a doctor.”  I was devastated when a doctor confirmed the results but abortion was not an option.  After awhile, my husband and I both had a change of heart and looked forward to our new arrival.  Against the advice of some friends and family members I put the business up for sale as I felt lead from the Lord to do so and it was the right decision. I’m delighted to say I  took to motherhood like a fish takes to water and I never looked back. Though motherhood isn’t easy, it is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. The business sojourn taught me to trust the Lord no matter what it looks like.  I learned that He really is faithful as well as elated that He showed me His plans are better than mine.

Now let us take a look at the most important sojourn of them all, our time here on earth. Here is how The Message explains it: 1 Peter 2:11 “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”  Although it is just a  few sentences, it tells us how to live our sojourn on earth.  No matter how many years we live, earth is our temporary home.  We are just passing through.  When we read about heaven in the Bible or hear of one’s encounter, we may long for our sojourn on earth to end.  Our life should be filled with the joy of the Lord but it can be very difficult at times, oh come on, let’s be honest, it can downright suck. When we think about being with Jesus for all eternity, those streets of gold, a place where there is no more sorrow and no more tears we almost want to cry out, “Lord take me home.” I certainly have.  At the same time, I do not believe we should continuously be longing for our heavenly home as we have a job to do here on earth.  We are told in 2 Peter 3:9, “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” Do you see It? It is the Lord’s desire that no one would perish.  We should be co-laboring with the Lord, therefore let us be His witnesses by living lives that will attract the lost to Him.  Therefore when the sojourn gets tough the tough get going.  Enjoy the sojourns of your life the good and the not so good.  Think of it as an adventure.  Have faith in the Lord as He is trustworthy.