Sunday, August 30, 2015

life is precious in His sight

When I started this blog, I had determined in myself that I would do my best to stay away from politics, topics of the day etc., and stick to the things God was revealing to me.  About 3 weeks ago, I felt very compelled to talk about Nehemiah's reaction to hearing about a terrible situation in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah 1

4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

 I knew God was speaking to me about my own responses to a grave situation in our world, but I did not want to put it out there. I must admit my own fears of rejection and fears of confrontation have often gotten the better of me.  But today, I was reading in Jeremiah chapter 1 and God reminded me that He wanted me to speak what was in my heart. In Sunday school this morning, the scripture first mentioned and discussed were the very verses in Jeremiah chapter 1 that had spoke to me this morning.
God spoke to Jeremiah and told him his was being sent to speak to nations. Jeremiah was afraid and felt he was too young and inadequate.  God reminded him that It was God who would do the speaking and He would keep him.  So, I feel compelled to write what I know God has been speaking to me.  I feel compelled to put it out here for others. I am not saying I will speak it to the nations. It may be only a handful of people who may ever see this, but it is in my heart.

Throughout the past few weeks, we have been given access to videos of the doctors and leaders of Planned Parenthood speaking of the sale of fetal tissue for gain.  These little babies are being dismembered and discarded. These videos have brought an atrocity into the national spotlight. Abortion in itself has been brought into a national discussion.
 I am going on record and stating that the heart of God is grieving over the unborn children that are being slaughtered daily in the name of convenience, in the name of greed, shame and selfishness. I am stating clearly, that the sale of these little bodies is absolutely disgusting and heartbreaking.
I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is displeased by this and these actions grieve our Heavenly Father.
As I watched the videos, my reaction was to cry. I cried over these children who will never know what the sun feels like. They will never get to feel a hug or be held. They will never laugh or play. They were destroyed by a system that says it is ok to destroy life. The last video I watched showed an actual little body.  It was perfectly formed down to every finger and toe. It was to be cut apart for harvest.  I could not finish this video.  My soul was crushed. My heart ached for this child. I began to ask God what could I ever do to change this?

I had the privilege about 23 years ago to hold my tiny little cousin. She was born at 6 months along with her twin whom had passed after birth.  My little cousin was so tiny, she fit in my hand. She was fighting so hard to live. She was about a week old and fighting. When we sang Jesus Loves Me to her, her vitals would improve and her heart would beat strongly. She was beautiful. She survived for nine days. I will never forget holding that precious little child in my hands.  Life is life from the moment it is conceived.
God told Jeremiah in chapter 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.
Job 31:15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

God says life is there before we are born. His Word is truth and we cannot change it to our own liking.
In Luke 1:44, we read about John in the womb leaping at the greeting of Mary.  He knew before he was born that she carried the Messiah. He was a living child.

Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made.(Psalms 139:13) Even those who were conceived out of sinful actions, mistakes and even those from rape.  I have seen many stories of women who chose to keep their children, and not one has said it was negative.  Every one of them shared the blessing of that child.

I have grieved with loved ones and friends over a miscarriage. Miscarriages are often dismissed in our society, but those children mean so much to their mother.  They were alive, loved and valuable. Those little lives lost were precious. I have listened as my sister mourned the loss of her baby.  I have wanted so badly to offer words of comfort to my friend as she held out hope that the next dr visit would reveal that her baby's heartbeat was still there.  I cannot even pretend to understand.  Life was lost.

I think about when I found out I was pregnant. I loved going to the doctor for one reason only.  I got to hear my baby's heartbeat.  A heartbeat is the evidence of life.  It is what the doctor listens for first. That is life.  A heartbeat means life.  I had gestational diabetes with my first child.  While that was difficult, it also meant I went to the doctor 3 times a week to be monitored.  I got to sit and just listen to my little girl's heart. I got to see her moving and wiggling.  I got to see her grow before she was even out of the womb.  I fought hard to eat right, monitor my sugar, and cried through giving myself shots (I really hate needles) all so she could be healthy.  I know she was a live little being.  I saw her living. I saw and heard her heartbeating.  There is no doubt that life was there. It was no longer about what I wanted. It was not about my choice to do what I liked or eat what I wanted. It was about another living being that needed my best.

I understand there are girls out there that feel they have not choice. I understand they are afraid. I understand a baby brings difficulty and even shame at times. I understand having a baby changes everything.  I understand a woman may not feel prepared for this child. I understand this child may not fit in the plan you had or wanted. BUT, God does not make mistakes when life is created.  He has a plan for each and every life. When mistakes are made, we need to recognize and understand there are consequences that go with it.  However, making more mistakes does not erase the first mistake.  There are better choices for those little lives.
Abortion is sin. It is destruction.  It is murder. It destroys lives. It leads to guilt and depression. It causes more emotional scars than I can even fathom.
Please choose life.

As a follower of Christ, Jeremiah described what our reaction should be to this terrible atrocity.  Christians should be falling to our knees in anguish and mourning. Fasting and praying should be our response.  Christians should be driven to the throne of God over these babies and women who need Him.  We should be finding His will.  God reminded me that my tears over these babies is what is needed. My heart should be grieved by what grieves Him.  He wants His body to respond as He would. He needs us to fast and pray.  He needs us to move in His love and pour love into these women who are feeling trapped, scared and fearful.  He needs His body to be His hands and feet.  He needs His body to wrap arms of love around these women and show them that He loves them, that He loves that little child and He wants to bring forth life, not only of the child, but for them too.

My heart weeps. I pray that God would reveal to me His heart. I pray for these little lives. I pray for these mothers to hear God calling to make a different choice.  I pray for the providers of abortions that God would convict them and show them the grave error of their ways. I pray for those who go about the business of dismembering a little body, that they would be stricken with grief over the life they just so casually discarded.  I pray that God intervene and bring about a change in our society that life would be valued even in the womb.  That life would matter no matter how tiny. That God's perspective of a life would be the only perspective that makes sense.

My mother had a tiny plastic baby that was the size of a ten week old baby. It was about 2 inches long and was perfectly formed. That always amazed me.  She kept it up in a dish on her bookshelf. I would look at that little plastic baby and realize that God created life in the most amazing way.  In His image. Genesis 1:27
I feel it is time to respond as Jeremiah responded. It is time to fast and pray. It is time to seek God's face in this matter. It is time to find what He wants His people to do.  Yelling at abortionists does not work. Threats are not going to help anyone. Waiting for politicians will not change the hearts that are involved. Only God can do what is truly needed. His body needs to respond to His will and guidance and take action, first,  in the Spirit through prayer and fasting.  After that, only He knows what we need to do.  I need to find out what that is.  Do you? Do I have the strength to act when He says act?

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

deliverance will arise

Today, as I was reading my Bible I came across the following in Esther chapter 4.

13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

It caused me to stop and really think about what Mordecai was telling Esther.  He had sent a message to her and had told her to go before the king to fight for the lives of the Jews. She has responded with fear and concern for her personal safety. She knew that the law said that if someone came before the king without being summoned, they would be put to death unless the king held out his scepter to grant them an audience with him. She was responding as most of us would. We fear risk and fear for our lives.

Mordecai responded and encouraged her that she was the one to do this and she was called for this purpose. However, Esther still had a choice. She could have chosen to step back, attempt to protect herself and as Mordecai pointed out, someone else would have stepped up to the challenge.  If you notice in verse 14 Mordecai says, "then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place."  This line really caught my attention. Mordecai knew that Esther was in a position, placed there by God for this purpose.  But, he also knew, without a doubt, that if she did not choose to follow the path set before her, that God would still come through and deliver the Jews. He had strong faith in the promises of God to keep His people. He knew God would do what was necessary to protect and keep His chosen people. He knew God was faithful.

Esther could have hidden or stood back and waited to see if her position as queen would have kept her. This would have caused God to act and bring a different person into the picture to fulfill his promise of deliverance. Esther, however, would have missed out on fulfilling the plans God had for her. She would have missed out on the blessings and seeing the mighty hand of God move through her actions. The mighty story of Esther would have been one of sorrow and disobedience. It might have not even been part of the history we now can read.

So, now I have to ask myself: How many times have I allowed my own fears and concerns of personal safety or comfort to keep me from fulfilling the purpose God has for my life?
Have I turned and hid myself or stood back and waited to see if my place of choice would keep me safe rather than obeying the voice of God?  How many times has God had to act and find someone else to fulfill his promise because I chose not to obey?

Sometimes faith demands us to take a risk. Sometimes faith demands we go against the flow. Sometimes faith demands we to stand up for right and speak out in the face of sin or attack.
God does not ask for these things to cause fear. He asks for these things so he can fulfill His promises for us and for His people. In 1 Samuel 15:22 we are told that to obey is better than sacrifice. God is asking for obedience and for us to stand upon His Word. He is asking someone to step out in faith and allow His glory and power to operate through them so His purpose can be done. He has a plan that we need to operate in. He has a purpose that will be fulfilled. It is our choice to be used or not.

Esther chose the good part. She chose to follow the path set before her. She went to the Lord in fasting and prayer, told God she would obey no matter what, then went before the King. Through her act of faith and obedience, God delivered the Jews from slaughter and revealed His glory. He performed this in an unexpected way. This deliverance generated a celebration honored by the Jews.  Esther became a hero to her people. She was the instrument of the deliverance

We can all learn from both of these people.
From Mordecai we can learn that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Mordecai never waivered in believing that God would be there and deliver. We need to have that kind of trust and faith in God. He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He promises to fulfill His word. It may not happen the way we think it should happen, but God will do what He says He will do. Faith should never waiver in the face of adversity. Deliverance will arise.
From Esther we can learn that God will use us and if we don't allow him to do so, we are the ones who will miss out on seeing His mighty hand move. We would miss out on seeing His glory. It is better to step out in faith and allow God to do what He plans. If we are to know what God is asking of us, we need to spend time speaking and hearing from God. Sometimes that means fasting and prayer and time spent only with Him. (Matthew 17:21, Daniel 9:3, Psalm 35:13) That is the place of strength and resolve. In those times of intimacy with God, is how he prepares us and gives us what we need to go forward in His purpose. Esther knew this and went to God first.  Be an instrument of deliverance.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

it takes family (part 2 of when I heard these words)

My last post "when I heard these words,"  is about the response Nehemiah had upon hearing about the devastation of Jerusalem and the captives that were returning there. This post will continue with this theme.  Basically, from the last post, I believe God is wanting a response from His people of mourning and weeping over the current devastation within His body and within this world. Fasting and prayer are appropriate responses and very needed.

Upon entering Jerusalem, Nehemiah, went out alone at night and surveyed the situation. He gained an understanding of what needed to be done. There was opposition from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem.  These men were not helpful and they were discouragers. They were nay-sayers and those that carry around the bitter attitude of the world. They are those that try to convince God's people that it is futile to even attempt prayer.
Nehemiah gave them this response in chapter 2: "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem."

Then in chapter 3, the people that were living in Jerusalem began to build. As I read this chapter, each man took a section of the wall to rebuild. Most men took responsibility for the wall in front of his house.  Not just the man, but his family got out there and worked on the wall. Each family took a section and gave it all they had to make that wall functional and proper. If there was a gate near them, they placed the gate back on the hinges. The priests and Levites, the leaders of the day, came from the regions around and took up the sections that others did not.  Do you see the significance of this?

Nehemiah was the catalyst that started a movement to rebuild. The people, the families, the religious leaders took up that call of rebuilding. It became important to them. They did the 'job'., not just Nehemiah. They did not leave it up to him.  They realized that the concerns and the situation were their responsibility too. They realized they too had to get involved in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  Not just some of them, but the entire family was needed.

Our families are important to God.  If we are not building the spiritual lives of our families, then it is time to start. If we have backed off or turned from building our families spiritually, it is time to start rebuilding. What does that mean?  If families fall, the church will fall. Families need to be strengthened from within and from one another. God ordained the parents to teach the children the commands of God.
Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

God is interested in seeing us following his commands and really wants us to teach them to our children.  If you want to see your children living a good, God-fearing life, teach them how by living it yourself, have bible study with your children, and pray with them.  It is time for families to get the word of God back as the priority of the family. Not the video games, and other things that take up our time and distract us from our true purpose.

God is also wanting families to come together and connect. As they built the wall in chapter 3, each man connected it to the part of the wall his neighbor was building.  When we come together as the family of God in unity and in service to God, we can become a unified force.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

Hebrews 10;25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

God is not pleased when we forsake other Christians or the assembling together to lift one another up.  I have talked to many people who do not find it important or valuable to go to church.  They have many reasons, such as,"I don't need to go to church to be a christian,""they are all hypocrites," " I don't like the music," or "I got hurt and I'm not going back."  While these may be true reasons, it is still hindering you from obeying God.  God wants a body that works and flows together. That is why he also commanded his body to love one another, be kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as he forgave us. (Ephesians 4:25). He does not want a disjointed, sick, hurt body that cannot function.  If you are to be part of a body, you must come together for the body to function.  My leg cannot function properly without my foot, toes, hips, torso, brain, etc.  It has to function in accord with the rest of my body.  When we make excuses for not being part of the body, while they may be valid to you, it does not please God.  He wants one body!   The body of God can move and operate together to fully function if we would obey Him.  I am talking about the entire body.  God does not want us arguing with one another over differences that have nothing to do with His purpose.  He does not want to hear his children fighting and arguing when they should be listening to His voice instead.  We think much too highly of ourselves.  Most of us, think we know the truth and everyone else needs to get on board.  Maybe we need to humble ourselves and pray rather than spending so much time on what we think we know or spending so much time looking at what everyone else is doing and really find out what God is doing.  Again, this will mean prayer and fasting just like Nehemiah.

The leaders, the priests and Levites, got to fill in and rebuild the sections that were still needed to be rebuilt. This tells me that our Christian leaders have the job of seeing needs and meeting them.  When families and churches can't do something, they need a leader who can.  A leader who can connect those families and churches together in the body through preaching and edifying, building up the body of Christ. There should be a connection of ministry to the very purpose of God. Pulling down another part of the body, is not pleasing to God.  God does not need us to criticize other parts of the body.  We are to build them up, even if we don't agree with how they do things or even how they might believe doctrinally.  If God speaks to them, saved them and is working through them, it is time to embrace them and recognize their importance to the body of Christ. Unity!

If we are to see the changes in our churches, in our world and in our communities, it comes down to this.
There needs to be a catalyst, followed by families rebuilding, leaders who lead and true unity in the body of Christ.  It is time for the body to move and operate as one in Christ.  Cast aside the pride, hurt, self-righteousness and humble ourselves through prayer and fasting.  Seek the face of God. Seek His purpose and will.  We need to really listen.  I wonder how we would have responded if Nehemiah showed up today. Could he have accomplished much if he were coming to today's church.  Would he have found more opposition and less willing workers? May we get on the side of Christ and be a willing worker; A willing re-builder for the Kingdom.

Read Nehemiah.  Then respond to the call of rebuilding.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

when I heard these words

Have you ever read Nehemiah?  As I was reading Nehemiah today, I was struck by a particular verse.

Nehemiah 1:4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

This was Nehemiah's response when he heard about the captives that had returned to Jerusalem, the broken walls and gates of Jerusalem and the great distress they were in. 
He broke down and wept, mourned and spent many days in fasting and prayer. 
God, then, opened up doors for Nehemiah to be sent by the King of Persia to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.  The King paid for the supplies and sent troops to protect Nehemiah. 
God honored his response, fasting and prayers.

I began to think about the many things we are hearing about in our world. We are hearing about shootings, persecution, our country turning from the Christian roots upon which we were established,  and great evils being committed.  
What is my typical response when I hear these things?  What is your typical response?
I may express concern and shock.  I may discuss with others and how unbelievable it is. I may even say a few prayers over the situation.  I may even choose to say, "another sign of the times."

This is not the response I believe God is wanting from his people; from His Church. I realized when Nehemiah responded, it was a complete, spiritual response.  This response of fasting and prayer was by one man. This one man was then given the resources and support of the king to bring about the rebuilding of a city that this very kingdom had destroyed. 
Nehemiah did not call fellow worshippers to join him for discussion of the problem.  He did not call for a group prayer or even group fasting.  He responded. God in turn, used him in a mighty way. 

I am seeing here that it takes one person to respond to a terrible situation by getting hold of the mind of God through complete prayer and fasting. Nehemiah mourned over the situation.  He repented on behalf of the entire nation of Israel and called upon God to remember His promise to restore Israel. 

Have I taken on the responsibility or burden of a grave sin of our nation or even the body of Christ?  Have you?  Have I realized that my inaction and callousness has allowed our nation to sanction the killing of unborn babies for the last 40+ years?  Have I recognized that the church body has ignored the sins going on around them, participated in them and allowed the government of the United States to actually believe they have the power to change the laws of God?

What has my response been?   Not enough!  Not at all in line with Spirit of God!

What is God wanting my response to be?  He is wanting his people, at least one of them to fall upon their face in mourning and repentance. He wants someone to take responsibility and call upon His name. He is wanting someone to respond with fasting and prayer.  He is wanting someone to be the one he can use to perform a supernatural rebuilding of the walls that have been broken and the gates that have been taken down.  He wants to bring about the promises He gave us for His church, but he needs someone to take it upon themselves to respond as Nehemiah did when he heard the distress and destruction of Jerusalem. 

Can you or I say : So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven?

Lord help us respond as you would to these attrocities taking place around us. Lord help us be the one who really turns to you as a response to hearing about the effects of our failures to truly be your Body. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

come before winter

I know it is hot summer time.  I definitely know it is hot.  I just spent a few days in Hot Springs, Arkansas and it was hot!  Summer time definitely has it's share of hot weather. Here where I live, we also have added humidity.  I am ever thankful for my air conditioner.  Summer is one of our four seasons.  Summer is a time of growth in the crops.  As I sit here typing, I can look out the window at the corn fields that surround my house and see the changes that are taking place. I can also see a rose budding on my new rosebush and even some weeds that need to be pulled.  Summer is a time of growing and plenty. In the fall comes harvest.  My son loves watching the big tractors come and do the work of harvest. Next will come winter.
Winter is a time of dormancy. Trees and plants are dormant, hiding for the next time of growth.  They are buried in the dirt, life is hidden from view. Winter can be barren, hard and cold. It can be difficult.  In today's society, we can run to the grocery store and get groceries and food. In times past and in some areas of the world, winter means supplies are limited and you must have stored up for the winter.
Growing up, I remember my grandmother would have a huge garden in the summer.  She would take her harvest of vegetables and either can or freeze most of what she harvested. She had a pantry room lined with shelves. Those shelves would be filled with jars of green beans, corn, tomatoes and other things she had canned. She could feed her family for the winter.

Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

Winter can be a time of trouble or struggle in our spiritual lives as well. We can have a spiritual winter. We all go through seasons in our lives.  We are reminded that we are to prepare for those times. In Proverbs it tells us to remember the ant and how she stores up.  Winter can be cold, barren and lacking in things we need or want.

In 2 Timothy 4:21 Do your utmost to come before winter. Paul was telling Timothy to come before winter. He also said in verse 9: Be diligent to come to me quickly;

Paul knew winter would be a hard time to travel.  He also knew winter would be harder to go through without support from a brother in Christ.  He needed Timothy to be there with him during winter.  He wanted Timothy to travel safely, but also to be with him during the long hard times of winter.  He needed encouragement and fellowship.
Paul had an understanding of preparing for winter.  After his conversion, he spent some time studying and pouring over the Word to prepare for ministry.  He spent time in prayer and fasting for the calling on his life.  He had even reminded Timothy to study the word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Paul endured some tough times of persecution and imprisonment for the gospel's sake. He knew he could go through these tough, cold seasons because he had stored up the Word of God, faith in God and love of His Savior.    He had prepared for the tough times through times of plenty and growth.

Jesus prepared for his time of trouble, his winter. He was known for going off alone to pray. His most famous time of praying was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He went to pray and gain strength from the Heavenly Father for the extremely difficult time he knew was coming. He was going to be betrayed by his dearest friends and family, beaten, accused and killed by those he came to save.
He prepared for this season through prayer.

God does not ask us to pray, fast and study just to have control over our time. He does not ask us to do these things to show us that we are religious. He asks us to pray, fast and study to be able to endure the hard times. He wants us to store up the blessings, Word, strength and His Spirit in the good seasons so we can endure the hard seasons that come our way.  When we are preparing in the times of plenty, we know we can endure the hard times because we know God is our provider. We have spiritually stored up experiences with Him that will remind us that we can rely on Him and endure through the trials.  God will carry us through all our seasons.

Don't forget to store up for winter.  Prepare for winter.  Even if you feel like blessings are overflowing and abundance is yours, prepare for the times of trouble.  God will be with you in every season.