Sunday, August 28, 2016

called to praise

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 
1 Peter 2:9

This is one of those times, that I am sure God is trying to tell me something.  A portion of this verse has been resonating in my soul, heart and mind.  While I have read this many, many times before, this time God is showing me something important. As I was reading one day about three weeks ago, this scripture stood out like never before. It was like a light illuminating the words,

God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him

I read it over and over.  The realization that God chose me and sees me as a special possession was nearly shocking to me. My heart was understanding what my mind has already known for a long time. Then the realization that we are called for the purpose of declaring his praises began to sink in.  My purpose is to declare his praises. My purpose is to declare his praises. YES!

I went to revival service and the whole message was about who you are in God's eyes and what He purposes for you, to get the vision of what He has for your life.  I just could not get over how amazing God is.  That service turned into an amazing service full of healing for some serious needs and God's power falling on those present. 

This particular verse has popped us several times, each time as I have began to forget, just in time to remind me that God's chose me for the purpose of declaring His praises. I believe that is why he spoke to me a couple of years ago to even write this blog. I can declare His praises to anyone willing to read this. I can tell them that God is calling them to also declare His praises. Our purpose is to declare the mighty work of God who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. He has shown His mighty hand and we can declare how good and wonderful He is to us. That is our testimony.
We are made overcomers by the word of our testimony. Testimony is declaring our personal encounters with our Savior.  It is sharing the good news about what He is doing for us.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11

Declaring His praises is also what we will be doing for eternity in heaven.  We will be there forever, together getting to praise Him, worship Him eternally in His very presence.  We may as well begin now to praise Him.  Make the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts acceptable to Him. (Psalm 19:14).  May we speak about him, think about him and bring forth the praises of our God.
May I truly understand this calling in my life. May I ever declare the wonderful works of God my Savior. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

hearing through the word

Have you ever read a verse that you may have read and heard many times before, but this time something just jumps up, slaps you and gives you a huge revelation into something?  This is what happened Sunday morning. I was reading my bible and part of this verse suddenly meant a whole lot more to me that it ever had.

2 Peter 2:9 NIV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I have read this verse many times and heard it preached about.  I have read it different versions of the Bible, but today I heard God speak as he showed me that I am a special possession. I am chosen, holy and called.  Not just called, but called out of darkness for the purpose of declaring His praises.

Now, I have known this information and have even spoke these words but this time, there seemed to come a power with it.  There seemed to be a greater purpose behind God wanting me to understand that I am His possession, called to declare His praises.  My spirit within me leaped with joy and anticipation.  I felt excited and amazed and couldn't wait to get to church.  I can tell you our service was amazing and getting to worship and declare His praises as part of the worship team became so much more purposeful and awe inspiring. God moved and blessed.  I felt God call me to pray for a couple of people.  I believe with all my heart that their needs are met. God is doing great things and when we seek Him, he is found. His word holds the truth He wants us to understand and He will reveal it.  It is alive and powerful and provides the current we need to be the powerful church.  We need to plug into the current and get His word in us.
Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

When we submit to His word and allow it to penetrate and change us, we become more like Him and understand His purpose in us.  God is wanting to do great things in His people and He is calling His church to arise.  We need to get into His Word, let it get into us and begin to allow the Holy Ghost to operate in His will.  Thank you God for the reminder that I have the ultimate purpose of declaring Your praises.  That will be the exact thing we will get to do for eternity and we may as well get started on it now. That invited His glory to shine and allows His presence to be manifest.  It allows us to become more sensitive to His presence and voice. If you want to hear from God, read His word, praise Him, and listen. He will speak .
Romans 10:17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Our faith will grow by hearing the Word of God.  This is awesome.  Get ready for praising, get ready for acts of faith that demonstrate the power and majesty of God. Jesus said in John 14:12 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 

That is happening when we get in tune with Him and allow the Holy Ghost to move and operate. When we understand our true purpose as His holy, called, special possession, chosen to do good works and declare His praises.  Wow! I am excited to see what God is going to do.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

he speaks peace

One of my favorite paintings that I have ever come across is called "Peace Be Still" by a painter named Chris Hopkins.  I remember the first time I saw it.  I was in a christian book store looking for something and when I walked around a shelf, I looked up at this painting and absolutely stopped in my tracks.  I stood there for several minutes before going to find my husband to show him the painting.  I stood there and stared at the face of Jesus, then at the faces of the other people in the boat.  This painting depicted the story of Jesus calming the storm, but instead of the 12 disciples in the boat, there were people from maybe today.  Some women and men, who looked terrified, fearful, and hanging on for dear life. Then there was Jesus standing tall in the very front of the boat with his hand raised, a calm, yet authoritative look, that seemed filled with compassion as the wind was blowing his white robe.  The storm was obviously strong as the boat was being lifted up on a high wave and the sail looked tattered. Each face was turned toward the sea in front of Jesus as if wondering what would happen.  I stood completely and utterly enveloped by the emotion this painting captured. I wanted to buy this painting, but at the time I was but a poor graduate student and newly married.  We were broke and barely able to pay bills.  It cost way too much, but I have never forgotten this painting.  I think it is because it spoke directly to me heart.

Jesus calms our storms.

In Mark chapter 4 we can read the story about the disciples and Jesus getting caught in a storm. Jesus was sound asleep and wasn't worried at all. The disciples woke him up as they trembled with fear from the severity of the storm.  Jesus spoke to the storm, it calmed and then he questioned them as to why they were fearful and lacking in faith.  You see, Jesus was in the boat with them.  If they had understood exactly who he was at the time, they would not have had to fear.  There was nothing going to be able to hurt or take Jesus' life until he was ready to lay it down on the cross.  That storm may have come up and become quite menacing, but they were perfectly safe in the presence of Jesus. They were fearful and afraid and Jesus spoke to calm the storm. The bible says there was a great calm.

Mark 4:39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Jesus speaks to our storms when we come to him and trust him even in the most menacing of circumstances.  I can count many times when storms have risen in my life and when I cried out to Jesus, he spoke to the storm.  He brought peace either to the circumstances or to my heart. I could be at peace even when the storm raged.  The word peace is actually mentioned 397 times in the New King James Version.  It is used often to speak of peace offerings, making peace, living peaceably and when God gives peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peace comes from God in times when we should not have peace. Peace is a gift and a sense of knowing that God is with you and taking care of you even when it seems overwhelming.  I remember when my son was born.  I remember feeling completely overwhelmed as his birth turned into a traumatic moment.  His heart rate kept dropping, the midwife became very concerned and after several attempts, pulled him from the womb.  He was limp and blue, and we quickly realized he had a cleft lip. As fear gripped our hearts, the NICU team grabbed his little body to work on bringing life to my little boy.  My mom, husband and I breathed prayers as tears flowed.  Soon we heard the little cries from our little boy.  They told us they were taking him the NICU and would test his cord blood to determine how much oxygen he had been getting. They were concerned that he had been oxygen deprived and may possibly have brain damage.  My soul cried to God. I remember asking God to let my little boy be ok and heal him.  After taking care of me for a couple of hours, they finally put me in a wheelchair and I got to go see my little baby boy.  The doctor that was in charge of him said his oxygen came back just fine and he was perfectly healthy.  We would need to meet with the cleft palate team and figure out feeding issues.  He would be facing surgeries, but he was fine.  God was with us.  He heard our prayers and we knew God had answered.

There have been many prayers over my little boy.  As I had to calm him before a surgery and after, as we heard bad news about the success of a surgery, as we found out he had a cholesteotoma growing in his ear, God has been faithful.  Each time, I have cried to God for peace and help through the storm, He has answered.

Today, my little boy is trusting God for himself. He has determined that God is going to heal his soft palate. He has told the surgeon that he is waiting for God to heal and he will not do the invasive surgery again.  God is moving and there is a healing in the process.
Having a deficient soft palate does not allow the palate to close properly during speech and even during eating. My little boy has had some difficulty with saying certain sounds and with food sometimes leaking into his nose.  One thing he has always wanted to do, but couldn't, was whistle. He could not get the palate to close and get the air to flow for him to whistle.  He was prayed for one Sunday in June by our church and he continues to pray every night for God's healing. He thanks God every night for his healing. After that prayer at church, the next day, he realized he could get out a little whistle.  It was airy and rough, but it was a whistle. He was so excited.  Then in July, he went up for prayer again.  As we were driving in the car after service, we heard a loud clear whistle coming from the back seat. We thought it was our daughter.  My son said, "I whistled!"  We had to turn around and watch him whistle in amazement!!! He could whistle so clear and loud. He began laughing and smiling.  We can't get enough. He walks around and every so often, he just has to let out a whistle.  While that may seem small and trivial, it is a promise of healing to my little boy.  He has asked and determined that God will heal him in the midst of a great storm in his life.  He is asking for the impossible and believing that with God all things are possible.  He has a peace from God that reigns in his heart.  I have found that as I pray for him, I am finding that same peace.  I realize that Jesus has spoken peace to the storm and to our hearts.  The doctor may think we are crazy and many other people may think so too, but peace spoken by Jesus says, "Trust in me to heal."

I have felt peace in many times that fear should have been there.  Jesus speaks peace.  When we face storms in life, we can pray and talk to the Peace-speaker.  We can trust Him to say, "Peace, be still!" and know that peace will be there even when it seems impossible. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

train them up

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6
I was thinking about this verse this morning as I was thinking back over this week.  I have two children and I do desperately hope and pray that I am training them well. I make sure they are in church, youth groups, go to church camps, they have bibles, we pray with them and speak about trusting God with them.  We have tried to live by example in front of them.  I have tried to do what my parents did.  You see, I was raised to love Jesus and know Jesus as my Savior.  I want to do the same for my children.  I want them to know Jesus for themselves.  But, I know there are no guarantees. I pray for them everyday.  As a parent, I am concerned for their future, not just in this life, but for eternity.

Yesterday, during the Sunday lesson, the teacher mentioned the little girl who spoke to Naaman about Elisha in 2 Kings chapter 5:2-3
And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” 

This little girl was pivotal in the healing of Naaman.  She told of the prophet back in Israel who could bring about the healing for Naaman.  This little girl was a captive in Syria, taken from her home in Israel.  Here she is serving Naaman's wife and  family.  She has every right to be angry and bitter. She could have even held back the information about Elisha and God's healing power.  But, she didn't.  She must have been taught to love her enemies. She must have been taught to trust God even in the worst of circumstances. She must have been taught that God can heal. She must have seen or heard Elisha teach and prophecy. She must have had parents that had done their best to train her up in the way she should go.  

I cannot imagine being her parents.  Here they have this beautiful little girl.  They love her as any parent would. They watch her take her first steps and do all those great things babies do.  They would tuck her in at night. They may have told her all the wonderful stories of their ancestors from the Torah. They may have told her how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They may have told her about King David and the mighty victories he won. They may have taken her to the temple. They may have taught her to pray and trust God.  Then, the enemy from Syria swept through and began defeating them. The King of Israel was killed. The enemy soldiers swept through. Her father may have died in battle. We know for sure that this little girl was taken to be a servant in Syria and ended up in Naaman's house. He may have been the one who took her.  Was her mother taken as well or did this little girl have to see her mother killed as she tried to hang on to her little girl or other children? If her mother was left alive, did she worry over her missing daughter? Did she fear for her safety and imagine all the horrible things she was going through? There was not going to be a rescue.  This mother had to trust that God would take care of her child. She had to hope she had taught her enough about God that her daughter would trust in God. She did not know what would become of her, but she knew God could be with her.  She taught her child that God would be there. 

These parents had instilled in their daughter enough for her to know that God could heal. She was able to move forward and love her masters enough to care about Naaman's health and share about a way he could be healed. She became a witness in a strange land of God Almighty and what He could do. Even when she could have hated them and gave up, she became a light of God. She became instrumental in the healing power of God. She became the missionary. I do not know what happened when Naaman came home and was healed. We know Naaman went home with his servants rejoicing and made perfectly clean. I am sure his family rejoiced to see him healed. I can only imagine that just maybe his family became believers in the God of Israel. They may have put aside the idol worship.  Maybe this little girl lead them and taught them more of who the true God is. She was placed in a situation through horrible circumstances that allowed her to be a light of God.  

I wonder if her parents ever told her that God would use her someday.  I wonder of they ever told her to trust God no matter what happened. I wonder if they told her that God would be glorified even when things didn't go the way we plan. This little girl remembered what she was taught about God and she was used for His glory. Isn't that what every Christian parent wants for their children?  I know I do. My husband and I do not know what will happen with our children. But, we can trust God with them. We can trust that He will keep them and be with them even when we cannot. We can teach them all we can now and point them in the way they should go.  We can trust God to speak to their hearts when it really matters and help them remember who He is when they need Him. We can pray for them and place them in God's hands. We dedicated them to God after they were born.  Yes, they may make different choices than we made. But, I know God is my Savior. I know my children have experienced God for themselves. They have both made that important decision to repent and be baptized. They have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They have witnessed God's healing power and God answering prayers. I can trust they will not forget and God will remind them as they grow up and leave home. If they are not with me, I pray they remember the lessons and remember to trust in God. When they are old, they will not depart from Him and someday, we will all be able to worship God Almighty for eternity.  Isn't that really the ultimate goal?