What is the definition of Church?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I have been doing a study on the book of Colossians and found it very interesting how the church is defined in scripture, compared to how we define it. Please take a moment to read through these scriptures prayerfully and ponder your part of the body of Christ. Are you walking in holiness and reverent submission to God in your everyday life? Are you willing to lay down your life and comfort for your fellow believers within the body of Christ? Are you truly reflecting to the world around you what the body of Christ ought to look like?

Remember as you ponder these questions and read through these passages, that Christ who is the head of the body, loves you and wants to bring you into a place where you are walking in a close relationship with Him. I ask you today, to consider what your life looks like and where your priorities lay, are they focused on God and his will for your life? or are you running after your own pleasures and desires? God is coming back for a bride that is ready for him, who has seperated herself from the contaminents of this world and is walking in reverent submission and obedience to him. Where do you stand?

 Colossians 1:18-29

 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 
19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 
20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of£ your evil behavior. 
22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 
23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Paul’s Labor for the Church
  24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 
25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 
26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 
27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 
29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

 Definition of the Church

  • Jesus is the head of the body, which he has named the church.
  • Jesus reconciled us to himself by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
  • As a body, we were once alienated from God and were enemies in our minds because of our evil behavior
  • I am presented Holy in his sight, without blemish and free from all accusation if believers continue in the faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
  • The gospel is being proclaimed to every creature under heaven.
  • God uses his faithful servants to bring the gospel of hope and the mystery of Christ to the people.
  • The mystery that was hidden, but now disclosed – which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
  • We as the body are to proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
  • The Holy Spirit is the one that enables and labors within us so powerfully.

Ephesians 1:22-23

22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 
23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 Ephesians 5:22-33

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 
24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
26to make her holy, cleansing£ her by the washing with water through the word, 
27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 
28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 
29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 
30for we are members of his body. 
31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”£ 
32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 
33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

What the church looks like according to Ephesians

  • Christ is the head over everything for the church
  • The church is the body of believers
  • He fills the church with the fullness of him in every way.
  • Christ is the savior of the church.
  • The church is to submit to Christ
  • Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her
  • Making her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word
  • So that he could present her to himself as a radiant church
  • Without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
  • Holy and blameless
  • Christ, feeds and cares for the church
  • We are members of the body of Christ
  • We have become one flesh with Christ
  • We are to love and respect Christ, just like a married couple.

I pray that as you read through these verses that you will come to realise that Jesus Christ our Saviour loves you, and that his work on the cross was a completed work, meaning that all of these things in these verses are a reality, completed. You and I are completed in him, Holy and Blameless, set apart to do his good and perfect will.

I pray that as the early christians embraced this message and eagerly shared it with all of the known world around them, that you will to.

Why is perseverance in Prayer so important?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Why is perseverance in prayer so important to us as believers? I have battled with this question on numerous occasions in my walk with Christ. As you can see, I have not always pushed through until I receive the answers that I was seeking from the lord. Often I would pray, (popcorn style, short sweet and to the point) then I would move on.

I often gave up way to early and probably missed out on a lot of things that God had intended to give to me, but what I have learnt from consistently seeking God and asking him to teach me to pray is that he does a transforming work in my heart on the way to that answered prayer.

What do I mean by that, well if I pray for something today, I might not necessarily be ready for it today, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. God knows as he can see my heart, he knows when it is the perfect time for me to receive an answer to my prayer as well.

He can see that if what I have asked for will in the end bring me harm or be for my benefit and for the benefit of others.

Sometimes the answer to a prayer might be immediate, No, it is not good for you. Or it might come as a wait, or it may come as a yes but wait, or a yes right now.

On the road of that prayer though, as I seek God for his perfect will in my life he sets about doing a few things in my life.

• He helps me to gain a fresh perspective and insight on making the wisest choices.

• He fills me with his peace and confidence as I know that he has heard me and will take care of me and my needs.

• He fills my heart with his love and contentment in him as I wait on him for his answer.

• He teaches me to sit still and be in reverent submission to him and his will for my life

• He helps me to mature in my spirit as I seek him with all of my heart.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

When we get down to prayer in our lives, remember that we are to seek diligently the will of God, who has put on this earth to bring light and life to a dying world around us. When we are seeking God for things that are purely selfish we cannot expect a yes answer, but when we are seeking God according to his will, he will gladly give us the yes that we need.

I read something once and it said that when we pray, and seek the lord on behalf of another person, we have essentially put one hand on our hearts and the other on the throne of God as we carry the burdens of the people to Him.

God in the Morning

I met God in the morning

When my day was at its best

And His presence came like sunrise,

Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,

All day long He stayed with me,

And we sailed in perfect calmness

O’er very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,

Other ships were sore distressed,

But the winds that seemed to drive them

Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,

With a keen remorse of mind,

When I too had loosed the moorings,

With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,

Learned from any a troubled way

You must seek Him in the morning

If you want Him through the day!

By Ralph Spaulding Cushman

Principles for Effective Intercession

1. Make sure that your heart is clean before God by having given the Holy Spirit time to convict, should there be any un confessed sin.

Psalm 66:18

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

2. Acknowledge that you cannot really pray without the direction and energy of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:26

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts know the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

3. You need to die to your own imagination, desires and burdens for what you feel you should pray.

Proverbs 3

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 28:26

“He who trusts in himself is a fool”

4. Ask God to be in control of your prayer time, and let him lead you through it. This needs to be done with faith and a heart of thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:18

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.”

Hebrews 11:6

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

5. Praise God in faith for your prayer time, knowing that he will hear and answer your prayers. Praise him for the fact that through him his has made your prayers offered up to him, powerful and effective in Jesus Name.

James 5:16

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”

6. When God leads you in prayer to deal with the enemy, (Satan) you need to use the word of God as your weapon of choice. The word is called the sword of the Spirit. You also need to remember that the battle against the enemy is fought by the lord, our job is to stand firm on the promises of God and flee all temptations that will cause us to sin against God. God tells us to put on our full armor and stand firm in the day of evil. Nothing else! Stand firm on the promises of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

7. Wait in silent expectancy, Then in obedience and faith, and pray what God has brought to your mind, be sure not to move onto the next subject until you have given God enough time to tell you all that he wants to regarding this particular burden that he has brought to mind. This is especially true when praying in a group setting.

John 10:27

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

8. Have your bible (sword of the spirit) ready should God want to give you direction or confirmation from His word.

Psalm 119:105

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”

9. When God ceases to bring things to your mind concerning that particular burden, finish by praising and thanking Him for what he has done.

Romans 11:36

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

 Warning

God knows the great weakness of the human heart towards pride, and if we speak of what God has revealed and done in times of intercession with him, it may lead us to commit this sin against him.

God shares his secrets and burdens with those who are able to keep them. They may come a time when He will definitely prompt us to share, but unless this happens we should remain silent.

Luke 9:36

“When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen”.

Luke 2:19

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”

Dissatisfied with how your life is working out?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I was reaching for a book on my nightstand last night and grabbed the wrong book. I did not even check to see I had the right book, but opened it up and started to read where I had left off.

Half way down the page I realized that I actually was reading the wrong book, but I was so caught up in what I was reading that I could not put it down. I know that you are curious now about what I was reading, well I would love to share it with you, but first I need to ask you a few questions.

Have you ever felt nervous or confused about a choice or decisions that you had to make? Have you ever wanted to know what the will of God is for you life in a certain aspect; like moving, a new job, a husband, or even if this boyfriend is right for me?

I have found myself in that position all too often and when I am in that place of asking, I find that I am anxious and confused and nervous about what I am to do.

I am actually in that position right now as we speak to be totally honest. I have a million what if’s swirling around my head, all clamoring for first place. Quite frankly it is exhausting.

Then I read this little excerpt from the wrong book and to be honest it has given me a new way of thinking.

Self dissatisfaction, pg 131-132

Last night I dreamed I was making a telephone call from a department store pay phone. There was immense trouble, though about finding the number. I could not locate the yellow pages of the directory. Then I thought that I might have the number written in one of the two notebooks in my handbag. But the two notebooks kept getting mixed up, and as I would fin the page, someone else would push into the phone booth ahead of me, and my finger would slip out of the place in the little notebook. Once I located the number, only to find it so blurry that I could not read it.

The message my unconscious seems to be playing back to me – confusion. Not enough order in my life, or even in my pocketbook.

This morning as I sought answers in prayer to a number of problems, the same spirit of confusion seemed to settle upon me. Quickly I asked for His help. After a few moments I was led to Psalm 78. These verses hit me…

He divided the sea and led them through… He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas… But they continued to sin against him rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.

Vv.13-18 Niv

…and his wrath rose against Israel for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.

Vv. 21-22 Niv

Was I full of doubts and questions and criticism like the Israelites? Yes, I had to admit I was. How can I be free of this, Lord?

These words of reassurance came:

Thou art my beloved child, Catherine. Rest in the love… Simply rest in it. Bathe in it. Stop asking so many questions. Stop all this probing, taking your spiritual temperature. Doe the Lord want me to do this? Or that? Is this right? Is this right? This is the source of the confusion you are feeling.

You are my child, my disciple. I accept you long ago – as you are- as you are growing.

You are still accepted. Nothing is between us from My side, only yours! Grasp that by faith and all else will follow.

“The nervous probing is Satan’s doing, to unsettle you, to confuse you, to knock you off the base of your belief.

“Let My joy flow through you unimpeded, even thought you do not feel it at first. Let it flow. Do not be afraid. That joy will sweep away your fear and uncertainties.

“Stop accusing yourself, Catherine. Turn any such thoughts over to Me instantly. They come from Satan, not from Me.

Place yourself in My hands as though you were an infant. Let Me handle your questions, the tattered remnants of your unbelief, your growth in My grace – not my stringency.

“Grace …grace…grace. Love…. Love… love. I came not to judge or condemn. All accusations comes from the enemy.

“Open the floodgates that My love can bathe you and that the living water may flow through you to others.”

By: Catherine Marshall, A closer walk , A spiritual lifeline to God. Pg 131-132

I pray that as you have read this little excerpt from her book with me that you will be encouraged about resting in God’s perfect love and grace. I always find myself so anxious about measuring up and not missing what God has for me, because I might not be paying close enough attention. The truth of the matter is, that when God wants to get my attention he will.

He will without a doubt move on my heart for me to do something or the other. I need to take all of these little fears and stresses and ask him to handle them, and then just simply rest in his grace.

I pray that today, you will start to take all of your fears and confusions and doubts and longings and dreams and give them to our father in heaven who is more than capable of taking care of us and directing us in the best way possible.

The Afflictions of Love

by Francis Frangipane

Wounding is inevitable if we are following Christ. Jesus was both “marred” (Isa. 52:14) and “wounded” (Zech. 13:6), and if we are sincere in our pursuit of His nature, we will suffer as well. How else can love be perfected?

Yet, let us beware. We either become Christlike and forgive, or we enter a spiritual time warp where we abide continually in the memory of our wounding. Like a systemic disease, the hurtful memories destroy every aspect of our reality. In truth, apart from God, the wounding that life inflicts is incurable. God has decreed that only Christ in us can survive.

Intercessors live on the frontier of change. We are positioned to stand between the needs of man and the provision of God. Because we are the agents of redemption, Satan will always seek the means to offend, discourage, silence, or otherwise steal the strength of our prayers. The wounding we receive must be interpreted in light of God’s promise to reverse the effects of evil and make them work for our good (Rom. 8:28). Since spiritual assaults are inevitable, we must discover how God uses our wounds as the means to greater power. This was exactly how Christ brought redemption to the world.

Jesus knew that maintaining love and forgiveness in the midst of suffering was the key that unlocked the power of redemption. Isaiah 53:11 tells us, “By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”

Jesus possessed “revelation knowledge” into the mystery of God. He knew that the secret to unleashing world-transforming power was found at the cross. The terrible offense of the cross became the place of redemption for the world. Yet, remember, Jesus calls us to a cross as well. (See Matthew 16:24.) Wounding is simply an altar upon which our sacrifice to God is prepared.

Listen again to Isaiah’s prophetic description of Jesus’ life. His words, at first, seem startling, but as we read, we discover a most profound truth concerning the power of woundedness. He wrote,

“But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand” (Isa. 53:10).

How did Jesus obtain the power of God’s pleasure and have it prosper in His hands? During His times of crushing, woundedness, and devastation, instead of retaliating, He rendered Himself “as a guilt offering.”

The crushing is not a disaster; it is an opportunity. You see, our purposeful love may or may not touch the sinner’s heart, but it always touches the heart of God. We are crushed by people, but we need to allow the crushing to ascend as an offering to God. The far greater benefit is the effect our mercy has on the Father. If we truly want to be instruments of God’s good pleasure, then it is redemption, not wrath, that must prosper in our hands.

So, when Christ encounters conflict, even though He is the Lion of Judah, He comes as the Lamb of God. Even when He is outwardly stern, His loving heart is always mindful that He is the “guilt offering.” Thus, Jesus not only asks the Father to forgive those who have wounded Him, but also numbers Himself with the transgressors and intercedes for them (Isa. 53:12). He does this because the Father takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek. 33:11), and it is the pleasure of God that Jesus seeks.

Is this not the wonder and mystery, yes, and the power, of Christ’s cross? In anguish and sorrow, wounded in heart and soul, still He offered Himself for His executioners’ sins. Without visible evidence of success, deemed a sinner and a failure before man, He courageously held true to mercy. In the depth of terrible crushing, He let love attain its most glorious perfection. He uttered the immortal words, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Christ could have escaped. As the Romans came to arrest Him, He told Peter, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). In less than a heartbeat, the skies would have been flooded with thousands of warring angels. Yes, Jesus could have escaped, but mankind would have perished. Christ chose to go to hell for us rather than return to heaven without us. Instead of condemning mankind, He rendered “Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa. 53:10, emphasis added). He prayed the mercy prayer, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also” (John 14:12). We assume He meant that we would work His miracles, but Jesus did not limit His definition of “works” to the miraculous. The works He did—the redemptive life, the mercy cry, the identification with sinners, rendering Himself a guilt offering—all the works He did, we will “do also.”

Thus, because He lives within us, we see that Isaiah 53 does not apply exclusively to Jesus; it also becomes the blueprint for Christ in us. Indeed, was this not part of His reward, that He would see His offspring (Isa. 53:10)? Beloved, we are the progeny of Christ.

Read these words from Paul’s heart:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24).

What did the apostle mean? Did not Christ fully pay mankind’s debts once and for all? Did Paul imply that we now take Jesus’ place? No, we will never take Jesus’ place. It means that Jesus has come to take our place. The Son of God manifests all the aspects of His redemptive, sacrificial life through us. Indeed, “as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

Paul not only identified with Christ in his personal salvation, but he was also consumed with Christ’s purpose. He wrote, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).

What a wondrous reality is the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Here, in choosing to yoke our existence with Christ’s purpose, we find true friendship with Jesus. This is intimacy with Christ. The sufferings of Christ are not the sorrows typically endured by mankind. They are the afflictions of love. They bring us closer to Jesus. United with Him, we increase the pleasure of God.

Father, I see You have had no higher purpose for me but to manifest through my life the nature of Your Son. I surrender to Christ, rendering myself not merely as a judge or critic, but as an offering for those who have brought wounding to my soul. May the fragrance of my worship remind You of Jesus, and may You forgive and cleanse the world around me.

To read other great articles by Pastor Francis Frangipane please click on the folowing link:

http://www.frangipane.org/

Pursuing the Stature Of Christ

by Francis Frangipane

In a most profound verse the apostle Paul unveils God’s supreme plan for the church. He tells us we are called to nothing less than “the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). The Father’s glorious intention is to exhibit through us all the attributes and power of Jesus Christ. He has purposed that, not only in eternity but here in the midst of our battles and temptations, we are to grow “in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (v. 15).

We have put such limitations upon our call in God! The Almighty’s goal for us is not that we merely become nice, but become Christ, literally partakers of His nature (1 Cor. 12:12; 2 Pet. 1:3; Heb. 3:14; Gal. 2:20). There is a difference between hallowed doctrine and hollow doctrine. Let us quickly abandon the boundaries of spiritually empty religious traditions: God has invited us to partake of the fullness of Christ! The depth of His grace has rendered us capable of climbing the heights of His holiness. Through the Holy Spirit, the responsibility of wielding Christ’s very authority has been delegated to us!

Having received the expanse of Christ’s love, we are now called to reveal it in its full redemptive power. Indeed, whatever we see in Jesus is what God has purposed to reveal in us. It is this vision of attaining Christlikeness that centers us firmly upon the path to doctrinal purity. Once we clearly grasp the vision of Christlikeness, an amazing change occurs: “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).

Let us also note, Paul did not specify whether these “winds of doctrine” were simply false teachings. Indeed, dogma does not have to be false to be misleading; even a true doctrine with an overly exaggerated emphasis can sidetrack us from Christlikeness.

It is here, where we boast in our doctrines and spiritual gifts that many of us are being led astray. For what compels us forward into new religious activity is not always the leading of God. If we do not see conformity to Christ as central to our future, what may be guiding us is a wind of doctrine.

In the church today there are a number of doctrines which have grown bigger than their scriptural proportions and, thus, tend to obscure our vision of Christlikeness. Teachings concerning personal prosperity or the timing of the rapture have become, for some, unbalanced precepts, which easily distract us from the ultimate truth which is in Jesus.

Some churches overemphasize the doctrine of “speaking in tongues.” I firmly believe that all the gifts are for today, but gifts, too, can become winds of doctrine for many. Again, we are not talking about false teachings, but true beliefs that have become caricatures of the Gospel. Correct and balanced doctrinal understanding is fundamental to our spiritual well-being. But when our energies are absorbed more with a particular doctrine than attaining the character and power of Christ, we are probably being misled.

Paul also said our pursuit of Christlikeness would keep us from being “tossed here and there by waves.” A wave is a spiritual phenomenon that sweeps over a church or a city. It is a spiritual “high tide,” where we can be washed and healed. A true spiritual wave can release wonderful joy and bring healing to areas within us otherwise untouched by God. Yet, if we are following after waves, we should consider: the tide that comes in with manifestations and blessings also goes out. When the wave is over, it does not mean that God has abandoned us or that His ultimate purpose has changed.

A genuine stirring of God’s Spirit, either through a fresh doctrinal understanding or through unique spiritual manifestations, is given by God to empower us toward conformity to Christ. The fact is, whether we are in a time of preparation or in the glory of a visitation, whether we are carrying the cross or soaring in resurrection power, our focused, passionate goal must still be Christlikeness.

If you are confused about what is happening in the church at large, or even in your own personal life, remember: God does not want you tossed by waves or carried by doctrines. The issue is not whether we are following a doctrine or falling under a wave. The real question is whether we will rise to the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Trusting in God

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I want to start off my article today with two very important scriptures; these scriptures echo the importance of not relying on ourselves and our understanding of how things are to be and trusting in other people around us, but ultimately putting our trust in God.

As you read through this article today I pray that God will open up the eyes of your heart to know and see how he wants you to learn to truly trust in him.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Proverbs 29: 25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe

There are many things that God requires of us as his children, but there are a few principles that are the foundation posts of our faith in God.

1. Faith, that God is who He says He is

2. Faith, that Jesus is truly the Son of the Most High God

3. Obedience to the word that He has given us through the bible

4. Faith and complete trust in God’s word and His will for our lives.

If we are honest with ourselves we will have to acknowledge that trusting in our own opinion and in the opinion of the people around us is often a lot easier than trusting in God. We can reason and muddle through the different situations in our lives and come to a solution.

I believe in my life, that one of the biggest hindrances in completely trusting God is that I am impatient. I want and need the answers right away, I do not want to wait and take the time to seek the lord.

I have found that when I am running on my own steam like that, I am living at half of my potential at best, not in the fulfilling life that God really has for me.

So how do you learn to trust in the lord with your whole heart and not lean on your own understanding of how things are; well for me the journey of trust began with studying the word of God.

I needed to learn to know who I was placing my trust in. For example:

If you are faced with a perilous situation and are in need of help from someone, you are more likely to trust someone that you have had some history with, someone who has proven to you that they are trustworthy. You wouldn’t be as trusting of someone who is a perfect stranger.

The same is true of our relationship with God, we will trust him when we learn to know him and we learn to know him by seeking him out, by reading his word, by learning about all of his attributes and his love for us his children.

I decided that in order to know God in a deeper way I needed to find out what the bible had to say about him, I was amazed at how he was described, not in the least wimpy or weak, but more than able to take care of anything that I had need of. He created the world and everything in it, He parted the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, and yes I think he is more than capable of taking care of me.

Here are a few of his wonderful attributes: I saw him portrayed as the strength of Israel, their protector, their provider, their shelter, their stronghold, their comforter, their dwelling place, their shepherd, their salvation. I could go on for a long time about all of the names and ways God portrays himself, but when you start to look at God through the eyes of who he is, you can see that he is 100% trustworthy.

Even though the tendency is for me to still fall back into the default mode and trust in myself and my own resources the truth of the matter is that God is all of those things for me as well as for you, He is our provider, our shield and strength, our hope and our salvation. He promises to never to leave us, to light our steps and to guide us and give us the wisdom that we need to do whatever it is that we put our hands to.

My dear friends, God is trustworthy and he will never lead you into something that is harmful to you and if you allow him to he will reveal himself to you in many different ways that will show you that he is to be trusted. He will allow you to experience him by the big and small miracles that he provides for you daily.

A “small miracle” that happened this last week at church for me was this, I woke up in the morning thinking about this particular song, I cannot tell you the title of it as I am not sure of it, but the gist of the song is “that I stand with my arms high and heart surrendered” . I was humming it to myself and thinking of how I would love to be able to sing that song at church. I left that thought there and never thought to much more about it.

Yes you guessed it, when I arrived at church, the first song that we sang was the song that I longed to sing, I wish you could have seen me, I had the biggest grin on my face as I knew that God had allowed me the privilege of experiencing him in a more intimate way. I felt like he had given me a gift. I was overjoyed when we sang it a second time at the end of the service as well.

The reason I even mention this story is to show you that we don’t just decide that today we are going to trust God, God in his great mercy draws us into that relationship with him, then he reveals more and more of himself to us, showing us that he really can be trusted and that He is who he says he is and then when he says to us, “You need to rely on me as I can and will lead you where you need to go” you will willingly put your hand in his and let him lead you minute by minute.

Friends, I want to encourage you that no matter where you are on your journey of trusting our loving heavenly father, you can be rest assured that God is and will continue to reveal himself to you in order for you to learn to trust and rely on him more. He teaches us with every new situation that we find ourselves in that He is fully capable of helping us in and through it.

So whatever your situation is right now, I encourage you to pray this little pray with me and continue your journey of trusting God in your life.

Dear heavenly father

I come before you today to ask that you would forgive my unbelief in your ability to take care of me. I pray that you will open up the eyes of my heart and my ears to hear and see you clearly in my life. Help me to experience your faithfulness to me in a whole new way. I thank you that you love me and that as I walk with you I will learn how to trust in you more and more.

In Jesus Name

Amen.

Do not Fear for I am with you always.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This morning as I started my devotions I felt anticipation for what the Lord would start the New Year off with and He did not disappoint me at all.

The opening verse for me in 2011 was:

Isaiah 41:8-10, 13

8“But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,

9I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

13For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

 A few years ago the lord really emphasized this verse to me, just as he has now, reminding me, that just like Israel who was scattered around the known world at the time he had called them to be his, they were his chosen servants and he did not reject them.

In my early years of living far from my family the lord brought this particular verse to mind, that he had called me to this new country and that he was the one that I was to rely on completely.

He goes on to say in these verses that I was not to fear at all, I was not to get discouraged or dismayed at what life threw in my path as He was my God and He would strengthen me and help me in whatever situation I found myself in.

I want to encourage you today, the Lord our God has not changed, and his promises are just as firm today as they were for the nation of Israel, all of those years ago. He is our strength, his is our shield, and he will take us by his mighty right hand and help us overcome all that we may face in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but these verses excite me as I think of all of the new things that I will encounter this coming year. I know that I want to embrace all of the things that God has for me this year. I realize that not all of them are going to be easy to endure, but with God’s promise to always be with me and that I have absolutely nothing to fear.

I know that whatever I put my hand to; I will be victorious in Jesus Christ.

I had the privilege when I was growing up to have a earthly father who loved and cared for me deeply, he was always there when I needed anything, he was my protector, my rock and my strength, I believe that God placed him in my life to give me a taste of what it was like to have someone who would fight for me when I needed it the most.

As I grew up and got married, once again God provided me with a husband who has shown me that when I am with him I don’t have to fear, he will protect me and help me to be all that God had purposed for me to be.

Through these two men in my life, I believe God has given me a wonderful picture of his love and protection for someone who is weaker and cannot always protect themselves.

Whatever your view may be of men in your life, whether they were your protectors or not, God will never disappoint you, he will never let you down, he will fight for you and he will always strengthen you.

So how does that strength work? When we are relying on God in all aspects of our lives and face a situation that to us may seem impossible, we can stop and pray, asking the lord for wisdom in the situation and he will give it.

He will protect us physically when danger is at hand. He will actually fill our hearts and minds with peace when we are faced with something that is terrifying to us.

He does all of this as we call out to him in prayer and cultivate our relationship with him.

My dear friends, you can wholeheartedly surrender all of your hopes and dreams and fears and sin and illness and addictions and anything else that may trouble or consume your thoughts to God today.

His promise to us is that He will strengthen and help us and that He will uphold us with his righteous right hand.

I know that when you truly surrender your life to him, he will show you the path to over come everything that you face in your life in His Strength.

So as you face the New Year with all of its challenges, battles, success and defeats, know that when you trust in the lord and his strength you will have nothing to fear at all.

I pray that God will strengthen you today.

Amen.