March 31, 2011

How Can God Bring Good from This?
Lysa TerKeurst

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Devotion:
Have you ever faced a personal struggle and wondered how God could possibly bring good out of it? How could Romans 8:28 apply to my hidden issues — the ones I don’t like to think about, deal with, or even admit I have?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that God could bring good out of my weight issues and food struggles, I would have seriously doubted you. I would have rolled my eyes and excused myself to the bathroom.

Bathroom stalls are great places to cry in secret.

When a soul is rubbed raw from years of trying and failing, you don’t want to hear, “eventually good will come from this.”

I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.

I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.

I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.

I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.

I would have cared less about some elusive, eventual good. My jeans didn’t fit. Even my sweatpants didn’t fit. I felt horrible. I couldn’t stay committed to a healthy eating plan to save my life. And I saw no hope in sight.

It’s a terrible thing to scan the horizon and see no evidence of hope.

Maybe you’ve been there with some hidden issue. Maybe you’ve been there like me with food and weight struggles. Maybe you’re there today.

Whether your issues are the same as mine or not, all of us Jesus girls have struggles. We all fall short in some way. And we all need to know more about this “good” mentioned in Romans 8:28.

But instead of a three point sermonette, I want to share with you a letter I recently received. As I read it, the mercy gates of heaven split wide open and reigned down “this working of good.” It was heaven’s salve soothing deep places in me.

It is a picture of the reality of God’s Word being true. Always true. God does work for the good… in all things… every single thing… even our most raw and seemingly impossible things… but we must know it even when we don’t feel it.

“Just want to say thank you for sharing your struggles, Lysa. I’ve had an eating disorder since August,1978. Full blown anorexia, which led years down the road to bulimia.

I became a Christian in 2002, but never could fully surrender my eating disorder to our Lord. Through your story and the advice you shared the Holy Spirit is empowering me as I never knew possible.  I’ve had 7 days of no binging or purging!!!

This may not seem like a high number to you, but after 33 full years with this binge/purge addiction, this is AMAZING. Hallelujah!!

You shed such new light on scriptures that I have read, but never knew how to interpret in my life especially with regards to eating. I’ll be honest I figured my eating disorder wasn’t that big a deal to our Lord. In fact I had told myself that He made me this way so it must just be the sin I was born to deal with; so glad to know that it isn’t, and that I matter to HIM.” — Melissa P.

As I read this, my tears leaked free. We don’t have to figure out how God will bring good, we just have to stay on the journey with Him and watch Him work.

May this be a glimpse of hope in the midst of your struggles as well.

And we know (we know it even if we don’t feel it) that in all things (even the ones we can’t even fathom being used for good) God works for the good. (He works for the good. Our job is to walk with Him day by day. His job is to work the good.)

Dear Lord, thank You for this hope. Thank You that You don’t waste our tears, our struggles, or those places rubbed raw from years of trying and failing. Once we do what You’ve instructed us to do, You always do what only You can do. I know You will bring good even when I can’t see it or feel it. And what a comfort that is to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa’s new book Made to Crave is just what you’ve needed. This is the message Melissa read that prompted the letter in this devotion. Click here to order your copy.

This book can also be a group Bible study by using these life-changing resources: Made to Crave Participant’s Guide and Made to Crave DVD teaching series, also by Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa will be speaking in over 40 cities this year and would love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

Application Steps:
Write out your struggle on the front of a 3×5 card this week and pray for the next 5 days for God to reveal some good that could come from this. Write some of the power verses on the back of your card and meditate on these truths.

Reflections:
God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable. God comforts us to make us comfort-able. Able to comfort others with the same comfort we’ve received from Him. Is there someone in my sphere of influence who could benefit from hearing my story? Could this be some of the good God can bring from this?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)  

2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT)

I would like to share this Psalm with you today as it means alot to me. Many years ago before God got my attention about my sinful life style, I really did believe that I was in a slimy pit, slipping deeper into the mess that I was creating with my life.

God stepped in and rescued me from that slime, and has given me new hope and a new life. He has shown me a whole new way of living and relating to Him and to others. This particular Psalm I believe describes my life very well. I pray that as you read it, and see that if you will cry out to God he will rescue you from the slimy pit of your sinful ways.

That he will put a new song in your mouth and a hymn of praise in your heart to Him. I pray that you will see that if you will put your trust in him he will bless you and he will give you peace in your heart and a purpose for your life.

 

Psalm 40 

 I waited patiently for the LORD;

he turned to me and heard my cry.    

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

 he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.    

He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.    

Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, 

who does not look to the proud,

to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;

were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.    

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

but my ears you have pierced;

burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.    

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come it is written about me in the scroll.    

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”    

I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips,

as you know, O LORD.    

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;

I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.

I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.    

Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;

may your love and your truth always protect me.     

For troubles without number surround me;

my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.  

They are more than the hairs of my head, 

and my heart fails within me.    

Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;

O LORD, come quickly to help me.    

May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion; 

may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.    

May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame.    

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

may those who love your salvation always say, 

“The LORD be exalted!”    

Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer;  O my God, do not delay.

I want what you can give me!

Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ

Not so long ago the lord I believe gave me a great visual representation of our relationship with him. I say our, because in reality some days we might be like my illustration and then other days we might not be.

Suppose two close friends (Annette and Jody) go out for coffee. Annette loves to hang out with Jody as she often comes up with some very funny stuff. The two have been friends for many years, but it has been a hit and miss relationship. Annette feels that she gives her all to the relationship, but she is never quite sure about Jody’s commitment to their relationship.

While at Starbucks Annette decides to show her love for her friend by buying her coffee and a muffin. When Jody gets to the coffee shop she thanks Annette for the coffee and muffin, and sits down to enjoy it.  Throughout the conversation Jody seems distant and distracted. She answers numerous phone calls, texts various people, and as soon as she has finished drinking her coffee, she tells Annette that she is sorry, but she has to go.

Annette feels let down and disappointed. As she reviews the conversation or lack of it she realized that her friend doesn’t really want to be friends with her, but she does want whatever her friend has to give her.  (in this instance it was the muffin and coffee)

The moral of the story is this:

Our relationship with God can look a lot like the one described above. Often we want all that God can give us, what he has done for us, what he has promised us, but we are not willing to enter any deeper with him. We don’t want the relationship.

We think of him as the magic genie in a bottle, and when we cry out and need him he has to magically appear. We make all kinds of promises and vows when we find ourselves in a tight situation hoping that God will just rescue us and then when we have to face the consequences of our bad choices we blame God because he didn’t “come through” for us.

The truth of the matter is that more often than not, we are off running our own lives, and occasionally invite God in for a quick visit.

But God wants more than that, he wants to be in a relationship with us; He wants us to know that he is our loving heavenly father, and that he will care of us, both in the good and bad times. He wants to lead us with his spirit to obey his will and walk in the power of his Holy Spirit.

God wants us to know the sweetness of the peace that he offers us and the freedom that is only found in him. Freedom from the death we were once steeped in due to our sin.

Brothers and Sisters please realize something, God is a Holy God and he has called us, as his children to be a holy priesthood, separated from living like the world around us. The only way that we will ever hope to achieve living like this, and making it a reality in our lives is to actively seek him out.

 Matthew 6:33

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

Jesus had been telling the people at this time that they were not to worry about what they would eat, drink or wear, or any other mundane thing in this life, because when they made him to be their priority in their lives, he would take care of all of the rest.

I believe that this principle is true in all facets of our lives, God promises that when we search him out, walk in obedience to his word and live our lives in reverent fear of him he will take care of all the other things in our lives.

We can then know with confidence that whenever we come to him, he not only hears our prayers but will answer them as well.

So how do we cultivate that relationship with him?

Here are a few steps to get you started on your journey to a deeper relationship with God.

  • Taking time
  • We have to make a point of setting aside a time every day and going to him in prayer, telling him our hurts, troubles, triumphs and concerns.
  • Listening
  • We have to be willing to take time out to listen to what he wants to say to us, how he wants us to handle all of those various situations in our lives.
  •  Often it will be through his word that he will speak to us, it will be like the passage of scripture that we are reading, literally jumps off the page at us. It will be exactly what we will have needed to hear.
  • How does he speak to us?
  •  Sometimes he will speak to us through a thought we might have or something that we have read that he will bring to mind. He might even speak to us through something someone will say to us later on in our day.
  •  The point is, that he will speak to you and you need to train your heart to hear him.
  • Be grounded in the truth of his word
  •  We also need to stay grounded in the word, his word the bible. It is our guidance and source of life and finding out how we are to live and what pleases him.
  • Obedience is Key
  •  In order to be in a deep and loving relationship with God, he requires that we are obedient to him. In other words, we take what he wrote in the bible, believe it, and then live it out in our daily lives. This will then bring him glory as others will see that there is something different about us.

Chose today not to be like Jody in my illustration, choose instead to cultivate that loving relationship with God through the Holy Spirit today. I highly recommend that you take some time and read through the book of Psalms. King David who was inspired by God to write these Psalms beautifully illustrates the relationship between God and man. I know that you will be blessed as you read it and discover that God’s love for you is so much more than you ever imagined.

This is my prayer for you:

Colossians 1: 9 – 14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Amen

7 Practical steps to walking in obedience to the will of God

 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

 Having a willing and obedient heart to the will of God

Have you ever had a parent ask you to do something and out of love and respect for them you try to do it right away or within a reasonable amount of time.

As I was growing up, my parents asked a lot of things of me, sometimes I willingly did what they asked me to do, but to be honest more often than not; I tried to find a way out of it. My heart was not always willing to be obedient, for one reason or another.

 There of course were consequences to my disobedience and they weren’t always pleasant.

 God often asks us, his children to do things, sometimes it is something easy and sometimes it isn’t. Many times it requires us to step out of our comfort zones and walk in complete trust with him.

 In my experience though, if I am willing to be obedient to what God has asked of me, the blessings and the joy that I get out of walking by faith, far out weigh any discomfort I may have felt when he first asked me.

 I have also learnt that if God asks you to do something, he will have prepared you in some way for what he has asked you to do. Not always, but he often prepares you. God also always provides the finances that you need to accomplish his will. Often it may not be in your hand to begin with but as you need it, pray and ask for it, He will supply the need.

 He will strengthen and encourage you along the way as well. Sometimes it will be in the form of someone coming alongside you to help you, or speak a kind word to you, or even give you a hug; these are some of the ways that God will show you that He is with you on the journey.

 He desires to show you that he is reliable and that when you trust in him, you can truly do whatever it is that he asks you to do, as he is the one that is working through you to get it done.

 My Zeal will get me into trouble!

I hope that I am not the only one in the world that runs ahead of what God is requiring of me to do. If I am in good company, please keep reading.

 When God asks me to do something, I am so excited about the task ahead that I often don’t ever stop to ask for all of the directions.

I assume that I know every that he wants me to do, and run right ahead. This often gets me derailed as I no longer know what each new step is.

When God gives us an assignment, He wants to be involved in every part of it. So in order to keep him involved and us on the right track, we need to stop and ask him for every new step. God, through the Holy Spirit will confirm to me what he has asked me to do in a variety of ways, it will often come straight through his word, or may be in something someone says to you, or even circumstances. These things will all play a part in confirming that you have indeed heard from God and that you need to take the next step in Faith.

 We also need to become fierce about not moving until we are sure that he has told us what he requires us to do.

 What if what the lord asks me to do something that seems absurd?

When the lord asks us to do something that looks absurd, weird, or “out there” it is very important for us to take the first step in obedience without paying any attention to any fears, doubts or to what well meaning people might have to say. Our responsibility is to obey God and he will take care of all of the rest.

 Stepping out

When we step out in obedience we need to go back to the lord with all of our concerns, and even the concerns of the people around us. We need to make sure to ask the lord if we are to proceed in the way that we originally thought or if we have to modify or change anything from he has already told us.

 Remember, we need to be willing to obey what the lord has asked us to do and after each new step we need to ask God, through the Holy Spirit if it is his will that we continue in that direction or not.

 God is Faithful

God is faithful and He will show you what he wants you to do. He is the God of “do overs” and he won’t lead you down a path that will lead you astray. He will show you if you have not fully understood what he required of you. He is faithful and he will do that.

 Unless you are willing to step out in obedience to what God has asked you to do, you cannot go to him and ask him for further guidance and confirmation.

 What do the steps look like?

The call – step out in faith – (you might not think that you have heard correctly) – going to God for the next steps – further obedience – checking back that you have heard and understood what is on God’s heart and mind for you to do.

 Safety in Faith

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it is safe for you to trust in God and to take the steps of obedience that he requires of you. Even when from a human standpoint it may look completely impossible or crazy or even hopeless to try and obey him. Do it anyway, you will never be disappointed and the adventure of trusting him, will deepen your faith in him every time.

 I pray that as you apply these steps to your faith walk with God that you will have many exciting experiences with him.

(Thanks to a friend of mine, she recommended a great resource to augment what I have written in this article, It is an article written by George Müller (1805-1898), He lived in England and through faith and prayer established many orphanages in England. To read an excerpt of his writings, please follow this link. I know that it will bless you as you read it.)

http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/knowing-gods-will.htm

You Give Them Something to Eat”

“Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision.” —Acts 26:19

What I have come to believe concerning the Lord’s glory and its manifestation in the church is supported by many Scriptures. Yet, it was through a night vision in 1971 that God granted me insight into His plan. In this spiritual encounter, I saw a great metropolis languishing under the weight of a deep and terrible darkness. Chiseled upon the faces of those in this wretched society was the image of hopelessness. The place was desolate of real life and the time for a recovery seemed long past.

I was with a group outside the city. We were not part of the darkness, but had been “baptized” in a glorious and powerful light. During the vision, I actually experienced the power of this light surging up from my innermost being. It coursed out through our hands like streams of laser light; a visible splendor shone from our bodies, especially our faces.

Suddenly, out from the city the great multitude began to grope their way toward us — thousands of people. Soon all were calling on the name of the Lord. As we laid our hands upon them and prayed for them, they also received the light.

The vision passed, and though I continued to lie in bed, I did not return to sleep. As dawn broke, I opened to the book of Isaiah. As a new Christian, this was the first time I was reading through the Bible. I turned the page from the previous day’s reading and there, for the first time, I read Isaiah 60. The words bolted into my mind like lightning, then shook my insides like thunder.

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
And nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
—Isaiah 60:1-3

It says, “darkness will cover the earth.” This was exactly what I saw in the vision! It proclaimed, “the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you,” precisely describing what I had seen in the vision! It was as though I had actually stepped into the future and experienced a fulfillment of this prophecy. The Holy Spirit and the Word, working in divine symmetry, revealed that the glory of the Lord would be manifested in His people at the end of the age, and that “nations,” currently languishing in darkness, would come to Christ!

Today many people are excited about the harvest. However, in the early seventies and through the eighties the idea of “multitudes coming to Christ” was not a common expectation. With the threat of nuclear war ever present, most Christians were not thinking, praying, or acting like revival was coming. What most expected was a nuclear war with the USSR and either the rapture of the church or the beginning of the great tribulation.

It was against this backdrop of fear and unbelief that the Lord spoke to me of the harvest. Today several hundred thousand souls each week come to Christ worldwide. Still, even this is small compared to what God is going to do in the days ahead.

As important as the harvest is, however, the primary focus of the vision was not winning the lost; it was on the ascendancy of Christ’s presence in the church. The Father’s priority is that the Lord Jesus be lifted up: The coming great harvest will be the result of Christ’s presence! It will not be our programs or methods that bring this harvest into God’s barns; it will be the glory of the Lord.

A Third Witness
The vision released within me lofty expectations for the future, while the text in Isaiah grounded my feet on the firm path of God’s eternal Word. Still, the Lord was not done with me, and one more witness was about to come. After I read Isaiah, my next reading in my daily progression took me to Matthew, chapter 14. As I read, I paused after verse 15, which reads, “The disciples came to Him, saying, ‘The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away.'”

This Scripture recalls the time when Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes. As I read, I noticed similarities between the vision of the multitudes in darkness and this scene from the Gospels. Both depicted a place of desolation and both communicated the sense that the situation was beyond remedy. Yet in spite of the apparent hopelessness of each, multitudes were ministered to in both.

Of course, there was no theological connection between the two texts; not even the most imaginative Christian would ever reference Matthew 14:13-21 with Isaiah 60:1-3. Yet, the Lord was speaking something that would personally affect me for the rest of my life. In response to the disciples urging Jesus to send the multitudes away, He answered,

     “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
     And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
     And He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

The result was that “He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward Heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes” (Matt. 14:16-19).

Jesus had taken bread, blessed it, and then broken it. Again, I paused. This time it was because of a peculiarity concerning my last name: in Italian, Frangipane actually means “to break bread.” Was the Lord using the meaning of my name to connect the feeding of the multitudes with the the conversion of the city in the vision?

Later that morning, I related the vision and the Lord’s promise from Isaiah to my wife, Denise. I then told her about the feeding of the five thousand. I mentioned how I felt, that during the time of the end, when the world would seem utterly desolate and lost, the Lord would use us like He used the loaves to feed the multitudes. Then, in an effort to truly amaze her, for the first time in our young married life I explained that our last name, Frangipane, actually meant “to break bread.” It was at that point my wife told me the meaning of her maiden name, Piscitelli. Incredibly, her name meant “little fishes.”

Little Is Much With Jesus
Long before God had called Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others in the Bible, He had affirmed the foreknowledge of His eternal purpose in the meaning of their names. For us, He did likewise: He revealed the DNA of our destiny in the meaning of our names!

Between the vision, the text in Isaiah, and the meaning of our names, I am convinced that a period of great glory and harvest awaits the church. Through the account of Christ’s feeding the multitudes, the Lord also warned us to expect people without a similar vision to try to dampen our spirits. In this regard, you may have read criticism of this ministry on the Internet. Every critic is angry about one primary doctrine: the teaching I present that there is one last great outpouring coming before the church is raptured. I love it that I am persecuted because of a vision from God! Hallelujah! The fact is, while the critics seek to distort and slander, the vision of God and the great harvest is continuing in nations around the world.

Thus, when Christians complain the harvest “is already past,” or that society has become too “desolate,” it would be an error for any of us, either by our words, doctrines or actions, to ask to “send the multitudes away.” The Lord has made it plain: it will not be too late or desolate for Him.

The Lord has proven many times that, as Christians, we do not need to stockpile resources before we attempt the “impossible.” As long as we remain “blessed and broken” in the hands of the Master, our few loaves and fish are enough. What we have learned is that Jesus does not need a lot to work His miracles; He just requires we give Him all we have.

Scripture Cannot Be Broken
To my wife and me, the prophetic meanings attached to our last names tell us that the purposes of God are preordained. However, for all that these things mean to us personally, it is upon the Scriptures that faith must rest. Dreams, visions, and supernatural “coincidences” are still subjective experiences which must be confirmed and established by the written Word of God. We rest upon God’s Word because Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Thus, the Lord assures us that His Word “. . . shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Regardless of the current spiritual condition of Christianity, every promise God has made concerning His glory in the church, His purpose with Israel, and the harvest at the end of the age — every word will have its day of fulfillment! With the Almighty, it is never a matter of if His word will come to pass but when and with whom.

Yes, the hour is late; true, our cities are desolate. Yet Jesus still speaks powerfully to my spirit. As little qualified as we may be, if we truly give our all to Christ, He will bless us and break us, and then fill us with glory to reach multitudes. Indeed, what He said to His disciples, He says to all: The multitudes do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

Written by:

Francis Frangipane

http://frangipane.org/

The Summing Up of All Things in Christ

“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to his kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

God and Time Are on My Side
Paul tells us that the price Jesus paid has not only brought the church into salvation, but Christ’s atonement will also redeem all of creation as well. The apostle explains that a unique season would occur at the end of the age. During the last years of this dispensation God would actually begin to gather “all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.”

This great gathering together of all things is not so much a singular event as it is a series of divine initiatives. Thus, the word translated “summing up” was an accounting term used by the ancient Greeks. It simply described the sequence of addition used to bring separate items to a singular total. Other translations use the phrase “gathering together” or “gathering into one” all things in Christ. Those who love Him will be consumed by Him in love; those who hate Him will be consumed in judgment. Either way, God will leave nothing but the fullness of Christ permeating the universe.

What is important for us to know now is that we are in that season spoken of by Paul in the Scriptures. Indeed, even now there is an energy, a power, from God that has begun the process of gathering. We see evidences of His power as He gathers Israel to its land and the church to its unity and destiny. This is a profound truth. The world is being carried forward into a reality that shall ultimately be filled with Christ. Whether it takes five years or fifty years, this is the great “mystery of [God’s] will” which shall occur at the end of the age.

To win our war for righteousness we must keep focused on this larger, cosmic perspective of a world consumed in Christ. Yes, the world remains darkened in its fallen state. Yet, every time we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we are asking for the Holy Spirit to enter us, and then use us to redeem and transform every darkened facet of human existence.

We look at the system of the world and believe it is beyond hope. We see the entertainment industry, for example, and believe that God must destroy it to keep it from contaminating the rest of the world. But what if, at this time, it isn’t God’s plan to destroy the world, but to invade and transform it? What if He wants to sum it up in Christ? We must pray as if a time will come when godly movies will become commonplace, where the world will be ministered to by the Christian morals that reveal Jesus Christ. Imagine a day when the power of the cross would permeate the entertainment industry so much so that it would be known as “Holywood” instead of Hollywood.

We might look at world governments with the same cynicism and unbelief, but remember God is going to sum up “all things” in Christ. The time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10,11). So, we must learn to look at the wickedness of the world with the vision of the kingdom of God. For at some point in time, worldwide, it will be proclaimed with great shouts of joy, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15c).

God’s plan for the end of the age is to invade every single dimension of life and sum all things up in Christ. Whatever refuses to yield to Christ will be destroyed; what yields to Him will be transformed. This is the mystery of God’s will. This is the big picture.

When I hear of terrible natural disasters such as we’ve seen in Japan and other places in recent years or when I watch the turbulent upheavals in the Arab world, I pray as though, somehow, the outcome of what I see is ultimately going to be fulfilled in Christ. When I pray concerning evil in the world, I don’t look at the illusion of permanence that appears to protect evil; I look right past it toward the day of God’s kingdom. I see what’s wrong, but I’m also saying, God’s will is to sum this thing up in Christ. I pray as though God and time are on my side.

Becoming Like Christ
The big picture, the wide-angle view, is that all things shall ultimately be summed up in Christ. Certainly, the Lord will use many mighty ways to fulfill this great plan. However, there is one dimension integral to the process of divine consummation that directly pertains to us. Paul writes, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:5-8).

Paul says, “Have this attitude in you . . .” What attitude? The attitude Christ demonstrated when He saw mankind’s sin and vileness. He didn’t destroy evil people. He didn’t isolate Himself from mankind’s wickedness. He didn’t sit in heaven criticizing man. Christ, who “existed in the form of God,” took upon Himself the actual form of man. He completely identified Himself with humanity, even to the point of being found in man’s very likeness.

In Christ we see the pattern of how to transform our world: We enter it, take its very form upon ourselves, and by becoming bond-servants (not judges), we give ourselves to whatever it takes to redeem it. To better understand this, substitute the idea that Christ was “being made in the likeness of men” with this: He took upon Himself “the form of need.”

So, even though Christ existed in God’s form, He knew He couldn’t transform the world without taking man’s form. As God, He could destroy mankind, but could not redeem mankind. Keep this in mind: You cannot transform anything from the outside. You have to enter the need and take its form to bring redemption.

The Bible clearly and repeatedly states that Jesus is not alone in the mission of redemption. He began alone and set the pattern, but He also is the first born among many brethren. Just as Christ entered us in order to redeem and transform us, so those whom He raises up at the end of the age will do what He did, but on a smaller scale. They will see the need, take its form, and work from the inside to bring redemption.

For example, let’s look at the political arena. As Christians, we are so quick to judge politicians and think that the whole system is irreversibly corrupt. Yet, Christ desires that people with His nature enter the system and be a light there. Transformation is an inside job. The church, however, has taken an outside position to things in need, standing aloof from the world in need of redemption. Our only contribution has been to judge and criticize what is wrong.

When we simply judge something without praying for it or seeking to transform it, we can remain isolated from the nature and pattern of Christ. Not until we have the attitude that was first in Christ, do we begin to truly grow in our Christian experience. We must allow Christ to manifest Himself through us. It is the very area of need that we see and remedy that is the “land of our anointing,” where the nature of Christ has opportunity to be unveiled through us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Here again, God’s pattern is to identify with the need, not putting Himself above it, but sacrificing Himself for the redemption of that need. He shoulders the need Himself. This is the nature of the cross. Christ became “sin on our behalf.” He identified with our need so that we could be transformed by His righteousness. Whether it is a school, a neighborhood or place of employment, God desires that we identify with that need and bring light into it.

So the big picture is that everything will be gathered in Christ. The incremental movement within that big picture is measured in each of us seeing the need of the world around us, identifying with people who are trapped in sin, and bringing freedom to them by revealing Christ. After you have identified yourself with the need, you will no longer judge it. As a part of it, you desire its redemption rather than God’s wrath. You pray for it like you pray for yourself.

May God deliver us from prayers of judgment and destruction. God’s will is not to judge or destroy, but to redeem. He hears our prayers if we pray according to His will. Why then would we pray otherwise? So pray instead, Lord God, raise up people from the inside to transform (my school or our government or the entertainment industry).

We must stop thinking and praying negatively. God is doing something today that is so marvelous and so wonderful that He says: If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it. Picture taverns becoming churches. Picture churches working together to see cities changed. This is the mystery of God’s will, to see everything summed up in Christ. Let us look at nothing as though it cannot be transformed. Rather, let us remember that in what we desire to see redeemed, eventually all things shall be filled with Christ. God and time are on our side.

Written by Francis Frangipane

To read more of his great articles please follow the following link:

http://frangipane.org/

God’s great care for his children

 A few years ago, I was involved in a major writing assignment; I felt it was way beyond anything that I was capable of doing. I remember constantly crying out to God and begging him to help me through it all.

 The reason I was even in that position in the first place was because I believe that God had given me an idea for a Sunday school program for kids. It was to be done in a specific way and I was to write the curriculum for it, as the church which I attended at the time did not have the finances to purchase a curriculum.

 I dove right in, with very little writing experience and less than no teaching experience, but I did have God and he was leading me as I walked this path with him. When I look back on that experience I shudder to think how those poor kids had to put up with me trying to teach them the whole bible every week.

 As the weeks went on though I learnt to streamline, find the main points and present it in a clear way so that the kids could understand. I found though that even though I was teaching them, it felt like my mouth was full of gravel all of the time.

 I had been crying out to God for his help, but in reality my enthusiasm for the project got the better of me, and often I would leave him behind in a cloud of dust as I forged ahead to write and then teach the kids.

 One day in pure desperation, I stopped and cried out to the lord for help. I needed him to help me through his holy spirit. I needed him to work through me, instead of me trying to work for him.

 It unfortunately took me a while to get to that point where I realized that that is what I needed to do. Once I surrendered however the lord started to show me that the way to allow him to truly work within my heart and through my life was to teach from his word and what he had done alone.

 He led me to the following verses:

 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power

 I had the strongest conviction, that if I taught the kids the whole counsel of God’s word and sought him to help me to do that, that he would honor that and the Holy Spirit’s power would be given the freedom to work through me.

 That is exactly what happened. I would seek him out for the lessons during the week, I would pray and pour myself into them and then when it came to teach it, I knew that he was working through me to touch the hearts of the kids. It was amazing to watch him touch their hearts and to see their eyes light up when they discovered a truth about him for themselves. It was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had.

 Now, having said that, the journey had its ups and downs and good parts and bad parts, and even times when I wanted to give up because it was so very hard to do. I remember one particular time where I was in great turmoil over the lesson, over the internal battle that was raging and I was crying out to God for help.

 He sent that help alright, he sent my neighbor and friend over to bring me some flowers, a card with some encouragement in it and a hug. It was like healing balm for all the turmoil that I found myself in. I knew that God had instigated her to bring it all over and once again I felt that deep love that he shows to us, his precious children.

 Never be afraid to do what God has called you to do, as he gives you the ability to do it and even when it becomes overwhelming he will see you through it. I felt that there was absolutely no way that I could write a Sunday school curriculum, I was right, but with God leading me, giving me the inspiration and encouragement when I needed it the most, I was able to do it.

 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 If you find yourself in a place today where what you are walking through and experiencing is so overwhelming to you, then I urge you to bring all of your worries, cares, anxiety to God because he really does care for you. He will show you the next step and the way out if you need it.

 Our Christian walk was not meant to be walked by ourselves, God wants to help us and lead us, when we learn to rely on him for our help, then it brings him glory.

 I pray that you will reach out for him today.

 Amen

God is my helper

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

The war is on and it is often not outside of your home, but within, it might not even be within your home, it may be within you. Yes that is how it has felt around my home lately. I realize that God through His Holy Spirit is trying to teach each one of us a life lesson, and through this lesson we will all learn to lean into him in a deeper way and to trust him a little more. To be honest though I am exhausted and would love a holiday, yes I know that I am trying to run away from it all, but I can fantasize can’t I?

One of the things I believe he is revealing to me at the moment is my response to things, and the question I have had to ask myself is; Why do I respond to certain situations the way I do? Am I doing out of learnt behaviors from previous hurts or am I doing it because it is a legitimate response at the time?

I must admit as I wrestle with these questions and many more, I have felt alone and overwhelmed. This my dear friends is a great tactic of the enemy as he wants to isolate us from others so that we fall into a place of fear and self pity.

I once again came to the realization that the only way to successfully walk through this time of learning, stretching and pulling of my faith and character is to cry out to God. I know what you must be thinking, well duh!!

I am sure that you knew that already and should have been doing that, well I have, but I like many people, wait until it all piles up and I feel like I can’t handle it anymore and then I start really screaming loudly to God for help.

It is very comforting to know that when I do call on him to help me, that he will and does come to my rescue. That he loves me and whatever I may have to go through is ultimately for my good. I was once again comforted by this great Psalm 63 and I know that as you read it, it will refresh you as well.

Take a few moments and read through this Psalm a few times, allow the truth of God’s great love and his help, refresh you.

No matter what the circumstance you might find yourself in I know that he will meet you exactly where you are, whether you are in a place of great joy or in the deepest of sorrows, God loves you.

You need to know, that even when you feel like you are under attack where ever you might turn, God is your helper and you can hide under the shadow of his great and mighty wings.

 Psalm 63 
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you,

my body longs for you,

 in a dry and weary land where there is no water.     
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.     
Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you.     
I will praise you as long as I live,

and in your name I will lift up my hands.     
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;

with singing lips my mouth will praise you.     
On my bed I remember you;

I think of you through the watches of the night.     
Because you are my help,

I sing in the shadow of your wings.     
My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.     
They who seek my life will be destroyed;

they will go down to the depths of the earth.     
They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.     
But the king will rejoice in God;  

all who swear by God’s name will praise him,

while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

God our Ultimate Coach

 Faith in Jesus and having a relationship with Him is like being a part of a sports team, like hockey or football.  How are they the same you might be thinking, well, to be good at it you need to practice.

 In the world of sports there are many rules and regulations that are associated with the game.  If you want to be a part of the team you have to agree to submit to those rules.  The reason you do that is because you want to be a team player, you want to win and get the trophy and the recognition at the end of the season.  You get so involved in the sport, that soon you find yourself watching every show you can about it, you collect all of the memorabilia for your favorite teams, and you know the names of all the stars on the team and the not so star players.

    You may even have all of the necessary equipment that would help you to play the game. This is a constant reminder that you are a part of something bigger than just yourself.  You may love the sport so much that you talk to your friends about and to any poor soul that is within ear shot.

 The team also has one member who helps it to become better, that person is responsible for getting the team to it’s next big game, for winning at that game, for training the people up so that they are ready and prepared for the next big win.  That person is the coach.

On some teams that coach is feared and hated, some coaches are a joke, some are strict but fair, but the underlying characteristic of the coach is to get the best out of the player on the team.  It is a tough job, he has to yell, speak harshly, and constantly be giving direction so that the player understands what is expected of him.

 Now our relationship with God is similar, but with God, He has definitely got the advantage over any coach.  Oh yes you say, of course he does he is God, he knows all and sees all and the coach is just human.  You are correct.

But, just as the coach’s main job is to get the best out of the player on his team, God wants you to realize that you have been given everything by him when you were born to be able to perform to the best of your ability, throughout your life.

 2 Peter 1: 3-4

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

 Wow, what a concept.

God has given you everything you need to live a godly life.  He has placed strengths and desires and dreams and gifts in you that fit you so perfectly, because he as a part for you to play on his team.  He is the ultimate coach.  Unlike the human coach who can only show and direct you to the potential inside of you, God placed that potential there and is so excited when we tap into it, believe it and work in that potential.

 He knows you intimately; therefore he knows what you will enjoy doing the best.  The wonderful thing about God is that he does not stand on the side lines, screaming orders at us; he is involved in the game.

He is involved with how we live our lives, the choices that we make, the things that hurt us, he is there, holding us and when something happens that make us grow, he is there rejoicing alongside us.

He often uses other members of the body to speak the truth that he wants us to know, to us.  They are often kind of like coaches in our lives as well.

 Psalm 139:1-6

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 

 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 

 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain

 As I was growing up, I believed many about my identity and the things that I was capable of, and even though my parents tried to encourage me in the truth, and show me my potential, I did not believe them.

 One of the lies that I believed and which ended up holding me in bondage for way to long was that my strong personality was a hindrance, and I should not be so assertive.

   I tried instead to be someone that I wasn’t, I tried the timid route, I tried to not be assertive with my thoughts and opinions about anything. I found myself in a position where I could not even make any choices for myself, instead I allowed everyone around me to make choices for me that where not always in my best interest.

 The result of believing all of those lies for such a long time was that I found myself in a self made prison. It was devastating for me as a person not to be able to really use my God given gifts in a way that would impact others around me. I found myself floundering as I did not have the self confidence to believe that I had anything of any value to offer anyone.

 As you can see, I had not really taken to heart the verses found in 2 Peter 1, where the apostle Peter is telling us as believers that God has given us everything that we need to live godly lives. We do not lack anything; we truly do have everything that we need to manage in this life.

 During this time, God created in me a deep hunger for his word, I read it every chance I could and started to learn to model my life after that.  I realized after a while that what he was teaching me was so important that others needed to learn these truths too.  But because of my faulty belief system of what I was capable of doing and being, I kept silent.  Sometimes I would venture out of my little prison and share a truth that I had learnt, and sometimes it was received well by people and other times not so well.  I believed the not so well part and retreated often into my prison again. 

   But God is gracious and in his great love for me and mercy for me, he has shown me how to break out of that prison, by allowing me to realize that all of those things in my personality that I thought that I had to hide, he put there so that it would benefit the kingdom of God. 

 God set about breaking my belief system about who I believed that I was, he changed my heart to accept the truth of his words. I did have to ask him to forgive me for believing those lies, and realize that those lies where sown by the enemy to keep me from fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for my life. 

 I want to encourage you today, to allow God who is the ultimate coach to train you through his Holy Spirit to be all that he has purposed for you to be. If you find that the enemy has lied to you about who you are and what you have been called to do, then there is no time like the present to ask him to come in and help you to change your belief system.

 He wants you to know, that he has equipped you to do all that he asks you to do. There is nothing that he requires of you that you have to do in a state of unpreparedness.

 Not only has he prepared you, but he stays with you through his Holy Spirit and he gives you the full assurance that whatever you put your hand to he will give you the strength, power and ability to do.

 Take a chance today, and take him up on his offer, let him show you the wonders of all that he has prepared for you today. He will not let you down.

How thankful are you?

 A few years ago, the lord started teaching me the joy of truly being thankful for all that he has done and given to me. I am not just talking about the sometimes meaningless thank you’s that we offer up, but a deep appreciation and gratefulness for his blessings.

 There is a story in the book of Luke that really made this point hit home for me, it is the story of the ten men that Jesus walked passed one day.

 These men were suffering from leprosy and in those days it was a real stigma to have this disease, the people who contracted it, here “put out of normal society” and forced to live outside of the gates of the city.  They were considered unclean.

 They were sent to the leper colony. They had no hope, and they had to watch how the disease ravaged their limbs, slowly eating them alive. It was and is a horrible disease.

 So what does this have to do with thankfulness you might wander, well when Jesus walked passed them, they called to him, they stood at a distance from him as they were the outcasts and were not allowed near people who did not have the disease.

 They called to Jesus, calling him Master, (rabbi, teacher) to have pity on them. When Jesus saw them, he had compassion for their plight and told them to go to the priests and show themselves. They believed Jesus’ word and left that place and went to the priests like Jesus had told them too. On the way there their bodies, literally healed up.

 Can you imagine their amazement and joy as limbs that were deformed and disfigured grew back healthy, fingers that had since fallen off grew back and facial deformities healed? I think that I would have been completely in awe at what was happening.

 Now here is where the story takes a turn, only one of the ten men who saw that he was healed came back to Jesus to say that he was thankful. He was praising God from the depths of his very soul in a loud voice. Only one!

 The funny thing was that all of the other lepers were Israelites, God’s people. The Samaritans were the outcasts, they were the ones who had taken on the customs of the people around them and diluted the practices and laws that God had laid out for them.

 When the Samaritan returned to Jesus, he asked them where the others were and why did they not feel it necessary to come and give praise to God?  Is it possible that the others took for granted what was given to them, and didn’t feel it necessary to give thanks to God? Is it possible that they were just glad not to be outcasts any longer and got caught up in their good fortune?

 We will never know exactly why they choose not to come back and say thank you to Jesus but when the Samaritan man did come back Jesus said some thing very interesting to him.

He said; 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we can learn a lot from this man, the one who came back.

He realized that his miraculous healing didn’t just happen, but it was on the faith of the words of Jesus, that he was healed. Jesus did not ask them to do anything weird, all he said was for them to go and show themselves to the priests, (that was in accordance to the Levitical law)

 When he came back he was so full of joy at what had been done for him and thankfulness that he was praising God whole heartedly.

 This is what we need to learn, to recognize the miracles big and small in our lives and praise God for them. When I realized this truth, I found that the more I thanked God and recognized his work within my heart, the more joy I experienced in my life.

 It was a cascading effect, thanking him for his love and provision, or for something that he had specifically had done for me that I could see, led to joy in my heart, which led to even more thankfulness.

I made it a practice to make sure that if I was in contact with any person, that I would always thank them for whatever they did for me, big or small, I taught my kids to be the ones to go back and always say thank you, to whomever it was that had helped them or taught them something.

 I believe that the big lesson here is, not to take the great and wonderful things of God for granted in our lives, like our salvation, our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, all of the promises that he has given to us as his children.

 We need to practice daily giving him thanks for all that he has done for us. Daily praising him from the depths of our heart as it will lead to a life that is full of joy, contentment and a deep gratefulness for his many blessings.

 Luke 17:11-19

Ten Healed of Leprosy
  11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 
12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 
13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 
16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 
18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 
19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

 Practice Praising Him Today.