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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Resisting God

“...If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. 
You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭5:38-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There is always resistance when God is on the move. Just be careful whose side you're on. Are you working WITH God like the apostles? Or are you among those that think they are doing God a service, like the Sadducees, but in reality are actually fighting AGAINST God, Himself? Beware that you are not deceived.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Opportunity Maker

"Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd..."
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Peter and John had just prayed for a lame man who was now completely healed and leaping around, amazing the crowd. Peter had eyes to see in that moment that God had created a fantastic opportunity for Peter to share the gospel. Without hesitation, Peter began to speak to the awe-filled crowd.

Sharing the gospel can seem awkward to us sometimes. Maybe we desire to tell our neighbors, family, friends, or cashier at the store about Jesus, but how do you insert God into the conversation? How do you communicate in a natural way something that you know to be amazing and the answer the world needs?

We can do what Peter did. Look for opportunities.

He and John were just going about their day when they saw their first opportunity to heal the lame man. That then created yet another opportunity -- to address the entire crowd. One opportunity opened up another for itself. Peter didn't force these opportunities. God opened the door and Peter had eyes to see it and a heart willing to obey and seize the moment.

God is an Opportunity Maker. As we walk with Him throughout our day, He is always creating opportunities for us to love people and share the Message. Opportunities big and small. Maybe ones like Peter and John to pray for someone and see them healed, or teach the masses. Or maybe "small" ones (though no act of Love is small to God) like a word of encouragement for someone that lifts them out of a funk. Or maybe opportunities to share what you have-- like food, or money, or a talent. Peter was an example to us when he told the lame man, "I'll give you what I have." He didn't feel guilty about not being able to give something he didn't have. But, he had already resolved in his heart to have an open hand to anyone he came across and give what he did have.

Truth is, there are probably more opportunities in our day to evangelize and love people than we even realize. God will create many for us because loving people is His favorite thing to do. It is God's desire that ALL people come to the knowledge of Him. His heart literally aches for a world that needs Him. The question really is, will you have eyes to see the opportunities and a willingness to take them?


Here's the full story...

Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

"Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

"Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’

"Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭3:1-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Monday, January 16, 2017

Unusual Provision

Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” 

So Elijah did as the LORD told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. 

Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭17:2-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions...

That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the LORD has given you to eat.”

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭16:3-4, 13-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬


God is not limited, nor can He be put in a box. He promises to provide for us, but He is also extremely creative, as well. Trusting God doesn't mean He'll do things our way. He does it His way. And His way will always be the most amazing and most unusual way! Look how He fed Elijah. Look how He provided for the Israelites! Birds feeding people? Food made from morning dew!? Amazing! Trusting God may not always feel easy, but it's always the most exciting. And in the end, we are not only provided for, but we also have a better understanding of who our God is and how much He cares for and loves us!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The HOW of Unbelief

“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. 

"She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. 

Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” 

Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “HOW could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” 

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 

Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭18:9-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. 

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” 

Zechariah said to the angel, “HOW can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” 

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:8-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬
HOW. It's the first word that springs from both Sarah's and Zechariah's mouths when they received a promise from God. Three letters that says a lot about their hearts and and their faith. They didn't jump up and thank Him. Nope. Instead they raised their hands in question saying, "Uh, excuse me, Lord, you must not understand the present circumstance. We are old. We are barren. We are beyond this kind of ridiculous talk. Can we get real here. HOW are you going to pull this off, exactly?" 

Their unbelief was so startling that even Gabriel seems to take a step back and remind Zechariah who exactly sent him and who's Presence he stands in. And when Sarah laughed (basically in God's Face), the Lord leaned in toward Abraham and asked why she's in there chuckling -- as if God wasn't able to follow through with such a promise!

Unbelief will always ask How. Not the how of wonder like, "Wow, Lord! How did you do that?" But rather the How that dismisses God's ability. It's the How that sees God on the same level as us humans-- limited and earthly.  It's the How that denies that God is actually God. It's the How that says to God, "You can't do that, Lord. It's impossible." 

We either believe that or we don't. 

God has promises for us, too. IMPOSSIBLE PROMISES. Because that's what God does. He makes crazy, outrageous promises. IMPOSSIBLE ones. But because He is God, He is able to do that! He's able to go BIG with His dreams for us because He is not limited! And He would never make a Promise that He's not able to keep. They will always be impossible to us, but never to Him!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rest Meter

So we see that because of their unbelief 
they were not able to enter his rest. 
Hebrews‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REST and FAITH work hand in hand. What I believe about God determines whether I will enter His Rest. For example, my children believe that my husband and I will take care of them. They don't go to bed wondering if we will decide not to feed them tomorrow. They believe we are and will be good to them, therefore they rest. 

Check your 'rest meter'. Are you resting or restless? Are you resting easy believing that God is and will be good to you? Are you trusting that He is able and willing to help you? He is working all of us toward a lifestyle of Rest as we trust in His Goodness.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Mountain Moving

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What is your 'mountain' today? Is it sickness? Is it finances? Addiction? Torn relationship? Anxiety? What is presenting itself as bigger and stronger than the Lord, Himself? Jesus tells us that even a LITTLE faith can move BIG things in our lives. Begin simply believing God today. Who's bigger? Who's stronger? The mountain or your Great Deliverer?