Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The soil of my heart

Tonight's lesson in church was on the parable of the sower in Mark 4. It got me to thinking, wondering what condition the soil of my heart is in. I'd like to say it's the good soil that is fruitful and productive but we all want to be the best but am I being honest?

The soil on the path is compacted and hard. The seed falls there birds gobble them up. The hard heart refuses to hear God's word and Satan swoops in and steals up the seed so that it cannot take root.

The rocky soil is...well, rocky. And if you've ever tried to grow things in rocky soil you know that the plants don't thrive. They dry out quickly and wilt, need extra water to keep them going and they fall over easily in the wind. The rocky heart is quick to receive the Word but when persecution and difficulties arrise in their life, they fall away and forget that God is there for them, just like the diligent gardener who tends his plants even in stony soil.

Other seed falls among the thorns and weeds. We all know what those represent. It seems like everywhere we look these days we see lustful images, profanity, drugs and alcohol, sin made to look good and good made to look evil. Thorns. Even the most faithful must guard their hearts against this onslaught of the world or we too will be choked out and fall away from the God who loves us enough to give up his own son.

And then there is the good ground, the fertile soil. The soft heart that is ready and willing and able to accept God's word at face value and to embrace it with no looking back. The one who goes out and shares the Good News with others and is willing to suffer the ridicule and persecution of the world with no regrets. Those seeds spring up and flourish, sending out deep roots that keep the heart solid in the wind and the leaves healthy in the sun. They grow up to produce 30, 60, or 100 times the initial investment.

So what condition is the soil of my heart? I've withstood temptation, persecution, and ridicule, I tell the world about the love of Jesus, and deep in my heart I feel the roots of His Word, His Love, His forgiveness. I believe the soil of my heart is good soil, healthy soil, ready to be productive and fruitful.

And in honor of those who are persecuted, sometimes to the point of death, simply because they love Jesus, I'd like to start listing the name and a link for information about a brother or sister in Christ who is imprisoned somewhere in the world. So today's name is that of a man I have been praying for for months.

Youcef Nadarkhani is in prison in Iran because of his love for Jesus and he has been sentanced to death for his refusal to recant and return to the Islam religion. Insiders in Iran say his death is iminent. Can you imagine being killed just for loving Jesus?!

Go here: to read more about Youcef's story. Please pray for him, lift him up and pray that God will fill his heart with a peace that only God can provide.

Please don't forget our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. And don't take for granted the freedom we still have here in our country, the freedom to worship.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Holy Ground

Several places in the Bible, people are told to remove their shoes because they're standing on Holy ground. Have you ever contemplated what makes a place holy? What about that particular patch of earth at that specific time in history made it holy?

Our pastor went on to explain that in each of those instances, 3 things were true of those being asked to remove their shoes.

1. They were humble.
2. They were faithful.
3. They were obedient.

And because of these 3 things they were able to be in the presence of God, therefore the ground on which they stood was Holy.

So, what does it mean to be humble? Faithful? Obedient? I turned to the dictionary to get a definition of those things and here is what I found:

1. Humble= Not proud or arrogant, modest, respectful, courtious, forsaking ones own will.
2. Faithful= Steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant.
3. Obedient= obeying or willing to obey; complying with or submissive to authority

So have you ever stood on Holy ground? Have you ever felt the undeniable presence of God? Have you ever felt so full of the Holy Spirit that you wept or danced or shouted with joy because you simply couldn't contain yourself?

To be honest I hadn't ever really thought about it but ever since I started reading my Bible daily and studying the Word, I find my thoughts turned toward Jesus almost constantly. I cry during worship at church. I cry during service at church. The children I teach on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights come up to me and ask if I'm okay because they see my tears. And tonight our pastor approached me and told me he is so excited about how he sees the Lord moving in my life lately.

My heart is so full and I'm unable to describe it in a way that would even approach the magnitude of it.

I've been on Holy ground! I feel, lately, like I live on Holy ground! My thoughts are consumed by the greatness of our God, the grace, the mercy, the preciousness of our Lord. I feel Him around me all the time and it fills me up with so much joy that I can't keep it in. If only I could physically share this wonderous gift with those who have never had it but all I can do is tell people and hope and pray that they'll believe me and reach for it for themselves.

Exodus 3:5Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

Joshua 5:15The captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.


Have you stepped on Holy Ground?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cottage Prayer Meeting

Our church has a revival meeting every year in March and this year is no different. For 8 weeks before the revival people volunteer to host Cottage Prayer Meetings where church members gather for some fellowship and a great deal of prayer. We pray for our country, our state, our community, our church, and our families. We pray for forgiveness, for the lost, and for hearts to be moved in service for Jesus.

We pray for Revival!

Not just the event at our church but for revival in our nation, in our world. God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

We, as Christians, as children of God, MUST pray for a revival in this land. If we don't pray and appeal to God on behalf of our nation, who will?

People are hurting in our world, people are soul sick, heart sick, sin sick and no one but Jesus can heal them. If you are reading this message, please, please, please, pray for revival in our land, in your state, town, church, home, family... and in yourself.

This week's Cottage Prayer Meeting was here at my house and it was such a blessing. I was moved to tears. My church family is such an enormous blessing to me and I thank God daily for them. I would be at loose ends without them and I know that revival is happening in me, in my family, in my church... it's like ripples in a pond and because God's word never returns empty, I know it will stretch far beyond our tiny little town here in West Kentucky. Will it reach your town too?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The harvest is plentiful...

But the workers are few. That's what our lesson was in church this morning and my heart filled up at the thought of being one of those few workers. A worker for God, harvesting souls! What a blessing to be among those who are called to be a worker, a laborer for our Father in Heaven.

Matthew 9:35-38 says:

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

To me, this is the beginning of the Great Commission. Jesus is telling His disciples that there are few people in the world who love him but many, many people who need him and are ready to know him. People who have heart needs, people who are soul sick, people who are dying in their sin. They all NEED Jesus!

And who will go? The Lord says that few will go, but he commands that ALL go.

Matthew 28:16-20 says:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

God has called me, told me to go, given me the tools I need to reach the unreached masses. Who am I to say no? Who am I to refuse to obey the God who so loved me that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life? I cannot refuse him anymore than I can spread my arms and fly. My soul belongs to God, my heart belongs to Jesus. To do his will is a great, wonderous gift. It is a true blessing to be used by our Creator and I, for one, will not miss out on that wonderful gift!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come swiftly, Dear Lord!

I know I just posted last night but after reading today's news I just had to speak my mind. My heart is so heavy and I'm beginning to think that maybe I should stop reading or listening to the news because it's all bad! This world is such a desperate mess, so sin sick, so lost and it makes my heart ache to my very core. I want to do something about it but then I read the prophecies of the end times and I know these things must happen before Jesus can return. But the anguish it causes, especially to the children, makes me so sad.

In Luke 17 the Bible speaks of things being the same as they were in the days of Noah, when Jesus returns for the 2nd time. In the days of Noah the world was full of sin, murder, adultery, homosexuality, immorality of all kinds to the point that God felt He had no other option but to destroy everyone but Noah and his family. This world we live in today is no different than when Noah was faced with the monumental task of constructing the ark.

Children are being murdered by their parents both before and after birth. It seems like I see a new story each day of some family member who went crazy and killed his/her family before taking their own life. The children!?! I can't even begin to imagine pointing a gun at a child, an infant, and pulling the trigger! I don't understand it.

Our planet is certainly in the throes of cataclysmic changes- catastrophic earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, flooding, freezing, drought, and tornadoes. We've corrupted and destroyed this once beautiful place God gave us to be stewards of. We were supposed to take care of the Earth, not pollute, pillage, and gut it. Animals are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate; these beautiful creatures God put here to share the planet with us. How can we, humans in general, be so callous?

But Jesus says, when he tells His deciples what to watch for in Matthew 24:

3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,a’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Such things must happen.

So do we fight against the false prophets? Do we object to the wars? Do we fight the legalizing of homosexual marriage? Or do we simply let this world go to Satan's children and bide our time until Jesus returns?

I, personally, feel like I need to fight, if only so that those on the fence will see they have a choice. I don't want to hide quietly away with the knowledge that I am saved and will go to spend eternity with Jesus when there are so many lost out there. Like so many evil people who want to die and take as many with them as they can, I want to live eternally and take as many with me as I can! I want to know that when Jesus returns for us, my children, parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends will be there too. I want to know that my neighbors, my children's friends, the cashier at the grocery store who always looks so sad, the teller at the bank, and the sheriff of my little town will find Jesus before it's too late!

What needs to happen is for the Christians, the true children of God who reside in this world, to stand up and fight back! We need to show the next generation that there is something more than profanity laced music and TV, drugs, sex, and violence for them to cling to. We need to stand up for Jesus and take back the nation that was founded on Biblical principals so that those who are lost can see the light and be saved.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Where has the fire gone?

Lately I have such fluctuating feelings. One minute my heart is on fire for the Lord and the next I feel cold and indifferent. I hate that cold indifferent feeling and when it comes upon me I turn to the Word and the fire returns. I wish the fire would remain always, that desire to tell others about Jesus, that desire to serve and worship, it fills me with such joy and I want it to stay always with little to no effort on my part.

But that would be too easy, I think. That would make the fire burn less, seem inconsequential, I suppose. Sort of like walking into a potpouri store and inhaling deeply the sweet fragrance within. But after awhile you no longer smell anything because you've gotten used to it. If the fire came with no effort we'd get used to it being there and no longer work for it. No longer notice that it feels any different than when it's not there.

So today, because of the stresses of life, the constant struggle of simply getting through another day, I feel disconnected and anxious. The fire is gone. The only way I know to get it back is through prayer and burying myself in the precious Word of God. So as soon as this message is posted, I'm off to my quiet place with my Bible to find the match that will reignite the flame in my heart because it is so very worth the effort it takes to keep it kindled and burning bright.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength!

I have a wonderful app on my Iphone that lets me choose different Bible study subjects that include a devotional and Bible verses that relate to the subject. It reminds me at 10:00 each morning to read my Bible so not only am I working my way through the whole Bible in a year but I get devotionals as well. I love it! So, the 31 day study I'm doing right now is about Joy. Finding joy, recognizing joy, where joy comes from, etc. Today's lesson was so meaningful that I just had to share it, so here it is:

The joy of the Lord really is your strength and the devil knows that if he can rob you of your strength, that he will turn you into a weak, whining and ineffective Christian.

Did you know that the devil is not after your health? Did you realize that Satan couldn't care less about your marriage or your finances? And your children don't mean a thing to him. What the devil is after is your joy and the way that he tries to steal your joy is by going after your health, your marriage, your finances and your children.

The devil knows that he cannot deny you of your salvation or of the forgiveness that Jesus has given to you. So, what he tries to steal is the most valuable commodity that he is able to get his greedy little hands on. Satan is relentless and he will do everything he can to lie to you and eventually deceive you out of your joy.

Today, let me challenge you to stand toe to toe...nose to nose with the accuser of the brethren and declare in his ugly little face, " can not!!! You will not!!! You will never be able to take my joy from me!"

When you choose to defy the enemy with the joy that Jesus died to give you, you will become a powerful force in the world today. God can use joyful Christians who are bold enough to hang onto their joy no matter what is going on in their circumstances.

Nehemiah 8:9-12
John 10:1-10

What a wonderful reminder! The JOY of the LORD is MY STRENGTH! Jesus died no only for my forgiveness but that I could be reunited with God and what could be more joyful than that? I can't think of a single thing. So no matter what is going on in my life I will cling to the joy of the Lord!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jesus Loves The Little Children...

Wednesday night church is often a trial because I am the 'head' of our Children's department. After the lesson they have a snack and playtime before being dismissed. Sounds pretty harmless but if you knew these particular children- about 22 of them- you'd understand why I say church is a trial.

I spend most of the day Wednesday in prayer as I go about my daily chores and such, praying that the children will be in good spirits, that they'll be well behaved, but more often than not they are as they were tonight....Monsters.

I try so hard to love these kids, even going as far as to tell them I do in hopes of sparking some feeling besides frusteration but more and more I dread Wednesdays and I hate it. These kids are undisciplined at home, have no respect for authority, no respect for church or the people in it. They say horrible things to each other and the leaders, they hit, kick, bite, punch and throw things. And what can I do? They're between the ages of 5 and 10. Anything I come up with for discipline has no affect. They simply don't care.

Their parents don't attend church, we're basically a free babysitting service for them on Wednesdays. They get rid of their kids for two hours and I leave church feeling like I've been emotionally beat up. I want to love these kids because I know they're not getting loved at home, many of them, and I want to show them Jesus, I want so badly to show them Jesus. I want to plant the seeds that God will nourish, so I know I have to keep on keeping on.

Lord, Help me love these kids. Help me love them like Jesus. Be with them tonight, with their families. Robert, Alexis, Lakyne, Jade, Kyrah, Kylie, Kaylie, Lexi, Rachael, Nathaniel, Taylor, Marissa, Timothy, Nate, Jake, Thomas, Serina, Nicholas, Kam-Ron, Rachael, Skyler, & Jonah. Be with them, Lord, reach their hearts.