Faith Messages to build your faith

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hope for Tomorrow




   Mary Southerland shares with us, 
" A cloud of terror hung over the Valley 
of Elah as snarling threats and vile promises 
spewed from his mouth. 

The intimidator strutted along grassy slopes 
swinging an enormous club, his mammoth, 
ironclad feet pawing the ground like an irate bull, 
ready to attack. 

The huge, ugly monster was Goliath, a nine foot
giant, the pride of Philistia. 

He wore massive armor; a bronze coat weighing 200 pounds, a 
solid iron spear, a heavy bronze helmet. 

The target of his ranting and raving was a frightened, helpless 
group of Israelites, cowering in their tents.

For forty agonizing days, Goliath had come, taunting them, 
promising certain destruction and doom. 

The Israelites, paralyzed with fear, had given up all hope of 
escape, resigned to their tortured fate at the hand of this 
Philistine monster.

              Then came day forty-one! 

I am certain, as the sun inched its way over the mountains 
that morning, that neither Goliath nor the Israelites had any 
idea that this day would be different. 

A young handsome teenager stepped into the valley of fear, 
fresh from the presence of God. 

David, the youngest in a family of eight boys could not believe 
the scene before him. Tossing the giant’s threats and obvious 
advantage aside, David refused to accept what he saw. 

Instead, he chose to believe what he knew in his heart; this giant
was going down. 

With simple but certain faith and unreserved confidence in God,
 David stepped through the fear, ushering in the mighty presence 
and power of God. 

Goliath not only met David that day, He met the Lord of Heaven
and earth. 

And the giant fell! Giants always fall in the presence of God.

We stand on the threshold of a new year – a new beginning! 

If you are like me, you face 2012 with mixed emotions. 

Personally, I am thrilled that I survived 2011! 

There were certainly moments when I wondered if I would. 

I am so excited about a fresh start, a brand new set of days
overflowing with new dreams and unmarked possibilities, but
I also know this year is crammed full of the unknown as well 
as a giant or two. 

If I am brutally honest, I have to admit the unknown fashions 
a pocket of fear in my heart where questions and doubts thrive.

              The good news is what lies ahead is no surprise to God. 

In fact, He has already been where we are going. 

That reason alone empowers us to face every tomorrow with 
hope, knowing whatever touches us passes through His hands, 
with His permission. 

It is not God’s plan for us to dwell in fear or for fear to rule our 
lives.  

He has already set in motion the defeat and fall of every giant 
we will ever face.  

Our responsibility is to step through our fear, facing every giant 
in God’s power and with His promises. 

The Holy Spirit will guide the path of His truth to its destined 
mark, taking down the giants lurking in each tomorrow.

              He is the same yesterday, today and forever! 

The days ahead are saturated with the memory of Goliath’s fall 
and trust in Almighty God, the Giant Killer. So then, (my)friend, 
I ask you, what is there to fear? Happy New Year!

Let’s Pray

              Father, I come to You by faith, laying every fear and 
worry at Your feet. I am not sure what this year holds for me but 
I do know You are with me every step of the way. When I am 
tempted to worry, please remind me to trust You. When fear 
attacks, I choose to pray instead of panic, knowing You are my 
Lord and my Shepherd. I praise You for Your faithfulness in my 
life, even when I don’t understand and can’t see the next step. 
I praise You, Lord.

              In Jesus’ name,
              Amen.”


“God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of
 power and love and self-control”  2 Timothy 1:7).

“Though an army should encamp against me, My heart shall not
 fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident…
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the 
secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me 
high upon a rock.”  Ps. 27:3, 5 NKJV

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, 
believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  
 Mark 11:24 NKJV

by  Mary Southerland on Crosswalk.com 12/29/11
“Friend to Friend"

Power or Illusion: How do you Determine its Source?







   The Samaritans had been following for years a sorcerer named Simon. 

   But when Phillip came on the scene they believed him and his message and were baptized. 

   I would propose that this was more of a new 'fad' or ritual to the Samaritans rather than a conversion. 

   Peter and John arrived to provide greater depth and meaning to their belief and baptism. 

   As a result, the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit and were truly converted and changed. 

   Simon, on the other hand saw this as a trick or power that could be purchased. 

   In our present day, if a stage magician performed an 'illusion' it wouldn't be unreasonable for a fellow magician to offer to 'buy the trick.' That's all I see Simon doing here -- he simply thought the gifting of the Holy Spirit -- was a trick.


   Was Simon an illusionist or did he possess 'real' power? 

   I don't know, but one thing we do know for certain is that in Moses' day, Pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate many of the signs and miracles that God did through Moses and Aaron. 

   So if a trick can be purchased or a miracle duplicated, how do we keep from being deceived? 

   The answer is in whether or not the miracle is constructive or destructive. 

   For example, Exodus 8:5-15 describes the plague of frogs that God placed upon Egypt. 

   Pharaoh's magicians were actually able to duplicate this miracle -- Egypt had a problem with frogs and they made it worse. 

   Understand they couldn't stop it or make it go away -- only God could do that -- therefore the ability had a destructive nature not constructive or positive nature and purpose.


Questions to Ponder:


   We all want and seek the big and showy demonstrations of God's power -- the healings, a plague of frogs against our adversaries, the parting of the Red Sea, etc. 

   This same desire is what makes us susceptible to deception. 

   Are you impressed with so called miracles or demonstrations of power? 

   Do you assume someone's unusual ability or talent has a 'Divine' origin and makes them more Godly? Have you been deceived in the past? 

   How can you protect yourself from such deceit?”


“That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ..”  Eph. 4:14, 15 NKJV


“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”  James 3:17 NKJV


“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Rom. 15:4-6 NKJV

"When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, 'Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Acts 8:18-19

From The New Testament League  Pocket devotions   12/29/11
















THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

 
What the Bible has to say, using the New Century Version Bible:


              “You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves.”  1 Cor. 6:19


              “And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.”  Rom. 5:5


              “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you. 

I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live, too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me and I am in you.”  John 14:16-20


              “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. 

He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me. The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you.”  John 16:7-9,14


              “I {John} baptize you with water to show that your hearts and lives have changed. But there is one coming after me who is greater that I am, whose sandals I am not good enough to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Matt. 3:11


              “If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.’ Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been raised to glory. But later, those who believed in Jesus would receive the Spirit.”  John 7:38-39


              “While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul was visiting some places on the way to Ephesus. There he found some followers and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They said, ‘We have never even heard of a Holy Spirit.’ So he asked, ‘What kind of baptism did you have?’ 

They said, ‘It was the baptism that John taught.’ Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of changed hearts and lives. He told people to believe in the one who would come after him, and that one is Jesus.’ 

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. They began speaking different languages and prophesying.”  Acts 19:1-6


              “So I tell you: Live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what your sinful selves want. Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”              Gal. 5:16-17


              “Once when he was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, ‘Wait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about. 

John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The Father is the only One who has the authority to decide dates and times. These things are not for you to know. 

But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses – Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and every part of the world.”          Acts 1:4-5,7-8


              “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.”  Acts 2:4


              “Peter said them, ‘Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy spirit.”  Acts 2:38


              “Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the spirit. Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Eph. 5:18-20


              “When the apostles who were still in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When Peter and John arrived, they prayed that the Samaritan believers might receive the Holy Spirit. 

These people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them. Then, when the two apostles began laying their hands on the people, they received the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 8:14-17


              “While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to those who were not Jews. 

These Jewish believers heard them speaking in different languages and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did!’ “ Acts 10:44-47


Taken from God’s Awesome Promises for Teens and friends by J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN

Father, I ask that You'll give this reader clearer understanding from reading these Scriptures, that they'll be more open to Your Holy Spirit's moving in their own life.  In Christ's name, amen."


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY GHOST




“But ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost…” Acts 1:5

Several quotes from Oswald Chamber’s Devotions for MORNING and EVENING:

“Why do we want to be baptized with the Holy Ghost?

All depends on the ‘why’. If we want to be baptized with the Holy Ghost that we may be of use, it is all up; or because we want peace and joy and deliverance from sin, it is all up.

'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost’', not for anything for ourselves at all, but that we may be witnesses unto Him.

God will never answer the prayer to be baptized with the Holy Ghost for any other reason than to make us witnesses to Jesus. To be consciously desirous of anything but that one thing is to be off the main track.

The Holy Ghost is transparent honesty. When we pray, ‘Oh Lord, baptize me with the Holy Ghost whatever it means’, God will give us a glimpse of our self-interest and self-seeking, something has to go. God is amazingly patient.

The perplexity is not because of the hardness on the way, but the unwilling pride of sin, the stubborn yielding bit by bit, when it might be done any second.

The acceptance of the Divine nature involves in it obedience to the Divine precepts. The commands of God are enablings.

God banks entirely on His own Spirit, and when we attempt, His ability Is granted immediately.

We have a great deal more power than we know, and as we do the overcoming we find He is there all the time until it becomes the habit of our life.

The baptism with the Holy Ghost is the great sovereign work of the Personal Holy Ghost; entire sanctification is our personal experience of it.” (Dec. 17, pg. 727)

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you."  John  16:13, 14 NKJV

   “The love of God at work in me makes me hate with the hatred of the Holy Ghost all that is not in keeping with God’s holiness. To walk in the light means that everything that is of the darkness drives me closer into the center of the light.” Dec. 26, pg 744).

     “When once we realize that through the salvation of Jesus Christ we are made perfectly fit for God, we shall understand why Jesus Christ is so ruthless in His demands. 

He demands absolute rectitude from His servants, because He has put into them the very nature of God. Beware lest you forget God’s purpose for your life.”  (Sept. 21, pf 546)

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  Rom. 8:26 NKJV

     “As the Redemption creates the life of God in us, so it creates the things belonging to that life. Nothing can satisfy the need but that which created the need. This is the meaning of Redemption—it creates and it satisfies… 

Behind the preaching of the Gospel is the creative Redemption of God at work in the souls of men. It is never personal testimony that saves men. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”   (Dec. 17, pg.726)

Two of my previous posts may be of interest to you: "Fueled by the Spirit" 9/12/11 and "The Power of the Holy Spirit in You" 9/18/11







TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH



     “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  (Heb. 11:1)

“Friend to Friend

              Several years ago, on a trip to Kauai, my husband and our friends, Larry and Cynthia Price, decided to go on a zip line through the jungle. After being jostled and tossed like rag dolls in the back of a retired army jeep, we finally made it to the top of the mountain from which we were going to zip down – risking life and limb I might add. Crazy, I know.


              I hopped out of the jeep and eyed the cable suspended high above the valley below.  After watching Cynthia fly through the trees, I climbed up onto a wooden platform and surrendered to Jack, a jovial, burly Hawaiian, who strapped me into a harness and placed a helmet on my head. With a simple click of a metal buckle, he attached my harnessed body onto a seemingly flimsy steel cable. As I stood on the edge of the platform eyeing the disappearing earth below my feet, I had a choice. I could say, “no thanks” and asked to be released from the cable, or I could jump.

              I chose to jump. My body flew over the treetops and the stunningly beautiful gorge. I was Tarzan’s Jane and this was my jungle. Airborne. Exhilarating. Risky.

              Jacob was with us that day. He was a stranger among our little band of adventures. Jacob was alone. No friends. No spouse. No family.

              “Jacob, what brings you up to this mountain today?” I asked.

              “I’m afraid of heights,” he answered.

              I then began to notice the thin line of perspiration beading over his upper lip. The slight tremble in his voice. The mechanical one-foot-in-front-of-the-other halted gait up the hill.

              “You’re afraid of heights?” I asked. “Then why are you here?”

              “I’m going to conquer it today,” he determinedly answered.

              I was struck. We were here to have fun. He was here for a totally different reason. When Jacob stood on that platform, I prayed for my new friend. For Jacob this was not just a joy ride…or just maybe it was.

              I’m not saying that God told Jacob to go to the top of a mountain and attach his body to a flimsy cable, and fly over the gorge at the risk of life and limb. But I am saying that obedience often requires a leap of faith. Too often we say yes to God, but live the no because of fear. We stand at the precipice of belief and a decision has to be made. Am I going to trust God or not? Am I going to attach my heart to the cable of His love and take a leap of faith, or am I going to freeze in fear because I don’t trust that He has my best interest in mind? Am I going to settle for safety and miss the thrill of seeing God work through me?

              As we live and move and have our being in Jesus, God will take us to some amazing places.  But there will always be a choice. Will we jump headlong into the adventurous journey of His perfect plan, or will we hang back because of lack of faith?

              Jacob stood on the platform, took a deep breath, and jumped. He flew over the treetops, careened over the river, and landed safely on the other side of his greatest fear.

              We clapped and cheered.  Jacob took a bow. God smiled.

              (If you want to see a video clip of my crazy ride, log onto my Facebook page and take a look.)

By Sharon Jaynes onCrosswalk.com 12/26/11

info@girlfriendsingod.com www.girlfriendsingod.com
www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes

Let’s Pray

              Father, I am so thankful that You always have my best interest in mind. Today, help me to have the courage to take a leap of faith if I need to. I trust You. I’m attaching my heart to the cable of Your love, and I’m going to jump!

              In Jesus’ Name,
              Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

              Can you think of a time when obeying God took a leap of faith?

             What happened when you jumped? Perhaps God is calling you to do something right now that requires a leap of faith.  What’s holding you back?”

“Blessed be God—
he heard me praying.
He proved he’s on my side;
I’ve thrown my lot in with him.


Now I’m jumping for joy,
and shouting and singing my thanks to him.”  (Ps. 28:6, 7  MSG)

jowildflowers@gmail.com  http://www.jean-oathout.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tiny Mouth, Tiny Feet

     
  God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.  (by Max Lucado)

              Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds.

              Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

              Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

              to touch a leper’s open wound,
              to wipe a widow’s weary tear,
              to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

              Your hands, so tiny, so tender, so white—clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

              Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

              O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince … sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

              Lay still, tiny mouth. Lay still mouth from which eternity will speak.

              Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead,
              that will define grace,
              that will silence our foolishness.

              Rosebud lips—upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you—lay still.

              And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you.
 
              Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

              And little heart … holy heart … pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

              You’ll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.

              You’ll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.

              You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.

              And you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

              Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

              And there you’ll rest again—this time in the embrace of your Father.”

From Christmas Stories: Heartwarming Classics of Angels, a Manger, and the Birth of Hope

              Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2011) Max Lucado

Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” which is translated, ‘God with us.’ “  Matt. 1:23 NKJV

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's the Purpose?



Who brings us grace and mercy?

                                                    Frances Gregory Pasch tells us:

ONLY JESUS!

Who knows each moment how you feel?
Whose love for you is always real?
Who cares for you and guides your way?
Who holds your hand so you won’t stray?

JESUS!

Who’s there when others turn their backs?
Who helps you get your life on track?
Who always wants to be your friend?
On whom alone can you depend?

JESUS!

Who’s always there both day and night?
Who soothes your pain and makes things right?
Who walked the road to Calvary
And gave His life so you’d be free?

JESUS!

Who is Our Savior and Our King,
Our Counselor--Our EVERYTHING?

ONLY JESUS!

Frances Gregory Pasch


“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Heb. 4:16 NKJV


From Our Daily bread devotional:

              “Mild He lays His glory by,
          Born that man no more may die.
            Born to raise the sons of earth,
    Born to give them second birth. —Wesley

The birth of Christ brought God to man; the cross of Christ brings man to God.” 

 
jowildflowers@gmail.com     jean-oathout.blogspot.com






Colorful Christ Bell


THE BELL

I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of HeavenI am significant (Phil. 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).    I am complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Rom. 5:1)
I know the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1:5)
I'm redeemed and forgiven (Col 1:14). 
I've been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)

 I belong to God
Do you know
who you are?


“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Galatians 4:4, 5

Taken from Our Daily Bread devotional for 8/31/11:

              Amazing thought! that God in flesh
           Would take my place and bear my sin;
              That I, a guilty, death-doomed soul,
                  Eternal life might win! –Anon.

God broke into human history to offer us the gift of eternal life.”  (8/31/11)