Batter Up

1

“But you don’t understand I can’t share. No one is going to listen to me. I am nobody!” Often this is the cry of our heart; we want to leave the business of sharing to the preacher, after all that is his job. That is what he was hired for. However, that is not the whole truth. When the Lord sent out his disciples it wasn’t just a few good men, he sent out a group of 70, and also His closest twelve disciples. Why? Because the Lord knew that every single one of them had a story to tell; just like you do. If you are a born-again, blood bought Christian, you have a testimony. It might not seem as great as the man on the other side of the church but it’s your story. And truthfully, the Lord wants to use it to touch the hearts of the people you, yes you come into contact with.

It doesn’t matter where you are, He can use you. You might be a shut-in or perhaps you may even be in prison. Maybe you are a patient in the hospital, or someone who is taking treatments for a serious disease. Are you a fireman, or a lawman or in the military? It doesn’t matter!  Or maybe you are a student, teacher, a homemaker, a bus driver or a pilot. At some point in your day, you can touch the heart of another person. We see examples of it throughout the Scriptures.

Paul was in prison and yet even there, God used him to touch the hearts of those around him. Philemon 1:10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains. Paul was in chains, sitting in a prison dungeon and the Lord used him.   David arrived on a battle field, and declared the word of the Lord before not only the members of the army but also before the giant enemy that he was facing. Phillip was traveling and the Lord used him to minister to a eunuch on a lonely stretch of highway.

Pick up your Bible. Look at the various books. Someone took time to write these words for you to read today. Listen to the words of your favorite song; someone was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the verses. The author of the song, “It Is Well with My Soul” wrote it as he sailed over the spot where his four daughters drowned. These words still stir many a heart even today. They are long gone but their words still touch lives today.

Have you been touched by the Lord? You can share what He has ministered to you. Have you failed and He has picked you up? Someone else is enduring the same pain today. Have you been tested in the fire of affliction? Then you have a testimony. It doesn’t matter where you have been or where you are even now. If you are willing the Lord can use you to touch someone somewhere. It might be just the simple words, “I was thinking about you and I wanted you to know I am praying for you!” Or perhaps, you are in that hospital bed. There is a nurse, or a technician coming into your room that needs to know that the Lord loves them. Maybe, you pass some of our military in a store or airport, let them know you appreciate their service and you are praying for them.

You will never know what those few words will mean to them. But I can promise you this; it will certainly make an impression on them. They will remember those few words of encouraging and compassion long after they forget what you even looked like.   The Lord wants to use each one of you today. It doesn’t matter where you are or even if you never leave your home today. He can use you in person, on the phone, or on the internet to touch someone else.

Be obedient! Be faithful! Be true to the call on your life. Take that step of faith and be a mouthpiece for the Lord. He will give you the words and the strength you need.

I Can’t Help It

1

Uuuuuugly! That is absolutely the most hideous thing I have ever seen. Oh, I am not referring to a Christmas sweater or to the winner of the ‘Ugliest Dog in the World’. And no, it’s not about a house or vehicle. Take a moment and think about someone with an attitude. What’s the one that drives you crazy the most? Anger, rage, hatred and un-forgiveness are a few that comes to mind. Self-centered and selfishness are a couple of other ones.

Have you ever seen someone in a rage? Their face is all distorted as they spew out all their words of hate and venom. Their lips pucker up to the point that they look like they have drank a gallon lemon juice. Everyone scatters as their wrath unfolds on everyone around them. They don’t care who they inflict their painful words on. Truthfully, they love to wreak havoc when they are enraged. Their intention is to make everyone feel as bad as they do inside.

There are others that no matter how much their lips smile, their eyes reveal a heart that says “I have lost my very best friend. Don’t you feel sorry for me?”   That poor old me attitude is not a one-time thing, it is a constant in their life. They always want someone to feel sorry for them. They remind me of an old silent movie where the damsel in distress throws her arm over her head wailing at the hand life has dealt her. It might work for a season, but eventually people get tired dealing with the constant “O poor me, I need… I need… I need…”

Un-forgiveness is another ugly disposition. Every single person has been done wrong in some manner.   That agony has prevailed over their life for years. One in particular I know is a woman who was molested by several family members. She has carried that burden for years. Unfortunately, it eats away at her like a cancer. She has allowed it to color her judgement toward ever man and she has a deep-seated hatred for all men on top of the un-forgiveness toward her offenders.   Most people would say she has a right, but the only one hurt in the long run is her. She carries her wounds proudly and yet she fails to see the heavy chain that has weighted her heart and soul all these years.

Then you have the “me, me, me, me” crowd. No one is as good as they are. They have the best stuff, the best this, the best that and no one can compare. They have no room for anyone else and no one else could possible compete with their great accomplishments. And truthfully, they are not above stabbing someone else in the back to get what someone else has. We all know them and someone in particular probably just flashed through your mind.

There is one thing all these attitudes have in common. These are the very ones that need a touch from the Lord. Rage can destroy hearts and souls in an instant, and yet wrath is mentioned as one of the works of the flesh in Galatians. It must be taken to the throne of grace and laid before the Lord. The old poor me is an attitude that draws attention to self. As a Christian, we need to draw men unto the Lord and push self aside. We have all heard the words – you must forgive in order to be forgiven by the Lord. In all honesty, we only hurt our self when we carry un-forgiveness towards someone else. It doesn’t hurt them, because they are not the one carrying that dead weight. And last on this short list is the ‘me, me, me” attitude. That too is listed in Galatians 5 as selfish ambition. These are things we need to allow the Lord to deal with and show us how the lay them down at His feet.

What we need in our hearts, life and soul is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. We must learn to crucify the flesh and begin seeking the Lord and His ways. It can be done, with the help of the Lord. He won’t take a magic wand, wave it over us and presto we no longer operate in that sin and attitude. But He will give us the strength to overcome as we press in to Him and His ways. Yes, it is possible to overcome through the Spirit of the Lord. Press in and allow Him to touch and deal with your heart and spirit today.

Packed Up

1

Moving is exciting and it is also burdensome. Some people move on a regular basis. It might be for their advancement at work or to begin a new career. Maybe it is a young person who is moving out into the world for their first place on their own away from their home. Perhaps it is members of our military with a new assignment. Others are selling and moving up into a bigger house. Then there are those who are moving out of necessity, maybe health reasons have forced the issue. Or maybe, they are downsizing as a result of losing a job or because of a failure in a marriage.

Whatever the reason, the change comes in a rapid manner and at times seems to be overwhelming. Some families eagerly prepare for newest adventurer. It is their chance to start over. Yet, some dread even the thought of sorting, and packing up. I would fall into this latter group for one simple reason. We have lived in our home for almost 40 years. The thought of dismantling and sorting through 40 years of “treasures” is an absolute nightmare to me.

But there are times when the Lord calls upon us to move. It might not be a physical move as it would be with a missionary traveling to a foreign land, but it might be a move in the Spirit. He might be calling us to a new place of ministry. Or perhaps, the move is one that requires leaving our present place of worship and joining heart with another. One thing is for sure – change is NOT easy.

Often, when the Lord begins moving in our heart, it is just a hard to clean out those hidden recesses of our closets. Too often, we put stuff in there, we are so sure we will need it soon but bit by bit it gets pushed to the back corner. We stuff bad memories in those dark crooks. You know the ones, someone stabs you in the back – you push on, but it still has the ability to instantly inflict the pain as much as the day it happened.   Or perhaps the pain comes from the sudden loss of a loved one and we never had a chance to say goodbye.

Perhaps the corner is filled with hidden sins. We know that our habit isn’t right but the struggle is real. We can’t see how to overcome and for once and all be rid of the extra weight. The pattern has repeated for years. We fall, we repent and stay on the straight for a season and then we fall again. We fall flat on our face. Hopelessness sinks in and we push the whole thing to the back recesses of our heart.

Sometime there is absolutely nothing wrong with what the Lord desires to clear out. We struggle with His prompting. However, there is no question that He wants us to lay ‘it’ aside. We need to realize that He sees far beyond what we see.   He knows what is best for us.

If the move is a spiritual move, the Lord could be calling you into a different ministry. You have felt a tugging for more in your heart for a while. Maybe He is moving you deeper than you have ever been before. The move looks scary but deep within you know that this is what you want. When He begins to move you forward, be sure that you don’t pack some unwanted ‘trash’. You know, fear, doubt, or dragging your feet. He is moving on the hearts of many of His children to move. He wants you to move deeper, and farther into His Spirit than ever before. He wants you willing to take that step of faith into all that He has for you.

Yea, it is time to pack. Some bags to be tossed out with the trash. Some bags might be to hand-off to others. But most of all pack up and move forward into all the Lord has for you. As the old TV show said,   “Head ‘em up and move ‘em out.” He’s got it all planned out. Just take that step of faith and lift your voice to the Lord, “Here I am Lord! Here I am!”

Wha’cha Doing?

1

Where’s your heart? Take a moment and really think about that question. Where is your heart? Are you chasing after the things of the world? All of its enticing counterfeit treasures that will bring satisfaction for a moment but soon as all of the excitement wears off and you are left with the desire to attain something better and newer. So once more you begin the journey to achieve the newest ‘thing’ being grabbed up by everyone.   Is your desire to be popular and liked by everyone. Or maybe the thing you want most is to one of the crowd, not sticking out like a sore thumb.

Yea, you are a Christian, you love God. But He understands that the world is different today than it was in Bible days. He knows you are super busy and just don’t have the time to spend in His Word, after all, there is all these activities you just have to be a part of. Then you need time to unwind so it’s off to relax at the beach or chilling with friends. Church, you meant to go but you overslept. You know God will understand and you promise to go next week.

Don’t misunderstand; there is nothing wrong with having goals. There is nothing wrong in being involved in activities or spending some down time with your friends until…     Until they become more important than your relationship with the Lord of your salvation. Until your time is so wrapped up that you never spend time in prayer, or alone just meditating who He is in your life. Until all of your focus and energy is spent ‘outside’ of your Christian walk.

Where’s your heart? Are you closer to the Lord today then you were a year ago, or even six months ago? Are you sensing a hunger and thirst for more of the Lord? Do you desire to spend time digging into His Word and learning more about Him and yourself? Does your heart want more than ever before? Or are you content more with the things of the world?

You are the only one who can answer these questions.   It’s doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. No one can help you walk this path. No one can hold your hand. No one can walk beside you on this journey.  This is just between you and the Lord.   He will walk beside you, lead and guide you. He will strengthen you, and help you endure the rough patches. When you cry out, He will listen and answer. When you seem dry and barren, He will renew your spirit. His love will never fail. Yes, He wants to walk closer to you than ever before. Draw near to the Lord.

It’s Just so Dry

Trockener Ackerboden wird durch starken Wind am Freitag (08.04.11) nahe der Ortschaft Dodow in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in einer Staubwolke ueber ein Feld geweht. Lang anhaltende Trockenheit in den letzten Wochen belastet regional die Landwirtschaft in Deutschland. Tief Joachim sorgt in den kommenden Tagen weiterhin in Norden und Osten fuer stuermisches Wetter. Das Tief lenke vergleichsweise kuehle Luft in die noerdlichen und oestlichen Landesteile, teilte der Deutsche Wetterdienst am Donnerstag (07.04.11) in Offenbach mit. (zu dapd-Text) Foto: Alexander Becher/dapd

Do you ever feel dried up, barren and hopeless?  You feel like nothing can ever change the situation in your life.  You are lost and alone.  Believe it or not every single person goes through this from time to time.  Maybe it is impossible to do anything about your situation and the feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming, totally out of your control.  You look to the right and then the left; you have even tried to fix it yourself to no avail.  Now you stand, alone and hopeless.  The desert could not be drier.  Your heart feels like pictures you have seen of the Dust Bowls of the 1930’s.  Every touch of wind just blows the dirt in swirls, a constant reminder of the depth of your barrenness.

You look around and see others that seem to be growing and moving in the Lord.  But you are stuck in the midst of the dust storm.  You want to love, grow and feel alive again, but you just don’t how.  You have tried everything.  Reading the Word or maybe a favorite Christian writer makes no sense.  It is as if the words are just tumbling around in your heart.  Ok, that didn’t work!  So next you try praise music.  Same results.  Maybe you need to go to a bunch of different services around your area.  Nope, no help there.

But, it is not too late.  You have not gone so far that you are outside the reach of the Lord’s hands.  He is the creator of the universe.  The mountains are nothing to Him.  Do you really think He will allow anything to separate you from Him?  No!  No way!  Absolutely not!  He has waited for you since the beginning of time.

Quiet your heart.  Calm your spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to pour over you.  Let me tell you – THERE IS HOPE!  Oh, the hope is not in you or anyone around you, but in the Lord.  Allow Him to breathe upon you again.  Let Him mend your brokenness.  He is more than able to heal your spirit.  Stand back, look to Him, and let His Spirit move in your life today.  Let Him restore your hope and faith.  He is moving on your behalf even know.  Yes, He is moving for you even now.

Pressing On

1

“If I could just do it over,” how many times have you felt like that?  A normal day becomes one of the hardest days of your life.  A wrong choice brought about a tragic event could be at the root of your hardship.  Did your mind just dash to that place – that certain moment in time that seemed to change everything for you?  Many people remember exactly which day they want to change.  We might imagine how things would have been different if only…    If only, I was driving slower.   If only, I didn’t make that choice.   If only, if only, if only… and the list could continue endlessly.

That is true in our Christian walk also.  If only Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned – we could be standing in paradise.  But they did sin.  They made the choice to disobey God and eat of the one thing He told them not too.  They willfully walked into sin with their eyes wide open.  Too often, we do the same thing.  We make the decision to do our own thing, our own way and in our own time and then we wonder why the Lord isn’t blessing us.   We fail to see the connection of our sin, our disobedience, and our separation with the Lord.  Sin has always and will always place a barrier between anyone and the Lord.

We might make excuses, “God sees my heart.  He understands!”  Yes, He does see your heart.  He understands that you want your way more than you want His way.  But we have to realize – sin doesn’t just jump up and slap us in the face and we fall for it.  It slowly creeps in and as a contemporary song states, “It’s a slow fade!”  We allow our hearts to become complacent in the things of the Lord.  We become lazy in our walk with Him and allow other things to take place in our life.  Then bit by bit, we stray further away.  Before we know it, we are floundering and we wonder how we got to that place.

One of the scariest verses in Scripture to me is:  2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.  That phrase “falling away” actually means to forsake.  The thought of mine or anyone’s heart becoming so callous that they just forsake the Lord is scary.  Often we see others that have drifted from the Lord, once they were on fire, standing strong but now they are indifferent.  We wonder what happened.  But are we in danger of the same thing happening to us.  Absolutely!  Only arrogance says “that’s impossible!”  All of us are capable of falling into sin – it is our nature.

David was a man after God’s own heart and yet he fell and fell hard into sin.  However, when he was confronted, we hear that heart once more crying out, “Against you and you alone, Lord have I sinned”.   I pray that is how our heart comes before the Lord.  Even when we mess up, when we wish we could have a re-do, when we fall flat on our face, may our heart truly repent before the Lord.  May our spirits cry out “I am sorry, Lord.  Forgive me!”

Do you want to keep sin away?  Keep on pressing on!  Keep seeking His face.  Keep singing His praises.  Keep praying!  Keep reading and devouring His Word.  Keep your hearts upright before Him.  Keep desiring the Lord above anything and anyone else.  No one can do it for you.  No one can talk you into it.  You and you alone make the decision to follow after the Lord with your whole heart.

Stretching Out

1

If you are open and available the Lord can and will use it to minister to others.  But you have to be open.  Open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Open to step out in faith.  Open to saying what He lays on your heart.  We have to be available.  You must be available to be obedient to His voice.  There is a need to be available to lay aside your desire and time frame and follow through on His directions.

You passed a homeless man walking through the countryside or standing on a street corner.  It doesn’t matter how he got there or what he has done in his past.  Then the Lord reveals a hurting soul, lost and wondering.   Suddenly a thought passes through your mind.  Help him.  It might mean stopping your plans to run into a convenience store for some cold water, and nabs.  Or maybe you are near a fast food joint and can get a simple hamburger, fries and drink.  Handle a simple bag to meet a need can bring amazing results.  You touch a life with hope.

Or maybe you have the chance to volunteer at a food bank, or a homeless shelter or maybe even a crisis pregnancy center.   Yes, you will have to give up your time, but you will be blessed beyond measure as you touch the hearts you encounter.  A simple smile, a gentle hug can sometimes make a heart in pain hold on just a little longer.

As one pastor stated years ago; “We gather together to meet with the Lord, and in meeting with Him, we are changed.”  But the Lord never intended for the church to hide within the four walls of a building. Even in Acts, the disciples went out in to all the world to tells others about this loving Savior who died to set them free.  They pushed into new territory with one thought and purpose; to make new disciples.  Their heart was to show the love and mercy of the Lord.

Can you, will you be obedient today to the calling of the Lord.  You can touch a heart that no one else will encounter today.  Your actions will reveal the love of a Savior.  You might never see what the end results are, but that’s okay.  It’s not about you.  It’s all about Him.  It’s always been about the Lord.  It’s time to self aside and become the church in action today.  Let the cry of your heart become, “It’s all about You, Sweet Jesus!”

Pressing in to Meet the Need

1

“But you just don’t understand what I am going through!”  How many times has this thought gone through your mind or even your lips?  We often suffer in silence until it gets to the point that everything becomes so overwhelming and spills out like an overloaded paper bag that splits wide open.   It is obvious to all at that point that we are at the end of our rope and yet no one really knows how to help, or what to do to make a difference.  And unfortunately, in some situations, no one can do a single thing that will make a lasting difference except….

Except what?  What can you do that will make a difference?  Pray, yes your prayer can intervene in a way you could never imagine.  Praying, pressing in before the Lord and lifting up a person, a situation, a family, a friend or loved one.  You might not be able to do anything else but you can pray.  You can cry out to the Lord for a touch, for His mercy, for His peace.

In the last few months, there have been more prayer requests than ever before, especially on social media.  People are willing to share a need or their heart here especially because they do not have to see someone judging with their expression.  They don’t see someone keep on scrolling past their cry or hide the post.  But they do see when someone types the simple message, “praying.”  They see the number of people who “like” the post.  And believe it not, that in itself brings a touch of encouragement.

But we need to go beyond that “like” or a comment.  We need to act on it – right then.  Prayer doesn’t have to be a long drawn out affair.  It doesn’t need to be words filling the air for the sake of saying something.  Pray can simple be a few words that relay the need to the foot of the throne of the Lord.  “Father, touch their hurting hearts.”  “Lord, strengthen her tonight.”  “Jesus, surround them with your love.”  “Minister to him that You still love him, Lord.”  “I ask for mercy and grace.”  “Meet their need Lord, You know the need.  Meet it in the way that only You can do.”

Yes, there are times that the Lord will have you spend time interceding for particular needs.  He will lay someone or something on your heart and you will cry out for direction, mercy, and a touch.  When this happens, He will stretch your time and give you the words.  It might be behind the wheel driving to work.  Or perhaps, you lift up their name while making a bed.  Just be obedient.

You might not ever hear how your prayers were answered.  But that doesn’t really matter, what matters, is that you were obedient and cried out for someone else and their need.  You were the one that carried them to the Lord.  No matter if your prayer was short and sweet, or long and intense.  The Lord hears them and honors them.

So many have shared how they felt the power of prayer in their most difficult times. They have talked about how loved they felt.  Some have seen answers beyond anything they could ever imagine.  Healing both physical and spiritual, financial needs, marriages re-stored, and relationships repaired have happened because someone stood in the gap.  Are you willing to be the one that will cry for another?  Can the Lord use you to stand in the gap?  May your answer be “Yes, Lord, please use me”!

In the Midst

1

We look around us and see so much rage, strife and pain.  How much more can this old world take, we often wonder?  And like I said yesterday, fear is one of the strongest emotions we endure in our life time.  But, as Christians, we have something that others do not.  We have the assurance that even when we can’t see it, the Lord is control.  He is more than capable of meeting every single need in our life.

In the midst of our sickness, He is the great Physician.

In the midst of our sorrow, He has sent His Comforter.

In the midst of turmoil, He is our Peace.

In the midst of attack, He is our Protector.

In the midst of our loneliness, He is our Companion

In the midst of being abandoned, He is right beside us.

In the midst of betrayal, He reassures us of His Presence

In the midst of losing our way, He reveals His path.

In the midst of our darkness, He shines His light.

In the midst of our heaviness, He lightens our load.

In the midst of our weakness, He is our strength.

In the midst of being overwhelmed, He sends endurance.

In the midst of our confusion, He brings clarity.

In the midst of our sin, He brings correction.

In the midst of repentance, He bestows forgiveness.

In the midst of our bondage, He frees our shackles.

In the midst of hunger, He provides our manna.

In the midst of thirst, He provides the flow of the Living Waters

In the face of death, He promises eternal life.

He is everything you need.  He is your Rock, your Strong Tower, your Buckler, your shield and defense. He is your Lord of lords and King of kings.  He is your Eternal Hope and your Everlasting Father.  No matter what your situation is, He is able to meet you.  No matter where you hardship leads you, He will be beside you.   He is you all in all.

Freedom, Sweet Freedom

1

Fear is one of the strongest emotions humans have.  It has the power to send chills down our spine or perhaps even make the hair on the back of our necks stand straight out.  Other times, in extreme situations, we might seem paralyzed, unable to move or even to scream.  Fear is often handed down from parent to child, like the fear of lightening.  Or perhaps fear comes into someone’s life after watching a scary movie or seeing an event happening.  But this much is true, 1 John 4:18 there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.

Take a second and re-read that verse.  Perfect love cast out fear.  Not one or two small ones but all fear.  Fear came into play from the moment Adam and Eve fell in garden.  When God called out His first question to His people, “Where are you,” Adam’s response was “I was afraid, so I hid.”  God’s man had failed and now he had to face the consequences of his failure and fear besieged his heart.  Up until that time, this young couple knew nothing about sin, or nakedness.  They knew nothing about fear until the moment that they stepped out of God’s will for their life.  And various fears have filled many a heart since that time.

We might overcome fear to a degree, but can we totally overcome a fear once it is embedded in our life.  If our heart is broken by someone we love, we become more cautious out of fear of being hurt again.  Suppose we are bit by a big dog, many people carry that memory with them for the rest of their life.  If we lost someone we dearly love, we fear losing someone else.  Fear can range from something small, or to the point that it totally freezes or terrorizes us.

But fear is not of the Lord.  His word states that “perfect love cast out fear.”  Break that phrase down for a moment.  Perfect love – as much as we love, can we truly say that our love is perfect?  It might be intense, or even that of a parent willing to lay down their life for a child, but is it perfect?  The one word, perfect, actually means complete.  Jesus Christ completed His act of love for you on the cross.  He overcame death and hell just three days later.  His love is perfect and it will never fail you; no, not one single time.

Cast out is the next part.  Imagine standing on top of a mountain and throwing something heavy, like a rock as far and hard as you possible can.  Slowly, you would watch it falling further away.  Finding that same rock again would be nearly impossible.  But, when the Lord of our salvation, imparts His perfect love into our life – He is able to throw that ‘rock of fear’ so far that it will never be seen again.

Is fear operating in your life today?  Lay it at the Lord’s feet.  Allow His perfect love to flow over you, removing all your fears and doubts.  Watch as He moves on your behalf, casting off those things that have held you captive.  Nothing is too difficult or hard for Him.  Nothing is too heavy for Him to pick up and throw it as far as the east is from the west.  Allow Him to bring a freedom to your soul unlike you have ever known.

Be free in the name of the Lord.  Walk in His perfect love.  Lay all your fears at His feet and let Him reveal His Lordship over your life once more.  His heart is for you to be free.  Free to be all He has called you to be.  Free to walk the pathway He has laid before you.  Free to walk in His liberty and love.