Do You Smell Smoke

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Fire! How many of you are encountering deep soul-searching situations at the moment? It seems as if daily one more log is thrown into the blaze throwing embers and flames in every direction. Every day, I hear others asking others to intercede in prayer for them. One family is being evicted and having trouble finding another home. Another sister’s husband is out of work facing major surgery. She watches her husband live in terrible pain and worries about the incoming bills and no income. Others struggle against depression, or chronic addictions. Several have been betrayed by the very ones that should have guarded and protect them. And the list goes on and on.

Fire is one of the most destructive forces on earth. It has the ability to destroy all it touches and at the same time, if used properly can bring about good. A farmer will use fire to burn off a field after the grain has been harvested. Controlled burns are used to clear out the underbrush in woodland. Yet, without proper control a controlled fire can quickly become destructive and deadly.

The Lord has used fire in the life of His children from the very beginning. It may be used for correction or for directions. He will use fire to confirm His call or to prevent the enemy from attacking His children. Moses is a perfect example of the confirmation – Moses was a fugitive hiding in Midian after Pharaoh sought to kill him. Then one day he came upon a strange sight – a burning bush. It was at this moment that he learned of the call on his life. The fugitive became the deliverer. God’s fire brought a major change in Moses’ life.

Yet just a short time later, this vast group of people following Moses is fleeing from the Egyptian army. Imagine their wonder as they watch the Lord part the Red Sea while keeping their enemy at bay through a cloud. His hand was upon the Israelites and no one was going to interfere with His divine plans. One verse reveals the Lord watching through fire and cloud. Exodus 14:24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. At the end of the day, their enemy had been destroyed.

Many of you are walking in the Refiner’s fire. You struggle to understand why and yet too often there is no answer as to the reason you are enduring so much heartache and hardships. But this much is true, just as He watched over the children of Israel, He is watching over you now. Each step brings you closer to purity. Each ‘uncontrolled’ fire can be controlled by the very One who saved your soul. Yes, it is hard! Yes, it is painful! But the outcome of the process will allow you the walk even close in your relationship with the Lord.

If you are struggling in the fires today take comfort in His love. Know He is watching over you. You may never understand why, but in spite of that – realize that you can trust the One who died to save your soul. He is with you even now. In the midst of the flame He is walking with you. Trust Him.

Another thought of the day!

Everyone is different. Even at the time of creation, the Lord made mountains different from the valleys. Elephants were created vastly different from a cardinal. God made us to be individuals. Even as Christians – our calling is to be Christ-like, and yet He made us unique. Some are anointed musicians, or speakers. Maybe, your gifting is writing poetry or stories that captivate the hearts of the readers. Others are prayer warriors and intercessors. Many have a servant’s heart, longing to minister to others as the Lord did. Your gifting is yours and yours alone. No one else can do it exactly your way. Unfortunately, many hide their gifting out of fear. They are fearful of stepping out and revealing that part of their heart. Others hide because of past failures – they feel like their mistakes have shut the door on their gift. Yet Scripture reveals individuals with huge mistakes who the Lord used. Peter denied the Lord and yet stood proudly on the day of Pentecost ministering the word of the Lord. Saul murdered God’s children and yet the murderer became the minister. If you are hiding your gift or talent, let go and allow the Lord to use it. He gave it to you for a purpose, and for His glory.

The Needs of One

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As we walk through life, each one of us discovers the need for people around us. Not just anyone but people that we can depend on, trust and relate to. Every one of us has a desire to be not only needed, but also wanted. It might come through trusted friends or family. It might be with a spouse that loves us unconditionally, and are willing to love us even on our bad days.

At times, the Lord will join hearts together in ways that few people understand. Their hearts are knit together sometimes closer than a brother or sister. Jonathan and David were that way. These two men had a bond that time and distance could not break. Jonathan was willing to share everything he had with David. Even when Jonathan’s father, King Saul was determine to kill David, Jonathan was just as determined to prevent David’s demise. Jonathan’s willingness to watch over David just made the bond stronger.

There was unity in the small group of disciples after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. They followed the Lord’s instructions to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. And when the promise of the Lord arrived, the Holy Spirit found them “in one accord”. They were ”unanimously, with one mind.” This group had one mindset to pray and wait. That willingness to wait for everything the Lord had for them set them apart from the rest of the world.

Then the power of the Holy Spirit came and their world was turned upside down. This small group of men and women had one purpose to share the truth of the Gospel. They wanted every living man, woman and child to know that name of Jesus. “The Messiah has come and He has died for your sin. Come and listen to us tell you about the love of the Lord.” Some stayed and shared their homeland, but may traveled trying to reach the ends of the earth.

That unity created a group of people who were willing to walk together in the good times and the bad times. They were willing to spend hours in prayer for each other. When one hurt, everyone hurt. When one rejoiced, they all rejoiced. They wanted to help when there was a need, even if it meant selling something.
That is the church the Lord desired then and in all honesty – that is the church He wants today. He wants to bind hearts together. He longs to see His children in unity together – for the purpose of sharing the truth of His love and compassion. The question is; are you willing? Are you willing to lay aside your difference to work together for the greater good? Do you desire His way more than your own?

The world is growing crazier everyday – and we as children of the Most High are the only ones with the true answer. We have experienced the love of the Lord. We have felt His forgiveness. We have seen others touched with His mercy and changed for eternity’s sake. We are more than able to testify what the Lord has accomplished in our life. Are you, as His child, ready to take a step of faith and share with those you encounter the riches you have discovered in the Lord? It is frightening at times and it is hard to know exactly what to say. But this much I know, if you take that first step – He will give you the strength you need. He will fill your mouth with His words and He will help you make that move to be one who will reach out to change your little part of the world. Ask Him to send others of like mind that will be willing to join heart with you, just like the disciples of old. Ask the Lord to bring unity to your church, so that like the church of old, you are ones that will reach out to lost and dying world.

What’s Your Condition?

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Thought of the day: As a child of God, each one of us is held in the palm of God’s hand. His word promises nothing can remove us from that place. However, as you rest in Him, what is the nature of your heart. Are you pliable like soft clay or have you allowed yourself to become hard and indifferent? Do you listen for that still small voice, calling you to come away and spend time alone with Him? When He reveals His path for your walk today, will you follow His leading? Will you reach out and be used by the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the people He places in your path? Or are you allowing your heart to become stiff and unyielding? Are you un-willing to do His bidding? Have you allowed the events in your life to make you indifferent to His call? Only you and the Lord know the true condition of your heart. If your heart is soft, yielding to His call will make you even more pliable. If your heart is hard, even if it has become like a rock, it’s not too late to become soft again. Allow the Holy Spirit to move on your heart and breathe life into you again.

What Do You Hear?

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As parents, we realize that no two children or grandchildren are alike. Even though they might have the same biological parents, each child is unique in their own way. I have four granddaughters, one is short and the other three are of varying heights and builds. Each one has a distinctive personality and completely different in their actions and attitudes. That definitely makes for some interesting times in their household. How their parents deals with one child would never be effective with the other.

The Lord also has a distinctive personality and is unique in the way He ministers to different people. There are no set rules or methods and there never has been. Every situation is different just like each one of His children. And let’s face it – HE IS GOD and can deal with us as He sees fit! Unfortunately, many of His children believes He no longer ‘speaks’ to His people. But often that is because we fail to take the time to listen.

There is no 1, 2, 3, method! He doesn’t have to a, b, c, before He ministers. There was no clear formula in the Scriptures and if He used different methods then, He will do the same now. There are examples in the Word that we only see one time – such as Moses and the burning bush. Then other times, we see angels being sent to minister like in Daniel shutting the mouths of lions. Or in the case of Peter who was freed by an angel as he lay chained in prison.

Think of all the ways the Lord ministered to His people. Adam and Eve walked with Him before the fall. Can you even imagine that? God spoke to Noah, giving him clear instructions on how to build the Ark. Abram heard the Lord calling him to a new place and promising it to him and his descendants long before he even had the promised heir. As David spent hours sitting on a dark lonely hill guarding his sheep, his heart communed with the Lord. How many hours did he spend singing and rejoicing in what he heard in his heart and spirit? He became a man after God’s own heart.

He spoke to Elijah in that still small voice. Joseph heard clearly from the Lord in his dreams. Daniel had an angel in answer to prayer. Mary, Jesus’ mother, also saw an angel to tell her she had been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and he also dreamed of spiritual things. At times, the Lord sent messages through the prophets. Other times, He dealt through His Word as in Nehemiah when Ezra read the law before the people bringing conviction.

Saul of Tarsus was knocked off a horse and blinded with the Light of the World. Jonah was thrown overboard and shut up with the Lord for three days and nights in the belly of a fish. He quickly learned that it is impossible to run from the Lord. Balaam nearly died because his donkey had eyes to see what he could not. In fact the Scripture states that the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth. I f the Lord can use a donkey; He can use anything and anybody.

Take time today to slow down and listen. If you are honestly seeking Him, He will not disappoint you. He will minister to your heart. It might be through the words of a friend, or perhaps a sermon. Maybe as you take a nap, you will dream like Joseph or Jacob. Keep your heart soft. Most of all keep your heart open before the Lord. He is able to use His Word, a song, even a message on line. Please rest in the knowledge that He wants to minister to your heart.

Just a thought of the day

No one can live and survive in the past. You can’t live on yesterday’s manna – it has already become old and moldy. It has served its purpose and provided you with what you needed yesterday, but today is a new day. Today has a whole new set of blessings and problems. It is the first day of the rest of your life. For some, it could be the last day to come to salvation or even their life. Strive to listen for the Savor’s still small voice. Listen to the words He is speaking even now to your heart. Be obedient and yield to the leading of the Spirit. The Lord will never lead you into a situation outside His keeping. He will guard you and bring you through even the enemy’s camp – hidden safely in His grace and mercy. Feast on the Word; eat of the manna He places before you today. His food for your soul is good and perfect. It will bring life to your spirit. O, taste and see that the Lord is good.

Are You Listening

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How many times do we feel the Lord has not heard our prayer? Do you believe that sometimes the Lord refuses to answer? Or maybe, after a time or two you just give up. Often the feeling is that if I don’t have an answer in my timeframe that I need to face facts – that the Lord has failed me. Truth is, the Lord has NEVER failed anyone. Not you or me, or anyone who has lived before us nor anyone who will be born after us. But we need to realize that His ways are not our ways. He sees way beyond the ‘now’ situation, and He gives an answer that is the very best for us.

In Genesis, Abraham learned that the Lord was bringing judgment to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham begins interceding before the Lord. “Lord, if there are fifty righteous, will You spare them?” His answer was yes. But Abraham was not content, his heart reached out again and again in intercession. “Lord, will You spare for 45,… 40,… 30,… 20,…10?” With each cry, Abraham lowered the number. And with each reply the answer was yes. The Lord listened to the cry of Abraham’s heart. Yet just a short time, Abraham saw the smoke and knew the end result. The Lord answered yes but He could not even find 10 righteous men in those wicked towns.

Peter was imprisoned and Herod was not going to let him out. To ensure he did not escape, Peter was placed in chains, with two guards standing over him. Breaking out was humanly impossible. Yet we learn in Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. The godly men and women refused to give up. They interceded for Peter constantly. The answer came one dark night in the form of an angel. This ministering spirit released him from his chains and walked him right out the door. And absolutely no one saw a single thing.

God is God, He sees far beyond our limited vision. He understands in ways that are totally foreign to us. His desire is for the best in our life. Yet, too often, we fail to understand or believe that. When our son was severely injured in a wreck, the Lord ministered one question in particular to my aching heart and spirit. “Can you trust Me even in this?” My answer then and now is still the same. “Who else can I trust Lord?” People fail each other all the time, even at times when they don’t intend to. Even though the answer was not what we wanted, I still stand on His promises and know that He loves us and wants what is best for our life.

Prayer is our lifeline to the Lord. It is like calling long-distance but there are no cords or wires. The greatest thing is there are no charges, no fees, and no operators needed. You are able to call upon the Lord at any time. He never sleeps and always answers your call. He doesn’t use an answering machine and there is no need for a secretary. His answers are like a parent’s at times. It might be yes, no, maybe, not right now or it depends. We all love yes answers and hate nos. At times, we want to rush ahead and the Lord says ‘Not right now!” At other times, we might question why. But we need to develop a heart like Paul resting in His answers that “His grace is sufficient for us.”

Today, the Lord wants to hear your voice. Come before Him not only with your wants and needs, but first and foremost in thanksgiving. He is worthy of all your praise and worship. The Lord has proven His love to you and is worthy of your thanks. He will meet your needs. It might not be the way you want but it will be in His way and that will prove to be the best way possible. At times, like Abraham, you will need to intercede repeatedly for needs. Daniel prayed constantly for twenty-one days. Nehemiah prayed and fasted for days. Don’t give up. He is there and He is listening. Press in! Call out! Cry to the Living God!

Which One Do You Want

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How many people do you know that state they are a Christian but their lifestyle reveals a heart far from it? I am not talking about the occasional slip or mistake, because we all make those. That is why Christians need to repent for various things daily. But I am referring to those people who allow the love of things of this world to overcome their actions and ruin their witness. It can be seen all around us every day. This isn’t something that just started happening in our times; it has been here for a very long time.

Saul was anointed by the Lord and began prophesying and yet after he became king, he failed to obey the instructions of the Lord on numerous occasions. When the Lord finally had enough, He sends Samuel to anoint David to become the next king. It would be years before the actual transfers happen but Saul never experiences a close relationship with the Lord again. Saul’s issue was a simple one. He never took responsibility for his actions. Every time Samuel confronted Saul for his actions, he blamed everybody else. It was Samuel’s fault for being late or the people’s fault for running away from the enemy armies. Later on, Saul made certain decisions that he felt were better than the ones the Lord instructed him to do. Saul failed time after time to see his prideful heart. He refused to accept responsibility for his actions.

Samson is another example. Sampson had been chosen by the Lord even before his birth. His parents were given certain instructions to raise this child as a Nazarite. Even before his conception, this couple knew the call on his life to be a deliverer for their people. Judges 13:24-25 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him… . Samson was blessed and the Spirit of the Lord moved upon him. This man was anointed by the Lord. He was able to do what others could not. When a lion attacked him, he quickly took care of the threat when the “Spirit of the Lord came upon him”. We see an anointing from the Lord repeatedly as he warred against the Philistines.

Yet Samson allowed his love for women to overcome any common sense. He turned to harlots but he knew this was not the way of the Lord. His failures in this one area lead to his downfall through the actions of Delilah. She nagged and nagged this man even as she enticed him with her ‘womanly wiles’ to expose the secret of his strength. Once exposed, the enemy quickly got the upper hand on this man of God. The Lord used Samson mightily and yet Samson like King Saul never allowed godly character to be worked into their hearts and spirits.

We made decisions every day how to live our life. Our speech, actions, attitudes often reveal where our hearts are in the Lord. Even the things we post on line are a revelation to others what our relationship is to the Lord. We all want to be used by the Lord in some way, just like Saul and Samson. We want to Spirit of the Lord to anoint us in order for us to touch others. Yet the Lord desires character above anointing. He can use anyone and anything, like Balaam’s donkey, or Jonah’s fish. But He desires to see His people walking in the ways of the Lord, upright and holy.

Search your heart today. Allow the Lord to shine His light on you. Are there areas that you need His character worked in? Seek His face and He will begin working deeply in your life. Desire not only His anointing but also His character in your heart.

Divine Interruptions

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“I interrupt this life to bring you a very special moment.” How many times has this happen in your life? Sometimes we fail to see that the Lord is working behind the scenes and it seems like everything in our life is going wrong. It might be waking up late or the alarm clock did not go off. Perhaps it was a phone call just as you walk toward the door to leave. Did you catch every red light possible? Or maybe the car had a flat tire before you even left the driveway. Everyone has seen days like this and most of the time we only see the frustration of the moment.

It is at times like this that the Lord wants to minister truth in our walk with Him. That flat tire made you late for a doctor’s appointment but He might have used it to prevent a serious accident. Or perhaps you sense deep within that you need to slow down. A few minutes later someone pulls out and because you listened to that still small voice you are able to stop just in time.

A situation like this happened just today to a couple on the highway, they have allowed me to share their story. Dianna and Edgar Orea suddenly began experiencing vehicle trouble and had no idea what the problem might be. The vehicle made it to an Advanced Auto store. The employees quickly discovered the problem, the alternator. As the men worked together to replace it in the parking lot, Edgar was able to minister to one of the gentlemen about the love of Jesus. Immediately, the Holy Spirit touched the young man’s heart. Because of this interruption, heaven is rejoicing over a soul won to the Lord. How easily it would have been to allow their emotions of rule but instead the Spirit of the Lord spoke through them. Some people would fail to see how every second of this adventure was orchestrated by the Lord. But there is no doubt in the hearts of the Orea’s that the Lord had everything planned out. Today was the day of that young man’s salvation.

The Lord will use various means to get your attention. The question is, will we allow the Lord to minister to our spirit in the midst of these disruptions or will we react with our natural emotions. The Lord is able to use anything and anyone. Jonah discovered obedience would have been much better as he sat in a fish’s stomach for three days. Rahab was able to leave her life of prostitution behind when she hid the two spies. David’s life was never the same after he listened to the vile words Goliath spoke against his God Jehovah. A young shepherd straight from the fields stood in faith as he slung a rock toward the giant’s head.

When ‘trouble’ comes your way – ask the Lord if He has a hidden agenda. Seek His face for His divine plan. You very well could be like Edgar and Dianna and have the joy of leading a lost soul to the throne of the Lord. Look beyond the interruption and look to the Lord. He will make His way clear.

All By Myself

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We have all seen little hands reaching for the spoon trying to take control of the situation and feeding themselves. Or maybe you had a little one that would pull and tug trying to release their hand so they could walk alone. Their actions shout “I can do this!” Recently I watched a little one climbing up steps and then she realized someone had their hand behind her. At the discovery she began trying to swat the helping hand away. She failed to realize that the hand was for her safety. All she knew was “I am okay! I got this! Leave me alone.”

How much are we even as adults like this. We get into situations and arrogantly declare “I got this, God!” Stubbornly we begin marching to the beat our own drum and fail to realize that there is intense danger up ahead. After all, we are adults and have so much wisdom. Then suddenly the unexpected happens and we find our self falling headlong into a mess. We fall hard into unfamiliar territory. And then we sit and cry at the place we have landed. How easily we forget that we refused a helping hand.

We heard warnings from different sources. Maybe a friend asked, “Are you sure this is the Lord?” Perhaps, it is a sermon and the wording immediately hits the mark in your heart, but….your reaction is like the small child pushing the helping hand away. Maybe, you read a specific Scripture. It nails your situation right on the head but hastily you skim over it trying to forget what you read. After all you know what is best. You are an adult!

It was the same throughout the Word. Adam and Eve knew what the Lord said in the Garden of Eden and yet each one failed to follow the one instruction from the Lord. His one commandment was “Do not eat of the tree of good and evil.” That was it! Yet, they failed in this one thing. Noah preached the entire time he was building the Ark and yet the people around him failed to listen to his words. How often did the Lord send His prophets to warn His people and yet they knew better than the Lord did?

There is no question the Lord will repeatedly send warnings. Yet, you make the decision whether you are going to listen or not. Too often the answer is no. You want what you want and that is all that matters until you are face down in the mud eating the same slop as the pigs. Then you “come to yourself” like the prodigal son did, you have two choices. Do you get up and turn your face back to the Lord again or continue to stay in your slop? It is your choice, your decision! The Father is waiting even now to embrace the wayward child. You simply have to turn away from your sin and return to His presence. Even now He is waiting to embrace you.

His love will never end and neither will His desire to see you return to His loving arms. But like the prodigal son, you must be willing to acknowledge your failure to walk in His ways. You must deal in truth and face reality. He doesn’t want your excuses, or your reasoning why you thought it would be okay. He longs to hear your words of repentance. He wants you to come into the Light of His love. He wants to embrace you once more in His perfect love covering you in His robes of righteousness. You are the only one who can answer the call. Listen closely; He is calling your name. “Return to Me, My child. I am waiting even now.”