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Getting Ready for 2017

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2016 will be history in 31 days.  We begin a New Year. Some of us are busy getting ready for the Christmas Holidays and others are planning are new year’s eve celebration. Some have taken some time to reflect on what 2017 will bring.

We plan, we journal, we reflect, we ponder. And yet, we have no idea how 2017 is going to turn out. Yet there is one who knows. One who holds our future in His hands.

In the Book of Amos in the Hebrew Scriptures it is written, “For sure the Lord does not do anything without making His plan known to His servants who speak for Him.”

“His servants who speak for Him” – His prophets. I believe that what the Paul says in Ephesians 4: 11 -13 is true for today.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Christ has given the church, us, prophets as a gift so that we will be equipped for works of service….

Prophets – “His servants who speak for Him”.  “For sure the Lord does not do anything without making His plan known to His servants who speak for Him.”

Let us pray and call upon the name of the Lord that He will make known His plan for 2017.

“Heavenly Father, I am asking You, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know you better. I pray that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which You have called us, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in your holy people,  and Your incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:17-19). Reveal Your secrets unto us as You did to Daniel (2:27-30).

As we prepare ourselves for 2017, Holy Spirit manifest yourself in our lives with the gift of prophecy and empower us to align to the plans of our Creator. Align our steps to your path and lead us. In Jesus’ name.”

 

 

 

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Free…free indeed!

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 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV

Jesus said,  ““I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6  When we know Jesus, not know about Him, but know Him, we can expect to live a life of freedom. We can expect to live a life free from the iniquities (immoral or grossly unfair behavior) of this world, free from generational curses, word curses and the consequences of sin committed by us and against us. Jesus, the Truth, sets us free of the domination and oppression of evil.

To know Jesus is to make a conscious decision to follow Him and obey His commands. It is to live according to the Word of God, bringing glory (honor) to our Heavenly Father, God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

To live a life of freedom is to experience deliverance, to be set free. When we accept Jesus–declare Him Lord of our lives, make a commitment to submit to His way and His words– we are immediately set free from the penalty of sin. The process of being set free from the power of sin requires deliverance and a life submitted to God and His Word.

Deliverance is the process by which we

  • Reconcile with God by acknowledging  Jesus’ as the One who reconciles us to Him through Jesus’ death on the Cross
  • Declare Jesus as Lord of our lives
  • Confess our sins (immoral acts or transgressions against God) and ask God for forgiveness
  • Forgive everyone who has offended us, hurt us, cursed us
  • Surrender our unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, resentment, and envy to God
  • Renounce the devil, his works, any transgression against God we have committed
  • Identify any generational curses in our lives and break them
  • Uproot any source of rejection
  • Surrender fully to the leading of the Holy Spirit

We can experience deliverance because it is God who brings deliverance through Jesus. Matthew 6:12-13  Luke 4:18-19 John 8:36

We can experience deliverance, mediate and intercede for the deliverance of others because we have the authority to do so based on the Word of God (Bible). We have the promise (Mark 16:17), the position (Ephesians 2:6), the personality (Colossians 2:9-10), and the protection (Luke 10:17-19) to exercise deliverance.

For this reason, I pray that God will fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption,the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1: 13-14 NIV

Let us declare that our trust is God and shout

We Believe!  God, You Are My Deliverer!

 

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Day 21- I am with you always…

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“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NIV

Jesus commanded His disciples and us to mobilize and develop learning believers among all people groups by teaching them everything He had commanded. His command came with a promise. “I am with you always.

Jesus had gone to the cross, was buried and was risen on the third day. He met with the women who had heard the news from the angel of the Lord and comforted them. Then He met with His disciples in Galilee. There Jesus told His disciples that all authority had been given to Him.  As a result, He was sending them to go, form learning believers, baptize them and teach them.

Teach–educate, instruct, school, tutor, coach, train, show or explain to them how to be followers of Jesus.

It is not a tract, a short speech, a ‘come forward-raise your hand-repeat after me–you’re in’ moment. Sure this may be the “go”.  The “make disciples of all nations” and  the “teaching them to obey everything” it’s a process.

It’s a committed process, a sometimes up & down process, a sometimes overwhelming process, but through it all, Jesus says, “I am with you always.”

Most importantly, teaching those who make a commitment to follow Jesus to obey everything He commanded us is a rewarding & satisfying process. It is rewarding because obedience is a place of blessing. It is satisfying because teaching someone to obey Jesus’ commands affects the present and eternal future of that person.

Who has God placed in your heart to “go”?  To whom are you teaching His commands? Have you ever been tempted to give up on showing someone how to be a follower of Jesus?

Through it all, Jesus says, “I am with you always.”

Pray Matthew 28:19-20

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus. Thank you for sending Him to show me how to live in obedience to You.

Jesus, thank you for your willingness to be obedient to the Father and take up my cross and pay for the consequences of my sin so that I could be free.

Holy Spirit, empower me to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus have commanded us. 

I praise You, God, for You are always with me until the very end of age.

We are the Light of the world! (Click on the link to worship in song)

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Day 20 – In the name of…

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“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19

Jesus’ command to His disciples when He met with them after His resurrection and before ascending to the Father was that they go and make disciples, that they baptize them in the name of God–the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus did not ask them to baptize them in the name of the Pharisees or Sadducees. He didn’t ask them to baptize them in the name of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin was the ruling council of the Jewish people. It was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were mostly middle class while the Sadducees were aristocrats.  They were the religious leaders at the time of Jesus. They represented the Law of God but Jesus rebuked them numerous times.

When Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize others, He told them to baptize them “in the name” of God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Can you imagine a time when the church – committed followers of Jesus, would go by the riverside and baptize thousands “in the name” of God? No church name, no denomination, no distinction of class, race or social status. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  What would it look like? How would it affect your sharing the gospel?

Jesus prayer for His disciples, for us, was that we would all be one, just as the Father and He are one. John 17

What can you do to promote the unity of the church? How can you encourage committed followers of Jesus to focus on sharing the gospel for the sake of humanity? Build up God’s kingdom and not anyone else’s kingdom?

Go and make disciples of Jesus. Go and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Pray Psalm 133 John 17:23 Colossians 3:12-14

Heavenly, Father, how pleasant and good it is when Your children live together in unity. Help us to put aside our worldly differences and realize that we are all created in Your image, redeemed by Your Son’s sacrifice.

Bring us to complete unity that the world will know that we are Your children, loved by You.

Holy Spirit empower us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Help us bear with each other and forgive one another just as the Lord forgave us. Let your perfect love, O God, bind us all together in perfect unity.

God, help us to obey your command to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will do it as one body.

The Body of the Most High! (click on the link to worship in song)

 

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Day 19 – Therefore Go…

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“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  Matthew 28:19 NIV

Jesus met up with His disciples after His resurrection. The disciples responded by worshipping even though some of them had their doubts about this man they had seen crucified just 3 days before. He was alive! He is risen!

Jesus addressed them and let them know that all authority had been given to Him. He didn’t take it. He didn’t usurped it. It was given. It was given to Him because He didn’t bank on being God when He came to live among us, instead He humbled Himself and was obedient to the Heavenly Father even to death on the cross.

Following His statement that all authority had been given to Him, Jesus said, “Therefore” –for that reason, consequently, as a result, “Go”.

“Go”, move, leave, depart!

“Make disciples”. Disciples—mathēteuō (original greek)—a learning believer.  Make, form, produce learning believers!

Go, move, leave, depart and make, form, produce learning believers!

Jesus is saying, “I have been given all the authority and for that reason I am telling you to get going, don’t stay in place, move to form growing, learning believers!

How many times have you asked God to put people in your path so that you can share the good news? How many times do you wait for people to ask you about your faith? Ever used the statement “preach the gospel at all times and whenever necessary use words?

Have you ever considered that waiting is the opposite of “go”? How will you form learning believers, if you don’t teach them? How can you teach without using words?

“Therefore, Go”  share the good news of God’s love -Jesus –  with everyone who would hear and bring them along in the understanding of what it is to follow Jesus.

Pray Romans 10:1  2 Corinthians 5:20 Ephesians 6:19

Heavenly Father, make my heart’s desire and my prayer be for those who need salvation. You have trusted me to be an ambassador for Christ. Let me not cease to beg on behalf of Christ that those who are not yet Your children, be reconciled to You.

I want to be bold and “go” and speak! And I pray that when I begin to speak, the right words will come to me. Then I will boldly make known the secret of the gospel. 

Thank you, Lord for backing me up with all authority to be able not just to share the good news of salvation, but to help people grow as followers of your Son, Jesus.

Let it not be said of our congregation that our feet are not going, if we are the body. (click on this link for today’s song for you to worship in song)

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Day 18 – All authority…

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Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18 NIV

Before Jesus was crucified, He taught from the Hebrew Scriptures with authority. He healed with authority. He did miracles with authority. After His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples in Galilee and He says to them I have ALL authority; it has been given to me.

Imagine Jesus was saying,  “I have overcome mockery, whippings, piercings, crucifixion, death. The tomb could not hold my body. I have conquered death! ALL authority is mine!”

Wouldn’t you like to align yourself to someone like that? Nothing is in His way. Everything He wants to do, He can do. He has ALL authority in heaven and on earth. He can calm the storm, silence the seas, make the mute speak, the deaf hear, the dead come to life. He can save the lost, deliver the captive, heal the sick, bring hope to the hopeless and bring joy to the sorrowful.

All authority – jurisdiction, privilege, capacity, freedom, influence, force, and right, besides authority and power, now belongs to Jesus!

If anyone can, Jesus can! He has ALL authority!

Jesus was given All authority because he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross! God exalted him to the highest place! Gave Him ALL authority! Philippians 2:8-11

Are you powerless over your circumstances? Are you facing challenges that have gotten the better of you? Are you willing to humble yourself? Are you being obedient?

Take your cue from Jesus and “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7

Humility and obedience is the key to authority in the Kingdom of God.

Pray  Luke 10:19 1 Peter 1: 14 2 Corinthians 10:5

Our Father, who loves us and sent your Son to provide a means of reconciliation with you, thank you! Thank you for His victory on the cross, His victory over death, has given us all authority to overcome all the power of the enemy.

Holy Spirit empower me to be obedient and to not conform to the evil desires of my past life or of this world.

I demolish all arguments and every pretension that sets itself against you o God! I bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

I humble myself before you, o Lord, King of kings, Lord of lords! I want to walk in your authority to honor and please you.

I want to be close to you, The Great I am! (click on this link for today’s song for you to worship in song)

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Day 17 -Some doubted…

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When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Matthew 28:17 NIV

After Jesus’ resurrection, His disciples went to the mountain in Galilee to meet up with Him. This was the first time they would see Him since He was crucified. They had heard from the women who had gone to the tomb that He had risen. The women also told them that Jesus had met up with them. Jesus had instructed the women to tell the disciples to go to the mountain. He would see them there.

The disciples went to the mountain. And lo and behold, Jesus met them there. Their response was a mixed one. They worshipped Him and “some doubted”.

Imagine this. The disciples worshipped Him. “Some doubted. It doesn’t say some worshipped and some doubted. No, it says the disciples worshipped him; “but some doubted“.

Have you ever prayed to God doubtful that He would answer you or that He would even hear you?  Have you ever confessed your faith in God even when you’ve doubted? Do you worship (live according to His Word, give Him honor, praise Him) in the midst of your doubt?

David, the Psalmist, was riddled with doubts about God being there for him. He called out to God, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” Psalm 13

Peter doubted Jesus when He told Him that he would deny Him three times. Peter denied Jesus. Matthew 26 It was Peter that the Holy Spirit used to stand up and address the crowd to testify about who Jesus was. Acts 2:14-38

To have faith does not mean that we will not have doubt. And even when we are faithless, He is still faithful. 2 Timothy 2:13

Pray Mark 9:24 Hebrews 11:1 Ephesians 3:16-17

Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief! I want to have confidence in what I hope for and believe even when I do not see.  Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. I do not want to look at my circumstances and question You, O God. I want to look to You and question my circumstances.

I pray that out of Your glorious riches You may strengthen me with power through Your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray to be rooted and established in love.

Help my Unbelief!

 

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Day 16 -To the mountain…

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“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” Matthew 28:16 NIV

An angel of the Lord told the women at the tomb of Jesus that Jesus was risen and to go and tell the others. On the way to tell the others, Jesus met up with them and told them to “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10 NIV)

The women relayed the message to the disciples and they went to Galilee.  Whether out of faith or out of curiosity, the disciples went “to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”

Perhaps they thought about the times they went “to the mountain” with Jesus and figured that even if He wasn’t there, they could reminisce about it.  Perhaps the women’s instructions reminded them of their patriarchs and ancestral fathers, Abraham and Moses, who would go to the mountain to encounter God.

Regardless of the reason,they went “to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”

It was “to the mountain” that Jesus took His disciples to share with them His take on the Ten Commandments – How to love God and love others. There they witnessed His authority in teaching the Law. Matthew 5, 6, 7. It was “to the mountain” that the multitudes followed and the disciples witnessed His compassion and His miracles. Matthew 15:29-39.

It was “to the mountain” that Jesus led His disciples. There He was transfigured and revealed Himself to them as the Son of God. Matthew 17.

Going “to the mountain” was familiar to them. Going “to the mountain” represented a place of revelation, intimacy and power.

Where do you go “to the mountain”? Where is that place, space or time, where God revealed Himself to you? Where you received instruction from Him? Where His compassion, His intimacy and power were made real to you?

Pray Psalm 15 

Lord, I want to dwell in the sacredness of Your Presence, live on your holy mountain -consistently submerged in Your love, compassion, righteousness, holiness.

Help me to walk blameless, to do what is right, to speak the truth from my heart. Keep my tongue from slandering. Keep me from doing wrong against others. Let me not sit by idly as others do wrong, but help me to honor, respect, follow those who honor You.

Empower me through Your Holy Spirit to do what is right even when I don’t feel like it.

I want to go “to the mountain”.

I Want to Meet You There!

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Day 15 – Widely circulated…

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“So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” Matthew 28:15 NIV

The religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ resurrection paid off the guards that had been guarding Jesus’ tomb. They gave the guards money to lie about what had happened to Jesus’ body. Rather than say that Jesus is risen as Jesus had said He would, the guards were to say that the disciples had stolen the body. The guards took the money and shared what they were told to share and that “story has been widely circulated”. 

It’s interesting that although that “story has been widely circulated”, the truth of Jesus’ resurrection has prevailed. It didn’t matter how elaborate the deception of the religious leaders was, the truth prevailed. It didn’t matter how enthusiastically perhaps the paid guards shared the untrue story, the truth prevailed.

Just because something is repeated over and over again or it is “widely circulated”, it doesn’t make it the truth. Truth will prevail.

What stories are”widely circulated” today that some people have taken as the truth? What have you “widely circulated” because it is profitable for you?  How often have you “widely circulated”  the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection?  How often have you “widely circulated”  your story of redemption?

Let it be “widely circulated” that you are seriously passionate about your faith. Let it be “widely circulated” that you are a committed follower of Jesus, willing to share your story of redemption at all times, to everyone. Let it be “widely circulated” that you can not be bought or silenced.

Pray 2 Timothy 2:15 Acts 4:8-12

Heavenly Father, I want to do my best to present myself as a competent witness before others; a witness approved by You. One who does not need to be ashamed. I want to be able to handle the word of truth correctly.

Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may always give an account of the things I have done in the name of your Son Jesus. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may widely circulate that Jesus was crucified but You raised Him from the dead. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may declare to all that salvation is only found through Jesus and there is no other through whom we can be saved.

Let everything I do be to declare the truth of Your love, Lord! No compromise. No sellign out.

I give myself away to You!

 

 

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Day 14 -Satisfy him…

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“If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” Matthew 28:14 NIV

The soldiers who were guarding the tomb of Jesus were instructed by the religious leaders to lie. They were to say that while they were sleeping, the disciples of Jesus came and stole the body. The religious leaders then promised the soldiers that if the governor heard about it, they would “satisfy him” and keep them out of trouble.

Don’t worry, guys, you do as we tell you to do and we’ll take care of you. We will take care of the governor, we will “satisfy him“.

The soldiers were afraid because of the earthquake, because of the angel, because they couldn’t hold Jesus’ body in a tomb. They were afraid of the consequences. They went and told the religious leaders what had happened and their response was to mislead them. It didn’t matter to the soldiers, as long as when the governor found out what had happened, the religious leaders would “satisfy him”.

What are you willing to do to look good to the person to whom you are accountable? What are you willing to do to “satisfy him” or her? Are you willing to lie?  Twist the truth?

Have you been willing to let others tell a lie on your behalf or detract from the truth to keep you out of trouble? Have you been willing to keep the truth to yourself hoping no one will know your sin or your shame? What have you said or done to keep yourself out of trouble?

God loves you, knows you, sees all things, “satisfy him”!

Pray Psalm 139 1 John 1:9 1 John 2:4

God Almighty,  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 

Forgive me, Lord, because when I sin I think I can hide from you. When I fail, I try to cover it with pretensions and false stories. My shame prevents me from moving forward. I confess to You because You are faithful and just and You will forgive my sins and cleanse me of all wrongdoing.

Lord, I want to be obedient to your Word and testify of the Truth. I want to satisfy only You!

Hide Me in Your Light

 

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Day 13 -While you were asleep…

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“…telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” Matthew 28:13 NIV

The soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus witnessed the empty tomb. They ran to report it to the religious leaders of the time. The religious leaders devised a plan to detract from the good news of the gospel, Jesus is Risen! They told the soldiers to say that while they were sleeping Jesus’ disciples stole his body.

Well, sleeping while on guard duty is dereliction of duty. So why would they admit to it? They weren’t thinking clearly. And if they were sleeping, how would they know what happened? So they made up a story.

While you are asleep, you are not on duty. While you are asleep you are unaware of what is happening. You miss out.

Once you were asleep, more than asleep, you were dead in your sins but now you are risen with Christ. Colossians 2:13

When you were asleep you were not able to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, you were unaware of God’s happenings.

Are you fully awake now? Are you fully aware of your role as a disciple? Are you fully aware of God’s happenings around you?

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” Ephesians 5:14

It is time to stop making up stories. Learn the truth and the truth will free you. John 8:32  It’s time to shine with God’s light and bring others out of darkness. Matthew 5:16  It’s time to become fully aware of what God is doing and be a part of it.

Pray Romans 13:11-12 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will  help me understand the times. I want to awaken from my slumber, my apathy, my indifference. Your salvation is available through your Son Jesus and I want to let others know because there will be a time when it will be too late.

While I was asleep in my sins, I was unable to see Your salvation. Your grace awoke me and now I know that You are there for me. I don’t want to live any more in darkness or commit anymore deeds that do not honor You.

Help me, Holy Spirit, to be awake and sober, to put on faith and love and to share the hope of salvation. I do not want to tell stories that soothe the soul; I want to tell the story that saves the spirit – salvation through Jesus.

Help me, Holy Spirit to speak of when Death was Arrested!

 

 

 

 

Day 12 – Devise a plan…

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When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’” Matthew 28:12-13 NIV

The soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Jesus, had been the first to witness the empty tomb. They went to the religious leaders to tell them everything that had happened instead of to their Roman superiors. The religious leaders “devised a plan” to twist the information they received. They “devised a plan” to serve their purposes.

Imagine if the soldiers had gone to their Roman superiors with their experience instead of going to the religious leaders that denied that Jesus was the Messiah. It may have triggered a curiosity among the Romans about Jesus that would have surpassed the religious leaders bias.

The soldiers went to the religious leaders who “devised a plan” to use the information they received to promote their own agenda.

What do you do with what God has shown you or said? How do you use the information you receive about what is happening or has happened among the followers of Jesus? About His church? Do you devise a plan, consciously or subconsciously, to use what God has shown you or spoken to you to promote your own agenda? To further your personal goals? Do you devise a plan, consciously or subconsciously, to use the information others share with you about the church to divert attention to what you believe should be happening or should have happened?

Submit all things to the Lord! Let every report that you hear be used to point to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Let all the information that you receive be used to devise a plan to make Jesus famous, to bring salvation to the lost, deliverance to the bound and good news to the heartbroken and the poor.

Devise a plan that will prepare you to seek God for wisdom, discernment, guidance and nobility so that when you receive any and all information, you give it to the Lord in prayer. Seek the Holy Spirit, who is with you always, to direct you in what you are going to say, how you are going to behave or what you will do whenever you receive a report about the Church.

Pray Isaiah 32:8 Proverbs 24:3-4 Proverbs 19:21 Philippians 4:8

Lord, as I stand before you in prayer, I ask that you forgive me for the many times that I have received information about your church and I have devised a plan to use it for my purposes and not yours. Forgive me for not devising a plan that includes reading your Word, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, living a Christlike life that will prepare my heart to make noble plans that will bring glory to you.

I want your wisdom to build up your house, and your understanding to establish it. I want every room of your house, every congregation in my region to be filled with Your treasures. 

Regardless of my plans or others, Your purposes, O Lord, will prevail!

Finally, Lord, I ask that my mind be kept on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, help me to think on these things and these things alone.

God, I look to You!

 

 

 

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Day 11 -On the way…

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“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.” Matthew 28:11 NIV.

The women went looking for Jesus at the tomb and instead found an angel of the Lord who told them that Jesus wasn’t there. Then the angel told them to go on their way and tell the others. On their way to tell the others, Jesus met them.  The women responded with worship. He encouraged them, “Do not be afraid,   go and tell the others.”

The women went “on their way” following Jesus’ instructions. “While the women were on their way”, the guards, who had been guarding the tomb, went ahead to give a report to the chief priests – the religious leaders of the time.

It is interesting that the guards at the tomb were Roman soldiers and instead of reporting to their superiors in the Roman army they went to the religious leaders. Why?  Well, it was the religious leaders who had petitioned the Roman Governor Pilate to place guards at the temple and to seal the tomb.

Interesting that the guards at the tomb were really the first witnesses of  Jesus’ resurrection. They reported everything that had happened to the chief priests: the earthquake, the angel, the empty tomb.

Has it ever occurred to you that while you are on your way to witness others are also doing the same for different reasons? Has it ever occurred to you that not everyone who shares the good news of Jesus’ resurrection does it with the right motivation or for the right reasons?

The women were “on their way” to give news of what had happened –the earthquake, the angel, the empty tomb, Jesus meeting them – to the disciples who would perhaps receive the news as hope. The guards were “on their way”  to give the news of what had happened to the chief priests who would definitely receive the news as despairing.  The women were filled of joy and the guards were filled with fear.

On the way to do God’s bidding, are you joyful or fearful? On the way to give an account of what Jesus has done in your life, are you doing it for you or to honor Jesus?

Pray Proverbs 14:25 Acts 4:20

Heavenly Father, on the way to do your will may I do it to honor you. On the way to share the good news of your love for us so great that You sent your Son to die for us, may I do it to draw attention to You and not to me.

Holy Spirit, guide me to all truth, I want to be a truthful witness that saves lives.

Let it be, O God, that I cannot help speaking about what You have done for me.

I could Sing of Your Love Forever!

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Day 9 – Suddenly…

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“Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” Matthew 28:9 NIV

The women had left hurriedly from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, running to tell the others what the angel had told them. The tomb was empty. Jesus is alive!

Suddenly–quickly and unexpectedly–without warning, Jesus met them. On their way to do what the angel instructed them to do, Jesus met them. On their way to tell others that Jesus was not in the tomb, Jesus met them. On their way to share with the disciples that Jesus is risen, Jesus met them. Suddenly –quickly and unexpectedly–without warning.

Webster Dictionary defines ‘suddenly’ as ‘happening unexpectedly; changing angle all at once; marked by abruptness; brought about in a short time.’

If you haven’t started out to do what God has asked you to do, get on your way. There is about to be a ‘suddenly’ of the Lord.

Get ready. Be obedient. Be expectant. Mark 13:33  Be vigilant. Be prayerful. Be about the Lord’s business.

There will be a suddenly of the Lord, an unexpected intervention of the Lord, a new thing, a new season. He will meet up with you as you obey. He will meet up with you as go on your way and share.

A “suddenly” of the Lord  is a moment when God surprisingly breaks into time and space with an intervention of the Kingdom. This suddenly will bring you such awe that your only response will be to fall on your knees and worship God.

Pray Revelation 2:7 Acts 12:7 2 Samuel 22:50 

Heavenly Father, give me ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to me. Give me a hunger for your Word. Give me a passion for prayer. Give me a love for the lost.

Lord, I will obey your Word! Lord, I will spend time in dialogue with you! Lord, I will share your love with the unloved, the lost, the least! And I will speak of your love for them!

Father, I expect you to intervene suddenly in my life, my family, my congregation, my community, my city, my state and my nation!  I will be vigilant.

I praise you God for you are worthy of all praise. I give you honor for you are worthy of all honor. I worship you everywhere!

Show me your glory, Lord!

 

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Day 8 – “Even if you’re afraid…

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“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Matthew 28:8 NIV

The angel of the Lord met the women who went to see Jesus at the tomb. He told them that Jesus was not at the tomb, He had risen! He instructed them to go and tell the others. The women did as instructed.

The women left the tomb in a hurry–perhaps because they couldn’t wait to tell the others.

Can you imagine the news?

“Wow, wow, wow! Guess what? We went to the tomb, we didn’t find Jesus, but that’s okay, because there was this angel; I mean he had to be an angel, because he was big and shiny and he was like lightning, and he told us that Jesus was not in the tomb because He had risen just like He said He would, and then he told us, not Jesus, because He wasn’t there but the angel, the angel told us to come and tell you that Jesus was going to meet up with you!”

Perhaps they were rehearsing all this on the way to tell the disciples, or not. One thing is for sure, they left in a hurry, “afraid yet filled with joy”.

The women left “afraid yet filled with joy” to tell the disciples. Perhaps they were afraid that the soldiers, who had fell like dead when they saw the angel, would get up and follow them to arrest them and the others. Perhaps they were afraid that once they delivered the news the disciples wouldn’t believe them or Jesus wouldn’t show up. It really didn’t matter.

They were “afraid yet filled with joy” and they “ran to tell his disciples”. 

Have you ever been filled with joy because of what God has promised you and yet afraid that the promise would not be fulfilled? What if no one believes you when you tell them what God has given you to say or do?

It really doesn’t matter. Even if you are afraid, you run to share because it will build your faith up and when what God said would happen happens, the others will also believe.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 The MESSAGE

God will never let you down. The name of the Lord is a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). The Lord is mighty—the Almighty (Revelation 19:6). He has made many promises, and He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23)

Pray Psalm 9:1-2; Psalm 91:1-2

Lord, I give you thanks with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds;  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Even if I am scared, I will be quick to give witness of what you have said to me. I will share of what you have done in my life because I live in your shelter. I am safe in your shadow, Almighty God! You are my refuge and fortress. I trust in you.

Even if I am scared, I know that you will be with me and it fills me with joy to know that you will go before me and you will never leave me.

I am not alone!

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Day 7 – “Go quickly…”

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Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28: 7 NIV

The angel of the Lord appeared to the women who went to the tomb of Jesus. He told them to not be scared. He told them,  “I know you are looking for Jesus. Let me tell you –He is not in the tomb. He’s risen just like He said He would. I am going to show you that the tomb is empty and then you have to go quickly and tell others”.

Then go quickly” , the angel instructed the women. Don’t stay to wonder how this happened. Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t start asking questions. Just “go quickly”.

How many times has God asked you to do something and you lingered behind?  How many times have you peppered your prayers with questions?  Do you “go quickly” only after you have wrapped your head around it?

Sometimes you just have to say what God told you to say. Sometimes you just have to do what He asked you to do. All the time you just have to “go quickly”. Obey.

Obedience positions you for blessing. Pastor Gerry Hartman likes to say, “Delayed obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience. Obey God and leave the consequences of obedience to God.”

Then go quickly” and tell other that Jesus is alive, that Jesus is risen. “Then go quickly” and tell others that Jesus is alive and wants to meet with them. “Then go quickly” and be a messenger of hope, a messenger of good news.

Then go quickly” and ask for forgiveness. “Then go quickly” and forgive. “Then go quickly” and make that phone call, write that note, share your story.

“Now I have told you.”

Pray 1 John 5:2; Philippians 2:13;  Romans 1:16Luke 11:28 ; Psalm 37: 3 -6 

God, I am your child and I want to show my love to you. I want to obey your commands. You are the one who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill Your good purpose. Work in me, O Holy Spirit. I want to go quickly and tell others about Jesus. I want to hear Your Word and obey it. Be quick to ask for forgiveness and quick to forgive.

I commit all my ways to You, obey You and I trust in You, Lord.

I Will Go!

 

 

 

 

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Day 6 – Just like He said…

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“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6 NIV

The women went to the tomb looking for Jesus after he was crucified. They were met by an angel of the Lord. He told them they are looking in the wrong place. Jesus was not at the tomb “just as he said”.  In case the women wouldn’t believe him, the angel showed them the place where He was but where He no longer is.

When Jesus was among us, He chose His disciples, He modeled for them, He instructed them and among the things that He told them, He told them:

  • He was going to suffer many things, He was going to be killed and He was going to be raised from life on the third day. Matthew 16:21
  • He was going to the Father for our own good. Unless He went away, we would not receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us. John 16:7-15

Jesus suffered “just as he said”, He was killed “just as he said”, He was raised on the third day “just as he said”. The Holy Spirit came “just as he said”.  The Holy Spirit is available to guide us “just as he said”.

God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit– will do what He said He would do.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

What are you worried about? What doubts do you have about God’s promises? What has God spoken to you that you have not yet seen fulfilled?  Do you need to go and see the empty tomb? Do you need to revisit where you once were and you no longer are to remember that God is faithful to His promises?

Pray Psalm 119

Teach me, O God, to trust in you. Your Word is trustworthy and true!

I place myself, my family, my future in your hands. You will keep me and watch over me. You will provide me what I need and open the doors for me that need to be opened.

Give me understanding, so that I may keep your commands and obey them with all my heart. I want to position myself for blessings and position my family for blessings. 

I know not because I feel it but because Your Word says it, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,” 2 Corinthians 1:10 NIV

He’ll Do It Again!

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Day 5 -Looking for Jesus…

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“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.” Matthew 28: 5

The women who went to the tomb of Jesus Christ were startled by the appearance of the angel of the Lord until he told them not to fear. “I know that you are looking for Jesus.”, the angel said.

The guards were at the tomb to discredit Jesus. The women were at the tomb to mourn Jesus. The angel was at the tomb to proclaim JESUS has RISEN!

When  you are at the “tomb”- going through circumstances and situations in your life that cast shadow over your faith, do you turn on Jesus or turn to Jesus?  Do you proclaim the power of His resurrection?

Are you earnestly, passionately, diligently, looking for Jesus?

God knows what you are truly seeking after and He will guide you if “you are looking for Jesus.”

Looking for Jesus is not seeking for His signs, the manifestations or the miracles. Looking for Jesus is to seek His Presence, to seek to abide in Him and He in us.

When you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29NIV)

When we abide in Him and He in us, no matter where we find ourselves, we proclaim His glory not because of what we see but because of what we believe -and because we know Him. We no longer approach situations from the ground level like the guards or the women. We approach situations from the heavenly perspective, like the angel.

“It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.”  2 Corinthians 4:13-14 NIV

Seek the Lord diligently and proclaim His power! Do not speak the circumstances in your life but declare His promises. Proclaim the power of His resurrection! Give Him glory!

Pray 1 Chronicles 16: 8-11 NIV

Lord, I give You praise and I proclaim Your Name for what You done and what you will do! I want to tell others of your wonderful acts. Make me bold. My heart rejoices as I seek You. I look to you and to Your strength. I seek your face always. Forgive me if I have looked for your power and your gifts and ignored Your Presence. Be merciful and give me the desire to abide in You and You in me.

I want to be seriously passionate about my faith, show others who “are looking for Jesus” the way and worship Your Holy Name!

Bless the Lord, O My Soul!

 

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Day 4 -Don’t be like dead…

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“The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”  Matthew 28: 4 NIV

The angel of the Lord appeared at the tomb of Jesus Christ and his appearance was such that the guards that were supposed to be guarding the tomb (so that no one could steal the body) became like dead – stupefied, helpless, totally incapacitated for action.

Imagine the amazing experience the guards would have had if they had overcome their fear and interacted with the angel. They would have heard of the great news of Jesus not being in the tomb. I imagine the angel telling them. “Hey, guys, your job’s done. You don’t need to guard the tomb anymore. The inevitable has happened. The tomb is empty.”

Instead the guards weren’t able to overcome their fear or move past it and they flopped like fish out of water and fell like dead. Okay, maybe they didn’t flop like fish but “they shook and became like dead men”.

The guards must have thought that this angel who appeared like lightning was going to kill them, wound them, perhaps ridicule them. “Ha, ha, ha, you guys think you can prevent me from removing this stone? Watch me.”  Whatever the case, the guards missed out.

How many times has fear prevented you from having an impacting, supernatural experience with God?  Will you consider pushing through in spite of the fear? Being strong and courageous?

Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief. Being courageous does not eliminate fear; it conquers it. 

Are you  missing out on a life-changing experience because of your fear?  Are  you missing out on life’s greatest joys because of lack of courage?  What has God wanted you to do that fear is keeping you from doing?

Pray Isaiah 41:9-11, 2 Timothy 1:7

Heavenly Father, Thank you because you have made me your child through my faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. You have chosen me. I will not fear because you are with me. I will not be dismayed because You are my God. You will strengthen me and help me. You will uphold me with your righteous right hand – keep me blessed and protected! You will take care of those who want to harm me.

Thank You, Lord, for you have given me power,  love and self discipline!

I will not fear because You, O God, are with me! I am not alone. 

 

 

 

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Day 3 -There is no darkness…

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“His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.” –Matthew 28:3 NIV

The angel that appeared by the tomb of Jesus Christ, the one that rolled the stone away, had an appearance of lightning and “his clothes were white as snow”.

There was no doubt in the mind of the women that went to the tomb that this was a messenger from God. You see, when you see lightning, it pierces the darkness. Even if it is daytime,  lightning brightens up the place. When lightning strikes, it draws your attention to brightness.

His clothes were white as snow” – the angel was wearing clothes that had no shadow, shade, stain, or darkness.

“His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.” – The women knew that this was a messenger from God because there was no darkness about him.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 NIV

Every message that we receive, every messenger we accept, if they are from God, there will be no darkness about them.

Who are you getting your messages from? Who are you going seeking for direction and counsel?

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. ”  1 John 1: 6 NIV

Are you being a messenger from God? Are you telling His Story? Will the people around you believe you because there is no darkness in you?

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all  sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1: 7-10 NIV

God does not require us to be perfect but He does command us to be obedient. It is not that we will never do anything that will dishonor God, although we strive everyday to honor Him.  It is not that we will never miss the mark, although we endeavor to live a life without sin.  It is that we must promptly recognize that we have fallen short and confess before God and sometimes to one another.

Unconfessed sin is darkness in us and gives satan, the prince of this world, a hold on us. 1 John 5:18 NIV  John 14:30 NIV

Pray Hebrews 4: 16  Psalm 51

“Heavenly Father, I thank You for your love for me. I thank You that you have given me the privilege to approach You with confidence, knowing that You will be merciful towards me and will help me when I need it. I need to be a light in the dark places. I need to have no darkness in me. Forgive me, Lord,  for thinking, saying, acting in a manner that does not honor you and for not being the light in all circumstances.

Have mercy on me, O God!  Cleanse me Lord and I will be clean. Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Use me as your messenger of Good News. Let the enemy find no darkness in me.

I want to tell my story for others to know that Jesus died for them, that Jesus lives, and that  He has risen that they may have eternal life with God!

 

 

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Day 2 -Perhaps it needs to shake…

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There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.”

–Matthew 28:2 NIV

Mary and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb looking for Jesus and what they found was that the earth had shaken and an angel had come down from heaven, rolled to the side the stone that covered the tomb and then proceeded to sit on the stone.

There was a violent earthquake” prior to Jesus, the Light of the World piercing through the darkness of death.

The director’s script could have read like this:

Earth, quake! Enter angel. Angel approaches stone and rolls stone out of the way. Following this, the angel sits on stone, nonchalant.

What an entrance!

The angel could have done it quietly, inconspicuously. That’s how we may want God to do things in our lives. Our way. Quietly. After all perhaps if God takes care of things quietly and fast enough, well then, no one has to know the “tomb” that’s holding us back or the “stone” thats preventing our deliverance.

But “There was a violent earthquake” !

God wants to work in your life –His way not your way. His way may include an outrageous, loud, public display of His power. Removing the obstacles in your life that keep you from living a life of deliverance, a life of freedom, is an easy thing for God to do. However, that which is hidden needs to come to light and exposed so that is stripped of all power.

Perhaps there needs to be a “violent earthquake” for you to come to the realization that:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  Colossians 2: 13-15 NIV

Will you allow God to do whatever He needs to do to remove the “stone” in your life and set you free from whatever is holding you back?

Perhaps it needs to shake in your life…Now,”violent earthquake” is no fun. It is unsettling, frightening and renders you with the feeling of powerlessness. Do not fret because of the earthquake but rejoice that the angel of the Lord is showing up.

Pray Psalm 77: 13-17  Proverbs 3:5-6

Oh, Heavenly Father, I have called upon You and I wait on You.  Forgive me for wanting You to do things my way. Your ways, God, are holy. You are a great God who performs miracles and display Your power among the peoples.  When You show up on the scene, waters split, they recede, they convulse. So God, show up in my life! Do what needs to be done that I may be seriously passionate about my faith. Let what needs to be shaken, be shaken, roll away what needs to be rolled away. 

I trust in you Lord with all my heart and I will not try to figure it out myself. I submit completely to You. You will guide me and straighten out my paths.

Lord, have your way in my life. I Surrender all to you

Day 1 -Looking in Dead Places

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“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”  Matthew 28:1 NIV

These women had witnessed how Jesus had brought healing, deliverance and a message of hope to the people around them. Mary Magdalene had personally experienced Jesus’ miraculous touch in her life and her own deliverance. Yet when “at dawn of the first day of the week” they went to look for Jesus in the tomb.

Today is the first day of the 21 days of Prayer & Fasting. You have known God’s faithfulness in your life. You have experienced Jesus’ salvation and His deliverance. You have known the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps you have not fully experienced all of His deliverance. You are still uncertain when the Holy Spirit is leading you. Nevertheless, in this first day of the 21 day of Prayer & Fasting don’t revisit your dead places.

Dead places are those circumstances, situations and experiences in your life that cast shadow over you, engulf you in the hopelessness of no tomorrow and limit your ability to rise up with Jesus.

Today, as you pray, do not pray your past or your present. Declare your future.

Today, “at the dawn of the first day”,  look up towards the heaven from where your help comes.

Pray Psalm 121.

“God, you are the Maker of heaven and earth, my help comes from you. I will lift my eyes to you. You, Heavenly Father, will not let me slip, you will watch over me. You, who do not sleep, You, oh, Lord you watch over me. You are a shade at my right hand -wow, Lord, you are my armor bearer!  Nothing obvious will harm me and nothing hidden will harm me. You watch over ALL my life. You are going to keep an eye on me whether I am coming or going, not just today but always!

Today, God, I am going to look for you among the living – smiles, acts of kindness, prayer moments, random compassion, deliberate forgiveness. Today, God, when people look for you, help me to introduce them to your Son, Jesus, who lives in me and when they seek to find Him, may they find Christ in me (Colossians 1:27), the hope of glory – the full manifestation of your love!”

Today, “at the dawn of the first day“, I declare I am no longer slave to death or fear, I am a child of GOD!

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It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

(What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong)

Oh yeah.

You see trees of green, I see dead leaves, you see roses too, and I see thorns, and I say to myself, what a crappy old world!

Some us would like to sing that song like that. Why?

We smile when all we really want is to cry. We’re silent when all we just want to do is scream.

We stay when we just want to run away, and all we want is to hide.

Yeah! All we want is to hide. Many of us that’s what we do! We wear ours masks well,  yet we are not okay.

It’s Okay Not Being Okay.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2: 20

Click her for song: If We’re Honest … 

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Flying…

I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I didn’t have to have my tonsils taken out when I was maybe 5 years old; if I’d not had to fly to the big island to see the doctor.

Life was pretty simple and adventurous on the 82 square mile island we lived on –St. Croix.  It was on that island that I was introduced to my Christian tradition and witnessed first hand the power of its effect on the man to whom I owe that tradition – my father.

“Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda” – my father’s spiritual language.

Unintelligible uttering!  I grew up surrounded by it.

My earliest recollections include playing in the dirt in front of the house of God, a church building atop a small hill, surrounded by nothing but sugarcane. In the midst of the sugarcane fields, skirting the hill, you could see the old slave quarters that in the past century housed the slaves that planted and processed the sugarcane. To the left of the wooden church building were a his and a her outhouses. An old shady tamarind tree behind the island church served as cover for our Sunday school class. We would sit on wooden benches, protected by the tree’s trunk which was as wide as I was tall. Its branches hovered over us as a heavenly mantle. The sweet fragrance of sugarcane filled the air.  We learned about God.

♫ ♫ “God is good, God is good, God is good, He’s so good to me. He answers prayers, He answers prayers, He answers prayers, He’s so good to me. I love Him so, I love Him so, I love Him so, He’s so good to me.” ♫♫

We learned how God saved Noah from the flood, the Israelites from the Egyptians, David from the giant, Daniel from the lions, the Hebrew boys from the furnace, and you and me from sin.

He didn’t save me from my tonsillectomy.

We would get together with the adults in the church building. We would sing, play the tambourine, and we would pray.

And then I would hear it, “Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda!”. There was my father. Eyes closed, head shaking, brow wrinkled with worry, and he was saying something I didn’t understand. “Handabarashiba orabakashi orabashanda!” His arms were stretched by his sides as if paralyzed, and his fists were clenched tight. He was marching. With every step he took, he lifted his knees higher. He ran swiftly through the congregation as if to take flight. There he went. Up, up, up, above everyone’s head.  My jaw dropped. From a child ‘s perspective standing on her tiptoes behind the last pew, he was flying. The fact was that he was walking effortlessly from the back of one pew to the back of another pew. He stopped suddenly and spoke some words. He continued to touch someone here or there. He would end up back behind the pulpit.

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for the move of the Spirit. Thank you, Jesus.”  My father would deliver a spirit-filled, soul-saving, body-healing sermon. It was later around the dinner table that I would hear about those who had been touched by the Spirit, those whose sin had been revealed and forgiven, and those who had received a miracle.

There were many things I did not understand growing up on the island as a child of Pentecostal missionary pastors. One thing I knew for certain, I was very careful every time I rounded a corner. I did not want to meet up with the devil. For if I did, my father was sure to know. He knew when people were sick without them telling him, and what disease God was going to heal in their bodies. People came to him for prayer because they knew he was a man of God. And he spoke in tongues. Glossalalia. Speaking in tongues.

The time came to go flying. Not from pew to pew but from island to island.  It was my father that accompanied me on that flight to the big island to get my tonsils out. It was a small plane, one that lands on water. We were the only two passengers. The pilot invited me to sit as his copilot. My hands on the steering controls, I was flying.  My piloting was interrupted by my very productive sneeze which filled my left hand. The pilot pulled out his handkerchief and said, “There, there, all cleaned up! Let’s get back to flying.”

My father never knew, it was never revealed to him, nor did he ever come to find out. After my tonsils were taken out, I went to my grandparents home to recover. My recovery was interrupted by continuous sexual assaults that lasted for several years.

There, there, let’s get back to flying.

I’ve often wonder how my life would have turned out if I didn’t have to have my tonsils taken out when I was maybe 5 years old; if I’d not had to fly to the big island to see the doctor.

“You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am” (Pat Barrett and Tony Brown))

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To be strong…

When did I stop wincing when in pain? When did I stop writhing when pressed down with discomfort? When did I decide that being strong excluded showing weakness? When did I convince myself that when facing challenges, you show no fear? And when did I stop crying when it hurt?

Hope does not exclude times of despair and joy does not occur without shedding tears.

So when did I decide to be strong?

I want to cry every time I hurt. I want to wince whenever I feel pain. I want to writhe whenever I feel pressed down and all around. I want to run whenever I feel fear and I want to no longer be strong.

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of  His mighty power. –Ephesians 6:10 NIV

Where does a warrior go to turn in her sword? Where does she rest her shield? When does she get to kick of her caligae  and loosen up her breastplate?

“If only I had wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.  Yes, I would go far away. I would live in the desert.  I would hurry to my safe place, away from the wild wind and storm.” – Psalm 55: 6-7 NLV

Prayer of One Hurt by a Friend – PSALM 55 Excerpt

Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not hide Yourself from what I ask. Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I have no peace,  

My heart is in pain within me. The fears of death have come upon me.  I have begun shaking with fear. Fear has power over me.  And I say, “If only I had wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.  Yes, I would go far away. I would live in the desert. I would hurry to my safe place, away from the wild wind and storm.”

….As for me, I will call on God and the Lord will save me.  I will cry out and complain in the evening and morning and noon, and He will hear my voice.  He will save my soul in peace from those who make war against me. For there are many who fight me.  

 Give all your cares to the Lord and He will give you strength. He will never let those who are right with Him be shaken.  But I will trust in You.

The Deserted Land

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Once upon a time there was a land of great mountains, beautiful prairies; kissed on the east and the west by oceans white with foam; great expansions of freedom, connected to the north and the south. The land was inhabited by a group of people who took care of it, loved it, lived on it, with it and for it.

One day, there came upon the land, a group of visitors. Some got along with the locals, others despised them, yet others killed them. Some of the visitors came because of hate, others because of love and yet others because they could.

Soon the visitors became people who inhabited the land, took care of it, loved it, lived on it and for it.  But still there was hate, and there was love and they did what they wanted because they could.

Every group of people has a leader. And the visitors, who were no longer visitors, chose a leader. And every chance they got they chose a new leader. Some leaders were good, some were bad, some help, some hurt. But still the people lived on.

As the years went on more visitors came. Some good, some bad, some help, some hurt. The land became an even greater land with great cities, beautiful towns; kissing the heavens with its buildings, touching the earth with its gifts.

But the people forgot the land, they only thought about themselves. They stretched it farther than it could go, borrowed from its future to pay their present. They became greedy. They started to kill each other and even those who were about to get there. They began to draw lines across the land that limited, restricted and separated.

They never asked who put the land there, why they put it there and why were they allowed to be there. Instead of stopping to look to find these answers themselves from the One who put the land there, they kept choosing leaders that they thought would give them the answers. One day they decided that it was time they asked the One who put the land there not for the answers they needed but for a leader they wanted.

A new leader was chosen. They felt that they had chosen well.  Indeed they celebrated that they had asked the One who put the land there to help them chose. That leader will save the land. Instead that leader drew longer and thicker lines. He stopped the visitors from coming. Those who chose him celebrated. “Now they will have more for themselves”, they thought. “Now we will be great again!”

The years passed. Some people lived. Some people died. Some help. Some hurt.  But all could see, they thought they had chosen a Cyrus but they indeed were ruled by a Nebuchadnezzar. And there were no visitors to replace them.

“Good departed and evil was regular, The lord became angry and got furious. He gave the command and the gods of the land abandoned it […] its people were incited to commit crime. The guardians of peace became furious, and went up to the dome of heaven, the spirit of justice stood aside. …who guards living beings, prostrated the people, they all became like those who have no god. Evil demons filled the land, the namtar-demon […] they penetrated the cult centers. The land diminished, its fortunes changed. The wicked Elamite, who did not hold (the land’s) treasures in esteem, […] his battle, his attack was swift. He devastated the habitations, he made them into a ruin, he carried off the gods, he ruined the shrines.”(The seed of kingship, lines 15-24.)

The land diminished, its fortunes changed.

 

Day 10 -Your gates will always stand open…

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Your gates will always stand open,
    they will never be shut, day or night,
so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—
    their kings led in triumphal procession. Isaiah 60:11

Peace will reign in the future of glory for Jerusalem! There will be no need to shut the gates to protect the City because she will have no enemies. The splendor bestowed upon the City by the Lord will turn the enemies to servants. Only those who come to bring glory and honor will show up.

“The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Revelation 21:24-26 NIV

If only we knew what the future brings, we would lie down in peace and rest. We worry about our days, we do not rest at night. We know not who is for us or who is against us.

God in His mercy and grace, has endowed us with His splendor, His Son.  He is our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Defender.  His Presence in us makes us safe, gives us hope, opens the way for blessings.

Pray.

Heavenly Father, You are my Light and my Salvation, You are the stronghold of my life. I do not need to fear or be afraid (Psalm 27:1).   I trust in You, Lord!  Your Presence in me draws others to You and prepares a way for great blessing. My future in You does not compare to my past and those who once thought ill of me, will seek me out. I praise You God for Your compassion for me!

You’re the Hero of My Story Click on the link to pray with song.

 

Day 9 -I will show you compassion…

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“Foreigners will rebuild your walls,
    and their kings will serve you.
Though in anger I struck you,
    in favor I will show you compassion.”  Isaiah 60:10

The Prophet announces to the nation of Israel that foreigners, those who gave their allegiance to other deities, even they will come to help them restore Jerusalem. The Lord had oftentimes allowed Israel to suffer the consequences of her disobedience and still He loved and favored Israel. And in His favor He shows compassion.

When we find ourselves broken down, in disarray or in need of restoration, we often expect or at least hope that those around us, who know us best, would come to our aide. That’s the natural. The supernatural is when God steers the way of strangers, those far away from us, and leads them to edify us, bring us harmony or renewal.

Often times as a result of our disobedience, we find ourselves estranged from God, hiding from His presence, as if we could ever be able to do that. (Jeremiah 23:24)

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 NIV

Can you imagine that those who do not know you will come to assist you in rebuilding, restoration, repair; even those in high places?

Will you believe that even though we may have fallen short at times, God’s favor is upon us and He shows us compassion?

Pray.

Heavenly Father, I am awed at your goodness and your mercies. Though I fail You, you’ve never failed us. And in my brokenness and in my need, You use whomever You need to use to bring healing, refreshing and renewal to my life.  Thank you for being compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Psalm 103:8) .

You Make Me New Click on link to pray with song.

 

Day 8 -Bringing your children from afar…

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Surely the islands look to me;
    in the lead are the ships of Tarshish,
bringing your children from afar,
    with their silver and gold,
to the honor of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor. Isaiah 60:9

The Prophet Isaiah continues to declare the coming days of glory for Jerusalem as a result of Jerusalem arising, shining and recognizing that the light, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Deliverer had come.  As a people who as wanderers became a nation, Israel was not seen as much. The time will come when those from far away will look to Israel and will return their inheritance. All this because God has brought splendor to the nation.

There was a time when others did not even take a second look at you because you were distraught and in disarray.  But soon they will be looking at you and will return to you what belongs to you. The darkness will not be able to contain your children and it will let them go! All this because God has brought splendor to your life!

Pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to seek me out and save me. Thank you that Jesus died for the Jewish nation and “not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” (John 11:51-52)
Thank  you for loving us so much that we are called your children and although the world may not look to us know they will when your Son is once more revealed. (1 John 3:1-2) We ask that your light will also come to our children and our children’s children. Help us to declare their salvation without hesitation and with courageous faith.

Then They Will Know  Click on the link and declare God’s salvation with this Song!

 

 

Day 7 – Like clouds…

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“Who are these that fly along like clouds,
    like doves to their nests? Isaiah 60:8 NIV

The Prophet Isaiah describes the multitude of people approaching the City of God, Zion, as so dense that they look like clouds. He describes them further as returning, as doves to their nests, meaning they have been there before.

Well God created mankind. It was from Him that we came and it is to Him that we return. Some to remain in His presence and some to be judged and separated eternally from Him. The time of judgment is not yet.God’s love is so great that He desires that no one should be separated from Him eternally. (Matthew 18:14) God desires that the multitudes like clouds come to Him.

God has given us the charge, the commission, the honor and the privilege to usher others unto His Presence. We have come to know the light, let us let it shine through us.

“Let it shine?”, you ask. We often do not “feel” that there is much light in us because of our circumstances, our limitations, our self image. We plan to shine when we’ve overcome our circumstances, gotten rid of our limitations and improved our self image.

God does not call you to arise and shine because you are ready for it. He calls you to arise and shine because He’s ready for you to come and allow His light to shine through you.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

If everyone who has a made a commitment to follow Jesus would reach one other person, then multitudes like clouds  would be added to the Body of Christ. 

To dispel the darkness around us, we need to at least reach one. Invite.

Pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love so great that you sent your Son to reach us. Thank you for your love so great that you desire that all those whom who have created will be saved through calling on the name of your Son. Forgive us because “how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:13-14)

Lord, give us the words to preach–publicly proclaim, the good news of Jesus. At the very least give us the boldness and the courage to invite others to come to You.

For the Sake of the World  Click on the Link to Pray in Song

Day 6 -Proclaiming the praise of the Lord

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Herds of camels will cover your land,
    young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
    bearing gold and incense
    and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you,
    the rams of Nebaioth will serve you;
they will be accepted as offerings on my altar,
    and I will adorn my glorious temple.
Isaiah 60:6-7 NIV

What a sight? Herds of camels everywhere and from everywhere, loaded down with treasures from those proclaiming the praise of the Lord. Camels from places where the inhabitants lived in tents. Camels that bring gifts from people who made their living by plundering, trading, and the keeping of flocks.

Kedar and Nebaioth were descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). Ishmael was a half brother to Issac. The descendants of Ismael and the descendants of Issac, both children of Abraham, contribute to the dissension in the Middle East today.  They don’t get along.

Imagine that the gifts of those whom you don’t get along, those with whom you do not relate, will be accepted as offerings on God’s altar. They will adorn God’s temple. 

God’s  temple, God’s house, no longer built with stones but with you and I (Ephesians 2:19-22), adorned by gifts brought by those proclaiming the praise of the Lord.  Gifts accepted as offerings on God’s altar.

As we arise, shine and bring light to the darkness, we are not alone. Others close by and others far away will also arise and shine. Some closer than a brother and sister and others with whom we have not even related will rise and shine. And we will be God’s dwelling place

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:2-6 NIV

As children of God we do not have to pray the same way, sing the same, preach the same or serve the same. As long as we are proclaiming the praise of the Lord, our gifts will be accepted. 

Why then do we look down on other children of God?  Why do we seek to point out our differences? Do we not realize that we as “living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”?

As we proclaim the praises of the Lord, let us seek the unity among His children.

Pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for us that is no respecter of person but accepts all and blesses those who are committed followers of Your Son, Jesus.  Help us to rejoice as we witness your children from different congregations worship You with their gifts. Let your love abound in us as we proclaim your praises.

Make Us One Click on the link to pray in song.

 

Day 5 – Throb and swell…

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Then you will look and be radiant,
    your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
    to you the riches of the nations will come.  Isaiah 60:5 NIV

The Israelites had gone through slavery, wandering in the desert, exile and even defeat on occasion. They may have forgotten the promises of God, they couldn’t possibly think that they would ever become that blessed nation through whom other nations would be blessed, ( Genesis 26:4). The prophet Isaiah is awakening them to the truth. It’s going to happen. Get up and get going! Look up and look about you! You’ll be awed.

So many times we keep our head down because we want to hide within ourselves. We’ve gone through so much that we’ve lost our oomph. Other times we are fearful of what we are going to see if we look up. Perhaps we want to pretend we are not present so that we do not have to answer for the need that is around us. We’ve lost our oomph.

Yet when Jesus comes,  when we commit to follow Him, His glory envelops us and we carry His presence wherever we go. We can look up and be radiant; our hearts beating as if to explode, joyous, and in awe. We get our oomph back. Why?

What God said He would do He does. He brings salvation, redemption, transformation, resources, provision, acknowledgment and His generosity will make your heart throb.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

That’s it, you see. We can’t possibly imagine what God has for us as His obedient children. We serve a God who gives. He gave His only Son for us. (John 3:16)

The gift of salvation through His Son Jesus leads us to sometimes think  that is a big enough gift. And yes it is HUGE. Still God is a HUGE God with a HUGE love that surprises us in a HUGE way.

Throb and swell! Brace yourself. God does what He says He is going to do. He will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:10)

God does what He says He is going to do, when we do what He asks us to do. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Bring the whole tithe (Malachi 3:10). Serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Go! Make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20)

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy:

Pray.

Heavenly Father, I exalt you because You are a faithful God. Your promises are yes and amen. (2 Corinthians 1:20). Forgive me for not being faithful to You in my obedience of your commands. Give me wisdom, courage and oomph to do what I need to do. I want to position myself to be awed, to swell and throb as I receive the blessings You have promised to those who obey You. Work in me the will to pray, serve, give and go as You have commanded.

We Carry Your Presence  Click on the link to worship in song.