Power


What do you think of when you hear the word, power? Do you see a strong man lifting heavy weights? Do you think of the overwhelming intensity of lightning, or of an engine equipped to do heavy work? The Bible says that we will receive power when we receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (NASB)

Some people talk as if the Holy Spirit is a thing. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and as such, is a living being, not an “it”. In my church we sing a song called, “Send it On Down”. It is a song asking for the Holy Spirit to come and inhabit our worship. However, my Pastor doesn’t like the idea of calling the Holy Spirit, “it”, and so we sing, “Send HIM on Down”. As such, we give the Spirit of God His rightful honor and ask for His presence to reveal Himself to us.

The book of Acts says the Holy Spirit will give us power. If the Holy Spirit was an “it”, I can’t imagine a thing being able to give us power. However, as a person in the God-head, He is able to endue us with power from on high. (Luke 24:49) So, what kind of power are we talking about? Let me give you a testimony from my own life.

I go to an Assemblies of God Church, and we believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. When I first went to that church, it was a foreign concept to me because I was not raised in a Pentecostal denomination, my background was Wesleyan Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical Free, Missionary Alliance, and Covenant. I often describe myself as a “Christian Mutt.” After being part of this church for a couple of years, the desire to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit became very strong. I wanted a deeper relationship with God. I began praying and asking God to fill me with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. One Sunday night I went forward for prayer as I had before. This Sunday night, He granted my request and I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. My Pastor at the time, told us that when we received the Holy Spirit, we had access to power given by Him. At the time, I didn’t know or really understand exactly what that meant, but a few months later my first husband had a stroke, and then a year later he had another, more devastating stroke. He was paralyzed on his right side, could only repeat things back to you, but not carry on a full conversation. However, God allowed him to retain the ability to sing, he even sang duets with me, which I found amazing and I am so grateful God didn’t allow that to leave him. My husband was sick for seven years and was in a nursing home until he went to the hospital with pneumonia and heart problems and died.

Those seven years were the most difficult I had ever experienced in my life. There were days that I felt that I had no strength to take care of my husband. But it was only through the power of the Holy Spirit that I was able to do the things that needed to be done. I HAD to rely on God for EVERYTHING. I truly believe that I would not have been able to take care of my husband, work a full-time job at a Christian television network, be on the worship team at church, and try to keep my house together without the power of the Holy Spirit helping me along the way. There was a time of depression and despair, I’m not going to say that I didn’t go through that, but it was then that I realized that there was no where else to go but to God. My current husband says what I went through was a Job’s Trial, and I truly believe he is right. It certainly felt like a trial.

That is one way the Holy Spirit gives us power. He also can give us power in doing ministry work. Some are given the gift of healing and so, the Holy Spirit gives them power to perform their ministry of healing. Some are given the gift of preaching and the Holy Spirit gives them the power to preach messages that bring us into the presence of God and instruct us in righteous living. The Holy Spirit releases power in us for various giftings, circumstances, and situations.

Now, the last part of our verse gives us a mandate. We are to go and be witnesses! The Holy Spirit also gives us power to go and tell what God has done in our lives. That can be accomplished in words, but the most effective tool is to live out our lives in front of people, so that they see Jesus in us. When we let others see the impact He has on our lives, they will want what we have, and that is the person and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to utilize the power given to us from the Holy Spirit to be a witness to a lost world. That mandate, to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Matthew 28:19), is our purpose as Believers. We are to tell people of the saving grace of Jesus through His death on the cross for our sins, His burial, and resurrection. We are to bring people to Heaven with us. Are there people in our sphere of influence who know that we belong to Jesus, or if asked, would say they don’t know? Are we speaking and living in a way that leaves no doubt in their minds that we are Born Again Believers? It is time we take stock of our lives and how we appear before others. If we aren’t living and speaking so that others see Jesus, then we need to repent and be intentional in our witness.

So, my final question to you, dear reader, is…. are you utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?

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Set an Example!

Today’s Bible Journaling was taken from the TCT devotional, “Just for Today”, and focuses on II Chronicles 26:4, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all his father Amaziah did.” Uzziah became king at the young age of 16 when his father, the king, died. I find it amazing that a 16-year-old boy could have enough wisdom to rule a country. But then, when we read the whole story of Uzziah, we find that he had a good upbringing. His father, Amaziah, taught him the ways of the Lord. Looking back in chapter 25, we find that Amaziah also did what was right in the sight of the Lord, however; verse two says that he did not do it with a perfect heart. That means he made mistakes.

So, the take away I get is, we can follow God’s ways, but we’re not always going to be perfect, so it was, I’m sure, in raising Uzziah. Amaziah raised his son in the ways of God, but he wasn’t perfect. The devotional talked about living your example before your kids, not just speaking it. The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”, doesn’t work. Kids will model what you do before they model what you say. I can relate to this. I have no children, but my father was very strict. Kids were to be seen and not heard, we had no opinion on anything, and he would tell us in no uncertain terms what we were supposed to do. However, in some areas, what he said and what he displayed in action were polar opposites. I have become an awful lot like my Dad, and I work as hard as I can to fix the parts I don’t like.

My first husband and I were not able to have a family, so I have no experience raising kids, but I have observed a lot by watching other parents. I now am married again and have step-children and grandchildren, for which I am eternally grateful to God! They are the light of my life! I love them like they were my own. Actions speak louder than words, and when we say one thing and do another, our kids become either confused, or they decide that if we can’t follow our own advice, it’s not worth listening to.

I have seen parents yell and scream at their kids when they misbehave, and then when their kids act out in anger in the same way, they discipline them. This was my upbringing and I learned to be afraid of my Dad. When a parent reacts like this, the child comes to the point where they lose respect for the parent. I know for me when I get angry or need to discipline; my first reaction is to yell and spank. I have to fight with that. I have learned in dealing with my grandkids, a soft answer does a whole a lot better. When I get down to their level and whisper in their ear or speak to them face to face, they are more willing to listen to me.

Modeling Godly behavior before your kids isn’t easy because we are human, and we make mistakes. They see everything we do, and they are little copycats. This is where we must come to the point where everything we do and say is first brought before the Lord. Ask for His guidance in raising our kids, search the Scriptures for guidelines in disciplining. I think that sometimes when we follow Scriptural principles, we have a tendency to try to be perfect at it and follow the letter of the law. But, God doesn’t expect perfection from us, and we should not expect perfection from ourselves or our kids either.

Spanking is a prime example. The saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in the Bible, however; Psalm 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (KJV) Some people think that means beating a child within an inch of their life…and that isn’t what the Bible is saying. Spanking and beating are two different things entirely. When it comes to spanking, I believe that moderation is the key. Don’t discipline in anger. For me, I have to step back first before I discipline. In that way, I am showing my grandkids how to react when things don’t go my way, or I need to correct them. Temperance in disciplining goes a long way.

Other areas we need to model Godly behavior is how we treat others, how to allow differences of opinion, showing how to put others before ourselves, being patient, showing that God goes first before everything and everyone. Let your kids see you studying your Bible, have devotions with them, pray with them, model before them what God is teaching you. They will soon pick up on that and begin to display Godly behavior themselves. Will you be perfect at it? No, and neither will they, but when you model it before them, they will be more inclined to follow in your footsteps.

So, today’s word is, “Be an example!”

Lord, I’m Amazed by You!

Music has always had a prominent part of my life. I started singing in public when I was 3 years old, and since the 5th grade I’ve played flute. Music speaks to me when nothing else will. My heart instantly connects with the lyrics and the melodies of the song. This morning a song has been running through my mind over and over again. It is a comfort, it is a song of worship, it touches the very deepest part of my heart. The song is “Amazed.” The words have sunk deep into my very soul. “Lord, I’m amazed by You and how you love me!” I’ve been running the Phillips, Craig and Dean version over and over while I’ve done my Bible Journaling this morning. It has impacted me so much that I could do nothing else but journal how I am so in love with my Lord!

I almost instantly thought of Romans 8:35-39 (NLT), “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity; or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep,’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love, Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My heart is so full just at the thought of how much He loves me! I can do nothing but praise Him! It is so wonderful to have such an assurance, that NOTHING can separate us from His love. That seems so inconceivable! As humans, we have conditional love toward one another, but His love is unconditional! We don’t have to be perfect to obtain His love. He knows we’re not perfect, and the thought is almost laughable…us puny humans trying to be perfect like Him just to gain His love! I love the part of the song that says, “You dance over me when I am unaware.” He dances over me! How amazing is that! He’s head over heels in love with me!

I love how this Scripture lists everything we could think of that could separate us from God’s love…trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, angels, demons, fear, worry, not even hell itself, can separate us from God’s love! No power anywhere can separate us from His love!

Jesus proved His love for me by taking my sins on the Cross and dying for my sins. The Bible says, “No greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV) That’s the ultimate demonstration of love. He desires a relationship with us and He will do anything to show His love for us, even dying the most horrific death imaginable, just for us. Then He proved His love for us by conquering death, sin, and the grave. He lives now interceding for us with the Father. How amazing is that!

He cares about every detail of our lives, nothing is too insignificant to bring to Him. He hears the simple prayer of a child praying over a sick pet to our most devastatingly impossible situations, and each prayer is tenderly listened to and relayed to God, the Father, pleading for answers. Lord, You are so amazing! My heart is so full to think that You love me that much!

 

We Will Rise

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Acts 24:15, “having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (NASB) The Apostle Paul was brought before Felix in Rome, and he gave his testimony after being accused of sedition. The high priest, Ananias, and the elders accused Paul of treason against Rome, religious heresy, and desecrating the temple. They said that he caused riots and spoke against the Law of Moses. They also accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple, which was strictly forbidden.

Paul spoke in his own defense. Paul refuted the claims of which the high priest and elders accused him. Then he said, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” (NKJV) What stood out to me was the phrase, “I have a hope in God”! Our hope is in Jesus Christ’s work on the Cross, and His death, burial and resurrection, without which we have no reason to hope, believe, or be confident in our salvation.

Our hope as Believers is that we will be resurrected into a new body to live with Christ for eternity. I think sometimes we have a tendency to also remember that not just the Saved will be resurrected, but also the Lost! The Scripture says, “both the just and unjust” will be raised. The take away from this is, will we rise to everlasting life or everlasting death? That is all dependent on one vital decision we must all make, and that is, what will we do with Jesus? Do we believe His Word and accept His sacrifice for us on the Cross, or do we reject it? The answer to that question determines where we will spend eternity.

The Bible says we will all live after we die. We all will have a Spiritual body. How we have received Jesus and His Sacrifice determines our destiny. Some people do not believe that Hell exists, but I believe that if Heaven exists, there must also be a Hell. God is a God of order, there is evil and there is good, there is reward and there is punishment, there is a place for all who call Christ, Lord, and there is a place for those who reject Him.

The Bible says that God can not be in the presence of evil and wickedness, so therefore, He had to create a place for evil to reside. Satan is the ultimate rejecter of God and His infinite plan. He, from the very beginning, rebelled against God, tried to be like Him, to be worshipped like God, and became so full of pride and sin that God had to banish Him from Heaven. Satan began as an angel who became so full of himself, that there was no room for God. His chief desire is to cause men to turn their backs on God and, like himself, rebel against God. Hell was originally meant only for Satan and his demons. It was not created for man. But the Devil is crafty, and woos men astray into wickedness and sin, and God had no choice but to allow men to make their choice.

Those who accept God’s wonderful plan of salvation and accept the free gift secured for us through Jesus Christ will be raised into new life. I Thessalonians 4:15-17 says, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We have a hope! We who believe in Christ will one day live with Him. How awesome is that!

I’ve heard some say they think that once we’re in Heaven we will just float on clouds, strumming harps, and do nothing. However, God has given each one of us talents that are to be used. We will have work to do, each one according to the gifts God has given us. God is a God of order, remember? During Jesus’ Millennial reign, He will govern the earth…and that also requires a governmental system. So, I’m sure we will have a part in that also. Our main focus will be, however; worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him belongs all honor and praise! We have a hope!

 

Sheltered in the Arms of God

Yesterday I woke up with an old Dottie Rambo song going through my head. My first husband, Allen, and I used to sing this song at church for special music, so it has a special meaning to me. The name of the song is, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. I had intended to do a Bible Journaling page on the resurrection, but God had a different plan. The song just kept playing over and over in my mind, and so I said, “OK God, if that’s what you want me to do.” I remembered a verse in Deuteronomy that talks about being in the everlasting arms, Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries, ‘Destroy them!’”

I began searching on the Internet for pictures of outstretched arms and couldn’t find anything that I really liked. But then I found a picture on Pinterest of Jesus holding a woman as she laid her head on his chest. I immediately identified with this woman, for there have been many times I’ve felt His arms around me as I poured out my heart to Him. I love the idea that Jesus is holding her tight in her hour of need. Often there are times in our lives when we feel all alone, struggling, sometimes, just to breathe! But, He is always with us, always ready to reach out and hold us, to bring us comfort and strength in the midst of trial. I love what Deuteronomy says about God being our refuge, how He holds us, and then tells the angel hosts to destroy the enemy!

Oftentimes, the trials we go through are brought on by the enemy, Satan, the liar and deceiver. For those of us who are Born Again Believers, his goal is to get our eyes off of Jesus and onto the problem. He wants us to be defeated, dejected, and in despair. He knows that if we stay close to God we will win the victory over him. He will try anything he can to keep our relationship with Jesus at a standstill, not growing, not moving forward, not learning, strained…anything that will possibly lead us to turn our back on God.

Sometimes our trials are just part of life. Death, disappointment, relationship problems…all of these can be sources that can cause us to shrink away from God. But God, is always there, and He is not about to allow those things to stand in the way of His love for us. He reaches out for us, all we need to do is run to Him and let Him wrap us up in His arms to receive the comfort and strength we need to endure.

I mentioned in a previous post about my Heavenly Father, Abba, that I picture Him, not on a sterile, cold throne, but in a plush, comfortable, overstuffed chair, and He calls me to sit on His lap while I tell Him what I need. That’s my Abba! I can put my head on His shoulder and cry until I can’t cry anymore, and He will listen, wrap His arms around me, and comfort me.

I’m hoping today this post will help someone who is going through a hard time. God is the only solution! He is the only one who will bring comfort where there is pain, strength where there is weakness, and love to those who feel unlovable. He is your REFUGE!

 

Jesus, Our Sacrificial Lamb

Today is Good Friday, and all day I have been thinking about the sacrifice that Jesus paid for my sins when He died on the Cross for me. So, I decided to do my Bible Journaling on this. I referenced Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried, Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being, fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way, But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (NASB)

While I was doing my Journaling, the thought came that Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb! Before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, a blood sacrifice of a spotless lamb was required. Because of Adam’s sin, God instituted the blood sacrifice to cover sin, and the sacrifice had to be perfect, no spot, nothing broken, no imperfection at all! The sacrifice was made in our stead. Jesus was that perfect sacrifice. The Bible says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21 KJV) Jesus was that perfect Lamb!

As I write this I am playing the song, O the Blood, by Gateway Worship. This song has been running through my mind all day. It is so hard for me to understand the great love God has for me, to allow His Son to be the sacrifice for me, to take my place, and die the most gruesome, awful death, for my sins. It is such an awesome thing to think of, that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Jesus went willingly to the Cross for me!

Isaiah says we are like sheep. Have you ever seen sheep? They are not the brightest animal on the planet! They need someone to lead them, they need a Shepherd. Left on their own they can get themselves into all kinds of trouble. That’s not too unlike us! We need a Shepherd to guide us, and because of our sin we can go astray, just as those sheep. Isaiah says, “Each of us has turned to his own way.” Left to our own devices we can royally mess things up! But God … what an awesome phrase! But God had a plan! From the foundations of creation, God had a plan!

God designed our salvation from the very beginning. All we need to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us, repent of our sins, ask Him to forgive us, and promise and endeavor to live for Him for the rest of our lives. We must make Him not just Savior of our lives, but also Lord and Master. Then from that moment on, live for Him, the evidence of our salvation must show through in our lives. Salvation isn’t complicated. God made sure that it was so simple that a small child could come to Him.

I encourage you, if you have never asked Jesus into your heart, the Bible says, “now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2 KJV) It will be the best decision you will ever make. Just talk to him, just like you would a friend, and that is what He is really, a friend.
Then on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, you can rejoice even more, for He is Risen and has completed the work He came to do!

 

The Keys to Pleasing God

 

The past few Sunday’s my Pastor has been on a series called, “The Keys to Pleasing God”. Our focus Scripture is Hebrews 11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (NLT) Pastor has been showing us steps to real revival in several sermons he’s done this year, and this is also part of it.

Real revival is not just a series of meetings we call a revival, but it is a complete change in us. Part of that revival is knowing what pleases God, and the prime key is REAL FAITH. The keys to real faith are as follows:

1. Real faith is not just something you say. Pastor referenced James 2:14, “What is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (NLT) When we go around talking like a King James Bible or quoting Scripture all the time but don’t show our faith in the things we do, then it’s a lot of being all talk and no action.

2. Real faith is not just something you feel. Feelings can be deceiving, they’re fickle. If we are depending our faith on how we feel, we will be full of faith when we are up and lacking in faith when we are down. Real faith is strong regardless how we feel.

3. Real faith is not just something you think. Real faith shows itself in our everyday lives. We can not be all holy and sanctified within the church walls and then go out into the world and act just like the world with no inkling that we are even Christians. Do those who see you KNOW you are a Believer just by watching you? James 2:18 says, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds,’” (NLT) We cannot hide God and the effect He has on our lives, we must show Him to the world in our everyday lives. What we believe should show up in our lives and in our actions.

4. Real faith is not just something that you believe. Real faith is something that you live! James 2:19 says, “If you say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (NLT) Satan knows full well that God is real, but just because he believes this, doesn’t make him a Christian. The Bible says he is a liar, a deceiver, and there is no truth in him. He will not submit to the leadership of God. Just because we believe there is a God doesn’t make us a Christian, it is our total heart surrender to Him and the evidence of that is our faith and how we live it out in our everyday lives. We are to be committed to Him, not to be just a Christian, but a CHRIST FOLLOWER! Many say they are Christians just because they believe there is a God, but they never open a Bible, go to church or act in a way that reflects that belief. To be a Christ follower requires a relationship with Him.

5. Real faith is something you do. Real faith is about our lifestyle! James 2:20 says, “How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (NLT) Real faith requires us to be Christ-like! Our actions prove that we are living for God. Works are not a requirement for salvation, rather they are a proof of salvation, they are a fruit of salvation. My Pastor pointed out that works don’t make us a Christian, but they show that we are one. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through grace, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” (KJV)

The important thing to remember is that the basis or our salvation is God’s grace! Pastor said that the proof of our salvation is our ministry, and that ministry is to serve God by serving others.

For me, I feel God has given me the ministry of music mainly, and more recently He has given me this blog as an avenue to also minister to those who read it. That avenue can be just by what He lays upon my heart and I put on paper, or through my Bible Journaling. My hope is that when people read my blog that it will always point them to Jesus as the answer for everything.