Walk In Newness

As we end our 21-Day Fast today, let me challenge you with the words of Isaiah and our word for Restoration Church in 2018!

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

-Isaiah 43:18-19

Several years ago, I spoke on these verses at a weekend retreat.  I always liked the idea of God turning the deserts of my life into streams and making a way out of the wilderness, but truthfully, I never really understood why we had to forget the former things.  I mean, all throughout the Old Testament He instructed His people to place Remembrance Stones and make alters of Remembrance so those who passed by them would not forget.  He even told His disciples in the New Testament to, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” as they partook of communion together.  So, aren’t we supposed to remember the former things?

As I researched these verses there were several things that stood out to me as to why we needed to “forget the former things and not dwell on the past.”

God was asking the Israelites to re-focus their eyes.  Not to completely forget what He’s done but to look forward for Him doing something new, and be expectant in the new thing.

Why?

Because if they didn’t, they would miss what He was about to do. Yes, they were in captivity again, but this time was different. This was a new time, a new desert, and a new exodus for His people. The past miracles were nothing compared to what God wanted to do for them and they are nothing compared to what He wants to do in our future!

Many of us get stuck in the past by focusing on our mistakes and all that went wrong.  Some of us get stuck in the past by focusing on how great it was and want to relive our “glory days” and all that went right.  The truth is, we must be careful not to miss what God wants to do by dwelling on the past whether good or bad.  If we are continually looking behind we will miss it because we cannot see where we are going or where God is leading us. If we are ever going to move on to new things in Christ we must learn that, we cannot depend upon our past victories to sustain us.

We must forget the former things and instead, we must move forward with expectancy.  We must believe Big, and we must exercise our faith.  Testimonies of what God has done increase our faith to believe He will do it again, and He will.  But God does not repeat Himself exactly the same in every miraculous situation.  When we read the stories and testimonies of the times Jesus healed, not one is the same.  Each time, it was a different and unique experience, because God is alive and each one of us is unique.  God loves to move in fresh new ways.  He wants us to be on the lookout for what He will do next because it won’t be like the last time. God doesn’t want to us to stay focused on what He did, He wants us to look forward to what He will do next. He is always looking to do a new thing.

This year God has charged Restoration Church and those who are part of our family to “Walk in Newness!”  If we are going to get anywhere in our spiritual life we must understand that, we cannot live on yesterday’s faith and provision, it will only take us so far.  Instead, look to God – He wants to do a NEW THING!

Are you ready to look ahead and no longer focus or dwell on the things in the past?

Father God, we are ready to leave our past bondage and captivity behind.  Help us to refocus our eyes onto You. We look to You with an expectancy for You to do a New thing in us, for us and through us.  Our eyes are focused on You and we are ready for Your Holy Spirit to move.  Come God, and do a New Thing!

Planting Seeds of Encouragement and Revival

We have opportunities every day to encourage people and plant seeds of revival all around us in our sphere of influence.  I am asking The Lord to open my eyes to these opportunities.  It’s exciting to see what happens!  I look at it like a treasure hunt with the treasures all around us in plain sight.  We just need the right mind set of expectation to see them.

Yesterday I went into a store to make a specific purchase.  While waiting in line at the check stand, I heard the clerk say to some people in front of me.  “I ‘m so tired today.  I only work a 4 hour shift, but I’m ready to go home, and take a nap; maybe I need a Snickers bar.”  The candy display was right in front of me and, yes, there were snicker bars on it; I added a Snickers bar to my purchase.  

After completing my purchase I handed the Snickers bar to the clerk and said, “this is for you.”  She took the bar and turned around quickly.  When she turned back I could see tears in her eyes.  She said, so sweetly, “you made me cry, thank you.”  It blessed me as well to know such a small act of kindness could touch someone’s heart.  I believe she was touched in her heart to know someone heard and cared enough to acknowledge her.  Jesus wants to do that through us!

We are planting seeds of revival within people as we encourage them with words and deeds of kindness.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Let’s use our God given authority and release the power of life to all those around us; friends, family and strangers.  As we do this it brings life and hope within, reviving God’s love in our hearts, paving the way for revival in our communities, states and nations!

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making it possible for everyone to have Your life within and release it to those around.  Show us the opportunities we have each day and give us the tenacity to step out of our comfort zones to plant seeds of revival and encouragement!

 

 

 

Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

Fasting was not something that I had grown up with in church because I didn’t grow up in a traditional Christian home.  Following scripture was not exactly a daily occurrence in our house growing up.  I knew that fasting was in the Bible but the big read in my mind was, Cool! A boy could only be delivered through prayer and fasting!  Fun to read but I wasn’t planning on going into a deliverance ministry!  

As I continued to walk with Jesus, what I found was fasting is a part of the walk and when it’s done, so many things start to happen.  The discipline and focus on the Lord brings us to a place where we see Jesus move in our lives in a way we couldn’t before.  This could take us down so many roads on the benefits but I want to talk about the times when I fasted and nothing seemed to move.  That’s the part that can be difficult and something I experienced during last year’s fast.

Nothing was moving last year like I had seen in prior years.  My attitude wasn’t great!  My motivation to do the fast was low.  It’s like that old saying, “I could walk under a snakes belly with a top hat and never hit the belly!”  I actually spent a lot of time whining to the Lord about it.  Not exactly the picture of maturity, but there it was.

In spite of my whining and “feelings” on the fast, the Lord was so good to remind me that He was there and He knew I wasn’t feeling the spiritual mountaintop high.  He very gently reminded me of 1 Samuel 15:22b, “obedience is better than sacrifice.”  It was at that point that His love poured over me and my attitude started to change.  Now life didn’t change in a blink of the eye but 2017 became a year of change and strength that I would have never know about or seen if I hadn’t stayed the course of the fast.  

I want to encourage you to stay the course.  Step out and engage in the fast.  Your commitment in yielding to the things of God sets in motion amazing things that you cannot yet begin to understand and comprehend!

Go North

A few months ago, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I came across a scripture that I had never paid attention to. It was Deuteronomy 2:3 and it is now my life verse.

Deut. 2:3 (NAS) “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north,”

Something about this verse resonated deep within me. I had been circling this mountain (this thing that God told me to do) but unwilling to climb it, unwilling to obey, even though I knew I had to. God used this verse as a gentle nudge to place me back into the right direction.

One of the most beautiful things about God is that He knows every part of me. He knows my fears, my worries, my strengths. Everything. And He knows exactly what you need in this time of fasting and prayer just like He knew what I needed; this scripture, this nudge. It was not a slap or an angry reprimand like I anticipate. It was soft, it was gentle. I can easily imagine Him in this moment with me. His eyes so impossibly gentle and He softly whispers to me, “It’s okay, I forgive you. But you can’t stay here.”

One of the most beautiful things about God is that He knows every part of me. He knows my fears, my worries, my strengths. Everything. And He knows exactly what you need in this time of fasting and prayer. He knows that it can be scary to step out, yet He asks that of us. He asks that we trust Him and His process.

What has God asked you to do? Have you been afraid of climbing the mountain? Take a moment with God and repent for disobeying Him, because as Pastor Debbie says, delayed obedience is still disobedience. Take that moment and ask God to show you the next steps and then take them! Step out, climb the mountain. Go North!

Over Expected and Under Delivered

My word for 2017 was Health and Wellness for my family and myself. Ironically it has been everything but. As we wind up 2017, I am at my lowest and my sickest-ever. I had a dream last week about a woman who had been waiting for some answers in her life, including a drawing she had entered. When she perceived that it had been long enough that she would’ve been notified if had she won the drawing, she sighed and said, “Oh well,” and erased her cyber entry.

At that very moment the judges of the contest were gathering her information to notify her that she had won the grand prize when “poof,” her entry disappeared! Though they scrambled frantically and tried to recover the data, it was too late. The choice was made for them and there was nothing left to do but redraw for a new winner.

I couldn’t help but wonder how often do we do this to God? We pull back at the last second, tired of waiting for an answer and take ourselves out of the running. We make a decision based on impatience and remove our entry just when we were about to receive the ultimate blessing. We snatch the victory out of God’s hands right at the moment of delivery when we predetermine we did not receive an answer. We need to be patient and wait on God’s timing, never growing weary as we trust that He has untold riches awaiting us if we will just leave the choice to Him and patiently wait for the results. I want the grand prize, not the consolation prize.

As I woke up and scribbled down this dream, I wrote down the title Over Expected and Under Delivered. I think God was trying to tell me not to give up and not to believe the lie that He wasn’t answering His promise to me. Especially since I do not perceive His timing.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

-2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV)

The truth is that I have no idea why it is taking so long to see the fulfillment of the promise that I believe God gave me at the beginning of the year. This does not negate the promise, in fact, I believe it is exactly why it is taking so long because I need to have faith and believe.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

-Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

Waiting is one of the most difficult things we do.  We must wait for the Lord and wait on His timing.  To move ahead of God’s divine timing is to take matters into our own hands.  To be behind God’s timing is to miss His blessings.  We must have the wisdom to wait patiently.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

-Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Much like the eagle, we can soar above our problems or through life’s storms knowing that as we do, so it is the Lord himself who will restore strength to us.

Psalm 103:2-4 (ESV) is also resonating within me, “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

You may not be struggling with a health issue in this New Year, which is wonderful, but you may have something else you are waiting to hear from God about.  Join me in patiently waiting on answers from God, as we trust in His ultimate timing.  My prayer for you is that you do not become weary while waiting to hear your answer and that you do not pull your entry at the precise moment that you won!

 

Use Me God, Use Me

How often have we asked God to use us? Use me God, Use me. I’m sure God hears those words more than we can count. Do we really mean it though? Or is it just something we say without thinking it through. We so often say the words but in reality we don’t want the work that it involves.

What exactly am I saying here? Are we willing to go out of our way to do something that may even seem insignificant to us?  Our lives are busy and we all have our routines that we don’t really want interrupted. I say, allow ourselves the interruption. Allow ourselves to step out of our bubbles and maybe make ourselves a little uncomfortable.

In Acts chapter 4, the Bible tells us that the believers were of one heart and soul. They shared everything. That is sacrifice. I’m sure that it was not easy for many of them to give all. In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about those who gave to the hungry, visited the sick, and clothed the naked. In other words, they went out of their way to help others. They took time out of their day and gave of their resources. They allowed God to use them instead of just saying words.

It doesn’t have to be hard. It might be as simple as making a friend of someone instead of just greeting them at church. Taking the time out of our busy schedules to get to know someone. You never know what a blessing that might be. Not only to them but to yourself as well.

If we would open our eyes and look around, I think we would see so many things that we could do. A little inconvenience won’t hurt. Stretching ourselves is good for us. A small sacrifice can go far. A neighbor might appreciate a visit or a plate of cookies. An older relative might need a ride to an appointment. A lonely person would surely love a phone call. The possibilities are endless. We don’t need some great revelation from God to be used. We simply need a willing heart. For today’s 21-Day Fast, I encourage you to meet Jesus in the secret place of your heart and allow Him to soften the unyielding areas that cause you to shrink back from saying Use Me.