What A Mess

What A Mess by Kim Spahr

This has been the most difficult post to write. It’s partly because my desk is a mess and it’s partly because I am not quite at home in my office.  I have been here 3 years now and it still doesn’t feel like me.

On my desk is stuff. There really isn’t any room for a cup of tea.  I tried to start organizing this place but it hasn’t happened. There are pictures of my precious granddaughter that I don’t know what to do with and cards that my children have sent me for special occasions filled with sweet words they have written to me that I don’t know what to do with. I can’t keep them forever.  There is also a stack of DVDs that I have gotten a “good deal” on through the Friends of the Library that are not downstairs by our TV because I haven’t found the right kind of baskets that I want to store them in. People would argue I don’t even need to keep them because of Netflix (which I am totally out of the loop with). There are receipts that I thought I should keep that are obviously outdated by now.  My office needs a redo.

God says He can still speak to me in the midst of my mess.  My mess frustrates me and when I come home from work I don’t want to deal with mess. But we all have to deal with it sooner or later.  How about you? Is there a part of your life that is a mess that you don’t know quite how to deal with yet and the mess is driving your crazy?  Isn’t it so great that God can still talk to us in the midst of our mess and that things don’t have to be perfectly in place? Our lives don’t have to be perfect either for us to hear Him. Don’t think for a second that you have to get everything in order (be it a physical, emotional, or spiritual mess) before you can sit down and talk to God. The fact is He is always with us. Emmanuel. God with us.  That is His name. The world was a mess when He came as a babe and the world is a mega mess today and still He is here in the midst of it all. Hallelujah!

There’s a time to deal with mess (I am going to deal with my office this coming Saturday).  There is a time to be still in the midst of mess and know that He is Lord. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, there has been a mess of some type and there will be until Jesus returns. We need His peace and it can only be found in Him. Take some time to rest in this coming holiday season and listen to Him talk to you.  It’s the holiday season that brings life to autumn and winter but boy how it can “come like a lion and go out like a lion” and we’re left drained and exhausted and needing a couple of days off from life to recuperate. Let’s take our cue from the seasons (and the bears) and rest.

My life verse is Matthew 11: 28, 29.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

The Amplified Bible defines rest as relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?  So let’s take some time acknowledging the presence of the living God with us and feel His peace enter our beings in every situation (I can feel the calm come over me just writing about it). Let Jesus lead you beside the still waters and restore your soul (Psalm 23).  Do you notice the word “rest” in “restore”? Hmmmmm……

Now there is a balance. There is a time to rest and a time to work.  Looking at my office I am either too busy or resting too much. Hmmmm.  Proverbs warns us numerous times about being slothful. Only you and the Lord know if it is one or the other. This mess isn’t going to disappear just by itself, but I do believe the Lord will give me ideas as I take time to give it to Him of how to organize all those pictures and what to throw away and what to keep.  He will help you to either get through the mess or to unravel it with His peace and strength. Hallelujah! He is good!

May the reality, the experience of the presence of God with you, Emmanuel, be inside of you this holiday season.  May you know the peace that passes all understanding. May joy of having Jesus as Your Savior fill you to overflowing. Amen!

Hearing the Written

Hearing the Written by Pastor Janna Plummer

I love texting. As a mom of 3 very energetic boys, I love being able to read a note someone sends me and respond when I have a second. Answering a phone, on the other hand, is nightmare. Did you know that children’s brains get remarkably clearer as soon as a phone rings? And at that moment, their desire to learn from your capable hands is overwhelming and therefore, they MUST ask every question that has ever entered their brain.  Yep, phone calls are awful.

The down side to texting, though, is that you can’t hear tone. You have no idea what inflection the other person is using or how they meant to say what they were saying.  It is a potential trap; hearing whatever we want to hear instead of the heart of the other person.

How many arguments have arisen out of a misunderstood text or email? How many hurts are buried in our hearts from a text or email that came out wrong?  

The same is true for the Word of God.  It is the WRITTEN word, open to interpretation with no tone or inflection. It can be read in any way that speaks to our hearts, which can be wonderful.

Unfortunately, that also means that when we read it, it can come out as harsh and unloving.  We hear the tone we are expect to hear or the inflections we hear every day, or in ways we would expect.

You are to set up boundaries all around the mountain and tell the people, “Be careful that you do not cross the boundaries and go up on the mountain or even touch the edge of it. If anyone so much as touches the mountain, he should be put to death. 13 No one is to touch the person or animal who crosses the boundary; stone them or shoot them with arrows but do not touch them. It doesn’t matter whether it is a human or an animal, it must be put to death.” But when they hear the long blast of the ram’s horn, then they are permitted to make their way up on the mountain.  Exodus 19:12-13 The Voice

At first, this sounded so harsh to me.  Don’t do this or die!! It’s just touching a mountain!! What is the big deal?

But then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the loving statement this truly was.  It wasn’t a task master commanding his people to obey every command, it was a loving Father warning his children against dangers.

The Israelites were new to this relationship with God and didn’t fully understand how it all worked. They didn’t understand that the God of Heaven was a God of mercy and JUSTICE.  

This mountain was God’s dwelling place, holy and sacred. If anything touched it that was unclean, and as a Holy God, He HAD to deal with it.  When we approach God, ALL of us is laid bare before Him. He must respond to what He sees. If our sins are not covered, God will give His judgement.  

Approaching that mountain unclean is asking for it.  But thanks to Jesus, He provided a way for all our sins to not only be covered but forgiven and removed so we can approach our Father in heaven.

So as parents, we want to warn our children not to run into the streets or play with sharp knives. We are not being unkind, we are trying to keep them safe.  And the same way, it was a loving Father trying to teach His children. It wasn’t mean, it wasn’t controlling, it was help.

As you read the Bible, what are you hearing? Are you hearing a controlling voice that being sounds like it’s being overbearing? Or are you hearing your loving Father trying to help you from things you don’t see yet?  

This week, I encourage you to seek out God’s heart for you so that you may hear how much He loves you!

How High?

How High? By Linda Heath

Thoughts from the Sermon on Sunday 9/2/18, Restoration Church, David Meyer

Have you ever heard the phrase, “When I say ‘JUMP’, on the way up you ask, ‘How high?'” I’ve never heard the version that has ‘on the way up’ inserted. That changed it a little bit so I didn’t have the full knee-jerk reaction I typically would have had. I have negative associations with this and wasn’t too thrilled to have the sermon start there. But I stopped to ask what God was telling me, or what He wanted to change in me, or what negativity I needed to release and let go. I was even prepared for tears, which usually seem to accompany the healing and letting go process.

But then I felt Him smile and He said, gently, “When I say ‘JUMP’ on your way UP (abiding in ME) ask Me how high you get to go! And I’ll take you higher than you ever dreamed!”

Wow. Loved. No condemnation. He was actually smiling! (Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do!) This really turned the whole idea upside down! The old message was “Do as I say, do it now, don’t question me and be quick about it”; filled with threat and condemnation. “Obedience is your duty! If you don’t obey you are SO in trouble!” Instead, this is an invitation; a beckoning. Obedience, rather than being drudgery, is the open doorway to The Great God Adventure! Come on up! Go higher!

Leave those things behind that hinder you, the sin or disobedience that tries to throw a rope around your ankle and hold you down. Kick it off! Step into the largeness of His love, revel in His peace, and jump in His joy. Find your purpose in His great heart, step into your authority as His child, and experience His life-changing power.

Explore your full inheritance. Expect the unexpected; expect great things from a God who challenges the imagination! Do you want to settle for safe? Settle into the known? Not me. Not any more. I don’t want to settle for anything less than what He’s willing to give me, all that Jesus died to provide. All of it!

Take me higher! I’m not holding back.

Did I hear “Jump”? Here I come, Lord, catch me!

There is Hope for the Hurting

There is Hope for the Hurting by Jill Roleke

There is something about attending your younger brother’s funeral that makes a person do some heavy thinking.  When that death was a suicide the thinking becomes even more intense and the questions are numerous.

In my way of thinking, the one thing my brother lacked was hope.  Hope that things could be better. Hope that there was a way out of despair.  Hope that the future held good things. Hope that God could take the ashes of his life and make beauty from it.  Without hope, life has no meaning. There is no reason to go on or to live from day to day.

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) it says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  I believe the word hope comes first in that verse because without hope we have no future.

If only there was a way to make everyone see that hope exists at all times. There is a God who loves us and He is all the hope we need.  He offers us hope not only for this life but in the life yet to come. We have the hope of living with Him for all eternity.

I have never been without hope in my life but reading Jeremiah 29:11 makes my hope grow. It tells me that God doesn’t just want me to have good things in my life, but that He has planned for them.  They may not be what I am experiencing right now but they will come if I trust in my God.

I want to give hope to those who are hurting.  To give them something to cling to when they are being hounded by the enemy of our souls.  Without hope there is no weapon to fight against the lies he plants in our minds.

Hope brings light to the darkness.  It is a lifeboat when we are set adrift.  It is something we can hold onto until rescue comes.

This is my prayer for all, directly from Romans 15:13 (NLT), “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

My Hope

My Hope by Dave Meyer

I want you to take just a moment to consider something before you read on. Answer this question: What is the worst thing that could happen to you ever?

What did you think about? An auto accident? Perhaps a terrible illness or unfulfilled dreams? However, I want you to think eternally. What could possibly be the worst thing that could ever happen to you?

In my devotions recently, this passage struck me:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

–Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

I know these blogs are meant to be an encouragement to the readers. In this passage today, what appears to be a sharp discouragement and a warning to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, is a word of encouragement to those who have ears to listen.

In the Essential Guide to Healing by Clark and Johnson, Bill Johnson affirms that all gifts of the Spirit MUST be used in a motivation of love. What Jesus is saying to us today is simply this– are we working for God in a motivation and spirit of love? In our “Dare to Listen” class Pastor Debbie has emphasized the same thing. We must walk and operate the gifts in love.

If you reread the verse above, you will see that these people had been doing great works in Jesus’ name but Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Don’t you wonder how they could be doing miracles in the name of Jesus and not be known to Jesus? I do. Especially considering Luke 9:49-50 (ESV) says, “John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.’”

Therefore, the harsh words Jesus spoke about the ones who were doing great works in His name have not been operating in love, rather they are proud of their ability and doing it for their own good and not for the Kingdom of God.

They have taken the good things of God and like the people of the Old Testament used them for their own self-interest. You ask, is that possible? Yes, we have seen it in our lifetime, someone has been used of God and falls into sin, the work they did was not pleasing to God and He caused it to fall apart.

Now you are saying, “That is supposed to encourage me!?” YES! All of us are human and being tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. But there is a way to overcome the temptations. When they come remind, yourself the Word of God which says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV), “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God has promised us that He will help us! His Spirit will guide us and protect us so that we can hear “Well done good and faithful servant, . . . enter into the Joy of your Master.” Matthew 25:21 (ESV).

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest by Pastor John Kitterman

I pulled the covers up over my head as I rolled over in bed.  I was painfully aware of the sun streaming in the window attempting to poke my eyes and sear my face.  The sun represented another beautiful day and I wanted nothing to do with it. I dragged my exhausted body out of bed and immediately sought my morning energy drink.  Shortly after I finished the drink, it began to mask the low-grade exhaustion that had become normal for me. Life seemed to be pointing out my bodies fallibility.

We experience life in seasons and in this particular season, I thought my schedule and responsibilities were more manageable than in the previous season, so I was looking forward to less exhaustion.  Instead of feeling better I continued to feel tired. Looking back, it’s all very clear that I was simply overdue for rest.

It is 100% true that we are called to rest, yet I neglected that rest in the name of necessity and kingdom.  But rather than add the burden of guilt to me, God reminded me of a new covenant relationship that He made possible to us.  Jesus did not destroy the old covenant, rather He fulfilled it and made a new covenant. Under the new covenant we are not only forgiven but we become adopted sons and daughters.  The picture of adoption is that our old self is made dead and a new self is born into the family of God.

Jesus said, “All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him. Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

There is such a completeness of Jesus’ declaration that all things are entrusted to Him that it’s so encouraging that the part He passes on to us is an easy yoke and a light burden.  The context of His words are in relation to the dozens and dozens of burdensome rules the religious leaders of the day had placed on the people. Jesus replaced the burden of the law with the invitation of relationship.  

So when I consider my life, its priorities, and rhythms, in light of Jesus’ words, I hear an invitation.  It’s an invitation to spend time with Him. Just like Jesus made His way away from the crowds to seek an audience with God, we are invited to make our way away from the many cares of this world and seek the face of Jesus through praise, pray, and silence. Not as a burden like a heavy yoke but as an invitation to have more relationship with Jesus.

As I honor Jesus by resting and seeking His face, He is faithful to meet me and commune with me.  And the result is that the more I rest, the more vision I have. The more I sit quietly, the more I hear from heaven.  The more I praise the, more alive I feel. The more I honor God in this process, the more I align myself with God’s principles, the more I see His hand released in me and through me.

Accept Jesus’ invitation to rest in Him today!