Thursday, October 31, 2013

Battles Brewing and Worn Out Knee Pads

As I have been working through Pricilla Shirer's study of Gideon, many battlefields surrounding me have come to light; battlefields where the enemy is working overtime to discourage and defeat those who trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ. 

People struggling are everywhere; families experiencing hurt and heartache, friends fighting terminal illnesses, debilitating stress, others drowning in the swells of financial debt. You don't have to look far to see how Satan is seeking after those whom he desires to kill and destroy. Satan knows that if we belong to Christ, he can't have us, but he will do everything in his power to steal our joy and our influence of leading others to Christ.

Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. " (John 10:10 NKJV)

So what do we do to prepare for and win the spiritual battles brewing all around? 

Pray!  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have against the relentless enemy.  Knee pads are a must in the believer's armor attire. 

Pray for strength, courage, boldness, more faith, perseverance, and for the Holy Spirit to fight for you.  Remember the battle is the LORD'S!

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.(I John 4:4 NKJV)

Fight!  Fight with the Sword- the Word of God! When Scripture is spoken, Satan flees.  He cannot stand up to the truth of God's Word. Our minds are a huge battlefield where deadly darts of doubt and fear are hurled. The Word battles those darts, shields and protects, and guides our minds back to the truth of who we are in Christ. OVERCOMERS.

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NKJV)

Using God's own words to battle the enemy is the purest and most potent form of fighting, because you can't go wrong using God's own words.

Win!  Living for Christ is winning!  If there's anything Satan wants to do when he hurls his arrows of defeat our way, it is to keep us from moving forward, growing, maturing, and becoming more like Christ. Giving God the glory as we press on infuriates the evil one. Living for Christ in the midst of hurts, disappointments, illnesses, and any other disheartening circumstances is where the radiance of God shines through the most.  It's what encourages and drives others to battle harder, to pray more, to fight, to stand against the enemy, and to NEVER GIVE UP!

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells His disciples a parable of the persistent widow to teach them to pray always and to never give up. (NIV)

What are you battling today?  Jesus knows it hurts.He knows it's hard. He's been there and He understands. He loves you and cares about you!  As His child, He is stretching you and molding you into someone who battles well against the evil one. Stay the course, stay in the race, and stay grounded in the truth.  Keep the faith and WIN! It's worth every pair of worn out knee pads! 

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Over 900 and Still Counting

I'm a celebrator of life and I love birthdays!  I love to celebrate people's lives and make them feel special. Many people I know, though, seem to want to stop counting after a certain age. But why? Every single day, every single moment, every single breath is a gift...

a gift from God.

Yesterday was my 51st birthday. Yes, I'm telling my age. Many family and friends made me feel special through cards, gifts, dinner, FB messages, and I couldn't be more grateful for the precious people God has placed in my life. Life is worth celebrating! 

God is the Architect of our life design.  He specifically and intentionally crafted each of us with intricate details which only belong to us - our fingerprint, our voice, our body's DNA, all are unique to each person.  No two are exactly alike, just like snowflakes.

How we were formed in the secret place and how we came into this world were sifted through the sovereign fingers of God.  He knew the circumstances, good and bad. But no matter how we were conceived or how we arrived, the fact remains...God designed us. We are His creation. Life itself is one huge blessing.

I'm praising and counting more blessings today (over 900 now in my Euchraristeo Gifts Journal) as God has given me another year to celebrate.  I pray you are counting too.  The more we count, the more grateful our hearts become.  What are you waiting for?  Let's celebrate today!

"For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."
 
"My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them."
 
Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV
 
My Pleasure,
Melanie



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Purah Patience ...Gideon Week 4

This week's lesson about Gideon reveals one of God's most wonderful characteristics; His long-suffering; patience. God displays His patience with Gideon and with us to lead us to a place of bold faith and fearlessness to accomplish what He's called us to do.

Several times during Gideon's encounters with God before the battle at hand, Gideon needs reassurance that God is going to do what God said He would do - WIN!  The Midianite army, too numerous to count, will be delivered into the hands of Gideon and the Israelite army of only 300.

First, God's patience is displayed when Gideon asks for the fleece and dew test.

Read Judges 6:34-40.

Even though Gideon asks again for God to perform the fleece test in reverse, God demonstrates great patience with Gideon and fulfills his request. God reiterates that the Midianites will be delivered into his hands.

Again, as God gives Gideon instructions, He also offers Gideon more reassurance if he is still afraid.  That assurance comes in the form of a companion, a servant named Purah.

Read Judges 7:9-15.

Purah is another picture of God's patience. By allowing him to go with Gideon to spy on the enemy camp at night, just Purah's presence was encouragement for Gideon.  The most fascinating part of the story is that God has Gideon and Purah end up outside of a tent (out of 1000s of tents to come upon) where the enemy is talking about Gideon and what they are thinking.

A dream is being interpreted inside the tent. As one man interprets the dream told to him by the other man, God allows Gideon to hear his name, and the name of his father, spoken by the enemy. The soldier interpreting said the dream was a clear picture that they should be afraid of Gideon and his army because "God has delivered Midian and the whole camp." (Judges 7:14 NKJV)  God was already placing fear in the minds and hearts of the enemy even before the battle had begun, setting the stage for Gideon's defeat of the Midianites. This reassurance empowered Gideon!

Gideon's immediate act of fearless obedience was to bow and worship Yahweh. (7:15)

Then he heads back to camp. He shouts to his soldiers, "Get up!" He lays out the battle plan and they do as they are told.  God's long suffering patience has transformed a fearful leader into a fearless leader.  He now believes that God is God and will do as He says.  He's ready to move forward.

How has God shown patience with you?  Do you need some reassuring that God is who He says He is to follow Him whole heartedly in what He's asking you to do? 

We have so much more today to reassure us than those in the Bible. We have stories of heroes and heroines of the faith in God's complete, divine Word, and we have our own personal stories of faith to draw from. Gideon had only been taught the teachings of an idol named Baal.  He didn't know God like you and I can know Him.  He was learning about this fully engaged God from scratch, and God knew He needed lots of reassuring to move forward.

If we need something extra, God knows that too and will deliver that reassurance to us.  It may come in the form of a friend, like Purah, who has traveled our journey with us and has seen God work in powerful ways.  It may be in the form of a Scripture that God brings to mind, a sermon, or just His sweet voice in our ear to reveal a little more boldness to help us take the step of fearless faith.  He loves us too much to let us walk alone. He is patient!  He is compassionate!

Priscilla Shirer asks us to examine areas where we are fearful in something God has asked us to do. Take some time to evaluate what you need to take that next step in being fully obedient.  God may have already given you everything you need and you just need to do it.  Or, He may be waiting for you to ask Him to help you to have a fearless faith as He reassures you that He is with you every step of the way.

My Pleasure,
Melanie

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Less Was Best! Gideon - Week 3

An Israeli army revved up and eager to go.  32,000 strong!

But are they really ready?

God tells Gideon to give each soldier the opportunity to leave if they're afraid. (Judges 7:3)

22,000 turn around and go back home. 10,000 remain.

Have you ever felt like you've been left by the multitudes to move forward with the few or even go it alone to complete the task God has called you to?  Well, Gideon lost a large number of soldiers that day to fear; soldiers that he considered a plus in his column to defeat the Midianites. But God's strength and power doesn't need our resources to accomplish His will.  In fact, when Gideon counted the ones who stayed, God said there were still too many!

Too many?  Gideon needed all the help he could get.  Why would God say there are still too many soldiers?  Back up and read Judges 7:2. God did not want Gideon or anybody else to take any credit for the victory He intends to give the Israelites.  God was going to prove His faithfulness and His power again by defeating a large enemy with an unlikely leader and just a very small army. So he told Gideon to send more of the men home. In fact, when all was said and done, Gideon had only 300 men left. The odds quickly went from 4:1 to 450:1. YIKES!

God takes His glory seriously and we should never seek credit for any accomplishments. It always amazes me though as to how we even think we could, but we often do. 

Priscilla Shirer teaches a Biblical principle which says: We would never UNLOCK the door to the Divine's strength without the KEY of weakness. (Gideon study, page 70)

Don't put stock in your resources today. Instead, take stock in the Source of  all strength and power, Jesus Christ. In our weakness, He is strong!  Boast in Christ alone.

If God is for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NKJV)

My Pleasure,
Melanie