Devotion, Fasting, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 9: “The Holy Spirit Speaks.”

god-of-hopeWhen Jesus’ ministry on earth was finished and he rose from the grave to be seated with God in heaven for all eternity, he sent a helper for you in the Holy Spirit. You have hope and can access power because of this gift. The Holy Spirit comes to guide you and provide wisdom. If there’s something specific you’re praying about, trust his presence in your life.

Weigh your options against the word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to confirm through scripture what you’re seeking. Speak to someone you trust who has a close relationship to God and ask him or her to pray about your situation too. Lastly, be led by peace. If you’re unsure of something and do not have peace, the Holy Spirit isn’t guiding you that direction. At times, you take a step of faith into the unknown and you may not have all the answers; but you should have peace.

Our beautiful helpmate, the Holy Spirit, nudges us when we need to know something about our kids. He might bring someone to mind for whom you need to pray or ring. He is faithful with revelation so you aren’t in the dark. If you trust the Holy Spirit, you never have to fear. Listen closely for him as you continue your time of fasting.

Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day SIX

Read Mark 4:26-29 (NLT)

Everyday you spend time in God’s word, in prayer and meditation on what He is speaking to you, a deposit is occurring in your spirit. Your “account” is growing in value and future withdrawals will be possible. You will be able to withdraw knowledge about who God is and how he works next time you’re tested and tempted to doubt him. You will be able to take out a large amount of TRUTH to combat any lies the enemy throws your way.

As you make small daily investments, it’s virtually un-noticeable. Just like a savings account earning interest: if you check it everyday, you might not realise it’s actually changing. But over time, you can look up and see progress.

God is actually supernaturally at work on your behalf. Just like the farmer doesn’t understand how his sowing seed actually produces a harvest (the earth produces the crop on its own), the evidence in your life will come because of God’s miraculous touch on your life.

Maybe you’re at the stage where the seed is in the ground and you see/feel nothing? Or, you’re watering daily and you can see a sprout but it feels tiny and insignificant? I encourage you to keep investing! Soon, you will see fruit from the internal work God has done. A harvest is surely on its way if you continue to give God something to work with.

Jesus, I commit to investing daily in my relationship with you. This year, I want to reap a supernatural harvest in my spiritual life. Take what I’m giving you in time, meditation on your word, and prayer and do something to change me from the inside out. I ask that my life and influence be enlarged because of the out- working of my private life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Australia, Faith, God Speaks, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Too Good to Be True

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  How many times have I heard this, said this, and even believed this throughout my life?  Because of disappointments early on, I developed a habit of lowering my expectations as a way of protecting myself from getting hurt or let down.  If something great came across my path, I hesitated to embrace it; if it didn’t come the hard way, I thought I didn’t deserve for it to come.  Then, once something good DID happen, I would expect it to fall apart.

I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, as they say.

The option of praying and seeking God in my situations rarely crossed my mind.

The longer I walk with God, the more he has debunked this warped negative thinking.  A healthy relationship with my Creator means TRUSTING Him and EXPECTING Him to show up with answers when I need Him.  Jesus, who’s not too good to be true, rather, who IS TRUTH, sets before me a path for success.  According to Matthew 7, when we seek, we will find.  If we ask for bread, God will not give us a stone.  He gives good gifts to his children.  He doesn’t put forth pie in the sky, pipe dreams or people in order to tease us or to set us up for failure.

I’m not suggesting we act on every whim or that we use poor judgement and then expect God to bail us out when we get into trouble.  What I AM suggesting is that when we are walking closely with the Lord and praying for him to act in certain areas, we shouldn’t hesitate to trust him when he comes through with a solution.  No matter what it is.  Sometimes he comes with an answer quickly, and other times we have to wait patiently.  Often, his answer requires obedience in a difficult area or it may have consequences we do not like, but we can ALWAYS trust him.

The key to knowing whether what is before us is from God or not is learning SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT. 1 Cor 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Moving to Australia, selling our business, and starting over our “careers” with no promise of income seems nuts to the natural man.  What we are doing in a city that many would say already has enough churches seems foolish to some folks.  But we KNOW that we have heard from God.  What has been discerned in the spirit causes us to keep pressing forward, knowing God will build his church and what seems “too good to be true” in my dreams is actually vision from God that he has placed in my heart.  Instead of staying comfortable in my “former life” and being afraid to step out for fear of failure, we went for it!
I’m not waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I’m expecting God to do more than I can even ask, think or imagine according to Ephesians 3:20.  Whatever you are seeking God for in your life, I pray you will not only trust Him to speak to you and guide you, but that you will EXPECT Him to do the miraculous through you.
Australia, Faith, God Speaks, Uncategorized

Learning to Drive

Yesterday was my first time driving our Nissan X Trail that we just purchased in Australia.  We found a really great deal and bought it off the internet!  I never did a test drive, leaving that to Greg.  See, I have a confession: I’m scared to drive in Australia.  First of all, the traffic drives on the opposite side of the road to America.  The actual steering wheel is on the right side of the car as well.

Everything about driving here is counterintuitive to me.  I’m looking over my right shoulder when turning right only there are no cars coming from that direction.  They are coming towards me in the lane to my right!  There are traffic circles everywhere and I have to pay attention to stay in my lane and give way to traffic on the right as I use them.  Then, there’s the blinker.  It’s located where I’m normally turning on windscreen wipers in a rainstorm.  So, instead of cleaning the glass each time I need to turn, I find myself concentrating very hard just to flick them with the proper hand when I need to signal.

As we are living in a small country town with Greg’s family until our furniture arrives and we settle in Newcastle, I decided it’s a good place to practice my driving.  We went into town to the Medicare office and to the beach, only about a 15 minute drive. Luckily, I didn’t have to parallel park and pulled straight into a spot.  I had Greg at my side, the left, no doubt, as I was driving and he was a great help to me.  He kept reminding me where to look and encouraging me that I was doing great.  My oldest son, Brett, said when we arrived back home, “Mom, I know a sign that you did well: we are all still alive!”  Thanks for the encouragement, son.

I found myself dreading every turn and traffic signal and wondering how long it would take me to get used to this.  There will be a day that driving will be second nature just like it was in America.  After practice in different cities, day and night, heavy traffic and light, I know I’ll wake up one day and know that I can do it and won’t second guess myself anymore.

It’s much the same with God when we have just given him the steering wheel of our lives.  If we have always been a worry wart, it feels odd to suddenly surrender control and trust a God we can’t even see with our present and future decisions.  Going to God in prayer feels unnatural when we have been seeking our own common sense our whole lives.

To step out in faith feels scary at first.  We can find ourselves looking over our shoulder for impending threats.  Even using new “Christian lingo” feels odd like putting on a pair of shoes that haven’t quite molded to our feet.  At every turn we wonder if God is really there.  Before we truly know the voice of God in our lives, we have to rely on mentors to help guide us.  We must make a concerted effort to trust and believe what we are being taught.  Like using a GPS to help us drive, we must form new habits that will guide our Christian walk like going to church and reading our Bibles. We may even have to research things a little further and use our concordances more often.  Scripture isn’t yet memorized and our road map might seem confusing at times.

With time, however, as God shows himself faithful to us, we begin to know the still small voice that belongs to our Savior and we can quickly respond when he calls.  Even when we have doubts, our confidence comes from a proven track record and familiarity with his ways.

As I look back at the last decade of my walk with God, I have trusted him with more and more of myself.  I have begun to trust God wholeheartedly with my finances and my future.  Things that once felt so hard like giving a tithe, are now second nature to me. Based on experience traveling with God, I now know scripture like I knew my way around Cedar Park. Hearing God’s voice is as reassuring as the nice Australian lady on the GPS; I now know I can trust him.

As I get more familiar driving in Australia, I will be praying for those who are just getting familiar with our Savior.  I will be conscientious of the roads while at the same time never forgetting what it feels like to be a new believer.

Courage, Faith, Uncategorized

Jump In!

I have always been intimidated by water.  I’m not a strong swimmer so being in water with people splashing around me or in the ocean with big waves makes me nervous.  I don’t like the feeling of being in over my head.  Training for a triathlon in college was the first time I learned to swim with a proper stroke, wearing goggles and a swim cap.  My coach taught me an important lesson the first day.  I was so tired after just 50 meters because I was fighting the water instead of letting it hold me up.  When I learned to relax and go with it, I actually found a smooth stroke and could swim for ages.  I had to trust her advice and have courage to try this new approach before it would work.

Courage isn’t just bravery or boldness.  Courage means we trust GOD in any situation despite our circumstances or fears.  It means having the audacity to step out in faith even when we don’t know what to expect or how big the task.  Courage that says we are willing to get in over our heads with God.  Wading out into unknown territory with Him instead of splashing around with our floaties on or staying where we can touch the bottom (having control), we let go.  Instead of fighting against his will, we learn to relax in his embrace, letting him guide us.

This reminds me of a vision God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel where water was gushing from the Temple; God was leading Ezekiel out where the water flowed.  He first describes it as being ankle deep, then knee deep, then thigh deep, then a river that was so deep he could not touch the bottom.

Many interpret this vision as the gospel going out into the earth, starting small and growing into an overwhelming force;  it could be the process of the work of grace in our hearts as we learn to let God take over every part of our being.

I, however, think about courage when I read this passage.

It takes courage to trust God to lead us through any situation.  No matter how big the waves of life crash against us, no matter how muddy the bottom (our future) may seem, be courageous.  Choose courage no matter what lurks around the next bend in the river.  The undertow seeks to get us off course, but God gives us the determination, fortitude and endurance to withstand it all. Courage is not a genetic trait like our height or skin color.  We aren’t born with courage.  We choose courage every time we can’t control our circumstances, yet wade in a little deeper with God anyway.

God isn’t going to lose us on his depth finder.  When we wash away in his will and his plans, he sees us.  Like the inter tube holds us afloat on a lazy river, God’s loving arms are holding us no matter how deep the water gets.  If you can swim, it makes no difference if the water is 10 feet deep or 100.  If you are jumping in, you’re getting wet.  No use in trying to keep your hair dry.

As we embark on this journey to plant a church in Australia, there are those who think what we are doing is crazy.  Some admire us for taking a leap to start over our lives at our ages and with three children.  Many people have said they could never do what we are doing.

We are not brave.  We’re not special.  We are choosing to trust God.  And when fear starts to creep in, I lay back and let His living water hold me up.  When you know that God has called you to do something, you can let it sweep you off your feet.  You can step in past your ankles.  You can melt away and let God’s path take you anywhere. Even all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Surprise!

I LOVE surprises, however, nothing much surprises me.  My schedule, my plans, how money is spent, etc. are all overwhelmingly predictable in my life.  Cause and effect play a big part in how I think.  Do the right things, blessings come.  Obey the word of God and he answers prayers.  Go to work, get paid.  Treat people well and you are treated well by people. Oversimplifying, but you get the point!

Even in areas where some would say I have taken risks like starting a business, going into full-time ministry, and moving across the country, I could always weigh out the consequences and make my decisions based on whether or not I could live with them whatever happened.  Not really many surprises.

In this season of preparing to plant a church in Australia, God is shaking me up on every level.  I’m thankful and exhilarated by this faith walk; it’s fun because God is surprising me almost daily.  I am not surprised by the fact that he comes through for us (his nature is faithful).  I’m not surprised that things are falling into place (God has called us to this).  It’s the manner in which things are happening that’s surprising me.  God has much better ideas than me!

God surprised us with my visa being approved early.  He surprised us when we found airfare for much less than we have EVER seen it, meaning we could book it and go sooner.  People are giving financially to Lift Church whom we didn’t even have on our list to ask.  His provision is amazing.  The way in which our house is being sold came unexpectedly.

If we are truly walking in faith, we must be ready at any moment for God to change our course through new ideas.  He has the answers we need to live a life of peace.  A life centered in His will.  I love Proverbs 16:1: “the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.”  This perfectly describes what is happening in our life right now.  We have plans in our minds and hearts.  But at every turn, the answer, what is ACTUALLY occurring is supernatural intervention from the Lord.  HE is providing answers we haven’t even thought up.  Our God thinks outside the box!

God is full of surprises.  He takes a mess we make out of a situation and turns it for good.  He can take a tragedy and use it to become the very life message we speak that ministers to others.  This is how he gets the credit and others can see his glory manifest on earth.

Like the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” I’m so excited to see what God has behind “Door Number One!”  The best part is, in this game, there are no dirt piles or mooing cows.  God only trades UP!  He trades beauty for ashes.  He takes us from glory to glory.  It’s not a gamble when we trust God.  But there WILL be surprises.  His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.  It’s only going to get better from here.  I’m resting in the chaos that’s before me knowing that God has my answers in HIS TONGUE.  My heart may be full of plans, but God will have the final say and I’m expecting Him to surprise us!

“If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God, I’d throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to his surprises.” Job 5:8, The Message