Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gentle Nudges

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14

Today, I parked my car at my home on cold, early autumn day. There was nothing special about the day. My neighbor sat in his garage with his son. This too is rather ordinary. Chris and his family often spend time in their renovated garage that is attached to their house. Chris watched his son play, while I pulled in my driveway. Again, all this is rather uneventful, except for one thing....

As I glanced at my neighbors, I felt a certain stirring down in my heart. I could not mistake it; it was the gentle, but persistent nudging of the Holy Spirit. The Lord wanted me to witness to my neighbor about the goodness of God. At first I felt a little awkward. I had witnessed to him on one occasion, but no apparent fruit came of it. I pulled out a tract that I had written. I like to pass them out to waiters and grocery clerks. I simply let them know I'd like to give them something I have written as an encouragement to them. Most of these people thank me and receive the piece of paper, though occasionally a person will refuse to take it from me.

You might think that it would be easy to talk to my neighbor. After all I actively share my faith on a regular basis - at least with a tract in hand. However, I am not an extrovert, and at times I have to fight my fears. But I obediently walked over to my neighbor and asked him if I could give him the tract. I told him that I wrote it and I explained that God had made a difference in my life, my wife's life, and in the lives of many people I know. I shared with him that serving the Lord is not about obeying a set of rules. Instead, God is looking to have a relationship with us. I also explained that the Lord can help him with his marriage, in raising his children, and in every part of his life.

Chris thanked me and said he would read the tract. I said, “If you every have any questions about these kind of things, please let me know.” That ended our brief encounter. Now I will continue to pray for my friend and look for ways to intentionally engage him further in conversation, if he is open.

This all came about as I listened to the Holy Spirit's gentle stirrings. Those of us who know the Savior are called sons of God. We are all able to be led by the Spirit. Let's stay sensitive. God is not looking for spiritual giants; He is searching for ordinary people with hearts and lives that are available to His call. If we will take the time to listen, there's no telling what God will use us to do for His glory.

Dear Lord,

Help me to be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit's voice. Help me not to crowd Him out with busyness and my own desires. Lord, fill me with Your Spirit. Give me ears to hear You and eyes to see You, and Lord please give me a heart to obey Your gentle promptings so You can use me to reach a world that needs You so desperately.

Monday, September 20, 2010

For the Prodigal

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

It doesn't matter how many times you've fallen into that same sin. It doesn't matter what you've done or how far you've run from home. God your gracious Father is waiting for you. He is ready to embrace you – to forgive you of all your sin.

You weren't made to carry that heavy load of guilt and pain. The Lord wants to invade your life with kindness. He wants to shower you in mercy. If you are His prodigal child, won't you come home? Your Father will restore you to your rightful place in Christ. Don't you know that Jesus blood has paid for your complete forgiveness?
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (italics mine).”

God's love for you is unwavering, relentless, extravagant. He would do anything to bring you back. The Scripture says that God is married to the backslider. He has not given up on you. Why don't you turn your eyes to Jesus and pray with tears of repentance. God will forgive you. He still has awesome plans for your life. If you turn to Him, you'll find your future is as bright as the noonday sun.

Dear Father God,

I am sorry for turning my back on You. I'm sorry for allowing myself to drift so far away from home. Lord, please forgive me. Please take me back. I receive Your forgiveness. I receive Your mercy. I choose to follow You once again with your help and the help of the body of Christ. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Laying Our Desires on the Alter

“Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Abraham and Sarah had a strong desire for a son. But there was one problem, both Abraham and Sarah had advanced beyond the normal age for procreation. However, God promised Abraham that he would have a son. The Lord even called him a father of many nations. After many years, the day did come when the beloved promise came to pass. They named their son Isaac, and all was well in the lives of Abraham and Sarah.

Then one day God spoke to Abraham and told him to take his son Isaac to the top of a mountain in the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham obeyed believing God could restore the life of his son.

When Abraham reached the top of the mountain he bound up his son and laid him upon an alter. When he raised a knife to kill Isaac, God spoke. “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son.”
In this true story, God tested Abraham, and Abraham passed the test. His desire to obey God was greater than his love for his child. He is called in the Scriptures the father of faith and a friend of God. When we have dreams and desires that we believe are from the Lord, it is natural and fitting for us to ask God to give us those things. Perhaps you have your heart set on serving in a particular vocation or maybe you are asking the Lord to heal you physically.

God does not always give us what we want right away. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years before Isaac came along. There are also times when what we desire is not the ultimate best for us according to God's will. Jesus prayed, “Father if it is Your will take this cup away from me...” Christ was talking to the Father about going to the cross. Even though Jesus asked for another way, the Father led Him to His death upon the cross.

We must be willing to place our dreams and desires on the alter. Sometimes God will give us those things and sometimes He does not. It is at these times when we must bow before the Sovereign will of our Maker knowing that He sees everything and He knows what is ultimately the best for our lives. Whatever He decides, we must always strive to place our love for and obedience to God above our desire for other things no matter how noble they may seem. It is important that we not let the thing we long for to become an idol in our hearts. When we surrender these desires to the Lord, He will bless us and give us His peace.

There is a time to lay hold of God's promises with unwavering faith, and there is a time to surrender to God's perfect will. Our trust is to be in the faithful character of our loving Heavenly Father. He will always take good care of us; He always has our best interests at heart.

Dear Father God,

Thank you for Your many promises to me. Lord, I ask that You would move in my life and do great things. Help me to always keep my love for you above any other desire I have. If there are any idols in my heart, Lord, please show me. I surrender all I am to You. Have Your way in me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Will Receive Power

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The early disciples were clothed in God's power. That power gave them the ability to effectively communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. God confirmed their words with signs and wonders. The Holy Spirit accompanied the message so that those that heard it were convicted of their sin and turned their hearts and lives to the Lord.

We need this same power. It is the power that came at Pentecost, when the followers of Jesus waited in the upper room to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This same power is available to us today. It is not the power to control others, but to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. As we turn our hearts toward Christ and ask Him to baptize us in the Holy Spirit, He will. He will anoint us to minister to others.

With the infilling of the Spirit come the gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12 and 14) . These gifts help us to more effectively minister to those within the body of Christ and to those without. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we receive a greater sensitivity to hear the Lord's voice. God can give us the words to say to those in darkness, and those words have divine influence to draw the lost to the Savior.

We do not need greater programs to grow our churches; we need our people to be yielded to the Spirit and willing and obedient to carry out the great commission. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can effectively reach others with the word of God.

Dear Lord,

Help us, the body of Christ, to depend upon your Spirit. Help us to seek You for a fresh infilling of Your power and love. Let us not desire an experience. Instead, equip us to go and tell Your story to those that haven't heard. Forgive us Lord for relying on our own understanding in the way we reach out to others. Help us to seek Your face and effectively minister Your gospel to those that don't know You. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.