Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Life's A Puzzle

Isaiah 45:6 - "That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other."

I look at life as a giant jigsaw puzzle.  I've written about this before. You are doing a puzzle. There's this one piece you can't seem to find no matter how many times you've looked and picked up pieces and tried to get them to fit in that one spot. It remains empty...for a time. You continue in other areas of the puzzle, filling in here and there sometimes easily, sometimes not. But slowly the puzzle takes shape. Then all of a sudden you uncover that one piece. You can't believe you didn't see it sooner. You pick it up and, voila, it fits and there's a feeling of contentment, completion.

That's what happened (and happens) in my life a couple years ago. I look back and see there was a part of my life that was missing something. Although I didn't know that, God knew what it was but not all the other pieces of the puzzle had been put in place. He was waiting for just the right time to add that one piece. From there other pieces were easier to be placed.

So, where am I going with this? I'm still amazed, and yet not, at the orchestration of my changing churches. It was nothing I wanted to do. This is how I know God was planning something. But...some two years ago one seemingly small incident (yet not when you consider how the timing had to be absolutely spot on) started the transformation. I know I have written something like this before. But when you see evidence in a life of God's hand at work, you can understand this analogy.

Everything...EVERYTHING...is controlled by God. He DOES know the rising of the sun and it's setting. He created all things, as opposed to what we are told about some cosmic explosion out of some ooey gooey mass. (Even if it was an ooey gooey mass someone had to have created that.) He creates the circumstances in our lives, good and bad. He sets things in motion at conception. He causes this or that to transpire that shapes who we are, strengthens us in areas, weakens us in others. We are most likely not aware of His handiwork until we are aware of Him. All things are geared to point us to Him. That's all He wants.

I was talking with a friend the other day and I said, again, everything...EVERYTHING...starts and ends with God. There's just no way around it. If you would take any circumstance or issue and trace it backwards you can see it was God's plan, it was started or controlled by Him...because without Him you wouldn't have been born to experience these things. But you have to know Him before you can see this. You have to take the time to consider His ways.

The sooner we understand there is a God, that He is in control and is always trying to get us to realize Him as the Supreme Authority, the better off we are. We are less likely to look at some circumstances as a pain in the neck or quite unfair. We might even take the time to consider what He might be up to and just go with the flow.

I can see how my meeting a young man one night two years ago, not to see him again until a few months ago and not being able to get this powerful man of God off my mind, changed my life.
I know he doesn't look at himself as the catalyst, but God used him. God had to have set the circumstances in order. This young man was in a place he normally would not have been.

He walked into the sanctuary of the church I attended then to pray, two years ago, not realizing there was a small group of people there for Thursday night prayer (my being there when I think back on that was orchestrated as well!).  He apologized for interrupting. He was using our gymnasium for basketball with some young men because he had no any other place. He wanted to pray about what message he would share with these men after. So we prayed for him and then he prayed. The intensity of his prayer stayed with me. I have to admit I wondered if there was any opening in our church for this man!

The Lord was beginning a change in me...one I could not have expected. This change was for me alone! I say this not in arrogance. He knew what I needed or perhaps what I desired...or what He desired for me and was going to accomplish if I was obedient. He does the same in different ways for others. Each experience is unique to each of us...so we cannot judge what others are going through.

I won't go into other details about the change because the point is God put that one piece of the puzzle into my life and all the other pieces, one by one, began to fit until I knew I heard the Lord's voice in my spirit telling me with such clarity I was to leave my church and go to where I am now. Wow.

There's a general consensus that something is happening, that God is up to something. God's people's spirits are being stirred. Perhaps others are too. We can't put a finger on what it all is, but I know those who know what God can do are waiting for His next move...or the other pieces in their little life's puzzle or in the giant puzzle of all life to fall into place...or the other shoe is about to drop. At the bottom of my emails I have a little phrase I coined some time ago: Something's brewing in God's atmosphere. That pretty much explains this stirring. He's in control and something is going to happen...individually, within the Church or in the world. There will come a time when those who do not know the workings of our God will. Plain and simple. There will be no excuse for not seeing Him at work. Eyes WILL begin to look up...or sadly, anger and rejection of Him will take place.

All things begin and end with our Creator, Father, Redeemer, Almighty God. I love how He operates! There is no way we could ever put such plans into motion ourselves. That's why I will continue to look to Him. I know I've not seen the end of this puzzle! I'm only able to see the last two years (and others past) but there's more to come.

I just have to add this note: This young man, Aaron Fischer, is now an evangelist, ordained by his father, pastor of my new church, The Church in Wisconsin, Terry Fischer. (I knew there was something special about him.) The call of God has been on him for several years. Just as God is working in me, He is working in him...and many, many others, each in different ways. We serve an amazing God!

Isaiah 55:8-9 - "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." 

Friday, May 24, 2013

One Sows, Another Reaps

John 4:35-38 - "Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” 

There is a hierarchy in God's world. He is and always will be at the very top of that hierarchy. With all the tornadoes again happening in this nation we constantly hear about Mother Earth spewing forth her wrath. THERE IS NO MOTHER EARTH. God is in control of all things since He created all things. Period. Mother Earth is just a little god some have decided to blame it all on. Maybe because they know blaming our Creator somehow is wrong!

These people are part of the harvest stated above. The harvest is those who do not know the truth...yet. These are the people we are to reach with God's Word. We are part of the hierarchy.

Jesus knew His place with His Father, although He actually is God. On earth He was a Man being guided by His Father, willing to do His will even unto death...to save our sorry behinds. He knew the best water and bread came from His Father...and He is the Bread of life and the Fountain of living water. Through Him we receive both. The right, true and living sustenance.

Today the fields are ripe for harvest. In time there will be more who will begin to wonder just what is up in this world. In Jesus' day He gathered and taught about the kingdom of God. He did as His Father commanded. He taught hard words of sin, rebelliousness, evil, unrighteousness as well as love, forgiveness, obedience, goodness and righteousness...through Him alone.

We are to emulate Jesus. As He listened to His Father, we are to know through His Word and by His Word what we are to say and do. He and the Holy Spirit are to be our guides...with God the Father above them all. 

I wrote about not worrying about what to say to others the other day. Rely on the Holy Spirit and you'd be surprised the things that come out of your mouth, even those things that don't make sense. Only the person hearing might understand. Maybe not at that moment, but in time. And the Holy Spirit can bring remembrance not only to us but others. The spoken Word, the truth, does not return to God void.

We are to be the sowers of the seeds of God's truth. If we are allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to guide, God has already started the work. He has pricked hearts. Some day we will know whether the words we spoke brought in part of the harvest.

Heavenly Father, may I always be in tune with Your Spirit. May Your Words touch lives I come into contact with. I only want to be in Your will and not speak as man. Continue to create in me a clean heart and right spirit. Continue to help me hear Your voice and embolden me. Here I am, Lord, use me. Help me to do as You and to feed Your sheep. 

John 4:34 - Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Plant, Water, Grow

John 2:19-22 - Jesus ... said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Our pastor, Terry Fischer of The Church in Wisconsin, shared something with us the other day. He had a talk with a Muslim couple as he was out rollerblading one day. He spoke only the truth of God's Word to them. Although he hit a point where it was evident the husband was uneasy, I know when God's Word is spoken it does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

So he was again in the park taking a walk and thinking of this encounter he'd had and what he could say the next time as a challenge to them. God revealed something about a scripture he'd been thinking on a lot (For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 1Corinthians 4:20) He was depending on what God was showing him through the Word but not in the power of it. He was still concerned with the presentation of this Word to others instead of the power of what was spoken to them.

How many times I've attempted to talk about the Lord and was met with uneasiness or a complete shut down by the other person. But the Word was out there for someone to hear. 1Corinthians 3:6 tells us that we plant the seed, Apollos waters it, but God makes it grow. A little background here: The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Corinthians. Apollos was a contemporary of Paul's, knew of and believed in Christ and preached the teachings of Jesus to the Ephesians and Corinthians. Paul planted the seeds in the lives of the Corinthians and Apollos continued... The Word was spoken, it was watered and God will do the work. It is not for us to take credit anyway for "saving" someone. Only God gets the glory. Only God knows what we need to speak as well to certain people. He, through His Spirit, will guide us.

The Word of God does not return void...but it must be spoken. We are to hide the Word in our hearts but we are also called to share it. There's enough of God to go an infinite way. My love for God and His love for me poses absolutely no jealousy in my heart. But He is a jealous God. He wants all to come into His saving grace, He wants none to perish. He uses us to spread the Word like Paul and Apollos. I might be the one who has watered what someone else has spoken! I might be the first to speak.

Above, Jesus spoke something no one understood. It wasn't until later revelation came. What we speak may not seem pertinent at the time, maybe uncomfortable to the  listener but God knows how it will impact their lives. Glory to God and God alone! We hear the Word, we read it, we learn it, we speak it as the Holy Spirit prompts. The Holy Spirit can water as well and then God does what He does best, He opens eyes to His truth in whatever way is best for each individual. Someone may not believe or seek the truth now but it could very well cause belief later when the right circumstance shows up in their life...and perhaps a remembrance of what they'd heard earlier. God knows how to push buttons, bring reminders.

It's our job to throw those words into the spiritual atmosphere. And not just words but actions (which I still need work on...).

Mark 13:11 - ...do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

No More Than Heart and Soul

1Samuel 16:7 - ..."Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I wish I could point out how many times it is written that God uses the weak, uneducated, base, lesser, etc., individuals to promote Himself. What does this tell us? Proverbs is filled with words on pride and fools and our own highly inflated interpretation of ourselves.

Israel wanted a king. They were tired of the priests judging the people. They wanted to be like all the other nations. Isn't that so like the world? We want to be like the next person, the next country...or better. Have more, be bigger, more influential. Power, wealth, notoriety. All those things that God looks down at.

So Israel wanted kings. And God gave them to her. Not all the kings were 100% dedicated to God. So God was angry at Himself (sort of) for having chosen Saul as king. He started out fine but ended up disobedient and God took away his power. He knew who He wanted and He went for it.

David was the next in line. Samuel, the last judge of Israel and prophet, was to anoint him behind Saul's back. He went, by God's orders, to the family of Jesse to meet all his sons. One after another they came before Samuel. After meeting the first son and noticing his grand appearance, God spoke the scripture above. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would come through the lineage of Jesse: there shall come forth a Rod (Jesus) from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1).  David needed to be chosen as part of God's plan.

After seeing those sons of Jesse, none of which were right for the job, and knowing God had a son of Jesse who would be king, Samuel asked if there were more. Jesse replied there was another, his youngest son, a shepherd. He was called to come forward from his sheep. When Samuel saw him God told him to anoint him for he was the one, David. There was absolutely no indication that Samuel thought otherwise. He just did as he was told!

The power of God left Saul and he required comforting. It was suggested that David be brought in to play his harp because he would be able to relieve his stress...and the LORD was with him. Thus began God's plan of introducing David as Saul's replacement as king.

David was young, a shepherd, not built up in the things of war. He tended sheep, played a harp and his weapon of choice was a slingshot. What kind of man like this could be used as king? Only God knows! God did not look at the outward appearance, for sure, but at his heart. It was his heart, totally devoted to the LORD, that God wanted. He was someone God could use to do miraculous things.

Saul took to David immediately and raised him up from a shepherd to an armor bearer for him. The favor of God and Saul were upon him. And so the story of David defeating the giant Goliath came to be, when all others saw the size and strength of this man and fled out of fear and David stepped up to slay the Philistine.

The phrase the bigger they are the harder they fall seems to fit this situation so well. That term is nearly biblical! Pride comes before the fall...or the humble will be raised up while proud brought down. Do you see it? God is not interested in who we think we are but who He can be in and through us. Our strength or wisdom means nothing unless it comes through Him.

We can make ourselves to be people whom others think are the cat's pajamas. God see us so differently. When we give all ourselves to Him He will use us immeasurably. Not that it will be some big accomplishment, though. If all He did was huge things in our lives I think we would go back to being all puffed up...believing we accomplished.

God is so the opposite of the world view. When will we come down off our high horses and submit to the One who knows best? After all, He did the one thing unthinkable by today's standards. He came to earth to live among sinners so He could show Himself to us--yes us, sinners--that we might know Him. He knew from a very young age (even from the beginning of time) that He would die for each of us. And He withstood the most horrific rejection and death...all for us. He totally humbled Himself. He allowed Himself to be covered in our sin so He could die for it. He bore our sins and He carried them to the cross where they were then nailed. And all He wants in return is for us to acknowledge Him as that humble, yet powerful through obedience to the Father, Man, that we might have Him and His power within us.

Jesus Christ is the same today as He was then. He created the world with no more than His words. He lived, He died and He rose again. That means He is alive today and still looking for those willing to humble themselves, admit their sins and weaknesses and come to Him for their strength, wisdom, comfort and true life.

When will you do that? When will you let go of physical strength and allow God's supernatural strength to take over? David was small in stature but he knew where his strength and wisdom lay, through the LORD God. And despite his indiscretion, God's judgment, David's loss and eventual total repentance, He remained a man after God's own heart. God looks not at the outward appearance but the heart. Turn your heart over to Him and watch what He will do. Not by our own strength but by our trust in God's power.

Psalm 147:6,10-11 - The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Micah 4:7 - I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. 

All the times Israel turned her back on God is incredible. They knew His power. They saw the miracles with their own eyes. They knew the protection He provided. They also knew His judgment when they tended to forget these miraculous circumstances...and in turn, they knew to repent. And repent repeatedly they did!

How could they explain their escape from Egypt's bondage? How their households, by merely applying lamb's blood to the doorposts of their homes, could be spared the wrath that came? How the waters of the Red Sea parted for them and crushed the enemy behind them? How they were clothed and fed when there was nothing available as they wandered the desert for forty years? How God was seen as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of light by night? Miracles.

After all this they still turned from Him. Amazing.

Today Israel still stands. Don't tell me it's not by God's hand they still exist. Their ancient enemies could never kill them all. Hitler couldn't either. They bounce back because they are God's chosen people, the apple of His eye. Despite their worship of idols, unbelief, disobedience...He's not done with them, no matter how bleak Israel's future might look at times. They will survive till the end of the age. And they will know Jesus as their Messiah. Because it is God's will. Hallelujah.

There was a period of some 400 years from the last prophet, Malachi, till the birth of Christ. God was silent; they saw no display of miracles, signs or wonders. I wonder if the silence became deafening in time? I wonder when they first began to notice He was absent?

As followers of Jesus Christ we are, as the Church in general, doing the a similar thing. God returned that we might see Him in the flesh. That again we might see miracles and healing and believe. However, Jesus was a threat to those religious leaders because His message was contrary to theirs and their jobs would be in question and at stake should others believe in Him. He had to be killed.

So the Church (in general) today may be under the same type of judgment. Followers of Christ are under the same judgment. Many in the Church have determined to create their own religious beliefs. They have managed to fall into the same lies as the religious leaders before. Not so much for fear of their jobs but for power and pride. Many have distorted the truth of the Gospel to make it palatable to the public to, as any business would, make money...have the power, create a false sense of security for others as to what needs to be done to receive the Kingdom of heaven. Preach a soft Gospel message.

So, is there a silence today? Sometimes I wonder. We see the world entangled in crime, natural disasters, sins against God's own commandments. Why doesn't He do something? Where is He? He lingers quietly in the wings waiting to pour out His Spirit upon His Church but something needs to take place before then. A return to the one true God by the Church. Repentant hearts for the sins of the Church over the years. For pastors, preachers and priests to realize their own sins of preaching a false message and being divisive through denominations.

We have as a nation and a world turned our backs again on God. And there are many who are working to remove even His name. I'm here to say that try as they might, it will never happen, although the Church is sadly quiet about all of this. There is no real uprising of the Church in defense of the wrongs against her. Evil rises up and gets stronger; somehow they are able to shout louder, stomp their feet longer and show a mean side that intimidates. And the Church is silent.

It is time to repent of our sins that God would return and bring that Holy Spirit power once again. It will happen and it may not be pretty as God tries His Church through fire, purging her. He will expose the corruption, the pride and arrogance, the greed and especially the false teachings.

There is a Church trying desperately to hold on to the true teachings of Christ. It is a remnant church. It is small. Perhaps for now it might be considered lame and an outcast...BUT GOD...will reign over it. God doesn't mind small beginnings. He no doubt prefers it because it's through this that He performs His miracle of empowering the weak, that His glory might be seen. This Church is growing as some people begin to hunger for the truth once again. I'm glad to say that I belong to one of these churches. I see the difference. I see the desire for only the very truth of the Gospel being built into its people, equipping us that we might grow stronger in Him and able to spread the very real truth of His Word to those around us.

I desire to see growth within myself quickly. And although I may not recognize it, it probably is already happening. I pray for revival for all remnant Churches, one that is real and not some conjured up excitement. I pray for the growth of this Church that we might be the workers God desires for us to be for His Kingdom. I pray for the purging of the Church that He might return in His glory to open eyes, heal the sick, bring the miracles that people might see and believe in the one true God, Jesus Christ. Then when it's time, He will return to devour the enemy and set His Church and His people free one last time.

Israel and those who follow Christ, who are obedient to His Word, will be the final remnant. Israel will meet their Messiah and finally believe. Before then churches and people will fall. God will judge. There will be a purging like we've never seen before. The sins of the Church and the people will be uncovered. God is not a respecter of persons. No one, no church, is safe if they are outside the will of God. But if repentance comes, He forgives.

Micah 7:18 - Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Living for the King

Philippians 2:13 - ...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

I'm amazed at how no matter where a person is in life, we are here for such a time as this. God has His Kingdom in mind. When we enter into relationship with the King of all kings we can know that He has brought us to this place for such a time as this.

The Book of Esther is chock full of suspense. It is filled with evildoers, unsuspecting people, a clueless king and an amazing woman. Esther shows how we can be here "for such a time as this."

I am seeing this play out in my own life, not that I haven't made some dents I may not even be aware of!

When we come into relationship with the Lord we can't help but influence someone somewhere...unless we live under a rock, which sometimes I think I do!! But He will use our lives, good or bad before Him, to be an influence. It's actually exciting when you realize it.

Many times it's not even about us; it's about someone else and especially about God and His will being done. If we choose to ignore to delve into a situation set before us, God's plan will still be played out...through someone else. But it is we who may miss out on something if we don't take hold of a circumstance (and most likely many).

Who wants to miss out on something good? We are called to be of service to God. I think sometimes we don't even know we are in His service if we are doing something out of the very depths of our hearts. It's just something we do without thinking. Yet I know there are times when I know I should do something and don't. And I'm not talking about filling bird feeders on a rainy day!

Oh, that the reality of what He wants us to do day to day would be so evident. Not for our own satisfaction, or pride, but that we might see a glimpse of what God wants to accomplish in someone else's life through us. But this would take away the awesomeness of God's glory in a situation.

We are nothing, can do nothing worthwhile, if God is not behind it. Our works are as filthy rags, we are told, and when in relationship with Christ what we then do has greater meaning because we do it for Him.

Look at it like this: We are created and born for a specific purpose. This alone should be exciting. It's God's specific purpose to start out. We begin our life doing on our own, to suit our own pleasures. We aren't yet understanding about God and His purposes. The purposes are borne out of our own desires...but He's still behind the scene for many. A day comes when the realization of Christ is presented to us. If we choose to change direction the things we do are more for Him, and eventually when we have a better understanding, all for Him. The closer we walk the more we do nothing out of selfish ambition or pride but just because...He is working in us.

We may not see the greatest reward here on earth, but we will in heaven. We will have blessings as a result of our good works but probably not what we would have expected. Oh, how He works to keep the pride under wraps! But we will find that living for the King is easier when we allow Him to do what He is best able to do, when we give Him control...and give Him the glory.

It comes as a defining moment...something purposeful...something called God's will...something that seems impossible but when "in God's will" turns out miraculous. It's our purpose on earth. It's a concept that is sometimes difficult to understand. It takes the only good work we can do...that of obedience...being in relationship with Christ. The greatest rewards come from doing this.

John 14:12 - Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.