Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Testimony of God's Power!

Looking at the boy it was clear that he was nervous. He couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old and if it wasn’t for his friends, probably would’ve never come up for prayer. Though they spoke extremely little English, his friends were able to communicate what was wrong through one word, “arthritis” while pointing at his knees. I knelt down, put my hand on his knee, and uttered a simple command; “be healed in the name of Jesus!” Nothing spectacular happened, there was no lightning from heaven and the boy didn’t get ‘slain in the Spirit’. In fact he just stood there looking up at me the same as before. I don't even think he understood my simple prayer. Knowing that faith often requires action I motioned to the boy to move his leg up and down, bending at the knee. Never before had I seen such fear as was evident in his eyes and it was clear, by the look on his face, that movement meant a pain which he did not want to experience. Even so, as his friends surrounding him encouraged he finally began to slowly, carefully bend his knee. In the process of bending his knee the fear melted off his face before my very eyes and was replaced by pure joy. There was no need for a translator to tell me what had happened, I knew he had been instantly healed by the miraculous power of God. This story took place on my first missions trip in the Philippines and was one of the first times I saw the immediate evidence of the power of God flowing through me into another person. The image of that boy’s face has been burned into my memory for life as a reminder of God's power at work in our lives.

On this trip we saw hundreds of miracles and even more people gave their lives to Christ for the first time! It was three of the most amazing weeks of my life and I still feel tremendously blessed that God chose me to be a part of it. However, seeing so many miracles in such a short time led me back to a question that I have sought God about my entire life. Why don’t we see these miracles more often? As Christians we are supposed to be emulating the life of Jesus here on earth and throughout the Gospels we see that He constantly brought healing and deliverance to those around Him.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finding God's Direction for Your Life

Are you looking for direction from God?

Do you feel stuck not knowing what to do next?

Do you wish that God would speak more clearly to you?

Do you feel that there's too many choices of which way to go?

I've been right where you are many times. God's Word promises us over and over again that He will provide direction and guidance. Here are a few examples:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." - Psalm 32:8

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105

"When the Spirit of truth come He will guide you into all truth..." - John 16:13

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." - James 1:5

So it is clear that direction, guidance, wisdom is a clear promise from God. God has promised that He will make it clear which way we should go as long as we seek Him and ask Him for it. So why do we so often feel like we don't know where to go or what to do?

When I find myself in that position it's usually one of two reasons:

1) I'm asking the wrong question

I specifically remember one time in my life in which this was true. I felt that my time in my current location was over and I was ready to move on to a new place. I had two different places that I wanted to go to and I kept asking God "Where should I go?". For a long time I was frustrated because I felt God wasn't answering me and I couldn't hear His direction. Finally out of frustration I asked "God what is it you want me to do?" Immediately I heard one of the clearest words from God I have had in my life and it was very simple "Stay".

God was waiting for me to ask the right question. In my question I was limiting His answer by asking where I was supposed to go to. It wasn't until I gave Him all the possibilities that I finally heard what I was supposed to do. I wasn't supposed to go anywhere, I was supposed to stay exactly where I was.

2) He's already told me and I'm ignoring it

This I think is our more common reason. We actually did hear from God but we aren't listening because either we don't trust what we heard or we don't like what we heard. Above I put the verse from James 1:5 that says if we lack wisdom we can ask God and we will get it, but James doesn't stop there:

"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." - James 6-8

I believe we often ignore what God was saying due to our lack of faith. That could be a lack of faith in our ability to hear God (which is really a lack of faith in His ability to speak to us), or it could be a lack of faith that God can bring what He said to pass. Often we want an easier answer than what God has given us. I especially have a tendency to get impatient. If God tells me one way of doing things that I know will take a while, I keep asking hoping that He will give me a quicker answer. In these cases I believe God just sits back and waits for us to finally accept what He already told us. Unlike us God doesn't have a problem with patience so He will wait as long as it takes.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Forgotten Power of the Church

Throughout the bible we see constant examples of God's servants taking time to fast and pray. In the old testament we see examples from Esther who directed the Jews to fast for her protection before she went before the king, Samuel who declared a fast of repentance for all of Israel, Elijah who was directed by God through the wilderness when he was in a state of hopelessness, Ezra who fasted for protection and direction when facing danger on the trip back to Jerusalem, and Daniel who was fasting as a state of mourning and in the end received a major prophetic vision. In the new testament we see the practice of fasting was still prevalent through the example of John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples. We also see Jesus constantly talking about the proper ways and motivations to fast. 

If fasting was so prevalent throughout the Word of God it seems clear that it should be something prevalent in our lives if we truly want to see the power of God. In Isaiah 58 we see a great description of what fasting, with the right motives, can bring us. Isaiah begins the chapter by rebuking the people for their sin and for fasting with the wrong motives. We see in verse 3 that they had been fasting and had been asking God why He was not responding to their fasting but God calls out their motives. He shows hem that there fasting has no value if they have no desire to live as He called them to live.

But then in verse 6 God lays out the "the fast that [He has] chosen". This is what fasting with the right motives is for: "to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke". In verse 7 He adds on that fasting is to help feed the hungry and support the poor. That is some power that has been forgotten today!

To loose the bonds of wickedness:
Fasting has the power to set people free from sin and addiction. Do you have a sin that you just can't seem to stop? You know that it's wrong, you don't want to do it, but somehow you just feel bound or trapped? Maybe it's a commonly known addiction like drugs or alcohol, or maybe it's an addiction to money, greed, power, lust? Fasting has the power to set you free from that thing!

To undo the heavy burdens:
Jesus said "my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt 11:30) But even though His yoke is easy we have a tendency to allow heavy burdens to way us down. Maybe we are under the burden of guilt or shame, maybe we have taken on responsibility for a family member who is making wrong decisions despite knowing that we should give them up to God. Whatever it may be, God said that fasting can allow us to let go of those heavy burdens. Fasting can loose them from our lives and help us to find the light burden that Jesus promised us.

To let the oppressed go free:
Do you know some one who is constantly tormented by fear or worry? Or maybe they are under the oppression of bitterness or sickness? Fasting has the power to set them free from that oppression! Fasting for family and friends is powerful and can completely change their life!

To break every yoke:
God then brings it together to make it clear that the fasting He chooses will break anything that binds us, that holds us back. Whether it's sin, addiction, burdens, or demonic oppression it can be broken through prayer and fasting!

To feed the hungry and support the poor:
In verse 7 God tells us that there are practical applications to fasting as well. When we give up our food to seek Him then we can use that extra food to supply for the needs of others. This can still be practiced today. Maybe you go out for lunch when you're at work. Every day you fast you can set aside the money that you would have spent and give it to feed the hungry. Maybe you decide to fast Starbucks for a month and collect the money you would have spent to buy clothes for the homeless or the single mother down the street. Our fasting has amazing power in the spiritual realm but it also has practical applications to meet the needs of your community.

God then sums it all up in verse 8. When we are fasting for the right reasons this is ultimately what we can expect:

"Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard."

Monday, February 3, 2014

The One Who Wills to Do Good!

"I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good."
Romans 7:21

Right before this statement is the famous passage in which Paul lays out so eloquently the battle that we all can relate with, the battle between our spirit man and our carnal nature. He discusses how he constantly is doing what he doesn't want to do and doesn't do what he wants to. How many of us can relate to exactly that statement? 

I don't want to lash out in anger and say things I don't mean...

I don't want to think those kinds of thoughts...

I don't want to keep lying to my boss about being sick...

I don't want to eat so much that I get sick...


I want to read my Bible more...

I want to pray more...

I want to do more acts of kindness...

I want to give generously...

Paul, the apostle who God used to write two thirds of the new testament, tells us that he can relate to all of those statements. He calls those things exactly what they are, evil. But he also comes to a very important conclusion: even though there is evil with me, that is not my identity. I am not evil. I am the "one who wills to do good". 

If Satan can't get you to think that sin is okay then he will try and do the exact opposite. He will make you think that you are evil because of your sin. Paul calls that out and shows us that we are not evil. Regardless of how many evil things we end up doing, regardless of how many times we 'mess up' or how many times we sin, we are not sinners! We simply have evil present with us but we are the ones who want to do the right thing. 

As Paul continues on he references a war within us, a war that is going on in our own mind, and this is a war that we will continue to fight until we are glorified with Jesus. However, if we start of in this war with a false understanding of who we are we have already lost. Remember my last post, Jesus imputed righteousness to us, He made righteousness into one of our characteristics. 

You are the "one who wills to do good".