Petitioning our King

In 1 King 1, King David is not doing well. He is getting up in years, and his sickness had gotten him so lean that he couldn’t even keep himself warm. Because he was so sick, he was not able to pay close attention to what was going on in his Kingdom. His 4th son, Adonijah took advantage of this opportunity, and sought to become King. To gain credibility and support, he gathered a few of King David’s high power officials and convinced them he was next in line. Some of these men had fallen out of favor with King David anyway, so in their quest to retain their wealth and status they of course thought it would be a good idea to support this potential future young king. Adonijah, did as many ambitious people do, he started taking advantage of his position in the Kings family to help him in his climb to the top.

Though his father had not given him the title, Adonijah threw parties and started gathering high power officials around him, in essence he was acting like a king although he was not officially given the kingship. He was slowly dethroning King David without any opposition.

Fortunately, one of David’s loyal prophets Nathan saw what Adonijah was doing. He knew Adonijahs intent was not good and brought it to the attention of David’s wife Bathsheba. Bathsheba’s son Solomon was actually the chosen one of God to take over King David’s throne, and not Adonijah. Nathan, King David and God had some history. Nathan was the prophet who God used to rebuke David when he stole Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba), got her pregnant, and then to cover up his act had Uriah killed on the front lines. When Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba, God told Nathan he was Jedidiah (Beloved of the Lord).

I find it interesting, that to the world at the time, it probably looked like Adonijah would be the next king. He was rich, surrounded himself with power, and was taking control of the kingdom. King David, because he was so sick, was no where to be seen, so it would’ve been logical to believe that Adonijah’s ambitions were coming true. But his worldly ambitions were not going to get in the way of God’s sovereign plans.

Both Bathsheba and Nathan petitioned King David. They brought Adonijahs actions to the King’s attention and reminded him of his own words which were that Solomon would be King and reign after him. Honoring their petitions, King David, from his death bed, ordered that Solomon be brought down to Isreal and annointed King.

I find this turn of events interesting for a few reasons. One, it proves that even when someone powerful rises up against us that the Lord can make people and circumstances align for their defeat. Two, even when it seems that our God is nowhere to be seen when a powerful opposition seems to be rising up, that we should remain faithful and petition him with his own promises and he will take a stand against and defeat our opposition. Thirdly, often times we will see our friends and once loyal companions flee to the opposing side, in our loneliness and abandonment, God will send prophets to encourage us to continue to stand strong and believe in our King.

Keys to Trust

“Now God said to Abram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing………So Abram went,”. (Gen 12:1-4)

Would you trust God enough to leave your home, your friends and your family to go to a place unknown, to a place where God will lead you?

Abram was 75 years old, and was a rich and well established man when God called him to move. I’m fairly certain that he struggled with what God asked him to do. I’m sure he even wondered if the voice he heard was actually Gods. I can imagine the conversations he had with Sara, his father and his closest friends when he told them God wanted him to pack up and leave for some unknown destination. I’m fairly certain their response included these comments: “Really, aren’t you a little old to do this?”, “Are you sure that was God speaking?”, “Why would God have you leave us?”, “Your suppose to leave your land and family?”,”That seems a little crazy!” They were real people with the same thoughts and feelings we have, so I’m sure that they had the same human reactions we would’ve had in the same situation.

Courage. The decision to follow Gods order would’ve taken pure courage and over the top trust. First of all, its not like God spoke to him in this booming, clear voice, like he did for Moses in the the burning bush. Very rarely does God speak that way. It was most likely through a thought or a still, small voice. A voice that is often hard to discern and easily missed, unless one practices listening for it. Secondly, most people at 75 are not thinking about big change. They are instead settling down and enjoying the life they had created over the past 75 years. Thirdly, many people at 75 would find doing something like that physically impossible. Packing, lifting, shifting, hauling, loading, unloading isn’t easy work. Fourthly, convincing your aging wife to leave her family and friends to live like a nomad would be like facing fire. Then there is always the question, why? Why would God want this?

Have you ever asked God why he wants you to do something totally out of the ordinary? I have, and the answer I get is usually “you’ll see”. Which is not very helpful in a dramatic, life altering decision.

Knowing all of this, why did Abram go? Simply, because he trusted God. He had been practicing listening for and following Gods voice for a long time. It wasn’t like it was the first time he heard Gods voice. If it was, he likely wouldn’t have went. He knew that God was the reason for all that he was, all that he owned, and all that he was to become. He was very secure in who he was with God, so when God told him what he wanted him to do, he knew he could trust Gods way.

A life with God requires trust. The key to trust is obeying God. The key to obedience is learning to follow Gods voice. The key to following Gods voice is listening. The key to listening is getting quiet with God. The key to getting quiet with God is believing he exists. The key to believing he exists is reading his word. The key to believing his word is faith in his son Jesus, who IS the Word.

God says: You are MY WITNESS and MY CHOSEN….in the balances.

 

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(warning: these words hold truths you may not be ready to hear)
Isaiah 43 vs 10-11says: “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.   Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.
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     As I listened to the pundits this week and reviewed what was going on with the Kavanaugh hearing it became very apparent the importance of eye witnesses.   As much as the opposition tried to build a case against Kavanaugh there was no basis to their accusations unless the eye witnesses were able to corroborate the evidence.  The four mentioned witnesses were not able to testify that the events happened that the accuser said took place, so the accusations were then dropped and Kavanaugh was then able to keep his credibility and character in place to be voted in as a Supreme Court Justice.  Witnesses were key to the case.  Witnesses were called to verify or to deny what was being said was the truth.  Without witnesses, it is very difficult to prove something or someone is true.
     In Isaiah 43, the Lord declares we are his witnesses.   We are the ones who he has chosen to testify that He is the Lord, and that there is no other.   Earlier in this passage (vs 2) he foretells of what he is going to do.  He is going to allow us (his chosen) to ‘pass through water’, to ‘pass through rivers’, and to ‘pass through fire’, and we will safely pass through these circumstances because he will be with us and in vs 8 & 9 he challenges his opposers by saying “who else can proclaim this?”  “Let them bring their witnesses…so others, upon hearing, can say, “that is true”. Meaning, who else can proclaim to do this, where are their witnesses?  Bring them forward!
     We have been chosen so that we can know and trust him, and witness to who he is and to what he is doing.   It is essential for God to have witnesses.   He needs his chosen to rise up and open up their eyes and ears and to witness to what he has done and to what he is doing.  He has “declared, saved, and proclaimed!” (vs. 12).  We have seen him declare, save and proclaim, yet are we witnessing to his work?   He is our only Creator and our only Savior, yet are we witnessing to His power and existence?   Or are we claiming the credit for ourselves or giving the credit to someone or something else (ie. hard work, talent, luck, investment strategies, education…the list goes on)?   We need to stand up and declare his truths against his accusers.  As his servants and chosen ones it is our responsibility to do this.
     Kavanaugh was unrighteously accused.  There was no witness to stand against him.  They were called, and they testified, but their accounting of the event did not align with what the accuser claimed happened.   In vs 8-9 God calls on his accusers.  He actually calls them to stand and he states the nations will gather together and bring their witnesses.  We are called to stand against his accusers and testify to who he is and what he has done in our lives.  Is our silence, our failure to acknowledge our King, our Provider, our Healer, our Creator actually allowing his accusers to build their case against God?
     Take heed to these words: Read vs 25-26  God is also our ONLY Savior.  Jesus will take account of our behavior.  He will be OUR WITNESS against the accusers.    He will hold us to the truth and we will stand accountable to what we have said and done.  Just like Kavanaugh, our accuser will make a case, and it will be up to Jesus whether or not we will pass through the gates into Heaven.   Many of the accusations will be very, very old and we will say, ‘but that was a long time ago, that was in the past and we are not like that today’, or we may even deny remembering it happened or that we actually said it. Jesus will hear our case and not heed these accusations IF AND ONLY IF we choose him as our Savior (John 14:6) .  But, if we choose him as our Savior, in return, we need to stand up for his cause.   We MUST be his witness here on earth, so he will be our witness up in Heaven.
    This is all true, but I’m not going to leave you with just this, because there are additional truths that we must also hold on to:
     In our witness we must also know his promises for us.  His promises hold our strength, our power and our hope.   His promises give us the power to be his witness.   Knowing this, God has given us some very good and strong promises.   Read vs. 3-7  because they include these promises:  God loves us.   God values us and honors us.  God will be with us.   God will fight for us.   God made us.    Remember, these promises.  Hold on to these promises.   Seek God to uphold these promises.    Then, as his chosen one, GO witness to the world ALL of these truths!

When God is in charge, miracles happen!

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Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. – Matthew 11:28

When I got out of bed this morning, I had no idea God was going to move in my life the way he did and I almost missed a miracle.  For the past few Saturdays, I have been serving the homeless of South Dallas through a ministry called The Lords Hands and Hearts.   This ministry sets up camp every Saturday morning in one of Dallas’ toughest neighborhoods. They feed, dress and give hope to Dallas’ forgotten people.   The servants lead with their hearts and God shows up.   Today was no exception.

Meet Yani.  Yani is a seventeen-year-old from Detroit, who came to Texas this past summer to live with her dad after many, many years of separation.   She came here with high hopes and dreams and was looking forward to reuniting with her estranged dad.  He offered her a place to stay while she got re-established here.  Little did she know that by fall she would be walking the streets of Dallas, homeless.    As she tells it, it wasn’t long before the relationship with her dad became very difficult.  He drank too much and when he did, he would make sexual advances towards her.   She would push off his advances and then a fight would begin.   These cycles repeated themselves over and over until her dad wanted her out, and even though she had no place to go, she knew she needed to leave.  She had no job, no friends, no money and no place to go.   She tried to get back home, but she didn’t have any money and her friends and family in Detroit didn’t have the means to help her either.   So, what does a 17-year-old girl do when she doesn’t have a place to go?  She hits the streets.

Yani lived on the streets of Dallas for a month, making it day by day.  Surviving on hand-outs, and random acts of kindness.   She was trapped in the city without many resources and she lived like this for weeks.   But God had a plan.  Three days ago, her life was getting more desperate, it was getting colder, she had no money, and she still had no place to live. Her options were few.  She could sell drugs, she could sell herself, or she could be a thief.  She didn’t like any of these choices, so she did the one thing most of us do in our desperation, she prayed.   No, God didn’t show up right there and then, and she didn’t even know if He had been listening.   But God did hear her prayers and already had a plan in place…. Fast forward to today.

This morning, Yani woke up on the other side of town and didn’t know what she was going to do, so like every other day she started to wander the streets of Dallas.  A friendly guy spotted her and offered to give her a ride.  She got in the car, but she didn’t really have a destination in mind.  She has an acquaintance in south Dallas, so she asked him to take her there.  The driver got her to the area but then got confused as to where she specifically wanted to go, so in frustration Yani just got out of the car.    Without knowing where she was or where to go, she just picked a direction and started walking. Within a couple blocks, she noticed a bunch of people and a few tents.  Curious, she ventured towards it and read a big sign called “Solomon’s Porch”.  She didn’t know if she would be welcomed, but having nowhere else to go, she wandered in any way.   Yani sat down with the many other people underneath a large tent, and listened as a young lady holding a microphone, started to share her story.   It was a moving story about the love of Jesus for the lost, it pierced Yani’s heart, causing her to drop her head in emotion, and to bring tears to her eyes.  As she sat there with her head dropped, quietly listening, the young lady finished her story.   The young lady saw Yani and was moved to walk over to her.  Yani fell into tears when she opened up her eyes to see the young lady looking down at her with love.  The young lady saw her tears and was moved to give Yani a hug and held her for several minutes.  They sat quietly like this until the young lady asked her how she could help.  This started an engaging conversation filled with words of hope and promise.   That’s when Jim noticed the two young ladies and told me he was going to venture over to their table and share his own words of encouragement.

Ironically, right before this moment, Jim and I had discussed leaving because there seemed to be plenty of people there to serve and we had some other things to get done.  But God had other plans.  He didn’t want Jim and I to miss the miracle that was about to happen, in fact, he wanted us to be a part of it.

Jim sat down, introduced himself and shared a story of hope to Yani.  I came over to listen. Jim asked Yani her story and shared about his own.   It was easy to see Jesus in the interaction as Jim shared about the miracles in his own life and that God wanted to do the same for her.   She listened intently, and explained why she was on the street.   It wasn’t long before Jim asked if she was ready to go home.  Her eyes lit up and she said “yes”!  You could see that the thought of going home brought relief and hope to her heart.   After a short discussion with the ministry team, it was decided that sending her home was the right thing to do, if she had a place to return to.   We asked her where she would go and she said to live with her aunt in Detroit, so we confirmed that was an option and pursued that course.   Long story short, Jim and I took her by the hand and told her we would get her a ticket home.   With Gods financial blessings we were able to buy her a ticket, and by the end of the day, Yani was on a Greyhound bus headed back home to Detroit.   God answered Yani’s prayer!  He didn’t just get her off of the street, he got her home!!

When I woke up this morning I had no idea that I would be meeting Yani but I’m sure glad I didn’t stay home.  I didn’t know that God was going to bring a young girl into my life to help her get home.   What an amazing day.  God changed the life of a young lady named Yani today, and in the course of his work, he has also changed mine.

Never pass on a prompting to be part of God’s work, especially if it involves the sick, the lost, the poor or the homeless because your likely being invited to be part of a miracle.  If so, I guarantee it will change your heart, your faith, and be a moment in time you will never forget.

(Yani shared her testimony before she got on the bus, please open this link if you would like to hear it – Yani’s testimony)

Breakthrough is yours, IF you don’t quit.

Young happy tourist on top of a mountain enjoying valley view

 

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”  Psalm 32:3-4

We are in the heat of summer here in Dallas.  Its 80 degrees at sunrise and it reaches 100 degrees by late afternoon.    The sun is bright and it beats down all day long, with rarely the cover of a cloud. This will happen day in and day out now until mid September.   Although, water, shade, fans and air-conditioning are common place and they help us to endure, we can’t really get away from the heat because the sun will not stop shining.  The heat doesn’t stop.  Day after day, from sun up until sun down,  we endure it.  Early in the day we manage to stay cool, but as we move through the day it will take its toll on our body and spirit and will sap us of our energy by night fall.   Its relentless.    By the time mid August comes we are wondering if we will have the strength to endure until the cooler days arrive in autumn.   But we don’t quit, we don’t give up, we keep pressing.  Why?  Because we know that this heat is just temporary.  Although it may seem like forever, cooler days WILL come.  How do we know this?  Because year after year the summer heat arrives, but it doesn’t stay forever, cooler days re-appear again come fall.

“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you, while you may be found; surely when the high waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:6-7

Although we have the comforts of air conditioning, water and shade in Texas, that does not guarantee we will be protected from the sun at all times, and when your not it is very dangerous.   Recently, while I was driving down a major freeway on the way to a business meeting in Fort Worth, and with traffic surrounding me going 70 miles an hour, my car started to sputter and lose power.  I have had this happen to me before, not recently, but as a teenager driving our well aged cars, so I was familiar with what was happening and knew that my car was likely going to quit running soon.   Not wanting to get stuck in a middle lane with high speed traffic pressing me in, I quickly started changing lanes and moving toward the shoulder to get safely out of traffic.   The nearest off ramp was 1/2 mile ahead, but my car lost power and stalled before I could get there.  So there I was, stuck on the shoulder of a major freeway, in the heat of the day, no water and no a/c.   It was a very dangerous situation.   It was hot inside the car, it was hot outside the car, and the traffic was heavy.  I managed to find a shade tree about 50 yards away where I used my cell phone to call for help.   The first call was to my husband, who was powerless to rescue me because he was 10 miles away and I had our car. My second call was to our auto insurance company asking them to activate their emergency tow service.  After 15 minutes discussing the situation, I was finally told by the insurance company that the tow truck was on its way, in the meantime, I must stay close to the car.  This left me with only one option and that was to remain in the heat, but at least I was under a shade tree.   Once the immediate crisis was handled, I used my phone to text out my situation to my prayer partners asking for prayer, I then put my phone away to preserve its battery.    Feeling Gods hand was heavy upon me, I proceeded to pray, asking God what he was trying to teach me and asking him to rescue me from this situation.  He told me he was preparing me and that this was a test.  I asked him what I should do, and he told me I needed to pray and worship, so I did. I paced back and forth under the tree singing and praying for 45 minutes, looking for the tow truck but it never appeared.  I contacted the insurance company again to find out the status of the tow truck and was told it would be another 30 minutes.  I continued to pray and worship.   It was hot, really hot and I was thirsty, but there was no relief available, so my only option was to endure.   I was in the heat for over three hours before the tow truck arrived.   During that time, I prayed and worshiped and stayed calm knowing that although the situation was dangerous, God was with me and in time he would send me help.  After over 2 hours, he finally sent a couple of wonderful gentlemen in an emergency vehicle to stay with and protect me while I waited the final 45 minutes for the tow truck to arrive.  Although it was a very long day in the heat and it could have been dire, God was there with me the whole time.  He protected me from trouble and surrounded me with my own songs of deliverance to comfort me while I waited, just as his Word promises.

“Many are the woe’s of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad you righteous; sing all you who are upright in heart!” Psalm 32: 10-11

These times are heating up in other ways to, as wickedness surrounds me.  In order for me to be confident in God within this wickedness, God set up this test to help me practice putting my trust in him.  I’m not quick to forget the police officers who lost their lives fighting evil just a couple weeks ago in downtown Dallas, I live less then 35 miles away from that area and go to downtown Dallas alot.    Although, I could’ve easily tried to reason away my car breaking down as pure chance, or been angry at God for allowing the whole situation, I see so clearly now how pressing through and seeking God within the circumstance has helped my trust in him grow stronger.   So strong, that when the next trial comes I will be singing songs of gladness because I have an upright heart.   A heart that is safely anchored in the love of my unfailing God.

I know that I am not alone in my trials.   Every day I speak to followers of Christ who are being tested.   Often times, they are in situations seemingly beyond their capacity to fix on their own and they wonder where God is and are asking why isn’t he helping?   God is there, and he IS helping, we just don’t always want to recognize him and sometimes we will even deny him.  It is within these trials that God gets an inside view of our heart to see how much work we need to do in order to be anchored in him.   God wants the very best for us.  He doesn’t want us to be anchored to our circumstances, he want us to be anchored in him. Because, in him, is the only place where we will find true freedom and peace.  Peace beyond all understanding.

So the next time you find yourself in a trial, don’t bail on God in the heat of the pressure.  The God who created you is right there with you, seek him.   Don’t let your mind convince you that your done, instead let your heart and your faith be anchored in Gods truth.   The truth is that He loves you and will never, ever, forsake you.  The truth is that He has great plans for you and loves you to heaven and back!  Keep pressing in and call upon the power of the Holy Spirit, and you will find that your breakthrough and your freedom will be just around the corner and you will soon be singing in praise.

 

Punch for Positive Impact!

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Many of us have a longing inside our hearts to make a positive impact into the world, but because of our instant access to news, this longing often gets covered up with helplessness.  Within minutes of logging onto the internet, turning on the television or tuning into the radio, we are made keenly aware of the tragic and sad events that are constantly happening around us.   These tragic and sad events happen so often that many of us have now grown numb to the news and  unless the event is something major or directly life threatening we often times pass over it very quickly.   We don’t believe we can do much about it, so we move on in helplessness.

Although the world is often a dark place, there are still a few of us who aren’t willing to give up and who aren’t willing to believe that “all is lost”.   Those that still have a calling in their heart and a willingness to try to shed some light into this dark world.   As much as there are many, many people out there that believe all is lost, we don’t have to believe what they believe.

Its amazing how our way of thinking can influence our surroundings.   How many times have we seen a bad temper flare up and spoil an otherwise great party?   Contrarily, doesn’t the giggle of a child make the whole room smile?   Understanding this power, why don’t we shed the power of joy and hope and see how it may spread?   Its easy to buy into the popular, mostly negative, thought patterns and run them forward.  It takes  a little more courage and inner strength to smile and share an encouraging word instead.

Do you know that you can change the way you think and what you think about?  Of course you knew that.  Do you know that if you are one of those that  have a “half empty” mindset, that if you practiced your mind to look at things from  a “half full” perspective, that over time you will train your mind to see things “half full” instead of “half empty”?   (“Switch on your Brain”) The worlds media saturates your mind and makes you believe that there isn’t much good in it.  However, if you shut down the media, and started listening and looking for the good in the world, you WILL find it.  You will hear the sounds of joy and laughter, you will see the natural beauty and bright colors of nature, you will sense the hope, and as you train yourself to do this you start believing in goodness which will drown out the darkness.

Darkness cannot overcome light.  It can dominate, but it can’t over come even the smallest spark.   I believe that all of us have impact, its just a matter of how we use it.  We can be dark like the rest of the world, and have minimal impact because we blend in.  Or, we can choose to start believing in and reflecting hope and shedding light, which causes  others to share more light too, and eventually all of this light will cause the darkness to be overcome.

Helplessness can be overcome with hope.  Hope reflects patience, joy, gentleness, kindness, peace and ultimately love.  The light of love CAN overcome the darkness of the world.   So, put on your boxing glove and punch some hope into this world and make an impact!

 

 

Conquering Mountains

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Unless we feel assured of a safe or secure outcome we often times enter into our circumstances with the wrong perspective.

Our daily lives are filled with challenges.  It starts the moment we fight the alarm clock prompting us out of our comfortable and warm bed and it proceeds into moments of bickering with a friend, spouse, child or co-worker, then into morning road rage, and then onto the challenging boss or client, on and on the challenges come, seemingly endless.   We bear through the minor ones and move on, but the bigger ones at times leave a dent in our confidence and attitude and linger in our spirit.   How do we avoid this trap?

Let’s start with our outlook.  Do we dread the day or do we embrace the day?  Do we start the day with excited anticipation or do we instead create a mental task list of the challenges we will face.   Do we anticipate those challenges with an attitude of victory or do we instead yield to the belief of defeat?  Do we rise with energy believing we have an awesome day before us no matter the circumstance, or do we instead squelch the excitement with a yawn of dread?

We have a spirit within us that will enable us to embrace each challenge with joy and victory.  We have a spirit within us that is longing for us to face our day as if we are standing on a mountaintop looking down in victory over our clouds of circumstances.  We have a spirit within us that is saying to us “Draw in to me, rest in me, and trust in me, and I will show you the way.”

This Spirit, is our Lord God.  The Creator of the Earth.  The One who has created you and me and who is calling us onto him.  He is asking us if we are tired of doing things our way. Tired of being alone in our battles.  Tired of defeat.  Tired of running this marathon life at full speed without the finish line in sight.   He is waiting for us to say “I’m done with my way, let’s try it your way.”

“Come to me, all those toiling and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  We have heard this verse, this invitation, hundreds of times.     We have also heard this:  “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even say to to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matthew 21:21)  Some of us hear these verses, but we don’t believe them.  Some of us hear them, but don’t receive them.   Either way, we are stuck helpless in our own circumstances.  Others hear these words and receive them, recite them, believe them, and live them. These fortunate ones are either working towards the mountaintop or living at the mountaintop.   Your perception and your reception of these verses will directly effect your circumstances and your life.   Do you want out of the trap?  Don’t look at your circumstances, instead look to your Lord.