Year ago I was leading a short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The flight landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to refuel. We had enough time on the ground to get off the plane and walk around the terminal but not enough time to leave the airport.
When I re-boarded the plane, I noticed a group of stewardesses and one of the pilots going through the bin over my seat. When I walked up to them, the pilot asked, “Is that your bag?” He was pointing at my travel bag, so I said, “Yes”. He replied sternly, “Open it!”
When I set the bag on the seat I could hear a buzz coming from the bag. So, I opened it up and there was my electric razor buzzing away. Apparently, someone had bumped the bag getting their bag out, and it got turned on. I got a chuckle out of that, but they were clearly not amused.
‘Noise’ can be something that distracts our attention from the main thing. Jesus said it is that kind of ‘noise’ that keeps people from growing in their faith (Matthew 13:21). That kind of buzz is like static on your favorite radio station. It keeps us from focusing on Jesus. Keep the ‘noise’ to a minimum and you can hear God’s still, small voice.
Anita and I took our granddaughters to the animal barns Monday. Our first stop was the horse barns. It was early Monday, but there were a couple of draft horses in there. As we stopped so the girls could see, one of their owners stepped into the stall to place a collar over one of the horse’s heads. The horse didn’t like that idea and stepped backwards out of the stall. He (or she) was on a rope, so it couldn’t go far, but that scared the daylights out of Raegan. From that point on, all she wanted to see were the rabbits and ducks. No more big animals for her.
Have you had a scarey experience that put fear in your heart for the rest of your life? This is what Paul described as a stronghold. Not every scarey thing is a stronghold. Fear of fire and heights are healthy fears. They keep us from getting hurt. But there are fears which become strongholds. When a fear becomes a stronghold, it irrationally controls us and holds us back.
I once had a fear of failure because I had failed. Some of us have a fear of relationships because we’ve been hurt in one. Others of us fear electricity because we’ve been shocked before. When an irrational fear holds us back from doing what God has called us to do, it is a stronghold in our lives. We are called to be over-comers and must face our fears.
Paul addressed these strongholds in 2 Corinthians 10:4: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds“. Let’s fight these strongholds with God’s weapons.
Tags: fear, stronghold
Anita and I were watching our nearly 3-year old granddaughter, Raegan. Raegan said, “Where’s that fox, Grandma, where’s that fox?” She was referring to a small resin figure of a fox that came from a cereal box. Its about 2″ x 2″. Its her favorite little toy.
So Anita began looking in the toy-box, under the furniture and cushions, behind the TV, and everywhere she could think of. Raegan kept asking, “Where’s that fox, Grandma, Where’s that fox?” Finally, in desperation, after wasting 15 minutes crawling around on the living room floor, Anita looked at Raegan and noticed the big smile on her face. “Did you hide that fox in a secret place?” she asked.
Delighted, Raegan replied, “Yes!” She had been playing Hide the Thimble with her grandma who thought she was serious. Grandma knew her ‘secret place’ in the other room and there it was.
But God is never playing a game with us. He’s very serious about His people searching out spiritual truth and finding it. And that truth is hidden in plain view for those who read God’s word with spiritual eyes.
Tags: game, truth
If you haven’t been to the DeKalb County fair yet, remember that this is the night when we have no activities happening at the church. We are encouraging you to get out into your community gathering and make connections.
When Jesus first sent out His disciples for ministry, “he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). They had authority to do two things: preach the kingdom of God, and heal the sick. None of them had any more authority to do so that we do. But “they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere” (Luke 9: 6).
Have you received the Holy Spirit since you’ve believed? Then launch out on your own missionary journey tonight and look for open doors to share two things: Preach [declare] the gospel, and heal the sick! And let me know what happens, because I’m praying for you.
Tags: healing, preaching
David was declaring his dependence upon Almighty God when he penned Psalm 139:11-12: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”
In Bible symbolism, light speaks of enlightenment and darkness speaks of sin or evil. David states that even if fear of the darkness overwhelms him, yet God’s ever present light will keep the darkness from casting its shadow upon him.
These words should encourage us also. When confusion or pain or trouble threaten us, and we fear what lies ahead, we don’t have to fear, because it is the indwelling Holy Spirit, always with us, that sheds light our way. We can always find our way in the darkest night when His light shines upon us. Encourage yourself with these words, as David did.
This is fair week in DeKalb County. It is the time when people from all over the county congregate to compete, socialize, and get refreshments. As the shepherd, let me encourage you to be missional about this fair. The Great Commission is that we go out into the world to [for the purpose of] make disciples.
When your family goes to the fair this year, and I strongly encourage you to do so, go with the specific intention of seeing who God leads you to. Pray together on your way there, be responsive to the accidental and coincidental encounters. Expect to be led by His Spirit. Don’t be afraid to talk about what the Lord has done for you. People may argue with your doctrine, but they can never argue with your story (your testimony).
Look for connections to be renewed, and even old hostilities to be silenced. Go with a forgiving heart, because we are on a mission. Our mission is not to have fun, but to make disciples on some level. Put God first and watch what God does through you.
We spent last week looking at Psalm 139, where in verses 1-18 David talked about how amazing God’s thoughts were toward him, and that God knew all his thoughts, then he went on to reveal all his corrupt thoughts about his hatred for others in verses 19-22. Quite a contrast. But we’ll love the way David closes out this Psalm:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (vv. 23-24)”
With this ending we can clearly see that God was searching his heart at that time. Often God can see our hearts by how we word our prayers. What I ask for reveals the corruption or holiness of my heart. Jesus said to Blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41) How he answered that question would reveal faith or need.
Reread the last two verses above and make this your prayer. And expect God to answer right away.
Tags: holiness, search