Thursday, May 28, 2015

We're on the same team, right?

Isn't it interesting what the Spirit will point out when you are reading God's Word?

In First Samuel chapter thirty we see a story of David and his men returning from a fight to find their families taken captive. There were some of the men who were too weary to go after the culprits so they stayed behind with the supplies. David and the others ride off and save the women and children as well as all the plunder, bringing them back.

"Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left at the Besor valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David's followers said, 'Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.' David replied, 'No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.' David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this." 1 Samuel 30: 21-25

I love the thought David upholds - we're on the same team here.

This kind of "we did it" attitude often crops up in churches and among churches.

I have heard pastors and church members want to make sure other churches and pastors know what they have accomplished. They can even get selfish when it comes to serving certain groups of people outside of the church.

Within the church, I've seen small groups and even individuals claim victory for themselves, excluding the whole body of Christ.

When this happens, we should remember this instance from the life of David.

We are given different roles as church members and even as churches in an area. But, we are on the same team and should have the same goal. Aren't we all winning people to Christ and encouraging our fellow believers?

All of us Christians make up the body of Christ and when there's a victory, we should share in the reward.

With our world in such a downward spiral away from God and His ways, we shouldn't bicker over who gets the credit and who should be left out because we feel they made a lesser contribution. It isn't our place to judge the role each person plays. There's no time for that. We have a lost world that needs winning to Christ.

Share equally in the reward and remember, all the glory goes to the Lord anyway.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spiritual Warfare - Really?

Do you believe in spiritual warfare?

I can give you a hearty yes for my answer.

My husband is a pastor, so we know about this opposition. He must deal daily with satan's push against revealing the truth from God.

Personally, I have looked forward to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for many months. I was eager to return and teach the classes God had led me to create just for this year's attendees. I had especially prayed for my devotional class and that God would encourage exactly the people He wanted in this class. We would be creating a devotional book for Christian writers, in hopes of encouraging them in their calling to write Christian literature.

The week before the conference I felt under attack. Many of the faculty at this conference have voiced similar experiences each year before the conference.

At first I let all of the attacks pull me down, strip my confidence, and rob my joy. Should I even attend the conference in light of the circumstances around me? When this thought ran through my mind, I became a little miffed at myself.

What was I doing? I was allowing my enemy to defeat me without a fight. And, what was it about me going to this conference that had riled satan enough to try to thwart my efforts?

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10-12

The verse above doesn't say, be strong. Rather, it states to be strong in the Lord. We put on His armor.

I was trying to combat this enemy with my own strength. Can I tell you, friends? We will lose every time. But, now with God's strength, we can't lose.

This life is a battle and we're sure to come out with some scrapes and bruises. But, we can take our stand against every campaign of the devil through our Lord.

So, this is a happily ever after - I prayed and went on to the conference. I now know why satan didn't want me to go. I experienced such "holy encounters" through my class attendees as well as the music and speakers. The spirit of darkness wanted to rob me of the light and truth and sweet worship and fellowship.

Have you had to battle the enemy lately? Were you armed with God's strength?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Were You Skipped When God Gave Spiritual Gifts?

Recently I've been going through Beth Moore's lecture study on the Spirit called Breath. Something really resounded with me in the latest lecture.

Do you feel like you were skipped when God passed out spiritual gifts? Let me tell you right now that if you are a child of God, meaning you have been saved through Jesus Christ, you have been given at least one spiritual gift.

How do I know this to be true? When you were saved, God put a deposit of Himself in you called the Holy Spirit. And, we are each given a manifestation of this Spirit in us.

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Notice it says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one. Manifest means to make evident or embodiment. There has been some sort of gift given to you to make the Spirit in you evident.

Often we might deny we have a Spiritual gift because we don't like the one we were given. Or, maybe we haven't actively discovered the gift within us.

Beth Moore says this about spiritual gifts: "Your spiritual gift was given to you but it is not for you."

This is supported in the First Corinthians scripture above. Notice it says that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. Is this your common good? Nope. Our spiritual gifts are to be used in the Body of Christ, the church.

Starting in verse 12 of the same chapter of First Corinthians as is quoted above is the discussion of the Body of Christ. The body analogy is used to show that if one part is lacking then the whole body suffers. Thus, we are not supporting the common good of our fellow Christians.

So, I will conclude by telling you that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you weren't skipped over when God gave spiritual gifts. You and I are responsible for using our gifts for the good of our other brothers and sisters in Christ and they are equally responsible to us.

Do we dare ask the Spirit to fill us with the power we need to use our gifts? What could God do with a Christian who is yielded to the Spirit and using the gifts to glorify God?

I do believe that Acts 2 finds a rag-tag group of people being filled with the Spirit who went on to turn the world upside down.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Don't Let Your Godly Legacy Die

As I'm reading my daily Bible readings in my One Year Bible, I've been marking verses that stick out. One that not only stuck out but gave me pause to examine was a passage from Judges the second chapter.

About verse number eight, the text says that Joshua died at the age of 110. He is characterized as a servant of the Lord.

But a mere verse later, the situation changes.

"After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals." Judges 2:10-11

In another verse later in the chapter it points out that the people turned from the ways of their ancestors who had been obedient to the Lord's commands.

What just a minute! What happened here? We would like to point a finger at this generation and tell them how awful it is that they brought in false gods and ignored the commands of God. But, we can't blame them solely.

Back in Deuteronomy God impressed upon the people that they must pass on this Godly heritage. They were specifically told to teach their children in every situation. They were even encouraged to set up memorials so when the children asked about these, they were to tell about God and what He had done for them. What happened? Seems there was a breakdown some place here.

Most people who know me, know that passing on a Godly legacy is a very important thing for me. I strive to be very intentional about handing down my Christian heritage.

Being intentional is the key. Obviously it takes more than just growing up in a family that followed the Lord. It must take more than just shuffling our kids off to church every once in a while. God went as far as to tell the people to talk about His commands as you walk along the road and in your homes.

This means that our Christian heritage is lived, modeled, and specifically taught. We can't expect our children to carry on a Godly legacy if we don't show the importance. They won't just "catch" it by attending church or Sunday school.

Our children and those we have influence over must see us live out our Christian faith and prove its priority and worth.

I fear we, just as the Israelites in the Judges passage, haven't taken this task seriously. We're not thinking what is at stake. We're not just playing with some traditions. We're playing with people's lives and eternities.

Oh, friend, don't let your Godly legacy die out. Make it an intentional priority to carry on. The next generation is counting on you to show them Christ and how God would have them to live and pass on this most important legacy to the next generation. Let's not allow another generation to grow up not knowing the Lord or what He has done.