Monday, December 24, 2012

He is Almost Here!




Luke 2:15 NLV
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  All returned to their own towns to register for this census.  And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiance, who was obviously pregnant by this time. 

I have been thinking much lately about the state of our national government, here in the United States. The power the leaders take to themselves, as the headiness of a spirit of control takes over their reasoning, is frightening.  But as I think of this passage in Luke, I am reminded that God is still in control.  He used a proud and arrogant emperor to bring fulfillment of biblical prophecy. 

Micah 5:2 NKJV
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." 


Let us never forget, that God is working His purpose out.  Rejoice! In all things give thanks!

Pray with me: Father, thank You for reminding me that You are on the throne. You alone know the beginning from the end and You have already triumphed. Thank You that we are right now seated in heavenly places with You, because of what Jesus did for us. Tonight we await with great expectation, once again, the celebration of Jesus' birth. Glory Abba! Amen!






Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Father's Day message for Advent!


Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)
18Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her fiance,
 being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
20As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,  for he will save his people from their sins." 22All of this happened to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet:
23 "Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and he will be called Immanuel 
(meaning, God is with us)."
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, 25but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. 


As I reflected on this passage, I got to wondering about Joseph. I doing a little research on the internet I came across the following sermon written for Father's Day. It was the best I ever read! So I am sharing it here instead of my usual musings. Enjoy! Click Here to Read Sermon


Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent: Are You Getting Ready?

Photo by Paula Muehlendorf 2012
Luke 1:67-79  (The Message)
(copied and pasted from www.studylight.org)

67Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
68Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.

69He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,

70Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:

71Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;

72Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he'd do,

73What he swore to our father Abraham--

74a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,

75made holy before him as long as we live.
76And you, my child, "Prophet of the Highest,"
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,

77Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.

78Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God's Sunrise will break in upon us,

79Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.

For the last nine months, Zachariah had been struck deaf and dumb.  There is no doubt in my mind, that as a priest of God's people, he spent the silent days on his face before God and scouring the holy scriptures.  I can imagine the electricity that must have shot through Zachariah as he read the prophecy in Malachi 3:1, and realized that which the angel Gabriel had told him about his son, was the fulfillment of that ancient prophecy!

Behold, I am sending My messenger, and He will clear the way before Me. And the Lord whom you are seeking shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Angel of the Covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He comes, says Jehovah of Hosts.  (Green's Literal Translation)

The world was getting ready to change forever! And his son was the forerunner!  I am getting Holy Ghost goose bumps and it wasn't even my kid!

My inspiration from this text today, is to bury myself in the Word and declare this prophecy over myself and my family and the Church! I want to have God's heartfelt mercy towards those who are still in darkness! I want to be one who prepares the way of salvation for those who do not know our blessed Savior, Jesus!  In the Greek the word for prepare is hetoimazo. This is the definition given in the Strong's version at studylight.org:
  1. to make ready, prepare
    1. to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready
  2. metaph.
    1. drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable
    2. to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings

I especially want to prepare the path, remove obstacles and help to ignite a desire in others to know our King! I want His leading, one foot at a time down that path of peace!

Pray with me: Father help to have the focus that Zachariah must have had during his time of chastening  I want to burn with a passion that draws those in darkness to You.  Teach me to worship with all my heart and soul and mind and strength.  Glory to You as the time of Your Son's appearing draws near!! In Jesus' name, amen!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mary did You Know?


Advent: Is God a Gracious Giver?

Glory Orb during Worship in S. Africa at ACTS Church

Luke 1:57-66 (NKJ) 
57 Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. 59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60His mother answered and said, "No; he shall be called John." 61But they said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name." 62So they made signs to his father--what he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, "His name is John." So they all marveled. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, "What kind of child will this be?" And the hand of the Lord was with him.


Another meaning of the name John is Jehovah is a gracious giver.  I find it interesting that when Zacharias' tongue was loosed and he began to praise the Lord, that the people all around them began to fear.  The Greek word is Phobos and it means to strike terror, dread and awe.  There are times when we experience the reality and power of God in such a way, that it overwhelms us and shakes us to our very core.  He is real.  He is here. He is awesome in power.  In those moments we are undone.

Remember Peter's response to Jesus in Luke 5:8:
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"  

The boat they had been out fishing in all night, with no fish for their labor, went out again at Jesus' word.  They almost sank the boat for all the fish they brought in.  When I was a younger Christian, I used to wonder at Peter's response.  I thought that I would have been jumping for joy!  But life has taught me how great the Lord is in His mercy and compassion towards me.  There are times when I cannot stand in joy, but have to get on my knees and weep because of His greatness.

Recently, Jack and I had the privilege of seeing the fear and awe of God come upon a young woman.  It was during a healing service in Mississippi.  Jack and I were demonstrating a way to pray for people with bad backs, hips scoliosis, etc.  This woman joined us to learn.  She was a dedicated Christian who had always been active in many programs in her church, things like caring for the poor, women's ministry, Bible study, etc. As it happened, the woman we were praying for had suffered with severe lower back pain for over 20 years due to her hips being twisted, and one leg being several inches shorter than the other.  We had the woman sit in a chair and Jack held her feet. Our new friend was standing next to Jack observing with interest.  As we prayed and spoke to the woman's skeletal system to line up with God's Word, her short leg suddenly shot out and her hips straightened out. The woman we were praying for exclaimed the pain was gone.  I looked at our prayer partner and she was white as if she had just seen a ghost! Tears were gathering in her eyes, she put her hands to her face and told us, " This can't be!  Oh my God! What have you all done to me!"  She just was terrified as she understood for the first time that God was really here with us; He was in us and had given us the power that Jesus had told us He did!  She continued to be overwhelmed as we then had her do the praying for another person who also was in severe back pain. This time the person was healed as she was the one holding the feet and praying. 

What really spoke to me about that experience was the young woman's face.  I will never forget how terrified she was as she realized that her faith in God was now an experience with God.  Too often, we walk in a level of faith that has nothing to do with the power of God. It is a mental assent to His truth. When He demonstrates His presence that overwhelming fear, dread and awe we feel changes our lives.  He is real! He is here!  He is awesome in power! He is a gracious giver!

Pray with me:  Father, how we thank You for Your awesome gifts!  Help us to ponder Your reality in our lives during this Advent season.  Help us to understand the magnitude of what You do for us when we accept the reality of the birth of Jesus.  Help us to know Your presence in us and with us as we follow Him. Forgive us Lord, when we do not believe You. Father, we love You. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent: Can Heaven Kiss Earth?


Luke 1:46-56 (NLT)
Mary responded,
"Oh, how I praise the Lord.
 How I rejoice in God my Savior!
 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and now generation after generation
will call me blessed.
 For he, the Mighty One, is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
 His mercy goes on from generation to generation,
to all who fear him.
 His mighty arm does tremendous things!
How he scatters the proud and haughty ones!
 He has taken princes from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
 He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
And how he has helped his servant Israel!
He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful.
 For he promised our ancestors—Abraham and his children—
to be merciful to them forever."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. 

I learned something new today. Mary's name in Hebrew means "their rebellion!"  Wow!  That just blows me away.  To think that Jesus was born to a mom whose name represented the rebellious fall of mankind.  I will say it again, God is so smart!  (That is one of my favorite sayings about God)

In this glorious song of praise, with Mary's very breath, she rejoiced in and magnified the Lord, her Savior, the One who owned her very soul!   The word Savior comes from the Greek root word, sozo.  In other words, Mary was prophesying that her Son would sozo her: He was not just saving her from her sin, but healing her, delivering her, rescuing her!

 (Sozo is a word that has been adopted by those in the Christian healing ministry to describe the many ways Jesus heals us.  We have taken Sozo training at our healing center in San Antonio.  Sozo is one of the ministry outreaches of the Bethel school founded by Bill Johnson. It is worth looking into.) 

Mary then goes on to prophesy the healing of the nations, of Israel, that God was fulfilling His promise to Abraham through her!  What really stood out to me is how Jesus is the true equalizer of mankind.  In Him, the poor and humble are lifted up, and the rich who are found to be proud and selfish are brought down. This is not an indictment of being rich, but on being arrogantly rich, and not having concern and mercy for those who are poor.    

Today, in the United States, we are a nation divided.  There is schism between rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian, between people of different races.  There is truly only one solution.  That we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  If we can do that, then Heaven would come to Earth and kiss!  

Personally, this passage inspires me to worship God with all my heart!  I want to have a heart of praise like Mary did.  Rejoice with me someone!! Hallelujah! 

Pray with me:  Father, thank You for coming to us in Your Son, Jesus.  For humbling Yourself to be born of a woman named "their rebellion."  Thank You for Mary and for her showing us how to truly exult Your name!  I rejoice in You!! In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent: Would You like a Holy Ghost Break?


Luke 1:39-45    (NLT)
39A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. 43What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! 44When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! 45You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said." 

According to John Lightfoot Commentary, it is most likely that Elizabeth and Zechariah lived in Hebron, which was know to be the 'the city of Aaron's offspring.' (see commentary)   The distance between Nazareth and Hebron is over one hundred miles.  So whether Mary walked or rode a donkey, it would have taken about four days to travel.  It is most likely she would have had a traveling companion, because women, especially young teens, would not have gone out in public alone.  Was she part of a caravan heading south?  One thing we know, there were no Motel 6's along the way.  Mary had to have been a brave and determined young woman.

But she was a young woman, and she had just been through a profound, life-changing encounter with God Almighty.  She had said yes to a life that would be misunderstood by neighbors, family and friends.   All who say, "Yes," to God will have experiences that are gossiped about and ridiculed by others, sometimes by those closest to us.  Where do we go for comfort and edification in those times?  We seek out the Lord, but also brothers and sisters in Christ who have had similar experiences.  When we come together and share our testimonies in times like these, we receive strength and courage to soldier on. 

As we look at the initial encounter here between Mary and Elizabeth, what gets my heart rejoicing is the Holy Ghost break out time!  From the moment Mary says, "Hi!" the party begins! John is dancing in the womb, Elizabeth gets filled with the Holy Spirit and begins to prophesy! And don't you know the joy that must have hit Mary as she realized, "Praise the Lord, Elizabeth really knows!!!" 

We were not created to walk this path alone.  During this Advent season, let us seek out holy fellowship.  Draw near with those who we  can encourage and build up as well as receiving the same from them.  I almost see it as a time of tarrying and praying and pressing in to the Lord, much as the disciples must have done in the upper room as they awaited the Gift from on High!  This is a season of great expectation!  It is a season to huddle together and share those deep mysteries, both the joys and the sorrows, we have experienced with one another.  

It is a time to believe the Lord will do as He said!  Be blessed! 

Pray with me:  Father, thank You for these two awesome women who said yes to the plan for their lives.  They helped to change the world! Thank You, You have not left us alone, but sent Your Holy Spirit to fill us and to make us one.  Help us to make the time during this all too busy time to come together with our brothers and sisters and share our hearts and lives, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I want to shout, "Glory!" with someone!! In Jesus name, amen.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Do You Want a Heart Like Mary's?



Luke 1:26-38  (NLT) 
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!"
29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30"Don't be frightened, Mary," the angel told her, "for God has decided to bless you! 31You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!"
34Mary asked the angel, "But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin."
35The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."
38Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." And then the angel left. 

I cannot imagine the wonder of  what it must have been like for Mary, a relatively young woman, to receive this glorious visitation from Gabriel and the news that she was the chosen mother of Jesus.  Reflecting on this passage, what stands out above all else, for me,  is Mary's unequivocal response.  

Mary put her total life in the hands of God.  She knew there could be severe penalties for being found pregnant in her single state.  But, it appears she did not hesitate even a fraction of a moment.  She trusted God's word above her knowledge.  She was willing to go through whatever would come at her for His sake.  

I am reminded of Jesus' words to count the cost of following Him. (Luke 14:25-28, 33) (The Message)  
5One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, 26"Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters--yes, even one's own self!-can't be my disciple. 27Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple.28"Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it?...33"Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be my disciple.

Being a follower of Jesus is not an easy path.  But once we have tasted the goodness and love of the Lord, there is no other way that matters. 

Pray with me: Father, give me a heart like Mary.  A heart that says, "I am willing to accept whatever You want."  Make me fearless, trusting and eager to do Your will.  Help me remember to pray daily, that everything You have said, will come true.  In Jesus' name I ask, amen.






Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Who You Gonna Believe??


Luke 1: 18-25  (NLT) (Copy and pasted from studylight.org)
18Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I know this will happen? I'm an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years."
19Then the angel said, "I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20And now, since you didn't believe what I said, you won't be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time."
21Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out, wondering why he was taking so long. 22When he finally did come out, he couldn't speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures that he must have seen a vision in the Temple sanctuary.
23He stayed at the Temple until his term of service was over, and then he returned home. 24Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25"How kind the Lord is!" she exclaimed. "He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!" 

Just prior to this passage, in verse 13, Gabriel had said to Zechariah that his prayer had been heard, and that his desire for a son was to be fulfilled. I have to ponder all the prayers I have sent to God that have not come to pass...yet.  One of the most common prayer sent to God by most Christians would likely be salvation prayer for our loved ones.

 I am reminded of the most dramatic answer to prayers that I know went out perhaps 60 years prior to the answer, and that was the salvation of the man I call Uncle Bill.  He was the uncle of a friend of mine, who received salvation as a very old man, on his deathbed.  His wife had preceded him in death and she had prayed for his salvation their entire marriage.

It is not hard to identify with Zechariah's disbelief.  Often in our human frailty, we look at the flesh and not the miraculous.  Yet,  Gabriel was astounded that Zechariah doubted.  Gabriel's attitude was like,
 " Look dude! I came from the face of God!!! You think I came for my own benefit? Are you that faithless??  Dude, if you can't speak words of faith and gratitude, you won't say anything at all for the next nine months!" 
I think I want to grasp the intensity of Gabriel's words, and apply that intensity to my faith in God.  Jesus told us that whatever we ask in His name it will be done for us, when we abide in Him. (John 15:7)

Do we really believe that? Do we need Gabriel to show up to tell us our prayers have been heard?  (Though I think that would really be cool!!) 

I am thinking that our words really need to be words of faith.  When we know we have been heard and that the answer is on its way, the proper response is, "Thank You!"

Pray with me:  Father forgive me for all the times I have doubted Your words to me. I place my life in Your hands. Thank You for always hearing my prayers.  Thank You for the answers that are even now being sent.  Thank You for the answered prayer that I may not see in my lifetime, but You are faithful. It will be glorious to see the results of our prayers on the other side!  In Jesus' name, amen.







 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent: The Season of the Spirit and Power of Elijah!

Photo by Paula Muehlendorf Shaw 2012

In preparing my heart for the coming of Jesus Christ during this season of anticipation, I decided to divert a bit from my usual blog posts and do a study of the Advent story in Luke.  God willing, I will post daily whatever revelation the Lord gives as we journey through these passages.

Luke 1:5-17   (New Living Translation NLT)
(The scripture text is copy and pasted from www.studylight.org)

5It all begins with a Jewish priest, Zechariah, who lived when Herod was king of Judea. Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations. 7They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old.
8One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord's presence. 10While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. 13But the angel said, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John. 14You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, 15for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or hard liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.  16And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. 17He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom." 

This story begins during the reign of the most evil king Judea had ever seen.  Herod had accomplished extraordinary feats, re-building the temple in Jerusalem, literally turning "Samaria into a Greco-Roman showplace, complete with theater, racetrack, pagan temple, and streets lined with colonnades and statuary.  On the coast he built a similarly lavish port city of Caesarea." (See Alfred Hoerth's , Archaeology and the Old Testament, 1998, p 421) But he was viciously protective of his throne.

During the time of Herod's reign, when John the Baptist and Jesus were born, Herod's sons began to vie for the throne. He had three sons put to death! Knowing this, helps to understand the kind of man who would have no qualms killing all the first born sons throughout Judea when he heard the news about Jesus from the wise men. 

I love how many layers of meaning are in the scriptures.  Take the names of those mentioned in this passage.  Zechariah means remembered of Jehovah.The Lord ordained the man through whom the front-runner of Jesus would be, would be a man named for that very time. The Lord remembers His promise to save His people. 

The Lord also remembered Zachariah's cry for a child.  He and his wife were past the age of child-bearing.  In the tradition and law of the era, Zachariah would have been totally within his rights to legally divorce his wife, Elizabeth.  The fact that he did not tells us he really loved her.  We can with all certainty assume they asked God for a child. Imagine the honor in knowing that your child was a totally prophetic child of God.  John was the name the angel told Zachariah to name his son. John means beloved of God.  Beloved doesn't just mean loved, it means greatly loved!

I believe we, as proclaimers of the Good News, "Jesus is coming!" are also greatly loved of God! And we can go out into the community around us in the spirit and power of Elijah! This is a season of the prophetic!  Let us build up! Let us encourage! Let us declare the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Zechariah was also a priest in the division of Abijah.  Abijah means my father is Jehovah. Of all the divisions of priests, how awesome is it that the one whose name proclaims Jehovah as Father is serving at the time of the beginning of the Advent of Christ's being born, the Son of God and Son of Man?

The division of Abijah was also the eighth division.  Eight in the Bible stands for new beginnings.  The beginning of the New Covenant is starting here, in the sanctuary, with a pronouncement to Zehariah of a soon to born son who would prepare the way of the coming of the Redeemer of the world, awakening the hearts of God's people to repent and receive their King!

Pray with me: Today, Father, I ask You to search my heart.  If there are any ways in which I have turned from You or from my children, reveal them to me so that I may repent. If there are any ways my mind has become disobedient to You, forgive me and change my mind to receive Godly Wisdom! Let me, like your servant John, go out in the power and spirit of Elijah this Advent season.  Prepare me, Oh Lord!



  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Do You Prefer the Truth that Hurts, or Lies that Make You Comfortable?



 Luke 21:27-28   (RSV)And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  

Matthew 25:31-46  (RSV) 31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."


Today, I was reading a blog that spoke of the passage from Luke 21:27-28 that describes the Day of the Coming of the Lord as simply our redemption drawing near, dismissing the idea of there being any judgement attached to that day.  This is a dangerous conclusion made from  taking one scripture and building a doctrine around it without keeping in context with the entirety of God's Word.  In Luke, Jesus was speaking of the end times, and if you read the entire chapter, He warns them to stay alert.  In Matthew, Jesus warns of the day of judgement that must occur.

If we neglect to warn of the coming judgement, it will be as if the blood of those who are lost will be on our hands.  While I fully support the Day of His Coming will be a time of great rejoicing for those who love Him and know Him, and follow Him, it will be a day of horror to those who have opposed Him.

Too many in the Church have watered down the hard sayings of Jesus.  Recently, I copied a scripture into my Facebook status that was Jesus' own words to us.  Here it is:

Mark 3:28-30 (The Message)
"Listen to this carefully. I'm warning you. There's nothing done or said that can't be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God's Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you're sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives." He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.


A dear Christian friend told me, "That's frightening and feels like you pointing a finger at someone Anna."  I don't think he even recognized the Lord's own words!  

Our western Christianity has been infiltrated and watered down by the politically correct, all inclusive, false love, a love without truth. 

May we never cease to tell of our wonderful Savior's love for us, and that He came to save the world from the sin and evil that destroys humanity. Without turning to Him and receiving the eternal gift He gave us through His birth, death and resurrection, we will receive His judgement.  

During this Advent season, let us prepare our hearts by meditating on the depth of love it took for God Almighty to lay aside His divinity to be born the Son of Man, knowing we would brutally mock, beat and "smite Him from the earth." (from Hallelujah, My Father, words and music by Tim Cullen)

Blessings, Anna Marie

 

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Do Our Words Matter?



Matthew 5:21-22  ( The Message)

"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, "Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother "idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell "stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

Today I am going to conduct an experiment. From the moment I post this blog post until I go to bed, I am going to speak only positive words over myself and others. I am going to take every negative thought captive and bring it to Jesus. I want to see what the effect will be on my attitude and emotions at the close of the day.
It's not that I have not tried to live this way before, but I have never been totally focused on doing this. I tend to get distracted very easily.

My emotional level this morning is sort of a dullness. I am neither sad nor joyful. My attitude is one of expectancy and determination. 

I included this picture of  my husband receiving prayer because, I do not remember anyone ever doing that on a Sunday service before. This was in an Episcopal church. When he finished preaching he got an rousing round of applause! That just doesn't happen often in liturgical churches.  While I cannot prove it, I know that the words spoken over him had a powerful effect on his sermon.

I am getting excited. My emotional level is rising.  My expectancy has risen...

If you read this, please say a prayer for me today.  Blessings, Anna Marie

Here goes!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trial or Gift?

James 1:2-4  (The Message)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.


This passage really poked my heart this morning.  I have been in a season of testing and I have been crying out to the Lord to save me.  But His answer has been to be with me in the midst of trial.  Day by day, I am getting revelation of the power we have in simply keeping our eyes firmly fixed on His.  He is training me to live and move and have my very being in Him.  When the waves of the storm come crashing over my heart, I am quickly restoring my sights towards Him.

Gratefully, the times I take my eyes off Him are growing shorter and fewer.  But I have also discovered that those moments, when I change my focus from Him to my situation, bring more pain than I have ever known.  What I am realizing is as I stay with Him, in Him, the love that we share is becoming so intense.  Any separation causes distress.  So that it is not the trial causing the pain any longer, but the separation from my Lord. 

Thanks be to God for His gifts of mercy and love...He fills my every empty cove.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What really matters?



Thank You, Lord. You always show me the "Main Thing."  I love You, Jesus.....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are You Worried?



2 Timothy 3:12-17  (The Message)
Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it. Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They're as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse.But don't let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers--why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother's milk! There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another--showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 

Today, let us press into the Word of God. Let us drink deeply of the truth found inside.  This world is passing away, but the kingdom of God is forever.  We are grafted into the olive tree of the Lord.  The way fruit from the tree is obtained, is by shaking the tree or beating the trees branches.  We are entering into a season of harvest unlike anything that has ever been seen in the world.  Expect much shaking and much beating.  But rejoice and take heart!  It is in the pressing of the olive that oil is obtained.  That oil is for the lighting and healing of the world.  ~ Blessings, Anna Marie






Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are you lonely?

John 1:14 (The Message) The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

I love this description of Jesus! He was fully God, yet He became so approachable. The cool thing is, He still is!! There is a picture of Jesus, standing at the door knocking. If we open the door, He says He will come into us and share a meal! This passage reminds me of the neighbor who comes over and knocks to bring a plate of goodies for me to eat! That's just who Jesus is! He spreads the feast! All we have to do is open the door!!

As for me and my house, we say, "Welcome!"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Healing Moments!

This is a beautiful video made by a dear friend, Rita Corke. Let the healing moments awaken faith in your heart!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy!

Children make your life important. ~Erma Bombeck
...and your heart dance!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Who is Watching?

"And all creation's straining, on tiptoe just to see, the sons of God come into their own" (Romans 8:18-25)
Have you ever stopped to give thanks in the midst of the difficult trials you are going through?

Sometimes it can take awhile before we are able to do this.  I have learned through the years, that when I am having a tough time, if I can stop and give thanks to God,  my spirit lifts in ways that I cannot understand, but are powerful.

The other day, I was out walking the trail near my house. As I walked, I was praying about issues troubling me.  I felt impressed to go back over the most horrific thing in my life, the death of my son, and give thanks for all the good that God has done in my life, and in others lives, because Stevie died.

That probably sounds strange to some of you, but it is the truth. There are so many wonderful and glorious things that have happened in the last two decades, that would not have happened if Stevie had not died.

I started to think on those things as I walked.  I never got past the first one.  Even now, remembering, I have tears of joy in my eyes.

There was someone watching me, as I went through the trial of my son's treatments for leukemia. They were watching, in the year after he died.  Something in what they saw, changed a man's destiny forever. And it wasn't my piety, it was my transparency.

Jack and I were packing up to move back to Houston, we were beat down, deep in grief, and I was personally done with the church and with God.  The phone rang, and on the other end was a co-worker. She had been watching. Even in my "dark night of the soul," something in what she saw moved her to call us as rescuers.

"Anna Marie, you and Jack have to come and pray for my Uncle Bill.  He is in my home in a coma.  He was kicked out of the nursing home because he got into a violent fight with another resident. He is the meanest man in Crockett! If he dies, I know he is going to hell. Please you have to come!"

The desperation in her voice pricked my spirit.  Even though I was in a terrible crisis of faith, I knew we had to go.

We got there, and as Jack began to minister to this old man, he began to fight and writhe. Even in his unconscious state, he was angry.  Jack stopped talking and told him, "Bill, I am not going to preach at you, I am just going to pray for you." As Jack put his hands on that old man's crusty bald head and prayed for Jesus to come to him and deliver him and set him free, Uncle Bill began to go peaceful, and tears streamed down his face.

My friend and her niece jumped back and shrieked, "He got it! He got it!" They told us they felt electricity course through their arms as they were touching him in prayer.

That night, my friend got up hour after hour to check on her uncle, because he was so quiet.  Early in the morning, she went in and his face was aglow. He had a sweet peaceful smile on his face as he slipped into eternity.

Uncle Bill is alive forever, because Stevie died.  I cannot stop giving thanks for the eternal consequences of that.  Uncle Bill is part of Stevie's inheritance.  And he is only the first.

I can only give wonder and thanks for this enormous gift. I realized through this experience, people are watching.  Even when we stumble, the Light in us is brighter than the darkness in the world.  Even in our pain, He never leaves us, even if we leave Him. He will bring us through, and in the process, we will bring many to Glory.  It is not up to us, it is up to Him.  In our weaknesses He is strong. 

Thank You, Lord, forever...



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Are You Grieving? by Anna Marie


My heart was crushed with mourning as I came to watch her die;
A life as lovely as a rose was all my eyes could see.

Sweet friend, cry not for me;
My petals whisper worship as they lie


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feel like you are being chastised?

Esperanza: Hope
Today, I was enormously blessed by a woman who told me how much an article I had written for a Christian magazine had helped her.  At the same time, I was brought up short in the knowledge I have not written for most of the year.

This has been a stressful year for me.  God has been stirring the depths of my soul to refine me.  I hate it. But I love Him for it.  His word says He chastises them whom He loves. (Hebrews 12:6)

Punishment is not pleasant while it is happening, but it produces good fruit, much like pruning a rose bush produces more blossoms. 

Those things (even relationships) we find ourselves putting before Him, are stumbling blocks in our walk.  Many years ago, the Lord showed me that those things, or people that had power over my emotions, other than Him, were idols.

I was brought up short, because I had put my husband in a place in my life that was more important than my relationship with God.  I worried constantly about my man.  If he was late coming home, I had him dead in a car wreck.  If he was sick, I wondered if he would recover.  I was a mess.

I still remember the day the Lord spoke to my heart and revealed to me I had made Jack an idol.  We were in a prayer session in our healing center in Georgia.  I do not remember who we were praying with, or anything else about the moment. But I remember Jack telling this person about idols.  I felt as if I had been slapped.

It was a most healing moment.  I repented, and gave him over to God and determined to trust the Lord for his life.

I walked in that freedom for years.

Recently, the Lord has shown me another idol in my life.  It has been a painful revelation, but one for which I most grateful to be shown.  I never want anything to come between me and my precious Lord Jesus.

As I have labored to give it over to Him, He has revealed depths of glory I would never have known any other way.  His love and life is so eternal.  I am living in the right now eternal life of God!

So, I am slowly making my way back to the written word.  There is a freedom that comes from sharing one's journey of suffering with others.  I pray that you will be encouraged by these words.  There is nothing we can go through that is not common to man. (1 Cor 10:13)

to be continued.....blessings, Anna Marie

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are you Suffering?


Every generation has had its challenges and troubles.
Every person will meet with trials and sorrows. 
Sometimes, it can feel as if the pressure will crush the breath right out of you.
But God.

Recently, I had an encounter with Jesus.
My heart was bleeding and I felt as if nothing would ever be okay again.
Suddenly, I saw Him on the cross.
He was looking at me.

He reminded me of His words, "He who has been forgiven much loves much."
Somehow, as I focused on His eyes, I received the understanding that in the same way, "He who has suffered much loves much."

I saw Him as He took not only ALL my pain, but also the pain of everyone who ever has lived or will live. The sorrow He bore for us was unfathomable

He did this willingly, selflessly, eternally...

This Love will never let me go. This Love will never let you go.

I can breathe again.



Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Are we friends? xoxoxo

For all my friends and loved ones. This song says it all. Thanks to each one who have enriched my life, just by being you! xoxoxo


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Whispering Hope


The wind blows,
Your Spirit's in the wind.

The water laps and stirs,
Never still;
As Living Water,
Eternity washes over my weary soul.

There is a Peace
Moving in my heart;
Whispering Hope,
That I am truly whole.

Can I stay here?
Shutting out the world?
I want to know Your Presence,
Feel You near.

"Rest My child."
Love beckons and holds dear.
"This is Our time."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feral or Family?


I was out filling the birdbath with water when I heard a little mewing.  There, shaking their little bodies free from the water I had splashed on them, were four new-born kittens.  So cute!!!! I had noticed the mother cat around our home for several days. She is a lovely brindle-colored feral cat.  I did not realize she had birthed these precious babies until now. 

I thought I should feed her. I do not as a rule feed feral cats, since I cannot afford to catch them, and have them neutered, and pay for their vet bills. But my heart went out to this little momma.

So, I put out some food for her and the next day she had eaten the food and moved the babies.  I was so sad. I really had wanted to adopt this little family. 

The following day, my husband went out to clean our patio and found the kitties under a pile of wood.  I got so excited! They were still here!  But he had discovered that one of the little ones had died.  He buried it and we blessed it to the Lord.

The following day, momma had moved them again.

Then it hit me.

That little feral momma cat is just like so many of us.  We have no idea that the One who cares for us wants the best for us.  He wants to feed us, capture our hearts with love and pet on us until we know how much He loves us.  But at the first move towards us, we run and hide.  Fear grips our heart...what if we are not safe in His care?

Dear one, the safest place on earth is in His care.  If I, being a fallen, weak creature know how to care for a feral kitty, how much more does the God of all creation know how to care for me and you?

Please stop running and hiding.  He loves you so.  Let Him feed you and care for you.  You will be blessed!    ~ Anna Marie

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sing Allelu! ~ Fernando Ortega!

Sing

Just feeling astoundingly blessed1 Thank YOu Jesus! You have redeemed my life!

Sing Allelu! ~ Fernando Ortega!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxV-SANxlu0&feature=colike

Just feeling astounding-ly blessed! Thank You Jesus, You have redeemed my life!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do You Want More?

I Can only Imagine!
1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV:
 But as it is written:  
Eye has no seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
I have been meditating on this verse for the last few days.  Here are some of the thoughts I have had, breaking it down, phrase by phrase: 

  1. Eye has not seen - No matter how much revelation I have been given, no matter how many healings and miracles I have seen, no matter how many God incidents I see - There is always more!  "You ain't seen nothing yet!"
  2. Nor ear heard - It doesn't matter how many times or ways He says He loves me - There is more!  There is no end to our conversation.  His secrets that He wants to reveal to me are infinite! 
  3. Nor entered into the heart of man - What grows in my heart?  Love, desire, purpose, mercy, kindness, goodness, faith, faithfulness, longing, joy, and yet, as wondrous as these are - There is more!  In my intimacy with God, it is like a Divine Rapture that sends me into  a realm of oneness, calm , total effortless peace; a place of total union with God...sublime!
  4. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him - I can only imagine...Selah. (Pause and think about that) As I survey my life, I realize I could never have believed the mysteries I have experienced.  I could never have imagined that He would turn my tragedies into Triumphs.  But I can say, unequivocally, I love Him more today, than yesterday; and as my love grows, I know the revelation He gives will grow as well - There is more!
Be blessed today!  God has more in store for you!!
 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rejoice! And Again, I Say Rejoice!

The joy of the Lord is what keeps me alive; His joy keeps me going when I want to die.

He has shown me the "joy of the Lord" is His joy!  It's one of His attributes, one of His gifts that He freely gives to me. He pours out His joy from the cross where He died.

It does not begin with me.

I am so thankful this walk does not depend on me.

The only "work" I have to do is to enter in.

I must choose daily.  I reach out, but discover He has never let me go!

It is in the choosing and the reaching that I am given eyes to see the Truth:


There is no place I can go from His presence. 

Meditate on that!

He surrounds me , He indwells me, He upholds me, He transforms me.

He is my Light, my Way, my Truth, my Life!

He brings me to the Father and covers me with His Blood.

As I meditate on these realities, I am transported into a wellspring of JOY!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Movie Wisdom

Awhile back, Jack and I watched the movie, “Facing the Giants,” and I was struck by two things. 

The first was the story the coach told about two farmers.  There was a drought and both farmers prayed for rain, but only one of them went out to prepare his field for the rain.

How often is our faith in God’s answer to our prayers like that of the farmer who only prayed but did nothing to show his belief that the rain would come?

I will never forget Dodie Osteen’s testimony, how after she asked her husband, John, to “get rid of this cancer,” he prayed and then helped her up to go make his breakfast!  She was at death’s door, sent home to die, but she refused to act like it.  Now, several decades later she is still going strong for Jesus!

The second was a scene in which the coach makes his star player do a "death crawl” an exercise where the boy is made to crawl down the field on hands and feet, while carrying another boy on his back.  The boy told the coach that he thought that he could do thirty yards but not with anyone on his back.  The coach then blindfolded him and had the kid do the crawl, saying give me fifty!  The coach then urged him on over and over saying don't quit on me!  Give me all you got!  When the boy finally collapsed, he was in the end zone!

As I think about those two illustrations and about my life goals, I am reminded of the truth that I must live my life flat out _ as if what I desire, what I have asked God for, is definitely on its way; working as hard as I can when the answer tarries as I do when I see it.  I want to be remembered as the most joy-filled, faith-filled, loving follower of Jesus Christ; a person who made a difference in others’ lives for eternity.

As we walk in faith, let us rejoice; overcome evil with good; sow kindness, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, mercy, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  And be blessed, for our Father has given us the keys to the Kingdom of God!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Anybody Out There Listening?

Proverbs 18:2
A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Years ago, one of the desires of my heart was to learn to be a really good listener.  It is not an easy task.  We in our humanness  have a desire to be known, to share our heart, our thoughts and opinions about the particular topic at hand. 

Have you ever been with people in a conversation and not been able to get a word in edgewise?  How does it make you feel? 

It makes me feel invisible, discounted, unloved.

I wanted to become a good listener because of those bad feelings I experienced by not being listened to myself.  But today, as I was reading this proverb, the word fool jumped out at me.  I hear the heart of my Father telling me that unless I truly delight to understand my brother or sister's heart in my listening, I am a fool.

To be a fool is a terrible thing.  To be a fool does not just mean your are doltish or stupid or idiotic, but it is used of one who mocks God.

Wow.  I have really been given a depth of desire to be an even better listener.  Abba Daddy is showing me that when we do not listen to another, to have an understanding of them, of their heart, of their desires, we are actually mocking our maker.  When we discount our brother, we are discounting the One who made them.

Today, I want to listen more than I speak.  Who is with me?

Blessings, Anna Marie

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Overcoming Fear!

Fear has always been the greatest enemy of my soul.  As I sat in silence with the Lord, these words came to my heart. I pray they will bless you. (I think it's meant to be a song, I have a melody in my mind)

Oh Lord, You are my Lord.
I trust in You.
When shadows overtake
I run to You.
In the Silence
Cause my raging heart to still,
Then I'll live and move and breathe
Within Your will.

Oh Lord, You are my Lord.
I trust in You.
As I live within Your Light
I rest in You.
There is no lie or fear
That stands before Your gaze,
Jesus, my heart, my life
To You I raise.

Transform me now.
Transport me now,
Into Your heart and likeness, Lord,
My Jesus show me how.
It's by Your grace,
And through Your suffering for our sake,
Create one heart,
Create one mind;
Your life I take.

Monday, January 23, 2012

60 Day Health Challenge!: What's in Your Pantry?

60 Day Health Challenge!: What's in Your Pantry?: Each day I awaken with another idea for healthy changes to make. This morning I had a bright idea that should prove challenging, but I have...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Holiness is a Choice!

Holiness is to be set apart, fully consecrated for Him and His purposes.  Holiness is a gift given when we answer the call of Jesus, “Come follow Me.”; obedience to come and follow; to empty myself of everything that I held or hold dear and receive from my precious Lord those elements that He needs me to carry to reach out to the broken world.   

Holiness is a recognition that in me dwells no good thing, unless it is the pure love and light of Christ.  By faith, we obtain His life and light and love.  

“Be holy as I am holy.”   

He calls us to carry our cross, whatever it be, totally identifying ourselves with his suffering, death and rejection, and trusting in the risen life that He has freely bestowed upon us.  His blood became the drink offering poured out from His holy vessel to reconcile us to our Father.  

Will I trust in Him to not only make me holy unto that end, that my life would be counted to  be a holy vessel to my God, and the world that He loves so much, that even in its darkness, sin and black-heartedness he gave His only Son to make us one with Him?

Forgive me Father for not allowing the crucible of the potter’s fire to strengthen me.  Forgive me when I want to hide because the way seems too difficult. 

Thank You for Your promise- that nothing can snatch me from Your hand.
I choose to be holy-set apart for You.  Lord, I trust You will bring it to pass.

Question: What is one thing you can do today to walk in holiness?