Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Live Out Your Testimony

Paul’s First Missionary Journey

So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.
Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.


Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10 Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.


12 When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord. Acts 13:4-11 NLT


Okay this was Paul's first missionary journey.  I love it because this is where it is first mentioned that Saul, was sometimes known as Paul.  If you start reading in verse nine you get to see Paul truly minister what he knew!  Before Saul served God he was traveling on the road to Damascus to torture and kill the Christians. The word says that a bright light blinded Saul and that is how God got his attention, it was a pivotal moment for him.  It was when he was blinded for three days that he was desperate and prayed to God for help.  If you want to read the story it can be found in Acts 9.  So fast forward to Acts 13 and now Paul is on his first missionary trip to tell others about Christ.  So how did Paul minister? Paul shared what he knew that worked for him! He basically prayed or used the authority of the Lord. to make this man BLIND! 



Let's shift gears for a moment. Let's say that I am struggling with my weight and someone really heavy tries to sell me this amazing weight loss program but they are still heavy, why would I want to invest in that program?  However if someone who used to be heavy, and lost weight with this amazing program then shares with me her before and after pictures, wouldn't I be more inclined to invest in the program for myself?  Same thing with our walk with Jesus.  We need to experience it for ourselves and then share what we have learned!



Paul ministered what he knew and what he had been through.  Isn't this how we should minister? When we spend time with God, in word and prayer, He teaches us in how we can apply his word to our lives.  It is what we have learned through those experiences that we can share with others because we have lived it out for ourselves! When we spend more time reading books and listening to sermons about other's experiences (not that it isn't good to read books or listen to other pastors) than we do reading the word, we are regurgitating someone else's stories.  When I read stories on Facebook about "someone's neighbor's cousin" how do I know if it is true? When all we have to share is other people's testimonies it does not have the same effect, because we haven't experienced it for ourselves firsthand.  When we spend time with the Lord we are developing our own relationship with him. When we live out our own encounters with God first,  then we can effectively share what we have learned with others!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Putting God's Word into Action


8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. I Peter 5:8-11 Msg (the Message is a paraphrase)

I remember writing a devotion years ago about the devil is like a lion roaring, seeking whom he may devour.   Did you know that the purpose of a lion’s roar is to transfix and actually paralyze its prey?  Well, that is what the enemy would like to do to you.  Paralyze you in fear, so much, so that it consumes you, instead of picking up your sword of faith and going forward into battle.  He likes to distract us from prayer, from ministry, and from focusing on Jesus.  The enemy would love to do nothing more than kill, rob and destroy you.  If he can simply conquer you by making you afraid (paralyzing you in fear) then he has nothing to worry about.

The second thing that I noticed is that most usually, the Lion represents Christ, however the enemy loves to counterfeit the King.  He has counterfeited so many things of the Lord, twisting them about until they are so distorted and nothing like the original, our Abba Father.  The Word of God says that he comes as an angel of light (total counterfeit).  It says in 2 Cor. 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 

This morning I was reading from Reality Exercises to Develop the Inner Man, by Janice Seney.  I found it funny that just as God reminded me about my devotional that I had done before, that this would be one of the first things that I read in her booklet.  I would like to quote her prayer.

“Knowing that my enemy roams about like a lion seeking someone who will allow him to devour them, I bring myself under the mighty hand of God, casting all my care over on Him.  I am calm and watchful.  As the enemy approaches I stand firm and resist him because I understand he uses the same methods on us all.  As I stand firm in faith, under pressure, then my God will make me mature, establish me, strengthen me and settle me.”

If the enemy has been roaring in your life know that he is looking for an opportunity to scare and distract you.  Keep your focus on Jesus and keep praying.  God’s Word will prevail and it never fails. I hope that this speaks to someone today.  God is faithful and bigger than any circumstance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life Changer


Mark 5:1-20. 1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Jesus is a life changer if you let him.  Let’s start in verse 15 where it says, “When they (the towns people) came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.” Funny how a person’s response or reaction, to a situation, can vary so much and that reaction or response can affect your life so greatly. This tormented man, who even chains couldn’t control or contain, was sitting there in his right mind! If you have ever lived with an insane person you know the full impact of this statement.

I wish that I could have been there in person to see this! The towns’ people were afraid! Some may have been afraid of Jesus healing a lot more people like this and killing off their economy (by killing their pigs,) or they could have been afraid what Jesus might do in their life or perhaps they were afraid of what this now sane man might say about them that he had observed in the past? I don’t know why they were afraid but all I do know is that they were afraid and they begged Jesus to leave their whole region.

What will your response be when “you run into Jesus?” Will you see change that freaks you out and beg Him to leave your area? Or will you face your fears and see what change He will do in you? Or will you be like the healed man who was sitting there with Jesus, now dressed and in his right mind and go and tell others about Jesus and let them be amazed?

It is just something to think about. Today I do know this…Jesus is a life changer. It is your decision on how you will react or respond. It is your decision on how you will let Him change your life, but He is a life changer for sure!

Me? I want to hang out with Jesus!

Shanin

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reaching


40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”
50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

I love this passage. Perhaps it is because it happened near Capernaum and I loved that part of Israel, but I don’t think so because I loved this passage before traveling to Israel. I have always read this passage as two separate stories but really it is one story because today when I read it, the first part had to impact the second part. Let me explain. Jairus had already collapsed at Jesus’s feet begging him to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jairus was desperate. It makes me cry when I think of how he would have felt, his baby girl was dying and this was his only hope of saving her. There were so many people. They probably all wanted something from Jesus! But the desperation of a Daddy of a dying girl…then someone touched Jesus.

It is very clear that there were many pressing in on Jesus but yet He knew that someone touched him? Another desperate person, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, touched the edge of his cloak. He knew that someone touched him because he felt the power go out from him. Then the woman came forward, once knowing that He knew that she touched him, and told him (in front of everybody) that she was instantly healed! He responded in love and told her that her faith had made her healed and to go in peace (without guilt.)

Today I realized that this was not two separate storied but one! Jairus had witnessed this whole event! He was there and witnessed the miracle and the compassionate response of Jesus. And while Jairus was taking this all in, the bad report came of his daughter dying and the messenger telling him not to bother Jesus. Jesus heard this! Jesus, once again, responded with compassion, “Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed. “

What Jairus just witnessed had to boost his faith a bit, after all, if Jesus had healed another woman who was in a dire situation why couldn’t He heal his only daughter?  He heard her say that she had been bleeding for 12 years! And all she did was touch his garment? Jesus told him to don’t be afraid, believe and she was going to be healed! Out of desperation and he had nothing to left to lose. Jesus was kind and loving to this woman (who was unclean in the Jewish culture) and healed her and then He told him that to believe…don’t be afraid and believe (Jairus’spart) and then Jesus would do his part (heal her.)

Jesus went to Jairus’s home. He only let Peter, James and John go into the room with him. He put out all of the mourners. Jesus told them to stop wailing. The people who were wailing laughed at Jesus in disbelief. (BTW Jairus lived very close to Peter’s house so I am pretty sure that Peter knew Jairus and that means that Jairus probably knew Jesus. Jesus had been to Peter’s home, after all.) Jesus healed the little girl and then told them to feed her.

While I have always loved these accounts of healing separately today I connected them together. When you are desperate, it is okay for others to know you are hurting as long as you reach for Jesus in faith knowing that He is the source that can answer your need. Don’t flail about and be all drama, reach for Jesus, even if all that is in your reach is just the hem of his garment. Reach for Him! He will respond to you with love and compassion when you are seeking him as the answer to your need.

Don’t think that he is so busy with other desperate situations that he can’t take time for you! He is BIG! He is big enough to handle every situation even in the midst of a sea people, He knows when you are reaching for him. You might not even have eye contact with him, but he knows when you are grasping at the hem of his garment!

If you are Jairus’s situation, and you find out that something precious to you is dead and you are told not to bother him with a hopeless situation, don’t be afraid and have faith! He will respond to you with love and compassion! You are not a bother! He will take time for you. Now he might have you “put out some mourners and wailers” that are surrounding the situation! But he will go right in to where your problem is and heal it!

Even after the little girl was healed, he had them feed her! There are times when Jesus heals an area of your life but you have a responsibility to continue practical and healthy practices, like feeding the little girl. But he will direct you! Isn’t God good? He is so big that he can meet your need and cover all of the bases!

So today I am reminded that even though not everything seems connected that Jesus can use your situation to help others. You might feel that your situation is so unrelated to anyone else’s situation but God can use your need and miracle to help someone else and you might not even be aware of it! He is that big!

So continue to reach for Jesus! No matter how desperate you feel that your situation is remember this: Your part is to reach for Jesus, don’t be afraid and believe and He will be faithful to respond to you with love and compassion.

Reaching for Him,


Shanin

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

God is Working on Every Level!

 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. Jonah 1:15-16 NIV

Jonah was running away from his assignment of the Lord when he was on board the boat that was being swallowed by the storm. He told the boat's crew to throw him overboard and everything would be alright. They prayed and then threw him overboard and the sea grew calm.

I love how big God is! Jonah is running out of rebellion and yet God uses Jonah's stubbornness to bring something good out of it. The whole crew repents and made vows to serve God! God isn't finished there; God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah (where he stays in the fish's belly for three days,) until he repents and goes on to complete the assignment that God had given to him.

There is a lot more to the story of Jonah and I challenge you to read the whole story. The story is short but there is so much packed into it!

I guess that I love serving such a multi-dimensional God. He can deal with many, many things at once and the whole time be loving and bringing people to Him on so many diverse levels. It is like how a really good book can have five different story lines going at the same time and they will intersect at some point. God is even bigger than that because His story is real with real people and real lives.

I can hardly wait until I get to heaven and see how there were so many different things happening in my life that I didn't even realize at the time. I can hardly wait to see our lives have intersected at different times and perhaps I thought it was "just a small world" when in all reality, it was the hand of God moving.

Just remember, even when the storms of our lives are tossing us about, that God has a plan and He is going to bring some good out of it!

Peace Out,

Shanin

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Evil or Good?


11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11 NIV
 
Have you ever become so consumed by someone getting away with evil that you actually become what you hate? I have. I once had a co-worker that was being very two-faced with management. She would be evil towards me, treating me terrible and then when management would come around she would be so sickening nice and lie right to their face and they would believe him! It upset me so much. I had been so faithful, hard working and honest yet someone they barely knew came in and lied and they just did not see the truth. It really hurt me that they chose to believe her over me! I threw myself a little pity party...okay the party got bigger and bigger as time went by so I decided it was my place to bring justice. But I was wrong. It was not my place and soon enough I became bitter, hateful and cynical. I started being two-faced; this was not good. Of course I justified my actions by calling it "venting." I would like to say that it only lasted a few days or weeks and I shook it off but it didn't. I failed. I let this situation rob me of my joy for a whole year by fully participating! I took my eyes off of Jesus and started dwelling on my circumstances. I was not being a good witness.
The good news is that when I finally realized that I was giving power to this person, by trying to bring justice instead of releasing the whole situation to Jesus to handle, Jesus was there ready and waiting. I repented and then started fresh. I would like to report that justice and truth did prevail in that situation but it didn't; the real difference was that I was no longer being consumed or held prisoner by the presence of evil. I stopped letting my thought patterns be comsumed with thinking that I was the one who had to bring justice, I had to give it to Jesus to handle. His timing is perfect and I had to trust Him and relinquish control.  When I stepped out of the way, it was not as messy. My job was to do my best and to do what's right!  My job is/was to focus on Jesus! My job is/was to reflect Jesus. It is not my place to make someone, do anything right. He will take care of it better and did take care of it better than I ever could!
What changed? Oh my goodness, God is good! He gave me favor and joy at work! He blessed me in so many ways.  I waited a long time to write about this situation. I needed to be truly delivered out of the situation before I could share. God is good and He has placed me someplace new. I knew when I was doing my devotions this morning and this scripture came up this was what I needed to share.  God really did a make-over on me in that situation and I could take what I learned in that situation forward with me. He is still working in/on me everyday. I realized that there were things in my heart that needed to be changed and it wasn't (or isn't) my responsibility to worry about anyone else, that is God's area of expertise. He is amazing!
If you are in a hard situation right now, and need prayer, please feel free to write me. I would be so glad to pray for you. God is faithful. He may not answer the way you feel that He should but I guarantee you that His way is so much bigger and better than your plan.
God is Ready and Waiting!
Shanin

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Investing

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 8:10-11 NIV

Following God is far more valuable than when the world has to offer. When we seek out and gain wisdom and knowledge, it will impact every area of our lives. The return investment of maintaining wisdom is o much greater because it will not just impact one aspect but it will apply to every aspect. What can I gain from God is an eternal investment that keeps giving.

I choose to seek out God's Word so that I can invest in the best investment for my life. When I follow God and His ways I am investing in the best diversified accounts ever! The benefits are endless and everlasting. I have to put something in (My time in the Word and prayer) in order to get somethng out. I am choosing to invest myself and my life in God and His Kingdom. It may cost me and may even look like a foolish endeavor, by the world's standards, but the long term investment will pay off!

Lord Jesus, help me to be diligent and consistent in Your Word and in prayer. Help me to realize what a huge investment it really is. I pray that my life will impact others in a good way to advance Your Kingdom. Father, give me wisdom and knowledge. When I read Your Word let it burrow deep in my heart and soul. Help my mind to fully grasp what You are saying to me and help me to apply it daily. Thank You Jesus, I love You so very much.