Oct 21, 2014

Opportunity Knocks...

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Act 9:5-6

The life of Paul is blowing my mind.

His life teaches us about surrendered faith. Bold faith. Fearless faith. Reckless faith.

All of this from a man who had once killed others that believed in Jesus.

Paul's ministry is transformed before our very eyes. Day by day he gets bolder, more wisdom, more courageous.

We can learn so much from this book of Acts

Paul's ministry went from zero to a million in just a few years. I mean, wow. God was stretching Paul, growing Paul, and rooting Paul deeper and deeper into his faith.

His life unfolded so quickly once he accepted the Truth of Christ on that road to Damascus where He was struck blind. [Acts 9]

He went from persecuting Christians, to being one of the absolute greatest preachers for Jesus Christ of ALL time. He wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament.

Do you see what happens when the Holy Spirit begins to reside in our hearts? God's plan for us starts to unfold. The birthing of our new life in Christ takes place! The old life is left behind...thank goodness!

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I will give you one guess who wrote the scripture above.

Yes, PAUL!

Paul understood what a new life was all about! He knew firsthand what happens when we invite Jesus as our Lord and Savior!

We are NOT THE SAME. EVER.

[and did you just hear me shout "THANK YOU JESUS?!"]

So, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, know that you are not the same person. You are a new creation designed by God to bring Him glory.

"everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43:7

Maybe you woke up today to the same old grind. Maybe you are unsure of anything God is doing in your life. Maybe you are not feeling so shiny and new in Christ.

Let me let you in on a little secret...

The very fact that you woke up this morning, breathing air into your lungs...

Means that God is still doing a work in you life! He still has a purpose for you that would blow your gorgeous little mind!

We often only see the temporal in life...this is the world's way.

However, when we open our eyes to the eternal, God's view, we see an out of this world view!

When we can begin to wrap or brains around the fact that we are made to bring God glory, we begin to have a new sparkle in our eyes. A spring in our step. A purpose in our days.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Sweet ones, you were made to bring Him glory. You.

The next time you start to believe otherwise, speak Truth to that lie. The Truth of God's Word cannot lie.

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

Just like Paul, your past is history.

Let me repeat that one more time: Just like Paul, your past is history. 

Take a step, move forward.

Get on the greatest journey of your life! He has so much for you.

His desires for you will give birth to more desires. Those desires will birth even more desires. Slowly molding you into the perfect creation that He has planned for you.

May he grant your heart's desires and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4

Just like Paul from the book of Acts, there will never be a moment when He is not wanting to use you. Somewhere, someplace, someone.

There is ALWAYS an opportunity.

Always.

Lord, show us our path today. Guide us to the places, the people, and the opportunities that You desire for us. Give us a fresh realization of your purpose for us. Let us never forget the truth that we were created for your glory. Just like Paul, put passion and purpose in our hearts! We love you so much and we thank you for another day to serve You. 


opportunity is knocking,


jill



Oct 17, 2014

Is your faith fickle?

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.


They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved---you and your household." 
Acts 16:31


As I finished up Chapter 16 in Acts, I was astonished by several things. 

First, the sheer courage of Paul and Silas. They had NO fear of imprisonment, persecution, or death. 

They had a mission--to preach about Jesus Christ until they had no breath left in them. 

It's one thing to have "hope" in what you believe, it's another thing altogether to bank your life on it. 

Where does your faith fall? Do you believe because you like the idea of Him?  Do you believe because you are really hopeful that Jesus is real? Do you believe because it's what you have been told to do?

Or...

Do you believe because you know it to be true. You have seen the evidence of Jesus in your life or in the lives of others. You can taste the sweetness of His Love, His Mercy, His Grace. 

I want this kind of belief. I don't want a fickle, wavering belief system. I don't want to change like the weather depending on who I am talking to at the moment.

Girls, it is important to know what we believe. It is important to be informed about what our Bible teaches us.

Think about the things you are interested in. The people that you love. You know about them, right? You can tell stories about them, you know them well.

We should know our faith well. We should know what we believe, and why we believe it.

This not only will strengthen our testimonies, but our own faith.

Your Fun Friday Challenge:

Get to know the Word. Even more. Read it, study it, read it again.

Take notes on what you are reading. Ask questions. Find a good online commentary to help you as you go.

We NEED to be well-informed in our faith. This day and age is getting further and further away from Truth. We need the Truth to be ingrained in our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. If we are to be disciples of Jesus, we must really believe what we saying.

We must live it, breathe it, love it, and KNOW it. 

These disciples in Acts are our examples. I am challenged to live this kind of life! How about you?


digging in,



jill





Oct 14, 2014

The Time is Now......

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on my servants—men and women alike—
    and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below—
    blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark,
    and the moon will turn blood red
    before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
    will be saved.’
Acts 2:17-21


 We find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the book of Acts. Jesus has physically ascended into Heaven [Acts 1], and the disciples are left behind to build the church. 

Wow, what a task they have been given! Can you imagine? Jesus has been with you for the past 3 years. He has been your teacher, your leader, your mentor, and now....He is gone. 

Not only is He gone, but He has given these disciples very specific instructions in preaching the gospel to the world. 

What were these disciples feeling? Lost? Overwhelmed? Scared? Their leader had JUST been crucified, spat on, beaten. 

Well, if the disciples were afraid there are no signs of this. They immediately obeyed the instructions Jesus left them, and went about their ministry. 

We see in Chapter 2 that the Holy Spirit ascends on them, and they began teaching and preaching. 

I don't believe I have ever loved the scriptures more than I do this very day. This very time in my life. I am absolutely dumb-founded and in complete jaw-dropping awe of Jesus. 

He spent 3 years teaching these men, and now it is their turn. They are now the teachers, the preachers, and the leaders. With the Holy Spirit now living inside of them, they are able to do immeasurably more than they ever thought or imagined. 

Let's go to Chapter 3 for a minute. Hello, let's talk about Peter. Peter, who in the gospels before this book of Acts was hasty, lacking faith, in denial. Peter was a complete and utter goofball at times. 

Do you even recognize this same Peter? He is BOLD. He is CONFIDENT. He is SURE OF HIS CALL. He wastes NO TIME. 

What has changed in Peter?

He now has God living inside of Him! 

We see a WHOLE NEW PETER!

Y'all!! Are you getting what I am saying?

We have what PETER HAS! 

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, you HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT INSIDE OF YOU!

Excuse me for SHOUTING, but it is worth a HUGE SHOUT!!!

Let me also just say for the record, just in case their are any doubters out there....

Who in their right mind would risk their life, preach to thousands of people that do NOT like the message of Christ, and be willing to be PERSECUTED--even death, for someone they did not believe in? 

They saw with their very own eyes, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! If they had not seen this, they would NEVER have continued His ministry! Are you following me here?

Not only did they continue to passionately live out Jesus' ministry, they all DIED for Him. 

Let me step down from my pink soap box for a minute. I am getting winded. :)

Girls, we are His disciples!!! We are in this timeline of God's Creation for a specific purpose. He chose us for this day and this age to continue His ministry. 

We are believers because of the ministry of these very few men! Imagine what God can do through us, two thousand years later! Christianity is not a new thing. Jesus has been proven over and over and over. 

We have what the disciples didn't have---HISTORY to prove Jesus' existence. We have eye-witness testimony, historical documentation and artifacts, and the testimonies of millions that have come before us. 

What are we waiting for? The time is NOW. The season is RIPE. 

God has put us in this book of Acts for a very specific reason. To encourage us! To infuse us! To spur us on in our every day lives!

If you have a pulse, HE WANTS TO USE YOU. 

The time is now. 

Get FIRED UP FOR HIM. The world desperately needs to know Him. Your neighbor desperately needs to know Him. Your children desperately need to know Him. Your husband desperately needs to know Him. 

No one is exempt from the calling to be a disciple of Jesus. No one. 


"So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too." Acts 6:7


You may think that you are incapable of being a disciple, but you are wrong. Just ask Peter. You are not the same person that you were before receiving Jesus. 

"....for we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17


start spreading the news,


jill







Oct 3, 2014

Taking a break....

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.


I just wanted to give you ladies a little heads up that I will not be posting next week. My family and I will be on Fall break, and it could not come soon enough. :)

However, we will not take a break from our reading. My plan is to read a chapter a day of Acts this month. There are 28 chapters. Very doable.

If you finish early, read through again. It's amazing how God can show you something completely different each time you read it. His Word really is living and active.


Our Fun Friday Challenge:


Make time for the Word this upcoming week. Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, take some time to meet with Him. Download the Youversion app if you can. Listen to it in your car if you have to. God's Word can go with us anywhere. :)

When life gets hectic, I always go back to this verse:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 16:33

When I truly seek Him first, the peace rushes in. His Word cannot lie.

Seeking Him,


jill

Oct 2, 2014

Please don't bother me.....

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”" Acts 1:8

As I read the book of Acts, I keep imagining the man who wrote it, Luke.

Luke was a travelling companion of Paul. Luke was not privy to being among the 12 disciples of Jesus. However, Luke, soon became a devout and devoted follower of Christ.

As Luke traveled with Paul on his many missionary journeys, Luke took notes. He studied Paul's preaching. He probably would eat and sleep the teachings that he was first-hand privy to being with the great apostle Paul.

Can you imagine? Oh, what I would give to be on that journey with them!

Luke was meticulous in his writing. He researched, and researched some more when it came to the life of Jesus. He detailed and scrutinized the lives of the disciples who were with Jesus. His writing proves this. He aimed for accuracy, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, he delivered.

Luke paid attention to details. They were important to him. The details string together the events and the history that he was conveying to us, the readers.

God is in the details, even the tiniest.

Recently, I was at a familiar place. It has come to be one of my favorite times of the day and week because I get a chance to sit in peace, drink a cup of coffee, return texts or emails, catch up on my calendar, and just breathe. My children are taking lessons, so they are occupied as well. So, everyone is happy.

As we got to this place, I happily sipped my coffee, let the outside breeze hit my face, grabbed my calendar and phone and was ready for my hour of peace.

Ahhh.

Minutes later, still swallowing the first few drops of my liquid heaven, I hear a voice.

I look up and see an older lady in front of me.

She is asking me something, not really sure what.

I answer her question with a short and rushed tone, and try to get my mind back to my peaceful little spot.

She asks me something again.

Oh good grief.

I answer her, again.

She's not going away. Seriously, I just don't want to be bothered right now.

For a moment, I thought about going to sit in my car so I could be alone in my happy place.

The Lord convicted my heart.

"Talk to her, Jill. Just talk to her."

In my heart I answered Him back, "Okay, but only for a minute. I have things to do. You KNOW this is my quiet place. Please, Lord, let this be quick!"

An hour later the lady and I were still talking.

We had the best conversation. I listened as she told me about her children, grandchildren, and the hard life she had been given. My eyes brimmed over with tears more times than I can count as we sat and shared our stories.

I was not expecting this that day. I didn't really have time to waste an hour chit-chatting for the fun of if. Oh, but God was in this, y'all. Every detail of it.

As I talked to her, I wondered if she knew Jesus. I included Him in our conversation several times as her eyes stared back blankly. If she knew Jesus, she didn't let on.

I imagined her life. She was important. She was a human being with a great story to tell.

Who was I to think that she was not worth sitting and talking to? I repented to the Lord for my prideful and detached heart. I was ashamed.

She had something to say. Everyone has something to say.

As I think about Luke, as he wrote the book of Acts, I think about the fact that he listened...intently.

I doubt he ever thought his letter to his friend, Theophilus, would still be being taught 2000 years later across and around the world. But, God knew.

God put Luke in situations, in the form of a companion, because He knew he would listen. God knew Luke would hear all the details and take note of them with precision. Thank goodness Luke didn't demand alone time or quiet time to have some space. He would have missed a heck of a lot if he would have.

Luke was given the great honor of writing 2 books of our New Testament.

I wonder what we miss when we don't take the time to notice others? Could it be that God has put them in our path for such a time as this? To hear their story, to listen to them, to care about them.

Lord, let our eyes be open to others. Let us look to the interest and needs of others before our own. Gently lead us each day. Inconvenience us, Father. Put us in places that seem to not really matter. We want to be listeners, just like Luke. You have a purpose in the tiniest of details, Father. Your Presence surrounds us. In Jesus Name, amen.  

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12


becoming a listener,


jill




Oct 1, 2014

Getting to know Him.....

October Reading Plan: The Book of Acts
October Memory Verse: Isaiah 60:1-2
Prayer Requests Go Here.
New to SHINE? Go Here.


October Memory Verse: 
 

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1-2


This week we will begin a new book of the Bible. Are you excited? Me too!

If you haven't finished reading last month in Psalm, you can always go back to that or add it to our October reading. Since October officially begins TODAY [yay!], I thought we could go ahead and jump right into our new book.

This month we will read the Book of Acts together.

A few things about this book:

-Acts was written by Luke, the Gentile physician and companion of Paul who is also the author of the Gospel of Luke.

-Acts and Luke compose almost one fourth of the entire New Testament. Wow!

-The Book of Acts was written around AD 63-70. Which means it was written about 30 years after the resurrection of Jesus.

-Luke was written for Theophilus. This name translates to "Lover of God". It may have been a specific person or a term for Christians that were in the midst of struggling.

-The book of Acts serves to encourage us and remind us of the challenges we will certainly face as Christians. However, it also reminds us of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why is it important to know the background? I believe it is because we get a context of where the writing is coming from. As this world gets more and more tumultuous, especially in the religious sect, we must understand God's Word to us. His Word has very specific  instruction and teaching.

Think about your life story. You are familiar with all the details. You can easily talk to someone about your life. I believe we should be very familiar with God's Word. We should know it intimately and treasure it. We don't have to be bible scholars by any means, however, when something is important to us, we tend to love it well, nurture it well, and know it well.

As we dive into the book of Acts, my prayer is that God imprints it on your heart. When He is teaching us something in this book, I pray we all have open minds and ears to receive. Pray before you open your Bible. Ask God for a clear and undistracted mind to absorb the words before you.  Grab a pen and notebook and take notes!

God's Word is our teacher, we are His students. There is no greater classroom to be sitting in, friends.

If you are new to SHINE, I encourage you to read a little bit each day. Sometimes it can be hard to get in the routine of reading God's Word, however, the treasure you will find there will knock your darling little socks off.

Maybe you are not new to SHINE, but have found yourself in a rut. You may be struggling to find time to get in the Word of God. I encourage you to find at least 5 minutes in your days. Ask God to help you find this time. Ask Him to prompt you to meet Him in His Word. Oh, my precious friend, He will!

We must hide His word in our hearts if we are to have the energy and the power to be a part of this fallen word. It is impossible to survive without Him. Our circumstances may not change, but our attitudes and our hearts will most certainly change.

 His Word equips us to face each and every day.

Sometimes we just need a little accountability. Grab a friend or two, meet up, and talk about what you are reading. Ask them to help you stay accountable in your reading. They probably need accountability too!

I am praying for you to meet Him today. I am praying He provides a few minutes of your time to surrender to His leading. He knows how much you need Him.

His Hand is outstretched, will you take it?


getting to know Acts,


jill





Sep 26, 2014

Running on Fumes....

September Reading Plan: Psalm 31-60
September Memory Verse: Psalm 34:1
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here. 


"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me." Psalm 54:4

As we finish up the month of September of focusing on prayer, I hope that we have set our minds and hearts to maintain the discipline of prayer.

Discipline sounds harsh, doesn't it? I use that word because to discipline is to train. We must train ourselves to pray each day.

Prayer doesn't come naturally, for any of us. We tend to pray when things are urgent and we don't seem to know what else to do.

This is not what God wants for us. God longs for us to sustain a life of prayer. Prayer keeps us close to Him. Prayer maintains the relationship between God and us.

Today, Lem and I have been married for 16 years. Isn't he a cutie??




It is easy for us to get into a groove of not communicating. We are busy! We have children under our roof, and things get crazy.

We see each other every morning, and we see each other at night when our tired heads hit the pillow. We are together. However, we are not always in sync.

He and I must be intentional about our relationship. We must be intentional about spending quality time together. There is nothing better in this world than face to face time with my man! However, in this season of life it will not happen unless we make it happen.

It is the same with prayer. God is with us. Always. However, are we always with Him? Are we intentional about being with Him. Really, being with Him?

Our days get away from us. The moments slip by. We can get ourselves into a constant state of dizzying business, and find that we are just too busy to stop and pray.

When we lack in prayer, we lack in energy. We lack the spiritual fervor it takes to get us through each day. We run on fumes, and never stop to fill up. Eventually, we run out of gas.

Our bodies,our spirits, every part of us runs much better on prayer!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

Lem and I could go another 16 years and not say a word to each other. We could live day to day in our own worlds and never stop to engage with each other. However, what would that do to our marriage?  Our marriage would be lifeless, powerless, dull.

Who wants a relationship like that? NOT me.

I see it the same way with our relationship with The Father. We must be intentional about being with Him. Talking to Him. Sharing with Him. Listening to Him.

It will not be easy! As with any relationship, there will be distractions. BIG ones.

Remember our sister, Eve, in the garden? She was lured away by the serpent. The enemy caught her eye, and she fell for it. Sin entered the world because she lost her focus. She was pulled away.  Lured away.

We have the same enemy using the same trick today. He may not use a fruit to lure us, but oh how he uses other things. Just look at the distractions around you this very second. Your phone, your computer, your favorite app on your phone, your television....

Distractions.

All of this can tend to lure us away from what our spirits really crave. Intimacy with The Father.

How do I know? Because I have to constantly fight them on a daily basis. I have to intentionally turn my phone off in the morning when I have my time with the Lord. I have to intentionally turn my phone off when my kids get home from school.

I know myself too well. Just like Eve, my curiosity gets the best of me, and I am pulled away. Again.

We must train ourselves to pull away. We must train ourselves to pray.

The more we pray, the more we will want to pray. When we know what it is like to be full again, with our spirits nourished from prayer, we will never want to run on fumes again. We will stop at all costs, and pull away to be with Him.

Jesus lived a life of pulling away to pray. Just scan through the New Testament and see how He intentionally pulled Himself away to be with God. [Mark 1:35. Mark 6:45-46, Mark 14:32-34, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12]

If Jesus needed to, we surely need to.

Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Be intentional in your praying. Starting today, make prayer a part of your life. Be intentional about pulling away from distractions. The distractions will not pull away from you. No matter what your schedule holds, make prayer fit in. God will help you and sustain you as you seek to be with Him.

Go, fill your tank.


no more fumes,


jill

Sep 24, 2014

Awake, Oh Sleeper.....

September Reading Plan: Psalm 31-60
September Memory Verse: Psalm 34:1
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here. 

 
When the Lord laid on my heart that that we would be praying for the world this week, this post was the one that kept coming to my mind. A friend of mine forwarded me this post from a fellow blogger a few weeks ago. It blew me away.

Not just me, but apparently many other people. It went viral and literally around the world.

Be blessed by Candace's words today. Completely God-breathed.


Awake, Oh Sleeper!
by: Candace Roberts

Candace and her beautiful family


Burdened is the only way I can describe my heart recently.  I have this constant feeling in the pit of my stomach that something is very wrong.  It’s a feeling like one of my children is in danger and I am helpless to protect them.  I go to sleep at night with the feeling and I wake up with it.
Around the world, Christians are suffering for their faith.  They always are, but lately it has been overwhelming to watch and hear about.  The headlines on Christian persecution do not end right now.
  • Over 250 schoolgirls were kidnapped by a terrorist group named “Boko Harem”.  These girls were kidnapped because they attended a “Western”, “Christianized” school in Nigeria.  The Islamic extremists forced most of them to convert to Islam, raped some, and sold some as child brides.
  • In Iraq and Syria, an evil, twisted faction of Al Queda named ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is currently waging war without rules on Christians and minority groups.  They are beheading children and adults and placing their heads on poles around the country (if you have a hard time believing this there are some really insane and unreal pictures of it on the internet).  They have chased thousands of families from their homes and into the mountains where they are dying of thirst because it is a better alternative than being raped and beheaded.  Many have pushed their children off the mountain to save them from a worse fate.  They are calling it genocide and what else can you call it when over 1500 are murder in one day??
  • In Gaza, Hamas, another Islamic terrorist group is using innocent civilians as shields and setting up rocket launchers in public places.  They are also shooting rockets into Israel every day which threatens innocent Israeli families.  This kind of evil has stated things on the record like “we love death like Israel loves life”.
  • Ebola is a disease with worldwide repercussions.  Though it is wreaking havoc so far away, we still feel the shockwaves like they are right here in the US.  Ebola does not play favorites and it leaves only 40% of its victims with life still in them.  It has yet to be a threat in our country (despite the huge uproar about bringing our sick citizens home for treatment), yet it has wiped out over 1000 people and does not look to be slowing as people hide when they are sick rather than seek medical attention.
  • China is cracking down on churches as we speak and many have been demolished by the government.  While this may pale in comparison to some other threats, imagine showing up at your church on Sunday morning to find it flattened.
  • There are rumors of war in Ukraine again as Russia lies in wait for another opportunity strike.  And with the focus turning toward Israel/Gaza and Iraq, it could be days or weeks before we see casualties once again in this region and our Christian brothers and sisters are once again in harm’s way.
With so much travesty happening to people of faith all over the world, I have found it difficult to carry on as normal.  I mean, what if it were me?  It could just as easily be my family?  What makes us, as American Christians, think that we are above facing life threatening circumstances?  And how should we respond, as Christians, to this heart-wrenching news that we are facing every day?
I struggle, I really do.  I struggle because the way that I want to respond…what my human nature wants to do is to feel guilty… for everything.  It wants to feel guilty that I am swimming in a pool when so many children are dying of thirst.  It wants to feel guilty that my children are all healthy while others are dying of the blood loss that comes with Ebola.  It wants to feel guilty that I live in a country where I can post on Facebook what I think about Jesus without fear that someone will be knocking at my door in 15 minutes to take me to prison.  It wants to feel guilty that I am not on a plane to serve internationally…that I am not on the mission field…that I am not in a position to contribute to a solution on any of these fronts.  So with this guilt, I went before the Lord.
I sat outside and looked into the blue sky and cried out to my God.  “What in the world, God? WHAT IN THE WORLD?  Why are you allowing the nations to rage?  Why are you letting them say ‘Where is your God?’  Why aren’t you doing something? Rise up and defend Your NAME!”  And here is where He took me almost right away.

“For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life.  Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.”  2 Corin 1:8-11

Did you hear what Paul just said?  He didn’t lay a guilt trip on his fellow Christians.  He didn’t say, “Why weren’t you with us in Asia?”  He didn’t say, “While you all were getting to live your life in peace, WE were in Asia despairing of life.”  He didn’t say, “God had to deliver us because you all were unwilling to come to our rescue.”

NO, he said these two things… The grievous trial that made them despair of even living was given so that they would not trust in themselves, but in the God who raises even the dead (He became their ONLY hope) AND the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS HELPED HIM!  Can I just shout it again?  THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS DELIVERED A GIFT TO HIM THAT EVEN THEIR PRESENCE COULD NOT.

American Church!!!  Awake, oh sleepers!!!  These things are meant to shake us awake.  God is giving us an opportunity to watch Him do great things AND to be prepared for the days that WE will need the prayers of the saints!!  I will take it as far as to say, if you are not in a time of desperate need of prayer, you should be desperately praying for someone else.  THERE IS NO TIME FOR SLEEP! There is no time for wasting away in recreation. It is time to WAKE UP and PRAY!
As I meditated on this Scripture, I began to realize… I began to see with different eyes… I began to get a zoomed out view of these happenings around the world.  When do people cry out to God?  I don’t mean followers of Jesus.  I mean, the normal, average person…when does he/she cry out to God?  When no one else can save.  And you know what? Noone can save all the people in Africa that are perishing from a vicious disease.  A cry is going up to a Higher Power.  And you know what? Thousands of Christians and minority groups are seeking refuge together on a mountain and in churches and in small villages in Iraq.  These people are watching children leave for eternity together.  I cannot imagine that the Gospel is not really powerful when spoken in such situations.  And you know what?  China’s underground church is GROWING.  Despite strong resistance from the Communist party, Christianity in China is on the rise as people devote not just their time and money, but their VERY LIVES to Christ in order to share the Word.  Theirs is no shallow Christianity that ducks at the slightest shadow.  It is brave and strong and firm.  And you know what?  We see Jesus working all over the world.  In the evilest of evil, He is working.  HE IS THE HOPE and many people are starting to see that.  Unfortunately, it has always taken “shock” to call people back to God…even from the very beginning when it took a worldwide flood.

So now that we have established hope in the midst of articles filled with horror…now that we have established that guilt is a useless distraction from your real job as a Christian…let’s talk action.
Stop feeling helpless and start crying out to God on the behalf of these people who need help from Somebody far more able than any of us.

Stop wishing you could be the hero and start joining your cries with those of these suffering saints who need miracles beyond our capabilities.

Stop wandering around in guilt and start asking where the Lord wants you positioned in this battle…is it in your church leading a prayer meeting?  is it on your knees in your bedroom? is it in one of these affected countries?

Stop reading articles that make you feel sick and start printing them out and laying them before the Lord, asking Him to intervene in specific situations.

Stop wondering if you could ever make it through the reality that saints in other nations are facing and start taking active steps to search out Christians, missionaries, and pastors in these nations to pray for them…to write encouraging words to them…to give money or resources to the cause of Christ where they are.

Whatever you do, STOP SLEEPING.  There is no time left for snooze on the alarm clock.  These people NEED our prayers.  Our prayers are the best gift that we can give to them.  Whatever you do, don’t just read this!  Get with the Lord and ask Him where He wants you in this battle formation.  ASK HIM what you can do to serve these people around the world.  May they, one day, be able to say, “He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.