Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Our Champion

The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
Exodus 14:14

Ever feel like you are constantly fighting? Fighting your season of waiting, fighting for your family, fighting for your job, or fighting for your finances.The list of things we fight for in life can be a mile long. Sometimes we know we're fighting and other times we fight without ever thinking twice about it. I'm not talking about physically fighting, but fighting mentally and emotionally the things we don't understand or things that are outside of our control. Sometimes life just feels like a giant fight. Yet, most of the time through these situations we experience the love of God in a whole new way! Every scripture I've been reading lately talks about God being our fortress. After talking with so many of you over the last few weeks about these daily fights you are in it is so clear that God wants to remind us of our fortress. The word fortress is defined as a place that is protected against attack, any place of exceptional security, or a person or thing that is not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance. Can you picture a fortress? A strong, stable, exceptional place of security that surrounds you and fights for you. God tells us over and over throughout His word that He is our fortress. No matter what is going on in life He has provided a safe place for us. Exodus 14:14 says, "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." Our fortress is not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance. He is unchanging. His promises are true. God doesn't want us drained from all our energy every day. He wants us to be still so that He can fight our battles for us! As you go throughout your week picture in your mind a fortress and ask the Lord to reveal His heart as your fortress to you. No matter what you're going through know that God is fighting for you. He is our champion! Be still in His presence and let Him protect you and fight for you. Below are scriptures for the week to remind you of how awesome our fortress truly is!

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock,
in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!
Psalm 91:2

My loving kindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer,
My shield and He in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.
Psalm 144:2

Live as if there is life inside you.

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit,
whom God has given to those who obey him.
Acts 5:32

After talking with many of you over the last several weeks it is very clear that many of us are going through a season of waiting. Our lives are all so very different yet many of us have been going through similar situations. Some have been waiting for a healing, waiting for a miracle, waiting on direction from the Lord, and the list of waitings goes on and on. Waiting is never easy, yet such an important part of life. It's in the seasons of waiting where we are able to completely surrender control. It's in the seasons of waiting where we are still enough to hear from the Lord. While waiting is an important part of life it is rarely easy. Many times if we're not careful to guard our hearts these seasons of waiting can turn into depressing emotional roller coasters. We focus on our situations and the quietness. We spend days thinking about how to fix the issues or change the situations that are usually out of our control. Instead of resting in the waiting we spend all our energy on figuring out ways to get out of the waiting. It's draining physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It's so easy to let our eyes get fixed on the storm instead of on the cross. We forget in these seasons of waiting that even through all the chaos there is LIFE living inside of us! The Holy Spirit is our helper and our comforter. He dwells within us. So many of us forget to use that power within us in these seasons of waiting. We forget that even through these times that feel so unsure that we can still shine light into darkness. We can still let every situation be used for God's glory. We can still speak life into dead situations. Just because you're waiting doesn't mean you're useless. There is hope, peace, rest, and joy in the waiting! Focus on the here and now. The rest will unfold in God's timing. Whatever season you're in do not let confusion, chaos, or exhaustion keep you from living life abundantly. Use the Holy Spirit inside of you to overcome feelings of doubt. Let the power and boldness of the Holy Spirit overflow out of you so that through the uncertainty you can let every minute of the day bring glory to God! We pray that in this season you fix your eyes on Jesus. May His peace fill your hearts and minds this week.

Lay Down Your Life

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me- just as the
Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 10:14-15

If we want to be like Jesus we must lay our lives down for others just as Jesus laid down His life for us. Yet, I believe many of us get sucked into thinking that we can follow Jesus without sacrificing anything along the way. We believe the lies of the enemy that as long as we are doing A, B, and C our lives don't have to change in order to follow Jesus. It's easy to fall into thinking that we can do whatever we want as long as we give to the church, volunteer our time, or donate our old clothing to charity every month. But, does that really paint the picture of laying down your life to be a follower of Jesus? We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free to go to church on Sunday. We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free to pray and worship in our own homes. We take these freedoms for granted daily. There are people all over the world that are imprisoned for those same freedoms we have here in America. Yet, many of us put on blinders in hopes of keeping our lives comfortable. Truly loving people is hard, but laying down our lives for others is a completely different story. It is something that looks different for each of us. It's never comfortable or easy. It takes time and commitment. It means humbling ourselves and thinking of others first. It usually requires great sacrifice. So, how do we know what it looks like to "lay down our life?" We read all through the New Testament how Jesus took time to be with His Father. If Jesus was perfect and had to go away to be with His Father, how much more do we, born into sin, have to go away to be with our Heavenly Father? It's through these times that we spend alone with the Father that we discover what it means for us to "lay down our life". Are you willing and ready to love people like Jesus loves them? Are you willing and ready to go to great lengths to lay your life down so that others may know the hope and grace of Jesus? Are you willing and ready to lose everything the world gives for the sake of reaching the nations? We're all called to lay our life down, yet few do. I pray that the Holy Spirit would ignite a fire in you this week leaving you with a great desire to follow Jesus no matter the cost. May you be blessed as you lay your life down for the glory of His name!

No Hay Luz

For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light
for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."
Acts 13:47

"No hay luz" in Spanish translates to "There is no light." On our trip to Guatemala this was one of the cultural experiences we were able to experience. It was our last full day in Poptún and waking up to no electric made me really wish I would have showered the night before now that there was no hot water. After a freezing cold shower we finished getting ready and headed to breakfast. On our walk from our room to the hotel restaurant we began to wonder if the restaurant would even be open with the electric out. Yet, as we walked we saw the lady that does laundry already working. We saw the woman working the front desk at the hotel doing her work as normal. And we saw there were people at the restaurant waiting on their breakfast. Everything was running as normal and we began to wonder if maybe our room was the only place without electric. I went into the bathroom at the restaurant and flipped the light switch.....nothing. So we got out our google translate (because our Spanish is not yet good enough to talk about electrical issues) and began to ask the waitress why there was no electric. We came to find out that no one knew there was no electric! It was just another day in Poptún. The pastor came to pick us up and explained to us that a transformer had been struck by lightning and that it would most likely take eight hours to get it fixed. And as we went about our day we began to see that barely anyone realized that there was no electric. When they did they would simply say, "No hay luz." and go about their day. It made me think about what our spiritual light looks like. Jesus talks about making us light to the nations over and over again in scripture. It's so easy to take our physical electric for granted. Most of us probably would not even know how to function in our daily lives without it here in America. So how do we treat the spiritual light inside us? Do we let it sit stagnant and take it for granted? Do we hide it? Do people even realize it's there? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to cast out darkness? In one of the church services we ministered in, the Holy Spirit delivered two women from darkness. After such a long week it would have been so easy to sit back and just enjoy the service. I'm so thankful that the Light of the world worked through us because where Light is darkness cannot exist. You have been made into a light for the nations so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. My prayer is that as the body of Christ we would step up to the calling of shining light into the darkness. My prayer is that, spiritually speaking, people would never be able to say, "There is no light." - "No hay luz." My prayer is that wherever you go this week that people would see and recognize the light inside of you. Lives are changed when Jesus - the Light - shines through us into the lives of others. You have been made into a light to bring salvation to the nations! Don't take it for granted!

Your Name is Victory

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

We have arrived back from our Guatemalan journey! What an adventure it has been. As you know we stepped out in faith to begin to figure out the logistics of leading teams into Poptún by ourselves without the help of our missionary friends and other translators. We were praising the Lord for Google Translate all week! The construction on the Rescue Center property has been absolutely amazing! While we were there they were working on the kitchen and bathroom area. Once that is finished all we will need to complete will be the roof and the floor. As long as the Lord continues to provide for this project we should be done with construction on the house in 30-40 days. We have two amazing workers that have been so thankful for the work to feed their families. After the building is completed the Pastor's family will finally be able to move in! God continues to show us just how perfect His timing truly is! We had many cultural experiences on this trip. All week long we rode around in the back of the Pastor's little red pick up truck. We spent many days and hours figuring out their currency and banking system. We enjoyed Guatemalan chicken soup and spaghetti which is nothing like the American style. We went to the local grocery store and bought food for seven families and then spent time delivering them and praying over these precious families. Most of the families we visited were single mothers with 4-5 children. We experienced a Guatemalan bus ride fitting about 30 people inside a 15 passenger van. We were welcomed into two different churches for 4 different services and at each one we saw people saved, people healed, and even two women delivered. We spent a lot of time learning the culture, learning Spanish, and loving on people. We could tell you story after story (which we will share over the next couple weeks) of God's goodness and grace. As we embarked on this journey there were a lot of emotions, yet the Lord reminded me that His name is Victory. He reminded me that this trip was about Him. All He needed us to do was say, "Yes!" Each step of the way we were filled with God's peace that truly surpasses all understanding. I know that God has done way more on this trip then we could ever comprehend. He continues to speak to our hearts and give us dreams for the future. Our prayer is that your faith would also be ignited and that you would say "yes" to whatever the Lord is asking you to do in this season. I read a quote this week that stated, "Don't wonder whether you have a call to GO. Have you had a distinct call from Christ to stay at home?" These past couple weeks we have seen people saved, people healed, and people delivered in just a small part of the world. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:2) Thank you for sending us to the people of Guatemala. Thank you for sowing into what God is doing in Poptún. Thank you for helping single mothers feed their hungry babies. Thank you for helping us lay the foundation to eventually provide a safe place for orphans and widows. Thank you for interceding on our behalf. Thank you for being the light of the world!

The River of Life

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
Revelation 22:1

Anyone remember the song that goes, "I've got a river of life flowing out of me - Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see - Open prison doors set the captives free - I've got a river of life flowing out of me?" After listening to some spontaneous worship this week this song has gone through my head a million times. So much so that I've caught myself praying, "Lord, let your life flow out of me." Life can be chaotic. Unexpected situations can pop up. Seasons can be overwhelming. Feelings can get hurt. Fear can be crippling. Days can leave you defeated. Yet, through all these things the Holy Spirit dwells within you. Through all these things you can choose to respond and react in a way that actual life flows out of you. Not just with a smile painted on your face. Not just with a false hope that everything will work out okay. But with the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the life that flows out of you through every situation impacts those around you in such a way that life pours out of them too! Wouldn't it be amazing to live in such a way that when life pours out of us the lame walk and the blind see? The river of life is already in you! How are you allowing it to flow out? Are you stuck in your circumstances or giving every situation to Jesus? Are you speaking life or bringing everyone around you down with you? I challenge you to live in such a way that life flows out of you causing the lame to walk and the blind to see. Through every situation this week I pray that the river of life would flow out of you. May your week bring you and those around you closer to Jesus!

Do Hard Things

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the
work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17

We live in a culture that tries to take the easy way out. We look for the comfortable things in life. Many of us run from the very thought of hard work. Sometimes it's laziness. Sometimes we just assume that someone else will do it. Sometimes we let fear cripple us. The list of reasons why we avoid hard things can go on forever. Yet, most of the time the things the Lord asks us to do are hard things! Maybe God's called you to start a ministry. Maybe He's asked you to forgive someone whose wronged you. Maybe He's asked you to step outside your comfort zone. Maybe He's asked you to love your enemies. Ever wonder why the Lord asks us to do such hard things? It's through these times of difficulty, fear, and hard work that the Lord shows His power. He reminds us that when we are weak He is strong. It's through these times that we realize we can't accomplish anything without Him. It's through these times of surrender when we're able to fully give Him the glory, because we know it was Him that made it possible! God wants us to trust in Him in these hard things. It's time that we raised our own expectations of ourselves realizing that through Jesus we can accomplish the hard things set before us. Push through, step out, and run the race set before you. Embrace the hard things the Lord has asked of you. You can do it! Not only will your obedience bless you, but it will also bless and impact so many others around you. God wants to use you. Are you ready to jump out of the boat? We pray that your faith in Jesus would completely rid your heart and mind of all fear, low expectations, and doubt this week. May you continue to step out of your comfort zone to proclaim the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth!