Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Year Goals

When You said, "Seek My face,"
My heart said to You, "Your face, LORD, I will seek."
Psalm 27:8

A new year brings new goals. What are yours? Maybe they are physical goals that focus on being healthy or looking your best. Maybe you're wanting to focus on how you think and what flows out of your heart. Maybe you're focused on your emotional health and your goals are forgiveness or conquering fear. Whatever your goals are this year it's pretty easy to guess that the spiritual goals are on the bottom of the list. Yes, our intentions may great to read the Bible every day or to listen to Christian music more, but what is our goal in that? Is our goal to simply be a better person? Is our goal in reading the Bible every day simply to say we accomplished it? We live in a society that places more value on the way things look and the way people perceive than on truth. Many Christians have lost their unquenchable love for Jesus. We have lived by our own view of God instead of by who the God of the Bible really is. In making spiritual goals for this new year we need to ask ourselves a few questions such as:

1. Is the most recognizable thing about my life that I know the living God?
2. Do I view Jesus as the most valuable thing about Christianity, or do I find the idea of what He can do for me to be more appealing than who He is?
3. Do I prefer to read and learn passages in the Bible that talk about who God is or do I jump to the passages that only talk about how He benefits me?
4. Have I replaced a one-time salvation experience for an on-going relationship and understanding of God?

It would be easy to give the "Sunday school" answer to questions like these. We can make goals that include reading the Bible every day but, what is the purpose? Do you desire to know God more this year? Do you desire to know and understand all aspects of who He is? A.W. Tozer once said, "Every person should see to it that he is fully cleansed from all sin, entirely surrendered to the whole will of God and filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he will not be known as what he does, but as what he is. He will be a man of God first and anything else second." What are your spiritual goals this new year? Are you ready to know God more for who He is, not simply for who you want Him to be? Our prayer this week is that you would know and understand who God is and that you would fall more in love with Him each day. May your week be overflowing with an abundance of His presence.

A New You

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Along with a new year comes new hopes, new dreams, new goals, and so much more. Many people view the new year as a time to start over. A time for new beginnings. A time to forgive and move on. A time to let go of the past and embrace the days ahead. One of the biggest life changing moments in my walk with Jesus was being able to grasp the fact that in Christ I am a new creation. I'm not just something broken that needs fixing, but something that is brand new. The definition of the word new is something that has never existed before. When 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation it means that when you surrender your life to Jesus, God looked at all the chaotic disorder of your life, wiped your slate clean, and filled you with His Holy Spirit filling you with everything you need for a life full of freedom, love, joy, peace, and so much more. When God looks at your new life He no longer sees your past. He sees you for the person He created you to be. He sees the new you. If you are looking for something new this year the best decision you can make is to let Jesus make you new. When you become a new creation in Christ all your other new desires will follow and be better than you could have ever imagined. Your new hopes, dreams, and goals will bring fulfillment because your desires will be focused on Him. It is a time for new beginnings. Old things have passed away, because Jesus makes you new! If you had forgotten in 2016 that you are a new creation, be refreshed in the fact that, whether you remember or not, in Christ you are a new creation today. You are forgiven, you are loved, you are free by the grace of God. His grace is not something we earn, but something He freely gives. We pray that throughout this year that you never forget who you are in Christ. May your life be filled with His joy throughout this new year!

Grace in the Wilderness

Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword found
grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD
appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting
love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:2-3

Ever feel like Jesus is quiet in your life? You may know He's with you and you may see Him moving all around you, yet He just seems quiet. You know He hasn't abandoned you, but you just haven't heard Him speak directly to you in a while. Sound familiar? During these times it's easy to let the world get into our minds. We become consumed with the negativity and busyness of life. We doubt if we even know God's voice at all. We forget God's promises. And then from that overflows anxiety, fear, temptation, and the list goes on. We live in a society where we crave confirmation. We always need to know if we're on the right track or if we did a good job. Many times we carry those same emotional needs into our relationship with Jesus. We wonder if He's pleased with us or we double think our actions wondering if we should have done something differently. We often take His silence as punishment. Yet, that silence is not to punish us, but to teach us more about His love. It's through these times that often feel like the wilderness where we dive deeper into trusting Him and we step out in faith a little further. It's through these times of silence where we press into Him and press on to run the race. It's through these times where knowing He's with us far outweighs our need for confirmation. We have two choices when it comes to God's silence in our lives. We can either run to Him or from Him. I pray that in these times you will choose to run to Jesus. I pray that you would dig deeper into His Word and that you worship through every trial. Let God's love meet you where you are today. Seek Him more than your need for confirmation and approval. Sometimes the sweetest Jesus moments are when He pursues us through His silence. You are loved and treasured by the King of Kings. God will continue to glorify His Son through you. Rest today in knowing that God continues to move and work when we feel like He's silent. Be still in His presence as your relationship with Jesus grows deeper in this season. May your heart and mind be aligned with the Father's heart. May you discover the grace in the wilderness this week.

The Unexplainable

For as in one body we have many members, and the members
do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are
one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:4-5

Each of us have different gifts and different callings in life. It can be frustrating when others don't see things the way we see them or understand things the way we understand them. Just as God gives us different gifts in life He also gives us different experiences. These experiences in life can either make us or break us. They can give us the drive and motivation to share what we've learned and what our eyes have been opened too. Or they can cause us to be overwhelmed and frustrated when people just don't get it. The choice we have dealing with how we process our experiences in life effects how we think, our relationships, and our testimony. For example, when people return from the mission field. Whether you are there a week, two weeks, or a year there are major experiences that God leads you through that takes time to process mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. How do you explain someone receiving a Bible for the first time? How do you describe watching a malnourished child cling to a bag of cereal? How do you put into words watching a six year old making and selling tortillas to help provide for her family? We see it time and time again when we take mission teams and we experience it every time we go ourselves. The Lord gives you these amazing experiences. He gives you the opportunity to be His hands and feet. And then there comes the choice. How will you process it? How will you share? How will you explain? Some experiences in life you cannot understand until you experience it for yourself. These unexplainable experiences and testimonies are not just for those that have been on a mission trip, but they happen daily in our lives. The beauty of all of our hard to explain experiences is that we, as the body of Christ, have the amazing opportunity to share what Jesus is doing throughout the nations. It's all of our experiences together through being the Church that brings glorification to Jesus! We need each other's experiences to walk in the fullness and abundance of who God is. So as we share our journey's together we can rejoice in light overcoming darkness. We can have compassion. We can give. We can cry. We can pray. Even when we don't understand what someone has been through. Even when someone doesn't understand what we have been through. We still need each other. Next time you feel completely discouraged because people don't understand what you've seen or been through instead of shutting down and getting frustrated let it motivate you to share the unexplainable. Most often it's the people that just don't get it that need to hear your story and what you've experienced the most. Our experiences together are what reveals Jesus to the world! As you go throughout your week choose to share your life with those you meet. Even if they don't understand, they need to hear your testimony. Let the unexplainable in your life bring you closer to your brothers and sisters in Christ as we function together as one body. Those around you need to know what you've been through. They need to see and hear what Jesus is doing in and through you. Let God use your journey to bring glory to His Son this week!

Our time in Guatemala

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1

Over Thanksgiving we were in Poptun, Guatemala. Each trip teaches us a little bit more about the culture and needs. The word of the week was "lluvia" which means rain. It has rained everyday, all day. This is the first trip to Poptun that we have experienced the rain and the cold weather. Both of which bring its own challenges in a culture where walking everywhere is normal and poverty leaves children without shoes and warm clothes. Throughout the week we have bought and delivered food bags for 20 families, we have worked in the church, we have continued employing two men for the construction of the Rescue Center, and we have helped move a family's house. None of which could have been possible without your help in being the hands and feet of Jesus! Thank you for your generosity and love for the people in Poptun! The Rescue Center looks amazing. We cannot believe how much work has been done since we were last here. The pastor told us about how many Guatemalans have given of their time and money to help with the house. It is truly humbling to see and such a beautiful reflection of the body of Christ! The kids at church now have their own children's church and will soon have their own space to worship. It is so exciting to watch them grow in their relationship with Jesus! It has been so awesome to see the once shy children now run up to us when we visit. Our regular trips help continue to build our relationship with not only those in the church, but also in the community. The people in the local stores, hotel, and bank have become quite familiar with us. We are so thankful for God's grace and favor. God has opened so many doors for us and has provided abundantly over and over again. We are so thankful for the local pastor and his family and all they do for Jesus here in Poptun. Right now on top of helping us with the Rescue Center, meeting needs in the community, and pastoring his own church, Pastor Pedro has also planted another church in Poptun and is discipling pastors to oversee it. We praise God for everything He is doing here in Poptun and we are so excited for the days ahead. God has opened our eyes to malnourished children with parasites, broken and suffering families, and the dangers of driving in the rain, on this trip. We will share some stories in the coming weeks, but for now please continue to pray for our time in Guatemala. Pray that Jesus would be glorified through us. Pray for Pastor Pedro, his family, and the local church. Pray for the necessary provision for a van here in Guatemala. Pray that God's will is done! We love y'all and praise God for you daily.

God bless you abundantly!
Pastor Harry and Shelly Divido

What will you choose?

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my
mouth. My soul make its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be
glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Psalm 34:1-3

It's so easy to be thankful when we get what we want. But, what happens to our praise when our prayers aren't met the way we wanted them to be. Do we doubt God's love? Do we walk away from the Lord altogether? Do we give God an ultimatum? We have a choice to be thankful when we don't get our way. Yet, how often do we take it? How often do we sit at the feet of Jesus and just declare His goodness and faithfulness? If you never received another thing you prayed for could you still proclaim that God is good? So many time we base our views of God on what's going on in our lives instead of who He really is. We live in a "have it your way" society, forgetting that our purpose in life is not to have everything the way we want it. But, in fact is to lay down our lives daily for the sake of the gospel. We forget the big picture. We forget that the Lord is patient with us. 2 Peter: 3:8-9 says, "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." As our Father, I believe the Lord loves to bless us and provide for us. But, so often we forget that He works on a different timeline. We forget that above all He wants our hearts. We forget that God created us to be His hands and feet to bring the gospel to all the nations. We get trapped in this mindset that, "it's all about me." And then we lose focus. We lose hope. We doubt. We choose to stop praising Him. If God answered all of your prayers today who would be impacted besides you? It can be hard to choose thankfulness when we feel anything but thankful. Yet, if we choose to celebrate the goodness of God daily do we have any other choice but to praise Him? No matter what is going on in your life today choose to praise your Heavenly Father. There are a million reasons why you should, but if you're having a hard time being thankful simply choose to praise Him because He's good. You don't have to feel like He's good. Your feelings don't change the fact that He is good. It's just who He is. We pray that you would recognize God' goodness in your life this week. Let your praise shift the atmosphere through every situation as you choose to give Him glory, honor, and praise!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Lord, increase our faith.

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
Luke 17:5

Ever catch yourself operating out of a poverty mentality? Our God size dreams can instantly turn into dreams we can do by ourselves when we only focus on what we have. The word abundance has brought so much guilt to Christians these days. Many of us that hear the word abundance view it has something negative. We get stuck in this cycle focusing on what we don't have rather than what we do have. So much so that we only operate out of that negativity. I can't do this because I don't have that. This won't happen because the timing has passed. I can't afford this or that. And on and on the list of lies we speak goes on. We may ask and pray that God would rain down His blessings from heaven. We may believe He can do it. Yet, our hearts and minds are so stuck in the cycle of a poverty mindset that it's impossible for us to receive those very things we've prayed for. It's as if we tell God our hands are wide open ready to receive, but when we look down all we see are our closed fists. Instead of asking the Lord to increase our faith like the disciples did in Luke 17:5 we put aside God's word and look around to see how we can fix the situation with what we have. Yet, sometimes the Lord is saying that He has abundantly provided an answer to the solution that will not only fix the answer to the problem our eyes are fixed on, but also the ten other issues we didn't even know we had! Luke 17:6 says, "And the Lord said, 'If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the seas,' and it would obey you." How would our lives change if we changed from a poverty mentality to an abundance mentality. I'm not saying abundance as if you're going to win millions on the lottery. I'm saying what would happen if instead of living in a mindset where we never have enough, we live in a mindset has if we always have more than enough. How would you live differently if you lived as if you were thinking and acting out of abundance? Would you give more? Would you rest in Jesus more? Would you be content in all circumstances? Would you love differently? Would you speak differently? God has abundantly more than we could ask, think, or imagine. (Eph 3:20) He wants us to live differently than the world around us. He wants us to trust Him so much that we always live like heirs to the kingdom of God. All it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed. We pray that the cry of your heart this week would be, "Lord, increase my faith." We pray that you would see things the way God sees them. That your thoughts, attitude, and motivation would come from the place of abundance. Not because of what you have, but because of what God has. May your thoughts be filled with life and faith. May you give abundantly. May you love deeper. May your faith increase as you trust in the name of Jesus this week.