Gratitude makes the heart happy

Have you ever spent time with a person or family that are going through a difficult time?    I have at certain times, and always try to help in some way with either an encouraging word, a prayer, some cash or even food items.

A few weeks ago a friend and myself went to visit a family going through a very challenging time in their lives.   We did not know them, and  were asked to visit  as they needed some prayer and hope.    It did not take long to figure out what their main problem was.

We were with this family for over five hours with prayer and guidance, and not one time did we hear anything positive come out of their mouths.   When we asked them to give thanks to the Lord for something, anything, nothing could come out.  We received blank looks.

It´s important to find the good in all circumstances and give thanks.

The last part of Luke 6:45 says   For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Their hearts were filled with frustration, disappointment, heartache.  I am not minimizing their current situation, but giving thanks  is vitally important.

If the worse comes out of our mouths constantly, the enemy takes advantage of that and then we don´t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We had to explain to watch their words and begin declaring victory. With their words, they need to begin to turn the tide. With their words they need to give thanks, to praise the Lord, and listen to worship music.

This brings me to the season we are in where we celebrate life.  The life that Jesus gave for us, his death on the cross to take our shame, our sins, our guilt and give us eternity in heaven with Him.

Living in a developing nation has his drawbacks in many areas, but there is always something to be thankful for, and I look for it.  If I look for the bad, I will find it.  If I keep looking, I will find more bad things to complain about.  But I choose to look for the good.

Look for something to be thankful for, even in the small things and begin to praise and thank the Lord.  What we have is salvation, and that alone deserves our praise.

One thing I am thankful for, the view from my home.

The view from my house

 

How to be bold and courageous

Have you ever been in a place where everything around you was in complete disarray, and all you wanted to do was escape to some tropical beach?

I have many times.   During those difficult moments, besides wanting to run away the words would escape me to explain or confront said situation.  All I could do during my prayer times was God, please remove so and so.  God, please get me out of this situation.  God, I need a miracle.

Being shy and insecure during those time did not help much either.

How to be bold and courageous

 

I really did not want to face what was in front me.  Obtaining a tan was my best option.

I  found out this is the wrong approach. God was teaching me life lessons on growth, maturity and even speech.  Be ready in season and out of season came to mind.  We will face situations that we are uncomfortable in, and running away will not help, nor will we mature and learn from it.

I have learned to ask for boldness,  (not hesitating)  courage, (being able to face difficulty) and eloquence of speech when needing to confront or deal with something I am highly uncomfortable with.

In Acts Chapter 4, Peter and John were facing prison and beatings because in the previous chapter they prayed for a lame man since birth, and he was instantly healed.   Everyone knew this man and he was over 40 years of age. This tells me he was a permanent fixture at the entrance of the Gate Beautiful.

Now that he was healed, Peter and John found themselves in a dilemma.

Peter and John prayed for boldness, and the council had no choice but to let them go.

I found out the words I do not say can become a prison to those that need to hear the truth.

As Peter and John prayed for boldness, I now do the same, whether there is a difficult situation or not.  It´s best to be prepared for when it does come upon me, I will find myself to be ready.

Instead of asking God to take everything away, I pray for strength,  courage, wisdom, boldness, stamina, and grace to continue.

After a prayer like this, I find myself energized and I know God is with me.

Can you imagine if:

  • Jesus did not face the cross
  • Moses did not go up Mount Sinai
  • Noah did not build the ark
  • Saul/Paul did not accept the call to follow the Lord

There are many more examples, but you get the picture.

During difficult moments in life, it´s who you become in the process that counts.

Don´t give up, keep asking God to gird you and He will not fail in His promise to keep you and give you wisdom.

 

 

What does it feel like to be sifted?

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”

There are certain times in our walk with the Lord that will include sifting.    We will have trials, difficult moments and tests,  all of which is part of God’s plan for our life.  The sifting has a definite purpose.

The process:
In order to sift out the edible grain from the chaff, the wheat was thrown on the ground. This process is called threshing.   The ground was most likely stone and the wheat was beaten with a flail.

A flail consisted of a metal rod with chains on the end. Sometimes the flail had a ball with spikes.   The word itself means to strike with repeated blows.

The next step in sifting is called winnowing.

Here the workers would throw the wheat into the air and the breeze would separate the chaff from the grain.  The grain which was heavier would land back on the stone floor, and the chaff would be taken by the breeze.  The chaff would land farther from the original stone.

If you notice, Jesus identified Peter as wheat and not chaff. He knew that he would land on the stone or rock, and be fruitful once the process ended.

Sifting is important for several reasons.   We are purged from self, from pride, and we learn not to rely on ourselves but on God. The chaff in our life will be removed, and at times you will feel that you have been thrown on the ground and beaten up.

When the sifting is complete, you will be strong enough to encourage and strengthen others, move on and uplift your friends and family when they are going through difficult times.

Peter was shaken, tossed, beaten in his faith, but guess what.  He landed on the rock, (Jesus) even when he denied Him three times.

Perhaps you have had a time in your life where you feel that you have been beaten repeatedly and then tossed into the air, not knowing which direction you are going in.  Just like Peter, you too will land on the rock!

One thing is certain, the sifting ended and the work was complete in Peter, and it will be for you too.

When the sifting in your life comes to an end,  you will come out stronger and wiser, and your faith and trust in God would have increased, as well as your relationship.

There is a purpose for everything!

Walking in Faith

Not long ago I attended a women’s meeting.  My friend and  founder of the Rahab Foundation was the speaker.

Previously she was a consultant developing environmental impact studies for mining projects.  When she accepted the Lord, He called her to love the prostitutes.  She was incredulous as a new believer.  She did not understand what was going on, much less why God would choose her.

During her prayer times with the Lord, she kept seeing the word Prostitution flashing before her eyes.  She began to feel a love for them, and it was not long after she quit her consulting work and embraced her calling in faith.

It was a slow and difficult start.  Today it is a thriving ministry.

What steps do we take when a new challenge or opportunity comes our way?

Faith

Romans 12:3 says we have all been given a measure of faith.

What is faith and what does it mean to you?  Below are a few definitions:

  • Faith is complete trust or confidence.
  • Faith moves the heart of God.
  • Faith is an assurance in the heart, it gives peace.
  • Faith causes God to move on your behalf.
  • Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God. It is the conviction what God says is true and what He says will come to pass.
  • Faith is a knowing God has equipped you, not that He might. He has, past tense.
  • Faith is the opposite of fear.

My friend would spend quiet times with the Lord, and it is there where she received her training and instructions in the ministry.

She did not believe in herself but in God´s ability to work through her. That is key.  She surrendered all to Him, and He came through.

Our Lord never fails.

She began with something small with joy and gladness and the Lord grew it.   In being faithful with the little the Lord gives us, we begin to receive larger things.

Often times when we work for the Lord we desire the big things immediately, but it doesn´t work that way.  We need to start small and work our way up and do our best.  The Lord is responsible for our increase.

1 Corinthians  3:6 –   I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

When we do our part, the increase will automatically come.

What does our part mean?

Recognize an opportunity when you see it and take it by faith.  By doing so, you will discover your strengths and weaknesses, and you will improve by doing.

If you are not doing, you are not growing.

Don´t worry about the mistakes, they are our learning curb, embrace them and grow.

The bottom line is, God has called you to something great, but to be great we need to start out small.

Getting to the root of the problem

I don´t  always  have the opportunity  of doing yard work, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy it.

For some time I had my eye on a wild vine growing out of control in our yard. My mind was fixed  to chop it down. (Remember, I live in the foothills of a cloud forest, and plants tend to grow quite rapidly.)

Mano de Tigre
With machete in hand, I began chopping away. What surprised me were the many roots this vine had, embedded into the soil.  I could not seem to find the main stem of this vine.  It was a real mess.

I started at the base, but the roots were many, so I began chopping away at the end of the vine.  Some time later, progress was visible.

I was cutting away removing the leaves when I finally arrived at the base of the vine.

Spiritually speaking, we desire to eliminate a problem, but the roots are so many we cannot find out where this ¨thing¨ that is hindering us was birthed.

To get to the root of the problem, many times we need to peel the layers to get to where it started growing.

It would be easier  if we could just hack it away with one swipe, but many times God does not work that way. He deals with us carefully.

If we allow Him to work, He will begin very gingerly removing external influences that hinder our calling and relationship with Him  upon our life. He wants us to trust, mature and grow in Him.

With  trust, maturity begins to flourish.

It can be painful to our pride, but it is well worth it.

We may find ourselves in a situation  we did not know how we ended up in.

If that is you, a time of reflection is needed and here are a few helpful questions you could ask yourself.

  • When did the problem start?
  • When did my spouse and I begin having this problem?
  • How did I end up with such a bad attitude?
  • When did everything begin going crazy at home, at work, in my relationship?

You don´t know the answers to these questions, but the Lord does.  If you ask, He will tell you.

Once we get to the root of our problem, a number of things may need to happen to ensure that it does not sprout up again.

First, we need to be honest with ourselves.   God can and will work with that.

Was it sin, rebellion, an attitude problem?  Perhaps  your heart was not right.   Confess it and quickly, and forgive yourself for the sin.

You may need to forgive someone, and do so.  It is not for their benefit, but for yours. Forgiveness removes the bondage you have towards the other person and allows God to work in your heart and on the other´s person life.

Allow God to do a deep work inside of  you.

When you allow your heavenly Father to remove things that are causing you trouble, He will also do  a healing work in your heart.

Your emotions begin to heal and line up and soon you will find yourself walking in a new level of freedom.

Living in joy, freedom and growing closer to the Father should be the goal.  With those hindrances removed, you are set to walk out in your gifts and calling, where there is true happiness.