Are you giving out of your abundance?

When you think of giving, do you think of money?  This is usually the case for most people, but do you know you can give something far more valuable than money?

In the 9th chapter in book of Acts, Ananias was called by God to go see Saul of Tarsus.  Saul of Tarsus would persecute the Christians, and his reputation went before him. Ananias did not want to pay him a visit, but the Lord assured him he (Saul)  was a chosen vessel of God, to bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

Ananias obeyed, and in doing so, he prayed for Saul. What happened next was awesome.  Saul, who was blinded on the road to Damascus, regained his sight, arose and was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Ananias did not offer food, clothing or housing.  He did not offer Saul money. Instead, he prayed for him, and Saul received healing.

I have come across many a Ananias in my life.  These were people that encouraged me, prayed for me, provided words of wisdom, and correction among many other things.   Because I have been received so much from others, I look for opportunities where I can give back.

I do not know how much of a relationship Ananias had with Saul throughout the years, but one thing is sure. Ananias was instrumental and a key part in Saul´s life, who later became the Apostle Paul.

What would have happened if Ananias did not obey God?

So I ask myself, how have I been an Ananias to others that cross my path?  Do I  meet their needs, do I pray for them, invite them to a cup of coffee or lunch?  Do I offer counseling, advice, encouragement or correction?

What would our lives be like if we choose not to offer of our abundance?   I think it would be a lonely life.   We all have something of value to offer; good conversation, guidance, prayer, support, and correction when needed.

Where would I be today had it not been for the many Ananias that have crossed my path?

I do know this.   All we have is from God, and He loves it when we give it away.  When we give, God loves to give back more.

Are you giving out of your abundance?  If not try it, it will bring joy and fulfillment to your life.

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!

How to overcome sin

When you sin, what do you think and feel?  Do you feel guilt, shame, remorse? Do you receive thoughts such as God does not love me and He is mad?

Many people,  myself included would suffer guilt for sinning. I  would feel God would be mad or angry, and would not approach Him out of guilt.

The truth is we can’t win God´s love. He already loves us with an everlasting love. Neither can we earn salvation, it is a gift from God freely given to us. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to God,  for us to have direct access to the Father. We are born in sin and remain sinners.

There is good news.  Christ blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and he makes us whole. When God sees us, He does not see our sin, he sees how His Son´s blood covers us and makes us clean.

This does not go without saying we should confess our sin.  Try not to focus on your sin and dwell on it, but do ask for forgiveness.  If we continue to focus where we failed,  we are not looking to Jesus who has the power to give us to overcome the sin.

How do we overcome our sin?

Focus on Jesus, his death, and sacrifice for us. Give thanks. In doing so, we are no longer focusing on ourselves, but looking towards Jesus.  Receive His forgiveness, and it is important to forgive yourself.

You could go deeper and ask the Lord the root cause if it is a continual sin, and receive healing in that particular area.

The goal is to be changed from glory to glory and to be honest with yourself.  In doing so, your service to the Kingdom of God will be enhanced, and your life fulfilled.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

How to establish your true Identity in Christ

Sadly, many believers today do not have a full understanding of their true identity in Christ.  It is very easy to fall prey to the cares of the world, as it can readily consume us with thoughts of panic, anxiety, fear, threat, theft, death and so on.

The world loves to give us labels on our weight, what car to drive and even imply how we should think.

It is very easy to listen to the voice of the world. Rather, we should listen to what the Bible says about us.

 

The lies we hear around us are limiting.  They limit your potential and cloud your true identity.  By default, you end up walking in fear and doubt.  

Eventually, we come to believe these lies as true, and they end up molding us into something we are not, which is the opposite of what Christ has for us. 

Why do we believe these lies?  

The truth is we have a very real enemy, and he has a very short job description: steal, kill and destroy.

He wants to steal your identity in Christ, kill any prospect of you achieving your full potential and destroy your dreams and hopes.   He has been saying these lies to you for a very long time, and the voice you hear inside your head sounds just like your voice.

Our identity in Christ conveys we are seated in heavenly places, and we will do even greater works than Jesus did.  

Of course,  the enemy wants to keep us in bondage with limiting, debilitating lies, to not have us reach our full potential.  If he is trying so hard, he must be afraid of something. 

How do we overcome these lies and establish our true identity in Christ?

With the written word.  

Romans 10:17  So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through preaching Christ.

When you begin to declare out loud the written word of God over yourself, you will suddenly find these lies dissipating over your life.   The word of God enters your spirit and your faith begins to increase.

It’s important to set a firm foundation in Christ, and removing the lies is just one step in the process of doing so.

Here are some verses to say out loud, to meditate on, and believe as true.

If you have had traumatic lies spoken over you, such as you will never amount to much, you are not good, you will never succeed,  I understand.  Start off slow, and personalize the truth of God over your life, even if you don´t feel like it.  In time, the truth will become part of you.

  • John 15:16    I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16  I am God´s temple
  • Colossians 1:14  I have been redeemed by His blood and forgiven of all my sins.
  • Ephesians 1:5  I have been adopted as God’s child
  • 2 Timothy 1:7  I have not been given the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

These are just a few short examples, but I think you get the idea.

The solution to removing the lies spoken over you is to speak the truth. The truth lies in Bible and it will set you free. 

If you are having trouble with your emotions because of pain and hurts, ask the Lord to shower and wash your emotions in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth who came in the flesh, and to place your emotions in order.  It works!

Believe these truths, and tell these lies to leave in Jesus name, and walk in your rightful victory. It belongs to you, and you are taking back what the enemy has stolen from you.

As you continue to hear the truth of God over your life,  you will discover freedom in your troubled areas and an opportunity to reach your full potential.

Go ahead, speak the truth over yourself. Be bold, and see what happens to your life.

 

 

Standing firm in the face of fear

We have a good size piece of property, and on the slope behind our house,  we have a small creek running through it.

I am not one to go down the slope very often, but my husband does with machete in hand cutting away at the excess growth.

His faithful dog usually follows, and as she did, she came upon a cat. As all dogs do, she began barking at this cat,  but what followed was surprising.

The cat did not move nor flinch, despite just being mere inches away from our dog.

While our dog continued barking, the cat continued to ignore her.

The cat would not hiss nor growl, and every once in a while he would look up at our dog, and continue ignoring her.

This when on for approximately a full 30 minutes, until our dog gave up and retreated.

Fear

This cat had absolutely no fear and stood its ground.

This is how we are to treat the enemy and the fiery darts he throws our way.

Life has a way to get in our face and threaten us, but if we just stand firm, evil has to back off.

The enemy comes in a form of sickness, financial lack, family disunity, wayward children and a host of other ways. A lesson I learned a while ago:  The enemy is the enemy, and it would be wise to recognize his attacks.

James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The word tells us we are to resist the devil, but in order to be able to resist him, we need to be submitted to God first. When we submit to God, we have the assurance that He will be with us in our most troubled times. His perfect love for us will cast out all fear.

This cat stood his ground.  He did not move or try to run away, and in the end, our dog gave up.

In spiritual warfare, retreat is not an option

When we stand our ground, not allowing the enemy to gain territory in our family, health, finances, and so on, he will eventually tire. We call on our friends and family to lift us up in prayer when we feel the pressure of the battle, and we continue fighting.

Only one party has to back down, and it is the enemy that was defeated on the cross through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

How to maintain a healthy marriage

Some time ago my husband and I were chosen to share on the subject of marriage while on our ministry trip.  I doubted our ability to do this, but it turns out we do have quite a bit to say about the matter.

What follows is a small snippet of what was shared a few months back.  I trust it will help if you are struggling in your marriage or relationship right now.

First, what is marriage?
Marriage is a union that unites a man and woman legally, economically, emotionally, and if they share the same faith, spiritually.   It is a union created by God.

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.”

I understand not all marriages are perfect, so here are some helpful suggestions that may improve the relationship.

Words

When there is an argument, there is no need to insult, slam doors, kick the cat and punch the walls. Most arguments arise because of finances, children, family matters and a variety of other things.

Galatians  5:15 But if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another.

Words hurt, they bite, they insult each other, and the worst of all, once the words are spoken, you cannot take it back.   It enters the heart of the person and stays.

Watch the words that come out of your mouth to your family, your children to your spouse, and to yourself. Our words should edify and exhort and build each other up.

Also avoid speaking ill about your spouse to others, especially family members! This will cause them to develop a preconceived idea, and they can treat the person in the same fashion you spoke ill of them. This will avoid the relationship with the family member to suffer.

Don´t speak of past failures or compare your spouse to others.  This hurts the persons’ self-esteem and fear of failure can set in, meaning they get to the point of not trying anything because they fear failing.  Instead, encourage!

Don’t go to bed angry! Why? You won’t sleep well, your mind will begin festering on how to get even, and the anger, hurt and resentment keeps boiling.

Eph 4:26 If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.

Forgive quickly.  This is for your benefit, and you release your hurt and you will feel better and can move on.

 

Suggestions to improve your marriage

First, it´s not all about you.  Love and praise your partner. Tell him/her how you liked it when they helped you. Thank him/her for solving a problem for you, and helping you in a certain area.

Touch your spouse, hold hands, say I love you.  You will be surprised at the response you receive.

Share what you learned with enthusiasm.

Make important decisions together, value their input, recognize their wisdom and vocalize it.

Take responsibility for your errors.  There is nothing better than saying I am sorry.  It actually strengthens the marriage and draws you closer.

Finally, pray together. Prayer draws you closer to each other, and especially to God.  Don´t be afraid of being vulnerable during this time. Share your fears, your worries, and concerns.

When  you pray together and for each other’s needs, you will feel protected and cared for by your spouse,  and your love for each other will grow.

What examples do you have to strengthen your marriage?  Share them in the comments, I would love to hear from you.

 

 

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.