KICKING WORRY OUT OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON

By on October 30, 2018

“Tis the season to be jolly…”

Sure, if you are a credit card company. Or a long distance phone company. Or a toy manufacturer. It’s the season to be jolly if you happen to own a mall.

If you don’t fit in one of those four categories, it’s the season of financial pressure; facing up to the end of the year with little or no money set aside. It’s the season to feel bad that you didn’t do any better financially than you did. It’s the season to break out the credit cards and wince.

It’s the season that many families will be paying off in monthly installments for the next twelve months. And, even with going in debt, buying things you really can’t afford, your kids will probably still think you’re a tightwad. They’ve seen and been pumped up to want hundreds of dollars’ worth of worthless overpriced imported toys and clothes.

Then, there are the emotional assaults. We’re in the season where there are the highest incidents of anxiety and depression. You might be able to keep on top throughout the whole rest of the year, but in December? WHAM! It hits you upside the head and won’t back off!

What to do? Jesus said in Luke 12:29, “Seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind, for all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Heavenly Father KNOWETH that ye have need of these things.”

What He’s saying: Don’t make your goal to be acquiring more and more possessions. For yourself or for anybody else. That’s not a worthy goal. Not worth worrying about. Don’t worry about the basics. They’ll be there. You’re not alone, and God KNOWS what your needs are.

God knows your needs, and He cares. That’s a main point that Jesus made for a higher purpose than to just acquire and hoard possessions. God has planted in your heart the NEED to accomplish something worthwhile and good for other people.

You and I are made in the image of God. It’s that image of God that drives us to want to give, love, provide for others and make a difference. And, that’s the part that feels grieved when, at the end of the year, it seems like we’ve done little of importance…once again.

You’re BORN with that sense of eternity, and the desire to seek and to search for meaning and purpose. Because you’re not a mere animal, material things and accomplishments provide only temporary comfort, but then, leave us feeling as weak, empty and like something’s missing, as we were before.

I’m telling you that, to tell you THIS. Toys, clothes, appliances and high tech gizmos WON’T satisfy your kids, friends and loved ones. These things will have meaning as TOKENS of your love and care, but in themselves, they won’t provide meaning and lasting satisfaction.

The good news is, that NOT having these things won’t bring lasting hurt, pain, disappointment or grief? That is, as long as your loved ones KNOW that you love them and care deeply for them.

Material things don’t satisfy, and, the lack of material things won’t devastate! You FIRST have to deal with your own expectations, then you’re free to relax and give of yourself, and from your heart.

Your Heavenly Father, Jesus says, KNOWS your heart, and that you have a need to give to your need, and He cares.

Priority One? Getting to know Him better. This is the season when your spirit is especially sensitive to God, joy, meaning in life and relationships. This is the time to spend specific, quality time with God, to get to know Him better and to understand His plans and purposes in your life more fully.

It’s a time for opening your Bible and getting familiar with it, reading it with “new eyes.” Read while asking Him to speak to you, giving you good understanding. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you as you read the Scriptures.

Part of dealing with anxiety and depression is to bring your life to God, and ask Him to direct your plans and path this year. You’ll want to spend time with Him, and get to know His mind for your life.

You might be discouraged because things haven’t worked out like you’d planned this year. Maybe God didn’t bless you like you’d wanted, or he didn’t seem to use you very much.

This is a matter of hungering and thirsting for God. It’s just like with regular food and drink, when you’re hungry or thirsty, you DO SOMETHING about it. When you are hungry or thirsty for more of God, you’ll DO something about it. Jesus said that “blessed ones” hunger and thirst after the Kingdom of God. That’s in Matthew 5:6.

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness SHALL be filled. Don’t hunger and thirst after THINGS. Hunger and thirst after God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” That’s the order. God first, and then, only then, things will be released into your life. Or, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Here’s the order: First the spiritual, then the material. Colossians 3:1 says to set your affections on the things that are above it doesn’t do any good to be rich in earthly things but poor in spiritual things.

Don’t LOVE things. Love God, love people and love your pets. Good rule of thumb: Don’t love anything that can’t return your love.

You’ve got to prepare your heart. In Ezra 7:10, it says that God’s hand moved on Ezra’s life for good because, “Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach (others).” He wanted to know God, to walk with Him and to impart what he had learned to others. You have to PREPARE for the good that God has planned for you.

Make room for God in your schedule. Give him a definite time slot, or appointment each day. Then LOOK for opportunities, as for them and make room for God to work in your life.

Take every opportunity to seek God. When depression, fear or anxiety show up and they are signals to DO SOMETHING.

These negative emotions are like the warning lights on the dash-board of your car. They’re saying, “Pull over and do a check up, find what’s missing and fill it up!”

Deal with the emptiness, and the fullness will take care of itself. Don’t let despair ruin your holidays. Love isn’t measured in cash register receipts or credit card bills. Give your loved ones the gift of BEING THERE FOR THEM. Of PRAYING for them and with them, of listening, really listening to them. Them if you have a little money, buy them a token of your esteem for them. You’ll ALL be happier, and more relaxed.

Give God thee best gift of all this Christmas. Give Him our whole heart, your life, and your financial situations. Give Him your friendships. Speak to your friends and co-workers about Him. Invite them to sit with you in church this week.

Jesus said, “Fear not, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom (Luke 12:32).” Also, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth (Luke12:15).”

Jesus said also in Mark 8:36 “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the WHOLE world and lose his soul?” what if you get your kid EVERYTHING on his or her list, and don’t teach them how to know Jesus?

This year, cast your cares on the Lord. Don’t worry so much about what you can and can’t buy. Think more about what you’re becoming, the kind of person you’re turning out to be. Put God first, and your Christmas season will be all it’s cracked up to be, and more!”

THE BLESSING OF BEING HUNGRY FOR GOD

By on October 16, 2018

How do you describe hungry? “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” One man said, “The best sauce in the world is a hungry stomach!” Or, worse yet, as our daughter Amy said years ago, I’m so hungry, I could eat school cafeteria food!”

When you’re truly hungry, all you can think about is satisfying that hunger. That’s why Jesus said that to be desperately hungry for God is a very special blessing. See, if you were famished for God and starving for a touch from Him, think how you’d live!

You’d be praying and fellowshipping with Him, seeking His plans for you first thing in the morning. Excitedly, you’d break open His Word, your Bible, searching for a tidbit of spiritual food. If the Holy Spirit gave you a particular verse or promise, you’d savor it, feed on it and it would be your meditation and strength all day long.

When you become desperately hungry for God, you long for the next service at the House of God, and for fellowship from his people. One or two services each week aren’t enough for the hungry disciple! No, you want to more, MUCH MORE!

“Righteousness” means right direction, or “going in the direction of right”. It’s from the Anglo-Saxon “right wiseness” meaning “right-direction.” So, when you’re hungering and thirsting for God’s right direction in your life, Jesus says you’re a blessed one, and that God’s right directions shall fill you up!

You’ll have God’s right direction in your mind. You’ll have God’s right direction in your spirit and soul. You’ll have God’s right direction in school or on the job. Your life will be filled with God’s right direction. Every area of your life will be going His way!

God is a God Who operates in EVERY area of life for the person who hungers and thirsts. When Moses met God at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14, he was curious as to just what God in a devotional way. Now God was talking with Moses about liberating the children of Israel from their enslavement to the Egyptians.

Moses asked God, “What shall I tell people when they want to know who You are?” God said, “I AM THAT I AM.” That’s what you need to tell the children of Israel. Tell them I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I’ll ALWAYS be I AM THAT I AM.”

What’s I AM THAT I AM mean? It actually means, “ I AM what you need Me to be when you need Me to be it.” Whatever your need is, God is the God Who can meet it.

When you were hungry for God, you prayed that prayer, “Lord Jesus, come into my life and live in me,” He HEARD that prayer, and came in. Now, He dwells on the INSIDE of you! There’s nothing on earth greater than the Holy Spirit living on the inside of everyday people, people like you and me. That’s what Colossians 1:27 means, when it talks about “Christ IN you, the hope of glory.”

The Holy Spirit comes in and fills ALL who are hungry for God. Your filling depends upon your hunger. That’s why many Christians are no longer hungry! Proverbs 27:7 puts it like this: “The full soul loatheth the honeycomb; but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.”

In other words, when you’re full of self, pride or carnality, you have no appetite for even Jesus, as sweet as He is. On the other hand, if you are hungry for Him, even if He WASN’T so good, you’d desire Him to fill you completely!

How come some people get filled mightily and others just get a “so-so” experience with the Lord? Those who are starving for God get mightily filled!

The major work of the Holy Spirit is to work in people’s lives, to prepare you for the moves of God on your soul. His work is to put you into a strong hunger, so you’ll cry out to God for Him to fill you up with His presence.

God’s moving in your spirit have more to do with your heart-cry than it does with your education, track record or anything else. When you’re desperate for the manifestation of God in your life. He will come in answer to your heart’s cry.

When does Jesus move on you? When will He move next? The answer is really simple: He will move on you mightily and when nothing else, no one else will do. There has to be an overwhelming hunger in your heart so you pray in a way you haven’t prayed before. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (there’s that word again) availeth much (James 5:16)”.

When your spirit is fervent, when it’s crying out to the point that your prayer MOVES YOU, it begins to move God.

That’s why spiritual people throughout history have turned to fasting for the power of God. In Daniel chapter 9, he stirred up such a tremendous hungering in his soul that he brought deliverance for the entire nation. He fasted and prayed in sackcloth for God to bring deliverance.

David became known as a man after God’s own heart, due NOT to what a perfect person he was. No, it was his hunger for GOD that earned him that special relationship. He said in Psalm 84:2, “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God!” when your heart and flesh cries out for the living God, He’ll rush in and fill you fully!

When the number one desire of your soul is to be filled with God, when that’s the supreme urgency of your soul, and you’re reaching out to God, crying out for Him to answer – He will pour out His power from on high into your heart like He did in days of old.

When does a hunger like this come? When you’ve discovered that the arm of the flesh will fail you. That’s one time that you’ll seek God with your whole heart. When you get to the place where you stop depending on man, you’re at the place where you can throw yourself into the presence of God!
When does a hunger like this come? When you’ve discovered that the arm of the flesh will fail you. That’s one time that you’ll seek God with your whole heart. When you get to the place where you stop depending on man, you’re at the place where you can throw yourself into the presence of God!
Even if you’re far away from God, I can tell you this: Let the emptiness of your heart cry out for God to fill you up, and He’ll quickly be on hand to answer your cry.

You might have a besetting sin that keeps coming back and coming back, no matter what you do or how you pray. Maybe you’ve even made vows and promises to God that you’ll do better – only to fall into the same trap over and over again.

I want to tell you that all the promises and self-discipline in the world can’t help you or deliver you. Not once that behavior has gone deeply into you. What you need is for God to send His Spirit in the depths of your being, find the real difficulty and then destroy its power in you. God promises you this in Jeremiah 33:3. “Call unto Me, and I WILL answer you, shew you great and mighty things, which you have never experienced.”

That’s what you need. That’s what we ALL need: to have God increase our hunger for Him until we call out to Him to fill us! Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger.” Pray to get hungry!

Isn’t this what your soul is asking for? Are you hungry with a divine hunger? If you are, God has bound Himself to answer you!

WHAT IF YOU GO INTO THE HARVEST FIELDS AFTER THE HARVEST HAS ENDED?

By on October 9, 2018

We’ve been talking about the harvest fields of God, and how Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the harvest. Specifically, to pray that God would send forth laborers into His harvest. There are so many people who are searching for the kinds of answers that you and I have found in Jesus.

But, guess what? You can’t just go into the harvest fields at your leisure. It’s not something that you can keep putting off until there’s nothing else left to do. No, just like in the natural, there’s a time when it’s right to harvest, there’s also a time when it’s too late to harvest. The crops have gone bad, and are no longer able to be harvested.

I believe that the crop of humanity in America has almost been left too long. The church has been caught up in programs, fund raising and other side issues. Meanwhile, the collective consciences of America have gotten so seared.

Jeremiah in chapter 8:20 says that his people had gotten the same way. Then he said, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” They had gone beyond the point of God sending laborers forth into the harvest. The people were so deceived and hardened that they couldn’t respond to anything good anymore. They had no consciences left to deal with, and their hearts were too hardened to feel the love of God.

The harvest is a particular, limited and specific time. Jesus told us in John 4:35 not to think we could just go out there and be used to win souls at any time. He said, “Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest.’ I say unto you, lift your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already unto harvest.”

Don’t think you can wait four months and then obey God when you have finished serving yourself. By then, you will have run out of time, and your harvest will be lost.

When are the special times of harvest? First of all, when children are very young. That’s why there’s such a need for Christians to respond to the Spirit’s call for Sunday School teachers and children’s workers. The little children WANT to come to Jesus. Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto Me. (Matthew 19:14).” But how can they come, if the adults are too busy or too preoccupied with their own lives to give a few minutes each week for the children?

Another harvest is the teenage time period. This is when kids are most open to changing, to being influenced and when they’re searching for their own identities. They’re insecure and NEED strong role models and people who they can talk to and who will listen.

Teenagers need the close personal contact of Christian friends who really care about them. Fortunately, a handful of caring adults have made themselves available to the teens here, to help them in their walks with the Lord. And, sadly, other adults just don’t have the (consecrated) time or the spiritual interest to actually get in the trenches with the kids and help them fight for their souls.

Then, there’s the harvest that comes during times of crisis. Times when people are sick, laid off the job, had a death in the family or some other jolt in their lives. What happens to these people? Usually, God’s people are too busy doing their own thing, and these people just slip through the cracks, never to be saved.

How about the harvest at times of happiness? When there’s a marriage in the family, a job promotion, moving to a new neighborhood, or a new birth in the family? People are especially open to the things of God during these times of joy and thankfulness. They just have to be reached out to.

That’s all. Most of the time, though, we miss God’s golden opportunity to do the very thing He left you on earth for. He could’ve called you home to Heaven right after saving you. But, instead, He left you here to help other people.

In Jeremiah 8:20, the prophet realizes that his people missed their time to reach out to their time of fun, rest, relaxation and enjoyment, and they didn’t use it for God.

The time to help people is now. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time to reach people with the life changing message of good news from Heaven. People need to hear the good news that God loves them, cares about them and wants to make Himself known to them.

They need to know that they’re not left here on earth alone to fend for themselves. They need to know that God can be their “strength in the time of trouble (Psalm 37:39.)”

There’s a God in Heaven who cares about them and will help them, if they can just call out to Him in their day of trouble. He says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me (Psalm 50:15).”

People are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).” They don’t know that there’s a real God who will touch their lives. And, they won’t know unless someone tells them.

You and I know that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).” We’ve experienced His goodness over and over again, and KNOW the difference He can make in our lives.

Life is uncertain for the people in our lives. Life is also uncertain for you and me. we don’t know when we’re going to be called home to stand before the Lord of the Harvest.

The cry that Jeremiah gives, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” is the saddest cry a human soul can make. And it’s completely unnecessary. No one needs to be unsaved. No one needs to be lost in life. And, no one needs to be lost.

Commit your life and energies totally to God before the harvest ends. Live a life of usefulness and obedience. Respond to the dealings of God in your heart, so you don’t miss the time of your visitation from God.