Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Run Away, Run Away!"

Some days I just want to run away.  Probably more days than I'd care to admit.  I  sort of feel a bit like Jonah I suppose.  God gives me something to do and I feel like I can't measure up to the task for so many reasons.  I want to board a ship and sail away to some far off land where nobody can find me.  Or, perhaps at times I feel a little like Moses when the Lord told him to go to Pharaoh and speak.  Like Moses, I say, "Who me, Lord, I can't speak.  Can't you send somebody else?"  I think of Jeremiah who was afraid of what others might think and who felt so inexperienced and unqualified for the work the Lord had called him to. 

Even the great apostle, Paul, knew weakness in his flesh and said, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."  
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Words from Scripture echo in my mind, that God uses the weak and the foolish to confound the wise, and, He will give me what I need in the hour I need to speak and that if I open my mouth He will fill it.

I still battle with fear at times and struggle with my many inadequacies.  But I continue to press into the Lord who causes me to overcome that I may accomplish His purposes as I rely on His grace and faithfulness to give me whatever I need to do His will.

Timothy struggled with fear, timidity and feelings of inadequacy as well.  But God did not give him, or you, or me a spirit of fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  I pray that we would continually stir up the giftings the Lord has placed within us and step out in faith, even when we're afraid, to do the "greater" works that He has promised.  For now is the time!

Scripture Meditation:
Jonah 1:1-3 - Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah 3:1-3 -  Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.
Exodus 4:10-13 - Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LordNow therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”  But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”
Jeremiah 1:4-10 - Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”   Then said I: “Ah, Lord God!  Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”  But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.  See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 - For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are calledBut God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
Matthew 10:19-20 - ...For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
Psalm 81:10 - ... open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 -  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
John 14:12 -  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to 
My Father. "

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Peter, Do You Love Me?"

“How beautiful are the feet of those 
who preach the gospel of peace, who 
bring glad tidings of good things!”
Romans 10:15

The poem that I wrote below is something the Lord spoke to me twelve years ago and that He recently brought back to my remembrance and so I went digging through my files searching for it. He had been speaking to me about beginning a prayer/devotional group with the residents in a local retirement community where I work.

I found myself a bit hesitant to take on this commitment and unsure if I was really hearing the voice of the Lord but it just wouldn't leave me. So, after a couple of days I decided to take a step of faith and approach my boss about beginning a small weekly group to take place in our community chapel.

It was immediately and wholeheartedly accepted and I began the following Thursday with those the Lord had placed upon my heart to invite. Shortly thereafter, I again sensed a nudging in my spirit. This time it was to share the word of the Lord twice a month on the Sundays that I work. 

I have to admit, this is something that I'd been rolling over in my mind for a few months and I even found myself giving some impromptu messages on Sundays to the residents as I would serve coffee and donuts. But, I just kept pushing it back, again, hesitant to begin anything "formally". You see, I've struggled for the year I've been employed here with having to work on Sundays and have prayed and prayed to be released from this schedule.

Well, probably within a month of starting the first group, our Sunday service began. After gathering that Sunday and experiencing the awesome presence of the Lord, as I was on break, it became so clear. The Lord had said, "For such a time as this", and He had made my schedule just as it was to serve His purpose and to follow His plan. What a peace I had that afternoon as I ceased the struggle and saw from His perspective.  Previously, all I could think about was myself and my desires.

There are so many hurting, lost and lonely souls so desperately in need of a touch from the Lord and just waiting for an encouraging word to be spoken; that which will bring them hope, healing and the joy of His salvation.

Each day my prayer is as Jabez, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" 
(1 Chronicles 4:10)  I am so aware that I have no good thing apart from Him but that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) And so I come to feast at His table and to gaze upon His face that I may have something good to give - His word that brings freedom and life.

Who will hear His voice to go in the name of the Lord? Who will say, "Here am I! Send me." For the harvest is here but the laborers few. I continue to stand in awe of what the Lord will do through those who offer themselves to Him for His use and for the daily opportunities that He gives to share His truth and love in so many varied and wonderful ways. I pray our eyes would be opened to see and our hearts always ready to respond to make His name known however His Spirit may lead us.

"Peter do you love Me? *Feed My lambs",
echoing in my ears
But the Holy Spirit calls my name
speaking, "The harvest is here."
"Peter, do you love Me?"
reverberating, I hear His voice again,
"Would you watch over and care for
My own, My sheep to *tend?
Peter, do you love Me? My sheep are hungry,
would you go and feed
Shepherding those that I'd entrust
unto Me to lead?"
Give us shepherds hearts my God
empower us to lead
Our lives to serve the Master
in Christ to meet the need.
Move us with compassion
our hearts as one, the same
Your love to overtake us
seen, that souls be saved.

As is often the case, when the Lord speaks to me a word, He prompts me to look up certain definitions pertaining to what He's given me to help broaden my understanding. So, I thought I'd include those as well. It spoke to me twelve years ago and is still relevant today, maybe even more so as He is unfolding more of His promises to me and continues to teach me to walk in all His ways.

*FEED: to give food to, to furnish something essential to the growth, sustenance, maintenance, or operation of, satisfy, gratify, support, encourage, to be nourished or satisfied as if by food
*TEND: listen, to pay attention, apply oneself, to act as an attendant, serve, await, watch over, to have or take charge of as a caretaker or overseer, *cultivate, foster, to manage the operations of, mind, to stand by (as a rope) in readiness to prevent mischance, to move, direct, or develop one's course in a particular direction
*CULTIVATE: to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops, to loosen or break up the soil about, to foster the growth of, to improve by labor, care or study, refine, further, encourage, to seek the society of, make friends with

Scripture Meditation:
Esther 4:14 - "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
John 21:15-17 - So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"  He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."  He said to him, "Feed My lambs."  He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"  He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."  He said to him, "Tend My sheep."  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"  And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."  Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep."
Isaiah 6:8 - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?"  Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
Mark 6:34 - And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.