When Darkness Approaches

Do you have a raging, dark storm quickly approaching you?

Do not be afraid.

God doesn’t only reveal Himself to us in wonderful worship services where even the impossible seems like child’s play for God to accomplish.

Most of the time it is in the midst of extreme danger and darkness that God reveals Himself to us. In these times He intends to test us, to show us what is in our hearts. He already knows what is in us, but He wants us to see for ourselves what is in us.

The storms of life are intended by the devil to “kill, steal, and destroy” us, (John 10:10) but it is God’s intention to reveal to us what is in us. He also wants to reveal to us what is in His heart, His love for us.

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear

Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

📖 Exodus‬ ‭20:18-21‬

See you at the altar of prayer, located in the center of that coming storm. Get ready to have a lot of revelation, of self and of God.

Do not be afraid.

✝️ #PastorsTip

 

Prayers That Impress God

A Daily Thought Provoker Quote
from Heart & Path Journal at HeartPathJournal.net
Online Publications of David J. Hall

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New to prayer? Don’t worry, God isn’t impressed by prayers said with poetic verse, nor prayers offered in King James English, nor prayers that are filled with reciting long theological words and terms.

However, He is impressed when we pour out our soul in our own language: the language of our own heart!

( David J. Hall / from article: “A Quiet Call to Deep Intercession” )

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#PastorsTip #DTP

God’s Attention Is On You!

The infinite God who created the entire universe (its planets, moons, and stars; its shades of light and colors; and its angels, humans, and creatures) is completely mindful and thoughtful of humans.

It is estimated that the universe has billions of galaxies (like our own galaxy, the Milky Way, which contains our solar system and associated planets). There are more entire galaxies in the universe than there are people on planet earth. We currently have about 7.3 billion human beings on our planet.

For comparison, consider one human being standing in the middle of one galaxy. God, with His infinite capacities, looks at that one galaxy with all of its fascinating beauty of every light beam, of every atom of every star, sun, planet, moon, comet, and… one human being.

When God has an entire galaxy to which He can pay attention, there is only one very small aspect of that galaxy of which He is completely mindful.

YOU!

He is surrounded by galactic beauty, but instead of looking at all of that, His eyes are on… YOU! You are more captivating to the loving attention of almighty God than an entire galaxy!

In ancient days, the Psalmist expressed his own glimpse into–and awareness of–the comparison between a galaxy and a human being, and that God’s delight is to give His complete and infinite attention to human beings. He wrote:

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“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory in the heavens…

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

‭‭~ Psalm‬ ‭8:1-5‬

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The next time you feel insignificant, and you think your value in the universe has been lost like a grain of sand lost somewhere on the floor of the world’s oceans, know this: God is mindful of you and He cares for you, deeply!

He welcomes the giving of your own attention to Him. His favorite thing to do in ALL of the universe is this: to interact with you.

Let Him hear from you through prayer. He loves to interact with human beings like friends, and He will speak with you in return. Using any method to speak to you, at a time of His choosing and that He thinks is best, He will speak to you. It will be in a manner that you can hear with your heart and believe it really is Him!

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#PastorsTip #Cosmos #Universe #Galaxy #MilkyWay #SolarSystem #Planet #Moon #Human #HumanBeing #Prayer #DelightOfGod #Friends

Your Disability & The Greatest Work of God.

The greatest work that God desires and has planned in regard to your life is not to work through you, but within you.

For sure, God does desire and has planned to work through you in some specific capacity for His Kingdom and His Glory. But, that is secondary to His greatest desire and plan in regard to your life.

His primary desire and plan is to work within you while He dwells within you.

You might say He is like an investor Who buys run-down houses that previous owners have abused and neglected, now taking ownership in order to rebuild, remodel, and repurpose each of them.

And while He is working on each house, He chooses to live in each house. He dwells with the dust, the noise, and the dirt that is kicked up during the various phases of reconstruction. The carpenter ants and other critters that have long lived in the structures and have had their damaging impact need to be exterminated, and among them He lives until the job is done.

We are amazed and we thank God for the incredible work that He has done through a man by the name of Billy Graham. And yet, we may find ourselves question how much God might love us “small-timers” in comparison to how much He might love Billy Graham, a “big-timer.”

My friend, what God may work through us will vary from person to person. The scriptures reveal to us that each of us will be worked through by God in various degrees. Each of us being given a different measure of talents or resources with which we may serve God in our lifetime (Matthew 25). In this ministry, we are evaluated not by the largeness of what we allow God to work through us (eg. Billy Graham’s worldwide and multi-decadal evangelistic ministry), but instead by our faithfulness in working with Him as He works through us.

There is however a work that God desires and plans to accomplish within us that is unlimited in scope and depth. God desires to dwell within us while He transforms us from what we were into someone whose inner beauty is… well, is shockingly beautiful and spectacular in the eyes of the heavenly hosts.

You may never experience God working through you in a huge public way such as a preacher, a top chart singer, a best selling author, or a doctor that cures the masses with a final solution to cancer.

However, you and I will be evaluated and blessed by our faithfulness in collaborating with God as He works within us, transforming us, teaching us, inspiring us, and drawing us into a beautifully intimate and loving relationship with Him.

Today, perhaps you have a disability that seems to hinder how much God can work through you, leaving you with a daily sense of uselessness and a sense of being much more worthless than others in God’s Kingdom who are being used in some wonderful, public ways.

However, my friend, may I (as one who is also disabled by physical maladies) remind you that God’s PRIMARY desire and plan in regard to your life is not how much He can do through you, but rather how much you will allow Him to work within you!

Jesus teaches in the gospels that there will be many on the last day who will be rejected from entrance into heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). With tears they will cry out, “Lord, did we not preach and prophecy in Your Name, cast out demons, and do miracles?” (Notice these are things related to God working through them).

And Jesus will reply, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, you who practice lawlessness.” (This is in regard to those who did not allow God to work within them, and did not collaborate with God for their internal transformation from sin and corruption of heart and soul).

So, whether we are bed-ridden or we can run ministry marathons, our calling is to first and foremost answer the call to minister to The Lord, being faithful to the ministry of surrendering our hearts, minds, souls, spirits, memories, ambitions, dreams, desires, etc. to God as He dwells within us and as He works within us.

God working through us has eternal value and eternal meaning when, and only when, this outward work flows as an offshoot from the primary river of His work within us being accomplished on an ongoing, daily basis.

Suffering for a Season, By God’s Will

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I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2000, that was 13 years ago.

In 2006, about 7 years ago, I had reached such a level of pain and fatigue that I resigned from pastoring a church. I was unable to work, having to be in bed so much.

I believe in Divine healing through faith in the name of Jesus Christ. He has instantly healed me in the past of things, and I have witnessed people being instantly healed while I laid hands upon them and prayed in Jesus’ name. I have seen a 14 year heroin addict instantly delivered as I prayed for him and then touched him.

So, you might ask me why I still believe in Divine healing through Jesus’ name since I have not been healed after 13 years of praying for healing, and having been prayed for by countless others.

You may ask why I still think God loves me if He has not healed me and has allowed me to suffer so much pain for so long.

Well, I don’t have all the answers for why God heals and why He doesn’t. But I do know this: every time I pray for healing, I finish with, “Father, not my will, but Your will be done!”

Jesus’ Crucifixion is our perfect example of how our Heavenly Father at times chooses to accomplish His will through a season of our sufferings rather than through our deliverance, through our bankruptcy rather than through our prosperity, through our sickness rather than our health, and for some through their death rather than through their life.

Does this mean that I have given up hope? No, I believe with all my heart that God is going to heal me, either miraculously or medicinally. There is just a season of time that must pass so that God’s will may be accomplished through my life as I suffer these painful diseases.

Again, “not my will, but Your will be done, Father!” I can honestly say that God grants me the grace that I need (sometimes enough grace for the next moment or two, but I never run short on His supply of grace) and the peace that I need, to be able to truly desire for God to accomplish His will in and through my life BEFORE He heals me.

What about your life? Are you experiencing a prolonged season of suffering? Do you want God to provide the same grace to you that He has provided to me? Do you wish that you could genuinely desire God to accomplish His will in and through your life even if it means continuing in your suffering a little while longer before His healing is finally dispensed?

All we need to do is pray with heart-felt sincerity just as Jesus prayed after He had asked for deliverance from the suffering at hand: “Father, not my will, but Your will be done!”

Now THAT is living by faith!

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Should Non-Catholic Christians Pray for the Pope?

Pope FrancisSome non-Catholics have asked why the media is providing so much coverage of the new Pope, Pope Francis being his papal name. They don’t mind the coverage, they even find it interesting and historical.

In answer to their question, I think that the first and foremost answer would be the fact that the Pope is a VERY influential spiritual leader of those who hold to the Catholic faith.

The global membership of the Catholic Church is 1.6 Billion people. That is “Billion” with a “B.” The global population currently stands at just over 7 Billion (according to the official World Population Clock).

The Pope is the influential spiritual leader of 23% of the world’s population. That is between 1 out of every 4 people, or 1 out of every 5 people is a Pope-influenced person.

That makes the Pope THE most influential leader of the masses (no pun intended!) in the world!

THAT is why almost all the media in the world are focused today upon today’s selection and announcement of the Pope.

As a [non-Catholic] Christian, I therefore believe that it is prudent to include the Pope in the list of world leaders that I pray for regularly (scripture teaches us to pray for leaders). In fact, because of the influence the Pope has upon so many of my fellow Americans, it is prudent to include him in the prayer list of America’s leaders.

See you at the altar of prayer where we pray for all leaders, who [according to scripture] have been given by God authority, power, and influence to serve the population.

 

Circumstance and Character

God cares very much about our circumstances, especially when our circumstances involve suffering.  But there is something that He cares about even more than our circumstances: its our character and its development.  Our circumstances will pass away sooner or later either by miracle or by our rapture, but our character is developed with eternity in view.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

( 1 Peter 1:6-9 )

In this passage our “faith” refers to our entire belief system concerning God, our belief in His existence, our belief in His goodness, our trust in His forgiveness, etc.  These are all tied to our character development in the course of our life’s relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Our faith in God is proven genuine as we walk through life’s circumstances with Him according to His character example.  No, we are not perfect, but even in our imperfection our faith is developed and proven to be genuine as we walk in agreement with His will and His ways to the best of our current abilities with which He has graced us.

Regardless of your circumstances today, God cares incredibly about you and what you are experiencing.  However, let’s remember that He cares even more about your character development wherein your faith is established and proven to be genuine, a genuineness that is then carried into eternity where the line is drawn and the remaining circumstances are left behind.

Our joy is not just in the change of difficult circumstances, but is more so drawn from the knowledge that as our character and faith develop into a genuine and functional condition and we are receiving “the salvation of [our] souls.”

#PastorsTip

A Loving Desperation for God

When is the right time to become desperate for more–for all–of God?  While it certainly is the right time to seek Him with absolute diligence when we face a trial of enormous potential consequence (cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), the most critical time for becoming desperate for God–for all of God–is when we do not feel like it.

When we have become numb to the things of His Spirit and His Word, this is the most critical moment that requires a self-awakening and a self-discipline to stir up the fire within us before it goes out completely under the burdens of life.

The Psalmist describes for us a beautiful picture of being desperate for God:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

( Psalm 42:1b-2 )

Picture with the Psalmist a deer that has spent its day in the heat and maybe even has run from a predator at one point, and nearing the end of the day it is more than ready for a deep drink of refreshing, cool, life-sustaining and life-restoring water from any of the number of brooks or streams available in its territory.  Imagine the joy and the refreshment that the deer enjoys even as it approaches a water source, smelling the aroma of the fresh water even while still a mile away.  Its anticipation begins to refresh it even before the first drink is taken in.

Our lives have their own challenges and predators.  Sometimes we become so engaged in the battles of life that we forget to drink and hydrate our lives frequently throughout the day with the living streams of God.  Without a steady inflow of the waters of His life our lives become parched, thirsty, and eventually even numb to the thirst that our souls so desperately need to have quenched.

In the second verse the Psalmist asks himself when will he “appear before God.”  This reference includes the idea of appearing before God’s Face, a face-to-face meeting which brings to mind the kind of relationship that Moses had with God.  Moses would meet with God face-to-face (so to speak) as a friend meets with a friend.  Their relationship was very special.  This is the kind of relational encounter the Psalmist is asking himself about, when will he drink deep of the waters of God and present himself before God with a loving desperation to know Him more, and for God to know him more in a relational way?

The bottom line is this: out of our love for God, let us all cultivate a loving desperation for God, not only a desperation to know about Him, but to know Him personally.  Through the Cross of Christ we may approach our Heavenly Father with utmost confidence (Hebrews 4:15-16).  As you anticipate approaching Him in the minutes or hours to come, can’t you already smell the aroma of the fresh streams of God’s living water that flows from His Presence?  Like the deer anticipating its water, let us anticipate our time of face-to-face with God.

See you at the altar, my friends.

#PastorsTip

The Fires of Life & Death

I have found that there are two kinds of fire that exist, and each of us will face either one or the other. But, it is our choice as to which fire we will walk in.

The first fire that we face is the Refiner’s Fire, or the Refining Fire of God. This fire is not about final judgment, it is about purifying our lives of habits and patterns of sin so that we can live in greater freedom and walk more closely with our God.

The second fire that we face is the Fire of Torment, or Hell’s Fire. This particular fire is not for purification but is instead for punishment. Scripture speaks of the fire that does not go out and that torments those who have not undergone the refining by fire that brings holiness and a new life with Christ.

No one chooses this second fire directly (they would have to be insane to even consider “choosing” 1 or 2 seconds of it). It is however entered into by the choices made in this lifetime.

Our rejection of Christ and His incredible free gift-offer of forgiveness and new life with Him results in an eternity in hell, a place where God’s Presence just simply is not manifest. In effect, those who did not want to live in the Presence of God while on earth get to live their eternity without the Presence of God, which literally is hell.

You might be reading this and some of my previous postings which reference these “hell fire and brimstone” aspects of our encounters with God, and wondering what on earth am I targeting these subjects for?

You might be asking me where God’s Grace is in all of this.

Suffice it to say, God’s Grace is RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW! God’s Grace does not wink at our sins and our shortcomings and our little “mistakes” of adultery, drunkenness, lying, cheating, evil suspicions, and the like.

His Grace is an attribute of His Patience and Mercy. His Grace extends to us an invitation to walk through (with Him, hand-in-hand!) periods of His Refining Fire so that our lives can be restored more and more into the image that He originally created us to look like… Himself!

There are two kinds of fire that we will face during our eternal existence. This life on earth we can walk with God, hand-in-hand through His Refiner’s Fire that purifies us. This fire has a beginning and an end… a very happy and joyful ending!

Or, we can wait until we physically die and enter into the Hell Fire that has a beginning, but no ending, and there is no one there to hold our hand.

Tough words, I know. Wow, DO I KNOW! I am walking through the Refiner’s Fire even as I write this, but I cannot express how deep my love and appreciation goes to my Heavenly Father for not only His refining of my life, but for His Presence with me in the fire, the fire which will soon finish its work in this phase of my growing and maturing life in Him.

Please, join me in the Refiner’s Fire of today. Let’s avoid that other fire…

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