Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good Article

This is a good article from Focus on the Family about tolerance and about what a Christian's approach should be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Here's an article that was sent to me and gives some great answers to the questions that I had in the previous post. This is written by Tiffany Ann Lewis with Dancing with the Flame of the Lord ministries.

"And the Lord Remembered"
Are you feeling like your promise is always just around the corner and never in your hand? You have received words upon words, promises upon promises from the Lord and you know that fulfillment is just around the corner, yet it seems like your corner never comes. I guess at a subconscious level I was feeling this way, so the Lord woke me up one morning with these encouraging words, "And the Lord remembered."
The first time we see this phrase in the Bible is in Genesis 8:1 as Noah and the crew were enclosed in the ark for the duration of the flood. As the waters prevailed on the earth, the ark was tossed to and fro in the storm. Day after day they waited for the land to be dry again. Talk about something that seems to be just around the corner.
"Then God remembered..." Genesis 8:1
This does not imply that God forgot; rather, it announces that the fulfillment of His promise is finally at hand. In Hebrew, the word for remembered is Zakar (Strong's Concordance # 2142). It is a verb, an action word, meaning to recall something, to remember, to call it to mind. God remembered the previous commitment He had given to Noah. It was now time for Him to activate the promise He made. God was about to act on His word.
Notice the Scripture reference, 8:1. Eight is the number of new beginnings; Noah and the crew were on the threshold of a new beginning. The rains have ceased and the storm is over. The ark has come to rest and the waters are beginning to subside and it looks as though the corner is finally here and their promise is at hand. But wait, there is still more waiting. At the end of forty more days, Noah opened the window and sent out a raven and a dove (Genesis 8:6-8). The raven just kept flying back and forth on its own, but the dove returned to the ark because there was no other resting place for her feet. This signaled to Noah that it was not yet time to leave the safety of the ark.
Beloved, often when it feels as though we are "stuck in our ark" God is really keeping us enclosed to protect us from something. Wisely, Noah waited seven more days before sending the dove out for the second time (verse 10). This time she came back with a freshly picked olive leaf in her mouth, signaling the corner was really just around the corner, but Noah waited yet another seven days before sending the dove out for the third time (verse 12). The dove didn't return this time, yet still Noah waited until he heard the Lord speak and give the command to leave the ark (verse 15). The dove and the raven have symbolic importance here. If we follow the raven's example, we will fly around and around, never finding rest for our weary soul. However, the dove, which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, will guide us and lead us into all truth as we wait on Him. (See John 16:13.)
God Helps Us Wait
The problem that arises during the waiting process is that our minds begin to wander, and we can drift through the doorway of doubt. Even if you are a seasoned Christian, it does not mean that you are immune to the devil's schemes. We may not even realize it, but in these moments of vulnerability the devil gets in there and says, "Has God indeed said _____???" (Genesis 3:1b) Fill in the blank yourself. What has God said to you? We can become disappointed as we wait on and on and it looks as though God is not going to come through. We may even begin to wonder if we heard Him correctly in the first place.
Disappointments are painful and they can trigger negative emotions like doubt, worry and fear. Doubt--"Nothing good ever happens to me." Worry--"What if my corner never comes?" Fear--"Did God forget me?" These feelings only become magnified as we witness others coming into their promises while we wait on. In our conscious mind we know God is faithful, but some place deep in our subconscious a wave of doubt might be stirring. These thoughts act like an undertow pulling us out into the sea of uncertainty as we wonder if we'll ever come upon dry land again.
The Bible does not tell us that Noah experienced any of these feelings, but the reality is that most of us do. Maybe today you are feeling a bit discouraged in the waiting. I know I was, and that is why the Lord spoke to me in a dream and a vision. God encourages us along the way--just look at Noah. He had a lot of waiting to go through--we all do--but each step of the way God sent him encouragement. The rains did come to an end, the waters did subside, and the dove did return with an olive branch. God helps us wait! I needed to be encouraged desperately; I was buying the lies that the devil was telling me. I was growing weary and doubting if the corner would ever come when, suddenly, the Lord took me firmly by the shoulders and said, "Tiffany Ann, be still!! ...and know that I am God."
Quoting myself from February's Monthly Manna 2008, "It takes tremendous faith to 'be still, and know that I am God'" (Psalm 46:10). It takes a faith we don't possess to be still in the midst of the storm and remain convinced that He has not forgotten us or the promise He made. These storms come in many different forms such as financial hardships, sickness, regret, failure and even death. "O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55). O yes, there is life after death, hallelujah, but meanwhile there is a life to live, and the burning sting of disappointment can throw us way off course.
It's okay to feel hurt and disappointed; we just can't let those feelings cause us to fly around and around like the raven, or else we'll be exhausted both physically and spiritually. If Jesus had not held me still that day, I would have remained discouraged, doubtful, and worse--I would have remained, spiritually, right where I was and not move forward into my destiny.
God Cannot Escape His Faithfulness--He Gave His Word
I believe the Lord is trying to bring us to the place where we can wait without worry, a type of faith place where we won't wrestle with our thoughts and emotions all the time. A place of peace where we can fly as the dove did above the floodwaters that are in our lives and find rest as we wait in Him, our Ark. This waiting is what will bring us to the threshold of our Genesis 8:1, "Then God remembered..." It's our new beginning where we will see the fulfilled promises of God manifested.
Beloved, the promises of God are received in one place, the Promised Land, and it's our heart-convinced faith that will bring us there. It is shocking when we realize in Hebrews 3:19 that many did not enter into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Can you see why Jesus addresses this issue with His disciples over and over again? The disciples were the believers, yet Jesus is addressing their beliefs, or rather their lack of them. Can you see why He told Peter He was going to pray for his faith? Can you see why He invited Thomas to touch His hands and side? Can you see why He would give me a dream and vision?
He is encouraging us, building up our faith. Beloved, God wants us to trust Him and take Him at His word so we can enter in. The devil's taunting words of, "Has God said?" should never have power over us as believers! God cannot escape His faithfulness; He is moved by His very character to fulfill all His promises. He gave His Word!
"God is not a man, that He should lie." Numbers 23:19
Maybe you are waiting on the promise of a restored relationship, health, happiness, peace, joy, love, or financial prosperity. These aren't Christian fairy tales; these are part of the abundant life that Jesus said He came to give. God is faithful. Maybe God told you to write a book, sing a song, start a church, feed the hungry or visit the lonely, yet every step you take forward the devil pushes you back two with that same old phrase, "Has God indeed said?" We can't let it distract us one more time from who we are and who God called us to be. We must not give up. It's in the waiting that we will see God's promises fulfilled. We are on the threshold; the corner really is just around the corner.
Beloved, never forget, God always remembers and He will complete His destiny in your life. Amen! "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Monday, April 14, 2008

Waiting While Hope Remains

While waiting for what I know God has for me, how do I remain hopeful rather than let the fear of seeing what's impossible get to me?

On waiting...
I have never really enjoyed pregnancy. Some women do and I admire them for it because to me, it's just the long period of feeling sick, uncomfortable, and not having clothes fit right. The blessing is the baby and although I do enjoy being close and knowing that a small human is growing in my womb, I really get impatient for the end result. Or the beginning if you want to look at it that way.

Two weeks ago we had our annual church women's retreat. At the beginning of the retreat we played a get to know you game where we posted pieces of paper on our backs and everyone went around writing their first impressions of everyone else. After we were done I glanced at my paper but didn't really read all of the comments until I was home after the weekend. One person wrote "Patient, Patient, Patient!"


"Me, patient? Seriously?" Sometimes I feel like I'm perceived as being patient but I'll be honest I think it's closer to "worn out". I like to keep a smile on my face after a long day of changing diapers, nursing, and picking up after Hurricane Ruby, but if you look closer into my eyes you might find that I'm a little dazed and confused. At least that's how I feel. So, I think it's entirely by mistake that I've been labeled as "patient".

So many times I've gone out of my way to manipulate the situation to make things come sooner than they would have if left to themselves. The nearest example I can think of is when I was nine months pregnant with Brayden. Actually I was 37 weeks exactly and I felt that was enough time baking on his part. I went on long walks, I ate spicy food and I hit every pot hole and didn't bother to slow down for speed bumps. I bugged my husband night and day to help me get things started in ways only he could;)

So, what about those times when we really have no choice but to wait? Well, I guess being pregnant was one of them. Brayden waited a whole week to arrive despite my efforts at natural induction.

Right now I feel like I'm "pregnant" with what God is wanting to do with me and my family and I'm questioning what I'm supposed to do in the meantime. Of course I know that I have a huge sometimes overwhelming job in front of me taking care of my children, my husband and my home and some might say that I should only focus on what is in front of me, but something in my heart detests complacency and I long to find the balance between that and expectation.

And here's another question, or actually I'm going back to my first question. While I'm waiting how do I remain full of hope rather than worry? How do I keep my mind from solving each of the unknowns in our life so that I do not miss what God is doing?

The bible is full of waiting and the best example I can think of is the four hundred or so years between Redemption's Promise of the old testament and the Fulfillment of Hope that came with the birth of Christ.

And so many completely missed it! People who had sunk into a state of complacency with how things were so that they didn't need a savior and others who expected a messiah to come in a very different way; as an army here on earth. Both groups missed so much because Jesus offered so much more, everlasting life and an eternal kingdom rather than a temporary earthly one.

So, what made people believe? What made the disciples follow Christ? How can I keep my eyes on God and what He is doing savoring every blessing along the way?

I am look for some of these answers.

Stay tuned...:)


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