Whatever your challenge – a Word from the Lord

Isaiah 60:1-2

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“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 

See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

It is time not only to be brave,

enduring all that is happening to you,

but to take action,

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to FIGHT!

To be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power

Put on the full armor of God and take your stand.

His armor is the best

And He has already prepared you to meet this enemy.

The battle is the Lords!

Sometimes in the battle, we need only stand and see the deliverance of the Lord.  Like when God parted the Red Sea for Moses and killed Pharaoh’s army. Sometimes we need to take a step of faith like when the flood stage of the Jordan River didn’t stop until the priests stepped into the water.  Other times we actually have to put on the armor and join in the battle like the many times the Israelites had to fight for the land the Lord was giving them.

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Arise and Shine!

And give God the glory!!

 

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Which bird are you?

After walking around the lake, I sat down to rest and take in the view.  I was there earlier that morning and there must have been 70-80 graceful, delicate swallows swooping over the water.  They zigged and zagged, climbed, then dove down to touch the water for a drink.  Leaving behind a ripple, they darted away and looped around again.  It was hypnotizing to watch.

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I picked out a single bird to study its pattern and see if I could predict when it would take its next drink.  I could not.  Sometimes, they would dive four or five times, only to suddenly veer away from the water before coming again to refresh themselves.

 

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During this jumble of helter-skelter avionics, I noticed two large, graceful swans in another part of the lake gliding slowly through the water.  They looked regal, graceful, peaceful as they moved effortlessly on top of the water.

 

The whole scene brought to mind Christians in their daily lives.  Like the swallows, so many dart around in their busy schedules, stopping only for a brief moment to refresh themselves in the Holy Spirit.  A few others appear majestic and calm like the swans.   They seem to be more in touch with the Holy Spirit. And I thought how we should all be more like swans than swallows.

But then, I saw the bird I want to imitate.  An awkward looking bird, it rode very low in the water.  Only a bit of its back was showing with a dark, gangly neck and a small head pushing through the surface.  It seemed to be moving purposefully, but then disappeared completely under the water.

double-crested-cormorant-1367266_1920I was surprised when it reappeared, a full thirty seconds later, and quite a great distance away with a fish in its mouth!  This bird had totally submersed itself and traveled through the water to reach a purposeful destination!

This is how I want to be in Christ! Not dipping in here and there for a sip. Not floating on top with my feet dangling. But totally and completely submerged for long periods of time during which I accomplish much.

And in between submersion excursions, so covered by the Holy Spirit that I am more water than bird, more Spirit than self.

God shows me things in nature to teach me about Himself, and about myself. Can you see yourself in nature? In a flower?  In a bird?

Does something you see bring a greater understanding to your own circumstance?

Ask God to speak to you through His own creation. I believe as you listen, you will Hear More From God!

Are you wise?

my-lakeOn my walks now, the air is  crisp, with a cool breeze where there has been stiflingly humid heat.  Low, slow moving cloud-cover makes pleasing patterns in the sky where eyes used to be met by the burning glare of the hot sun, which now rises later and sets earlier than a week ago.

The flowers are changing.  Those that held up their pompous bushy blooms to the full sunlight are beginning to droop with age, while new, fresh colors appear peeking through the fading flora.

We recognize these as signs of change in the world around us.  The seasons are changing.  We change with them.

Our iced drinks, Jell-O and sliced fruit plates give way to hot chocolate, and plates of warm, just baked cookies.  We share recipes with a neighbor for fruit pies or jams from the harvest.

people-2590555_640We change the way we dress to greet the world.  Shorts and tank tops have added an over-shirt to their look.  Slowly sweats and sweaters creep back into our daily wardrobe.  We may allow our hair to grow a bit to cover the back of our necks.  Our thoughts turn away from the pools and picnics of summer to hayrides and harvest moons.

We recognize and respond to these signs so easily and freely.  We would never want to be caught wearing an out-of-season outfit.  We think ourselves wise to have learned these customs.  Are we?

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The Bible tells us of change.  It says a time is coming when our Lord Jesus Christ will come again.  Soon, the Lamb’s Book of Life will be closed forever.  The names of the saved are written in this book. And even today, as people hear and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, names are still being added.

But the day is coming when not one more name will be allowed.

waiting-410328_640We do not know that day specifically, but we know that each passing day brings us one day closer.  Just as we don’t know the date of the first snow; we know it is coming, and we prepare for it.

How are we preparing for Jesus’ second coming?  Are we changing outwardly?

Instead of a recipe that will stay in his stomach for an hour, why don’t we share with that neighbor, a message that will stay with his soul for eternity?

20180916_193142You know the message. There are only two teams. Jesus and satan. We are all born onto Team satan.  Staying on that team ends in eternal death, a one-way ticket to hell. But you can choose to leave that team to join Team Jesus. Team Jesus has eternal life, heaven – forever.

To join Team Jesus it’s as simple as A-B-C.  Accept the free gift of God’s salvation.  Believe that Jesus died for your sin.  Confess, or say out loud, that Jesus rose from the dead and is your Savior.

Speak that in a prayer to God and you are on Team Jesus – forever! You will never play for Team satan again.

That’s the message to share.  But if you just prayed it for the first time – Congratulations!  You are on team Jesus!

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Tell someone about it – shoot me a comment, or email Josh Burris at jesusisundefeated@gmail.com.  Get Josh’s book on Amazon.com.

Get hold of a Bible and start reading it.  It is God’s love letter to you to learn more about Him and your life on Team Jesus.

 

It’s time. Clothe yourself with Jesus’ righteousness. Serve salvation to a starving world. And prepare for the days ahead in a way that you will be called “wise.”

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Proverbs 1:5

A “Wake-Up Call”

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I have received a “wake up call,” have you?

In a hotel, it’s literally a phone call made to your room to wake you up for whatever you have to do for the day. It’s a call that you preschedule according to your own needs of the day.

When it comes, you simply answer it and it’s over. Unless you arrange it, they do not call again, and would never come to the room and insist you get out of bed and begin your day’s business or requirements. It is a courtesy.

Your choices are to stay in bed and sleep some more, or to get up and begin your day. Your choice.

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Sometimes a wake up call is created by circumstances. It could be an opportunity you thought you had that passes you by. In business. Or in a relationship. Maybe a person moves out of your life who you thought you would have lots of time with.  Or a health issue.

Some wake up calls are humorous. Like your first gray hair. Or your first wrinkle. Or your child starts kindergarten. Or college.

However, a wake up call from God is different.

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You do not prearrange it. It comes when it comes – often when you least expect it.

Things may have been going along smoothly, when something happens that makes you acutely aware that your time and energy are not unlimited.

God will never insist that you get up.  A wake up call from God is a blessing.  Dealing with the call is still your choice. Go back to sleep, or get up and go.  If you choose to get up and go, here are three suggestions:

1 – Thank God for the opportunity to be woken up and for the assurance that all your days are in His hands

Without the call you could have wasted much time and energy doing things that don’t really matter. Ask God to help you “fix your eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

And be reassured that “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16  That is a promise.

 

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2 – Spend time in prayer

Ask God to show you where you are wasting time and energy: in activities and in relationships. Ask Him to clarify and adjust your perceptions and priorities

Make a list, and be willing to give up those things that are not beneficial. And spend your time and energy on those things that He shows you are important.

 

3 – Ask God to grow your faith to meet whatever challenges this wake up call has raised. And to give you the encouragement you need to persevere

Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 It seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

I am encouraged to know that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power” Ephesians 3:20 And that He is sovereign over the broad strokes and the details of my life. I believe that He will not let one thing be wasted if we ask for Him to be at work in us. And that whatever we experience, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

My wake up call last week was a diagnosis of a very treatable form of breast cancer.  I am very grateful for this reminder to be busy about the things that are eternal and that God would have me do.  And for the assurance that nothing can take away a single minute of life God has ordained for me.

I have been very encouraged in this challenge through prayer and scripture.  If you could use some encouragement, here are two places I go every day:

31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers free download website

my Daily Bible Prayer blog

I pray for each of us: Father, when we are hard-pressed, make us stronger. When perplexed, light our way with Your truth. When we are persecuted or struck down, raise us up in Your strength.

Do not let us be overwhelmed or discouraged by what is temporary. But renew us day by day as we come to You in prayer.

Thank You for Your grace and help. Thank You that You will never leave us. That You will always love us. And that we will always be Yours. Amen

 

 

God’s plan is Light

A poem I wrote many years ago speaks to the truth that our lives do not follow the pattern or plan we lay out according to our own desires and wishes. That’s OK when we are Believers because we trust the One who knows more than we do with the ultimate outcome.

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Part of God’s purpose for His people is that we share the Holy Spirit – the light He has placed in us. As containers of that light it can only get out when there is an opening or hole. Sometimes openings or holes are made when our lives are filled to overflowing and we literally burst with joy!

Other times, God allows pain and suffering to cause splits in us and where the sorrow spills out, the hole that’s left allows His Light to shine through.

Some people seem to spill light from places were joy has been. And some seem to have mostly holes that have been formed by pain. I believe God is with us in both times. He rejoices with us when we are filled with joy. And He cries with us when we suffer.

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It breaks His heart that some choose to do evil in this world and cause others pain. But good can come from it when we minister to people who have similar pain in their lives. We can seek the light from those with similar pain, and we can be the light for others.

As Believers, we are also assured that whatever we endure in this life will be laid down at His throne. Whatever we surrender in the future will glorify Him and we will receive an eternity so glorious we cannot even grasp it in our earthly understanding.

I pray you will be encouraged in the remembrance of your sorrows and your joys; and be empowered to move forward and let His Light shine through you.

My Life poem

My life is borrowed, ‘tis not mine

I cannot hold it selfishly

But give it to the One above

Who gave His all, His life, His love

That I might one day see

I see with light that is not mine

I cannot make one star shine bright

Yet through the holes God makes in me

His Spirit shines, so I can be

A lantern, glowing Holy light

This light alone will light my path

It is a course I do not choose

My way, my will I give to Him

Who walked this earth and knew no sin

With Him I cannot lose

And so, my life, my light, my path

Are not for me, but God alone

No pain or sorrow come to me

That I am not assured will be

Exchanged for glory – at His throne