Where is your heart today? Where is your mindset? There is so much going on in the world today, it is easy to lose your focus and determination for the things of God. Have you lost your place in the rat race of life?
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Faith can sometimes be that indescribable understanding that whatever happens, whatever takes place, God is in control and we just have to get out of the way and let Him do what only He can do.
We may not be able to do much about the current leadership in these arenas other than pray. But if you’re a parent, you can have a positive impact on the next generation. How? By instituting ethics training in your home. This is where it begins. Parents have the God-given responsibility to guide and instruct their children – the future business and spiritual leaders of our nation.
Where do we go to find appropriate foundational truths that lay the groundwork for ethics and morals? How can we purposefully and systematically train our children and ourselves to do the right thing, even when it hurts? Joyce Meyer, Christian speaker and author, states in one of her teachings on integrity, “True integrity is doing the right thing even when no one else is looking.” Isn’t that what we want in our children and ourselves?
This is not about tired; it is about weary. Weary is spiritual. Although tired and weary may at times feel closely related, they are worlds apart. Tired is physical; weary is spiritual.
When you are tired you are dealing with the physical realm. Being tired means you need physical rest or a break, some sleep and quite possibly a vacation. Weary does not respond to the same treatment as tired. You can go away for a month to rest and relax but you may still be weary.
If you are tired you may need to change some life habits. You may need to begin to exercise or exercise differently. Perhaps you have a physical problem that needs medical attention. The point is, tired is physical. You cannot pray tired away. You do not rebuke tired. You cannot lay hands on someone and cast out tired.
One of the greatest sins in the church is not necessarily gossip, strife, addictions, adultery or fornication—even though all these things are sin. What I believe is the greatest sin today, especially in America, is the sin of prayerlessness or leaving God alone.
We can easily become caught in the trap where our only consistent time of prayer is offered before each meal and that’s about it. You know what I mean by the meal prayers, don’t you? “God is good; God is great. I’m so hungry I could eat this plate.” I’ve been so hungry before that sometimes I have felt like eating the plate.
One time when I prayed a quick prayer over my meal, I felt the Lord say, “Now, Hank, did you mean that from your heart?” Like most of us, I didn’t mean or even hear what I had prayed. Since then, I always feel convicted when I pray insincere prayers, even if the food is making my mouth water.
Once as I sat on a 737 getting ready to leave the gate at the airport, my window seat looked directly down at the luggage loading area. A large tractor had pulled the string of carts up to a long conveyor belt that ran into the belly of the plane. A worker (I will call him “Larry the luggage guy”) stood with a scanner in his hand. As his “helper luggage guy” placed each piece of luggage on the belt that was slowly moving into the plane, “Larry” electronically scanned the tag that had been placed on the suitcase at check-in.
Wow, I thought. What a great way to keep track of our bags. A bag is placed on the belt, scanned and moves up the conveyor. Next bag … scanned … up the conveyor. Bag after bag. Someone had actually created a marvelous system to prevent “lost” luggage (the airlines will always tell you it is not lost; they just do not know exactly where it is).
Suddenly, someone else standing at another vehicle hollered for “Larry.” He was laughing about something. Larry laid his scanner down and walked over to Mr. Comedian. “Helper” guy seemed to not even notice. He just continued to dutifully place the bags on the belt that was still moving into the plane. Bag after bag was moving up the conveyer belt, but NOT being scanned.
Some years ago I was counseling a teenager who had been raised from infancy by his grandparents. The boy’s father had been killed in an automobile accident, and subsequently his mother disappeared. The grandparents had been doing all they could for him at great expense to themselves. It is difficult for anyone to raise a teenager, and people in their 60s and 70s ought not to have to go through it a second time around.
For several years he rewarded them with unfathomable rebellion, anger and sin until he made his grandparents miserable. I told him, “They did not have to take you in. You could have gone to an orphanage. You could have been a ward of the court. They got up with you in the middle of the night. They changed your diapers and fed you and clothed you. They raised you at great sacrifice to themselves. Nobody would have blamed them if they had said, “We just can’t handle it at our age.”
Some time ago, I had an experience at church that I will never forget.
During the Sunday morning service, the pastor asked each member of the congregation to make a list of his sins on a sheet of paper, as the Holy Spirit led. After a time of reflection and prayer, each person walked up to the front of the church and nailed his folded piece of paper, which represented his sins, onto a large wooden cross.
When it was my turn, I laid my folded “list of sins” onto the end of the crossbar and struck the nail with the hammer that had been provided. The sound of the hammer connecting with the nail was deafening—not to my ears, but to my spirit. The realization that, in effect, my own hand had driven the nails into our Savior’s flesh was overwhelming.
In that moment I was struck with the reality that because Jesus knew I would be in this world at this particular time and would not be able to live a sinless life, He—the One who spoke the world into being—had chosen to lay down His life for me so that I could have everlasting fellowship with Him. I already knew this, of course; I have been a Christian for many years. But the act of virtually nailing Him to the cross with my own hand made His sacrifice more real than before.
Every Sunday we have an early Morning Prayer meeting at church. We pray from a Psalm for 30 minutes (without asking for anything—a time purely for praise), then we prayer walk the sanctuary for 15 minutes, and finally meet back together to intercede for the services and ministry of the day.
Since we started this intimate time in 2007, we have never ceased to be amazed at how the Holy Spirit always meets with us. We never leave without a feeling that we have been in the sweet presence of Jesus.
One week, however, was a bit of a challenge. The prayer room is just off of the platform, and the praise team has practice at the same time that we are praying. That has never been an issue. In fact, the muffled music often adds a “worship” dimension to our time.
Brenda worked for our ministry at Elijah House for several years. She was a beautiful, intelligent, insightful young woman in her 30s who profoundly blessed many with her gifts of counseling and prayer. Almost everyone was puzzled by the fact that she remained single.
She had a lovely face and figure, and her shiny auburn hair would have qualified her to pose for shampoo commercials. She dressed tastefully and attractively. Her bright personality was charming. She was conversant on a variety of subjects. Several counselees commented that they could not understand why men were not lined up at her door.
I’m not describing a superwoman who possessed an unflawed personality with whom no one could identify. Like the rest of us, she had wounds in her heart that needed to be healed and habits that had to be transformed. At that time there was a privateness about her that did not allow many to know her intimately. But neither was there a sign on her forehead telling people to remain at a distance.
Do you ever feel that it is too late to fulfill the plan and purpose God has for your life?
If you do, let me encourage you. According to our country’s legal retirement years, I am several years past retirement age but still work and enjoy it. I work because I want to, not because I have to. Yet, I know that until God calls me home I will continue to walk in the destiny He has for me. God has promised in His Word that with long life and length of days will He satisfy me (see Ps. 91:16). I don’t allow my age to dictate what I can accomplish for God.
This year, for example, I still work PT at my job, write articles for my Web site, and continue to minister regularly, often traveling to different states and out of the country. I also attend church and special meetings on a regular basis and find time to enjoy my grandchildren. Walking in the destiny of God is fun and exciting!
John 17 records Jesus’ last prayer before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He cried to God before His crucifixion. We don’t have to ask what Jesus was feeling before He was crushed for us. His desire is laid out clearly in John. He opens up His heart and lets us listen in on the most intimate moments of His life on earth.
John 17:24-26 says: “Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
“O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
In May 1984 Billy Graham spoke at Westminster Chapel. His subject was “loneliness.” He took his text from a strange verse; Psalm 102:6, in the King James Version, in which the psalmist likens himself to an owl in the desert. Graham definitely hit a nerve! There are so many people today who are lonely.
Loneliness is a painful condition, a dreaded state that, given the choice, most people would do anything to avoid. It is enforced solitude.
There is obviously a significant difference between enforced solitude and chosen solitude. Some of us appreciate the bliss of solitude. Jesus needed to get away from the crowds, and there are some who, by nature, are loners; they love it that way. My friend Robert Amess calls himself “the complete loner,” but he is not lonely.
Years ago, when my husband, Terry, and I were dating, I set about to fix what I called the “perfect dinner” for Valentine’s Day. On the menu were Terry’s favorites: baked pasta with marinara sauce smothered in cheese, salad and buttery garlic bread. How difficult was that? In a word, highly!
You see I was a woman with an unsavory “kitchen past” and a long list of disasters to prove it. My most recent one was when my popovers (containing too much baking soda) exploded like hand grenades in the oven!
“Well, never mind,” I told myself, as I braved the kitchen to fix the perfect dinner. Terry didn’t need to know about my hidden disasters, just tonight’s grand performance of undaunted love revealed perfectly on a red linen tablecloth.
“Call in! Your chance to throw a brick or a bouquet!”
The radio host was inviting his coast-to-coast listeners to air a grievance or grudge against someone—their chance to get even. Or they could call in and compliment someone. The choice was theirs!
Most were angry callers with a grudge and a beef to air. The disturbing thing was that they were taking fiendish delight in putting people down and flattening them before the public. The radio airwaves were thick with tension and hate.
In Acts 27, the apostle Paul was a prisoner on a ship with 276 passengers onboard. Launching the voyage in the winter, the ship headed into a violent sea storm, called Euroclydon. The ship tossed like a leaf in the wind and was in danger of splitting into pieces. No stars or light from the moon was seen for many days, and because of the dangerous rocks and quicksand, it appeared that Paul and the passengers would drown in the murky waters.
I was going to a birthday party. Like any great Pappy, I stopped on the way to the party to get my grandson, Elijah, a present for his first birthday. He was at the age where he mimicked sounds. If you asked him, “What does a doggie say?” His reply was “Arf.” How did he get to be so cute?
As I walked into the little toy area of a drug store, I spotted the perfect toy. A drug store doesn’t have a really big toy section I found out. But here it was: a cute, fuzzy, battery-operated puppy. A long cord was attached to the toy, with a small box on the other end. It had two buttons on it, to make the doggie bark and walk. Now this was a cool toy! It was well worth the $5.99 price tag.
The reason is that we are created in God's image (see Gen. 1:27), and God has what He says! When He said, "Let there be light," there was light (v. 3). Since we are created in God's own image, we have the authority to open our mouths and put in motion what we desire for the future.
The children of Israel went on a journey through the wilderness before they entered their promised land. In this entire journey, God was working to accomplish one thing: to prepare a people for Himself. He was teaching them that they could trust Him; from trust He would lead them into the fullness of His promise. He is the same today and is doing His will the same today. God is working in your life to teach you and strengthen your faith so that you can enter into the blessing He has prepared for you.
The Bible tells us that in His presence “is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11, NKJV). Because this is true, our most important APPOINTMENT each day must be our time alone with God and His Word, a time when He can speak to us and we can speak to Him.Satan, our No. 1 enemy, would rather have us do anything than keep this appointment. So we must ask for and receive God's help in order to be faithful on a daily basis.