Category: Sunday Sermons

Pentecost Sunday – the Power of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost was one of the major festivals celebrated by the Israelites in the days of the Old Testament. In it, 50 days after the Passover, they celebrated the harvest. It was referred to as The Festival of Weeks, celebrated four weeks and 1 day, after the feast of Passover.

Stay with me here. This is the secret to your power, as a thriving individual, seeking to please the Lord.

For years the Passover was celebrated and 50 days later Pentecost or Shavout was celebrated.

This Sunday then, 50 days after Passover is that Pentecost Sunday.

So what?

Don’t miss or reject this powerful truth of the word.

Jesus, before He was taken into heaven, told the disciples to go and wait in Jerusalem, until they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5,8 So, that’s what they did. They went to Jerusalem, 120 of them, prayed and waited for this “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”. Not knowing what to expect, but expecting Jesus to fulfill His promise to them.

In Acts 2:1-4, it tells us the miraculous result,

” When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind came and filled the whole house they were in. They saw tongues of fire that sat upon each one. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.”

The Apostle Luke, Acts 2

When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, it was the fulfillment of the centuries long Pentecost celebrations. He was demonstrating the true harvest celebration. Not just celebrating an agricultural harvest, but a harvest of people. For in Acts 2, we see that there were 3,000 people who were added to the church following that miraculous display. The disciples were empowered with fire and boldness, and 3,000 people were affected that morning and “added to the church.” Acts 2:41

On that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on those 120, and they became his witnesses, and many were influenced and added to the Kingdom that very day.

That day empowered the disciples and was the beginning of the Christian church. They were transformed and from that day forward they entered their world charged with the power of the Holy Spirit and performing miracles. Read the book of Acts and see their powerful and miraculous witnesses.

Pentecost changed their world and revealed the heart of the Father – to have many added to His family, from every tribe and tongue.

The experience of that Pentecost lasted for years and rocked the known world.

And yet, 25 or so years after it, when Paul was in Ephesus preaching, he asked the Ephesians if they had received the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:2 Their response, “No, we’ve not even heard of the Holy Spirit.” Well, Paul settled that, he asked a few more questions and laid his hands on them and “they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:4-6

Here we are, at least 1,957 years after the book of Acts was written. Have you heard of the Holy Spirit? Are you aware of it’s power in your life? Do you know the Feast of Pentecost is about bringing in the Harvest?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus promised Him to you as a helper, comforter, intercessor, one who would be by your side through everything that you face. He is your Comforter, leader and discerner of what is truth. John 14. Jesus told His disciples He was leaving, but He would give them/us another Comforter. The Holy Spirit was what He was talking about.

The Holy Spirit is always with you, will never leave you and will always equip you for what you face. He comes into you at rebirth and fills you at request. You can, by choice be Spirit filled, be Spirit led, guided, and granted spiritual understanding.

The Holy Spirit filled the disciples with boldness. Acts 3:6; Acts 4:8,31

With that boldness, they “turned the world upside-down.” Acts 17:6

Jesus promised that “greater works than I do, you shall do”. John 14:12

So what is it that’s stopping today’s believers from turning the world upside down, from moving in boldness and bringing in the harvest of people to the Kingdom?

Is it that they haven’t even heard of the Holy Spirit? Is it that they aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit? Is it that Pentecost hasn’t been born in them? Do they not care for the harvest?

Now is the season of harvest. Now is the season of hungry people being added to the Kingdom. Now is the season for believers to move beyond “the baptism of John and repentance” and move into the fullness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:4; Matthew 3:6

It is time for believers to rise up, and begin to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. To move in signs and wonders, to move in miracles. To offer prayers of faith in needy situations. To rise up in the Holy Spirit and power and see this world turned upside down.

Why don’t we?

Pentecost is upon us, quite literally. Who will embrace it?

Cheers to you.

A Clear Conscience

” I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Acts 24:16 NIV – The Apostle Paul

Striving to maintain a clear conscience is honorable, right, healthy and important. But is intentional, deliberate and hard work. Maintaining a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and helps us to override selfishness.

My hunch is that during this season, there have been ample opportunities for selfishness, personal conflicts, and ruffled feathers in our family or at work relationships. So let’s look into our conscience and put the focus on it and it’s partner – guilt.

Carrying around guilt, the weight of one’s own conscience, literally weighs us down. It actually makes us feel heavier. Science has done studies showing that to be true..

Because guilt is meant to play a role in regulating moral behavior it sends signals throughout the body, and the body responds with perception changes, insomnia, loss of appetite, stress, headaches, backaches and a general sense of feeling dreary. Or it responds with the strong motivation to apologize, correct or make up for the wrong. Perhaps, it even does all of those things in your life.

Another writer, describes guilt, or not having a clear conscience this way, “When I kept it all inside, my dishonesty devastated my inner life, causing my life to be filled with frustration, irrepressible anguish, and misery. The pain never let up, for your conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.” Psalm 32:3-4, TPT King David

The power of guilt is terrifying. The worry of guilt is debilitating. Being consumed with what I did or didn’t do, what I thought or didn’t think, how I harmed another individual, what I said or should have said, all these cause pain and anguish inside of us. “It is overwhelming and a burden too heavy to bear” King David cried in Psalm 38:4

Here, is where our conscience kicks in. Therefore, what is conscience?

Oswald Chambers describes conscience this way, “The ability within me that attaches to the highest standard I know and reminds me of what that standard demands that I do.”

That explains to me why two people can face the exact same moral dilemma and come away with two totally different answers for what is “right’ in that situation. Their “highest standard” is different. Both could even engage in that moral dilemma and state it quite differently – one could feel no sense of guilt or remorse while the other will hold to the belief that they have done something wrong and need to right it, and them self.

We see this played out everyday in our family, neighborhood, church, media, politics, everywhere. As many people as there are, will determine the variety of standards there will be.

So for today at least, let’s assert God’s standard. It is the highest possible standard for my mind and heart to attach to. God’s standard is His perfect law. His Word.

His law is not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NIV

His law is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, more valuable than gold, and sweeter than honey. Psalm. 19:7-10 NIV

When I apply His Word to my guilt, what happens?

Well, as mentioned above, if I keep silent or ignore any guilt or wrongdoing when in fact there should be guilt because I have wronged someone, then that is where the psychological consequences kick in and the cycle of guilt plays out: 1. should 2. action/inaction 3. guilt

But the other option in the face of guilt and God’s word is – “I acknowledge my guilt and do not cover it up… and you forgive the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

When we see that the purpose of guilt is to restore relationship and we admit our need for that restoration, we receive his forgiveness, His cleansing and restoration. We admit our need to Him and he forgives us. Psalm 51 In this process, we learn to take action as needed, move on from it and learn from our mistakes. Our conscience is then cleared before God and man.

Clearing our conscience is vital for healthy living. Allowing things to build up, unresolved, unaddressed is of no value to you or your health. Keeping our conscience sensitive to Him means staying open on the inside and addressing needed issues each day.

We are charged in scripture to not let the sun go down on our anger. We are reminded that His mercies are new every morning. This indicates the daily practice of taking out the trash of our cluttered conscience, and not allowing guilt, grudges, or messy life decisions to pile up.

Blessed is the one, whose sin is not counted against him and in whom is no deceit. Psalm 32:2

Having a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and to God.

That is why we “strive always to keep a clear conscience”. I hope it’s a conscience held to the highest standard of God’s Word. But that choice is yours.

Cheers to you.

We all like sheep

Do you remember hearing about these three famous, ground breaking sheep?

Montauciel – the famous French sheep? Shrek – the infamous 59 1/2 pound sheep? Dolly – the first mammal cloned?

Here’s a refresher:

Montauciel, who’s name means “climb to the sky” in French, was used as guinea pig for the Mongolfier brothers in the 18th century who were experimenting with hot air balloons. The sheep was put in the basket, along with a duck and rooster and actually flew 2 miles at an altitude of 1,500 ft, before the balloon landed. All passengers were ok upon landing.

Shrek, lived on a wool farm in New Zealand with 17,000 other Merino sheep. These sheep are sheared once a year but Shrek was having none of it! He hid for 6 years as each yearly shearing time came. Seriously! After 6 years, in 2004 he was finally caught and shorn in 20 minutes. 59 1/2 pounds of wool came from him, enough to make 20 men’s wool suits.

Shrek before
Shrek after

Dolly, the sheep, was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996. She was used for medical research.

Now, I admit that I’m a city girl, but there is a lot to be learned from sheep. So baaaa-re with me.

Check out these characteristics of sheep, both good and baaa-d:

  • Sheep experience emotions like humans. Fear, anger, rage, despair, disgust, boredom and happiness. They actually feel despair when their friends are led to the slaughter.
  • Sheep are intelligent with impressive facial memory skills.
  • Sheep have excellent hearing and can recognize their shepherd’s voice out of a crowd.
  • Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them – off a cliff or through water, makes no difference. They are hardwired to follow without even thinking.
  • Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground cause them to baulk.
  • Sheep build friendships and stick up for one another in fights.
  • Sheep are very social creatures and require the presence of 4-5 other sheep when they are grazing in order to maintain their visual link to each other.
  • Sheep find safety in numbers and get agitated when separated.
  • Sheep have excellent peripheral vision fields of 270-320 degrees.
  • Sheep are susceptible to disease such as parasites when they are mismanaged.
  • Sheep wag their tails, like dogs and form bonds with their shepherd.

Throughout history, humans have been compared to sheep. In ancient times kings were considered the shepherds of their kingdoms and the people his sheep.

In the Bible we see this played out with the twist the we (human’s) are the sheep of The Lord’s pasture.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100:3

Probably the most well known passage in the Bible about sheep and the shepherd is Psalm 23. And that passage is at the heart of this message.

When I was recently reading this passage, I was struck with over 11 things that the shepherd does for the sheep! The entire psalm is one in which the Shepherd takes the initiative and responsibility for the care, protection, provision, supervision and defense of the sheep in his/her flock. Check it out.

Here is the list I made in my notebook of what Our Shepherd does for us, His sheep:

  1. He provides everything I need. I don’t go without anything that I need. He is my friend.
  2. He makes me lie down – whether I think I need to rest or not, He knows I do and makes stretch out.
  3. He leads me – he actually is in front of me leading me to the goal or watering place where I will find rest.
  4. He refreshes my soul – he renews me in my weariness and allows strength to return to me.
  5. He guides me – again he’s waaaay ahead of me, guiding me along the bumpy path.
  6. In the valley, He is with me – when shadows and darkness overwhelm me, He is right there with me.
  7. Both his rod and staff bring me comfort – his rod corrects me and his staff supports me – both bring me comfort and repentance when needed.
  8. In the face of my enemies, he orders and arranges all that I need to be sustained.
  9. He puts oil on my head providing healing, acceptance and sweet fragrance.
  10. He promises goodness and love will always have my back.
  11. AND, he wants to live with me forever! Not just here in this pen on this planet.

Wouldn’t you agree that the sheep have a pretty good gig?

The shepherd totally has the sheep covered. The sheep do so very little and are so dependent on the shepherd. Yet there is a sweet, personal relationship between each sheep and their shepherd that makes the sheep wag it’s tail in happiness and satisfaction when close to their shepherd or listening to his voice.

The precious, tender, reality of these verses demonstrate the Lord’s patient, conscious, willful, loving, strong, and complete care for us – his sheep.

Our Great Shepherd

I was and continue to be overwhelmed by my careful shepherd.

I trust “the wool not be pulled over your eyes” and you too, rest confidently in the complete care and provision of your Great Shepherd.

Cheers to you.

For a complete downloadable Bible study on the 23rd Psalm, go to my Bible studies and click on the file.

The Mother’s Matrix

Sunday Sermon 5.9.20

This weekend, for many, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and by just walking into a grocery store we see that is obvious.

But I would like to take this time to drill down into a slice of Mother’s day, that may not be so obvious. It begins with a story.

There was once a woman who found herself surrounded by a disorganized throng of people, pressing in to see Jesus. In the midst of that crowd, she lifted up her voice and yelled out, “Happy and blessed is the womb or matrix that bore, carried you.” Luke 11:27 (I have transliterated this verse according to the original Greek word meanings.)

This crowd scene and the woman’s yelling out a blessing on Jesus’ mother seems kind of crazy, and a strange thing to blurt out in this particular setting. Yet, it’s significance cannot be overstated or lost.

The focus was on blessing the one who gave birth to Jesus. Why?

Let’s review what matrix means –

” Matrix – the environment or material in which something develops.”

Oxford Dictionary

The cry of this text is for us to see that no matter the environment or material of our birth, upbringing and nurture (or lack of it) it is blessed. It is by design. It is by mercy. It is by purpose. It is not by mistake. Everything surrounding your birth was perfectly aligned to bring you into the world into that situation to be and develop into the you that you are today.

It is the mother’s matrix.

Each of us were born into a situation by a mother. Period. We all share that.

It matters not whether the situation was good or bad. Whether we were raised by a present mother or absent mother. Adopted or surrogate mother. Abusive or affectionate mother. Nuclear family. Single parent family. Mixed family. Incestuous family. Imperfect, healthy, godly, evil, rich, or poor, family. Abandoned, embraced, loved, mocked, nurtured or neglected.

The situation into which you were born, by the mother that bore you is blessed. Not because it was a good situation but because that situation and that mother gave birth to YOU! And you were PLANNED.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at some examples of what I am talking about.

  • Eve, in a nuclear family, bore 2 sons who lived in anger and animosity toward one another and the one eventually killed the other. A “perfect family” produced killing.
  • Hagar – in a runaway, abusive family, yet, in her misery bore Ishmael, a great and powerful people
  • Lot’s 2 daughters -an incestuous family, both daughter’s bore sons who became great nations
  • Rebekah, a miracle pregnancy, bore twins boys, Jacob & Esau, who fulfilled God’s promises
  • Israel, who had 4 mothers ( Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Rachel) to his 12 children. Talk about a mixed family! With issues galore! And what a blessing came from those 12 kids and their upbringing in that crazy, mixed up family.
  • Elizabeth, a old, barren woman who bore John the Baptist!
  • Pharaoh’s daughter, an adoptive mother, who raised Moses
  • King David’s mother, a scorned and mocked mother who raised her son in shame and ridicule from siblings. (read Psalm 69, it is so sad!) Yet, David became a man after God’s own heart.

There are so many more stories, of other mother’s matrix and the amazing outcomes in spite of, (or shall we say because of ) the environment into which their child(ren) was raised.

Look, too, at the women who actually are listed by name in Jesus’ genealogy, which generally lists only men – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.

You see, the situation into which you were born, and the woman who bore you are blessed. Without that environment or building material for the structure of your life, you wouldn’t be the person you are now. Let’s be real, there are probably things we wished would have been different, perhaps a lot of things and maybe even everything. But that would truly change who we are.

There is nothing that cannot be healed, used, strengthened, improved upon and built on in our past. There is nothing that is useless or wasted. We are all still in process on this road of life and the broken pieces are being mended. We are being made whole.

But this weekend, I truly would love for you to be encouraged that although imperfect, you are exactly who God designed you to be. He has used everything in your past, including your mother, and that situation to mold you and bless you.

That is why, I believe the story we started with, in Luke 11 is there. To make obvious to us, this slice of the Mother’s Martix.

So I will say to YOU, Blessed and happy is the womb or matrix that bore YOU, for it made you the remarkable human that you are today. You are blessed!

Cheers you, and your mother.

Hope deferred

Sunday Sermon 5.3.20

” Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

Proverbs 13:12 NIV

This phrase/verse has been weighing heavily on my heart lately.

” When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing.”

Proverbs 13:12 The Passion Translation

The loss of hope is debilitating. Paralyzing. Depressing for sure. Today, we want to talk about the importance of hope and offer you some solid examples of those who had hope in difficult situations.

A study of the original Hebrew words used in this passage from Proverbs would reveal that this is a much better transliteration of Proverbs 13:12:

” When a prophetic vision or expectation from the Lord is delayed, prolonged or removed; feelings, will, and intellect are all worn down, and worn out, making one sick and weak.”

Proverbs 13:12 original Hebrew meaning

You see, when hope is removed from the equation, our mind, will and intellect become worn out and weak.

Let’s be honest, it has been really tough to watch the news and read the latest reports without emotions rising up within us. Each day we hear restriction updates, business expectations, state revisions, financial concerns and add the family realities chiming in, we are definitely being worn out and rubbed down by the news.

Just today, I had to cancel our flight and accommodation reservations to Honolulu in mid-May for our son’s wedding! Vacations are being cancelled or postponed, graduations are not receiving the honor they are due, workers are still unemployed, travel has been suspended, schools have been closed and morphed into online, distance education, church meetings are virtual, gatherings are forbidden and freedoms have been handcuffed.

Hope has definitely been deferred!

Today, I’d like to submit to you stories of people who also faced a deferment of hope so that “hopefully” we can be encouraged and keep us from allowing our will, feelings and intellect from becoming “sick”.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman (Psychology.com) tells us from his studies, that hope is a “cognitive motivational system.” It starts in the emotions and follows to the cognitions (mind). Lord knows, our emotions have been stirred enough and pressed upon enough to affect our thinking. Right?

But your hope, is more than a cognitive or emotional reaction.

Dr. Jerome Groopman, in his book, “The Anatomy of Hope”, tells us that belief and expectation are key elements of hope and they can block pain by releasing endorphins and enkephalins because they act like morphine in the brain and body.

So hope, in and of itself, has a powerful effect in the human body, mind, intellect and emotions. And hope triggers a virtuous cycle.

We are told that there are 4 types of hope. Let’s look at each of those and then look at those stories of biblical characters who demonstrated that kind of hope. Ready?

These are the four types of hope that psychologists say we have:

  • 1. Realistic
  • 2. Utopian
  • 3. Chosen
  • 4. Transcendent

In reality, if we are struggling with having hope, who cares that there are four kinds??! But here goes, anyway.

1. Realistic hope – this is the hope that says in a cancer situation, if we take these meds it will help. It is realistic in and about the situation.

Abraham and Sarah, in Genesis 15 were given a promise of a son of blessing and yet 60, 70, 80 years passes before Isaac, that son of promise was born.

They lived a normal family life for years with that hope and without it’s fulfillment. They tried to hurry the hope and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the son of promise. The hope of a son of promise had been rubbed down and worn out as Ishmael grew to the age of 13. Their hearts could haven been sick. Their hope could have escaped.

And yet, in Romans it says in chapter 4, verse 18, ” Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it. He took God at His word…”. Hope was deferred for at least 13 and maybe 60 years, and yet Abraham and Sarah had hope in the God of their circumstances. They were realistic in their circumstances.

2. Utopian hope – is a collective hope, negating the present and driven for a better future.

Joshua and Caleb, in the book of Joshua would be a great dipiction of this type of hope. They held out for the collective victory of Israel and their entering Canaan for 40 years. Do you think that after 40 years of hoping, they may have been a little worn down? A little heart sick? Was their hope deferred? You betcha!

Yet, after a 40 year wait, their hope was strong and Caleb said, “So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then. Now give me this hill country…” Joshua 14:10-12 NIV

Joshua and Caleb hung onto the Utopian hope of a better future of fulfillment for Israel.

3. Chosen hope – chosen hope helps us live in a difficult, present situation with an uncertain future. It helps us to regulate negative emotions.

Joseph, in Genesis 37, who dreamed at age 17 of his brothers bowing before him, had that dream burning in his heart and thoughts for 13 years! In those 13 years he was betrayed and sold as a slave by his brothers. Imprisoned in Pharaoh’s palace, yet favored and set as a leader there. Falsely accused of sexual assault, thrown into prison again. Joseph’s dream, still burning in his heart, fighting off deferment sickness, he hoped until he finally became the Prime Minister. And then, his brothers came and bowed down before him. His chosen hope was finally fulfilled.

David, at a young age of probably 15, was anointed to be the next King of Israel. (1Samuel 16) That anointing, held him and his hope, through so many discouraging circumstances. He was literally searched for as an enemy of the king and his life was in danger, sought after, and chased down for 15 years. He did not become king until he was 30 years old. 15 years of hoping… 15 years of deferment. Yet he chose to “be strong and hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24

4. Transcendent hope – a general hopefulness that something good can happen.

Romans 8:28 – In all things, God works for the good of those who love him…

Psalm 38:15 – Lord, I hope in you

Lamentations 3:21 – This I recall to mind, thereore have I hope

These verses are just a few of the many we are given assuring us that something good will happen to those who put their hope in the Lord.

Yet, the best example of transcendent hope would be Jesus, the epitome of transcendent hope. His hope was fixed not on the now, but on the future… “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross..”. Hebrews. 12:2

And yet, even Jesus hoped. As a 12 year old kid, stumping the Rabbi’s until he entered his ministry in AD 26, he hoped. He hoped as he called the disciples and built the Kingdom of God inside them. He hoped as he taught the crowds, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He hoped in the garden of Gethsemane and he hoped hanging on the cross. He hoped in that empty tomb, he hoped as he ascended from that hill.

He hoped for them, he hoped for us, that we would hope without growing weak, tired, worn out or rubbed thin. He hoped that we would hope in Him, His promises and His Word.

Jesus’ hope transcended every limit.

Our hope can be secure like these heroes of hope, when it is anchored to God’s promises, (Hebrews, 1 Peter, Acts 26), when it is anchored to Jesus (1Timothy. 1:1), and when it is anchored to the Word. (Romans 15:4.)

Those three, God’s promises, Jesus, and The Word of God make for us a three-fold cord, that will not be easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) When our hope is built upon these, we are anchored, secure with an UNSWERVING HOPE. No matter the length of wait, wearing, or rubbing.

When our hope is anchored in Jesus, His Word and His promises we are secure. Our mind, emotions, will and intellect are strong and stable. We are not sickly. Our hope is in Him and our emotions will follow our will.

That kind of hope motivates. That kind of hope is congious. That type of hope can be learned. That type of hope is healthy and promotes healthy behaviors.

Hope deferred does NOT have to make your heart sick when it is anchored God’s promises.

But if it does, please allow Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Caleb, Joseph and even Hannah, Simeon, Anna to encourage you to not allow the constant rubbing away of freedoms & strength in your situation to make you sick, weak, and depressed.

Hope deferred, may make the heart sick, but may it not be your heart, because you are anchored into Jesus, His Word and His promises.

Blessings.

Are you hurting? Do you feel great?

Sunday Sermon 4.26.20

Which ever side of the coin you find yourself on today, I have some solid advice and encouragement for you. But first, let me share a story.

Years ago, I was teaching in Pasadena, CA and at the time had to drive between 2 campuses during my day. On one particular day, while driving to the second campus, when passing through a quiet intersection, I was broadsided, driver side, driver door, by a Cadillac. I didn’t see it coming and when I did, it was pretty much at impact. All I had time to do was yell out in prayer, “JESUS!?!” – which I did. I don’t remember anything after that.

Witnessses say they saw my car flip over and fly through the air, landing on its roof. When they ran to find me, I was upside-down, in-shock, but very much alive. When I was removed from the car by first responders, witnesses told them there’s no way I should be alive because by what they observed, I should be a mangled wreck with severely damanged bones and organs.

I was not. I was taken by ambulance to hospital, treated for mild bruises, scratches and shock and released that same day.

I was definitely hurting, though. So, “Yes” would’ve been my answer to the title of this blog.

The only thing I could do and had time to do is let out that one word cry for help – “JESUS ! “.

The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:18 – ” Pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” NIV

In James 5:13 – ” Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.” The Message Paraphrase

Whether it is a one word prayer of desperation, a 15 minute prayer time in the car for your family/job, or a passionate request for help and wisdom- we are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. They all count! No matter the length or position, if offered in faith they are heard.

Prayer changes us and often changes things. It is true. Prayer allows us to approach God with our requests and leave them in his care. Leaving it there with Him and trusting that He will take care of us and the request is often harder than praying itself. Right?

To that point – Not too long ago our son had planned an extensive backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. For over a year he was thorough and a bit obsessive in his preparation for this huge trip. He had done his best and the day to begin had now, finally arrived.

My husband and I had been praying for him nearly daily for that year. No kidding. This was a ginormous undertaking and we were not without our concerns. So when that day came, and we took him to Yosemite to camp for the night and set out the next morning, we were doing our best to trust the Lord and leave it in his hands. That was hard. This was to be a 2-3 week hike of 221 miles!

Talk about all kinds of prayers. Our prayers then were not not one word prayers. This was pouring out petitions on a regular basis. Asking, seeking and knocking and then repeat – keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells the disciples “they should always pray and not give up.” NIV

Here’s a verse you can easily memorize, “Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV

Some prayers require persistence, not giving up, or loosing hope.

Prayer is simple yet hard. When you’re hurting, pray. When you’re stressed pray. When you’re alone pray. Pray in every situation, every day, with every attitude, circumstance and battle raging. Pray with one word prayers, and extended, passionate cries. Pray.

Are you hurting? Pray.

Choose to pray. It is a choice made in advance of everything else. It is a decision made before the hurt, stress, lonliness. It is an act of the will, your will. And it will change you and may even change the situation too.

people who say they pray

Let’s increase that stat that says 55% of adults say they pray daily. Not just for numbers sake either, but because prayer changes us. Learning to pray with regularity changes us. That’s why we want to pray.

Now to the second part of this blog title – Do you feel great? (And I hope you do.)

Let’s go back to James 5:13 ” Do you feel great? SING” The Message

I love this! I love music too. That is why it is so wonderful to hear scripture encourage us to sing. Music and singing should naturally flow from a full, happy, content, joyous heart. So if you’re feeling great, PUMP IT UP. SING IT OUT. CRANK UP THE VOLUME.

Matter of fact, singing changes your brain. Seriously. According to an article in TIME’s, Life and Style section, “Singing Changes Your Brain” by Stacy Horn, 2013 –

“Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”

Whether it’s from those endorphins that bring pleasure to the brain or the oxytocin that relieves anxiety and stress; singing regularly contributes to quality of life. Even if you are a bad singer!

Psalms 47:6 – ” Sing … sing… sing… sing…” NIV

Singing however, is also a choice, a decision, an act of the will, and it is not dependent on a happy heart. It is always nice when the heart is happy and a song flows naturally from it. But, a song can also be sung by decision, in spite of circumstances.

Choosing to sing in spite of surroundings still releases those hormones on the brain and the same soothing, perfect tranquilizer effects occur. So SING.

Do you feel great? Sing.

With these two simple tools, Pray and Sing, one in each hand, all day, every day, we can face and conquer whatever the day brings, for in our hands we hold two very powerful weapons.

Have a wonderful week, and I wish I could hear you singing it LOUD and proud.

Blessings.

Birth Pangs

This will be the first of a weekly series, that I feel impressed to share called “Sunday Sermons”. It will be intentionally Biblical and decidedly spiritual in nature, meant to feed your Spirit.

I trust you will find nourishment and encouragement by it and will check in each Sunday.

Sunday Sermon 4/19/20

Romans 8:18-28

The Apostle Paul, the guy who once tried to kill Christians, imprison them, torture them and stop their preaching of “The Way”, has had an about face, and is now just as fervent in his defense of “The Way” and in his efforts to spread its message.

He is speaking here, at the height of the Roman Empire to believers, mostly Gentiles (like me, not Jewish), who live in Rome and are trying to make their way through persecution, misunderstanding, strong secular influences and crazy heresies. (weird and false teachings).

It is in this context that he says:

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.” v. 18, 22 The Message paraphrase

Birth pangs? What?

He was saying, the signs they were seeing were actually birth signs. Signs of birthing, signs of new life forming and getting ready to burst forth. Just like a pregnant Mom, facing labor pains before the birth of that precious new life.

He was encouraging them, that hey, what you’re going through now, the pain, uncomfortableness, the stretching, etc. is nothing compared to what is coming! I promise you. It will be worth it. Hang in there. Then he says –

But it’s not only around us; it’s within is. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs.” v. 22-23 The Message

Not only is something getting ready to burst forth in their present hard times, but something within them was being formed and it was about to burst forth too.

He identified it as a spiritual life being formed in them. The Spirit of God was actually forming new life in them. Awakening them, arousing them, stretching them, preparing them as individuals to bring forth this new life. What they were feeling was the preparatory birth pangs of what the Spirit had been developing in them and was nearly ready to deliver.

“Waiting does not diminish us… We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what’s enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” v. 24-25 The Message

Here they were in the midst of hard times and pain themselves, carrying something inside of them, planted by the Spirit, that was growing and enlarging within them. As their wait increased, so did their growth and in kind, so did their expectancy of what would be birthed.

They were seeing within them, something of a spiritual dimension growing, increasing, enlarging and becoming bigger and bigger. As they saw it inside of them, their own excitement of what they were becoming grew! Their expectancy too was growing.

” The moment we get tired of waiting, God’s Spirit is right there alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us.” v. 26-27 The Message

Just like that weary Mom, after nine looong months of carrying that bundle of life grows weary in the wait – so too do the believers. But God’s promise here is that His Spirit, will be right there, helping them along as the birthing coach, even praying for them and helping them to pray!

Today, I see a tremendous similarity between those Roman believers and me and you. I hear Paul’s message to them, being perfectly suited for us. Don’t you?

Here are the take aways.

There’s no doubt the times we are living in are painful and there is suffering. It’s not good, but it will bring about good. They are birth pangs, signs that something new is about to burst forth in our world, across the globe.

And not just in the world/society – BUT IN YOU. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you, enlarging inside of you. Stretching you, preparing in you new Spiritual life, strength, vibrance, depth, and reality. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you and is about to burst forth from you.

It matters little where you’ve come from spiritually, whether this is old news or new news to you. What matters is that you are carrying a Spiritual seed that is growing inside of you.

Let it grow. Enlarge you, arouse you. Feel it kick inside you. Recognize the labor pangs.

And let your expectancy arise, for soon, the life of the Spirit will burst forth from you.

Birth pangs mean the time is near.

Get ready!