My mom is one of those people whose faith is steady. It’s unwavering. She has known her share of hard times but even in the midst of difficulties, her heart is toward the Lord. At eight years old, she and her parents and siblings were saved and right away my mom started preaching to the neighborhood kids. She has always had a heart for evangelism.
As she grew up, got married, and had children, God gave her the opportunity to become a speaker, speaking at luncheons, events, and retreats—sometimes about her area of expertise and training with fashion and interior design but also about her testimony of how God has miraculously worked in her life.
To this day, my mom does not know a stranger. Most people know “Miss Barbara” because she is not afraid to enter your space or your bubble and get to know you, letting you know that she loves you, God loves you, and she’s praying for you.
A while back, I came across Psalm 116. I’ve read this psalm before, but this particular time it resonated with me in a totally different way. It reminded me of my mom’s testimony, her life, and the legacy she has passed down to me and my siblings. Take a look:
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’
“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I trusted in the Lord when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’; in my alarm I said, ‘Everyone is a liar.’ ”
“What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.”
“Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord—in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.”
That last part gets me, “Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord…” For me, I understand the value and the cost of the legacy that has been handed down to me from my mom, and I will serve the Lord as she did. God’s grace has been upon my life, and He has delivered me from my difficulties. I know and understand the rich inheritance I’ve been given, and I will thank the Lord and follow Him all the days of my life.
FBC Aztec Member
Sometimes God works by doing the unexpected. And I think that we have a difficult time accepting the unexpected because it’s unfamiliar and unpredictable and yet, God’s there. He has a never-changing character (James 1:17) that we can count on and trust in, but His ways are different than ours; they are unexplainable, so why should we be surprised when He does something unusual and outside of our comfort zone?
We can choose to walk in His promises, or we can choose to turn away. Turning away may not be some big, dramatic ordeal. It may be as simple as, “I don’t feel like it.” “It’s not what I really want.” “It makes me uncomfortable, so I’ll pass.”
But what is left if we choose to pass on God’s direction and the path He’s laid out for us? What if we choose to not follow His voice or His leading into the unknown? Is there any real fulfillment left? I would argue that the answer is “no”.
When Jesus came to the disciples and called them into the unexpected, they had a choice. When Christ called them into the unknown, they had a free-will decision to make. No one could make it for them, but they did have to take that leap of faith that required them to jump…not walk…but jump into the uncertain. The fulfillment of God’s promises in their life depended entirely upon their “yes”…yes to the calling, yes to the unforeseen, yes to the unusual, yes to the unexplainable…:
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” Mark 1:16-20
“At once…” “Without delay…” these phrases from the passage pierce my soul. The disciples’ responses were not just “yes”, they were immediate and in the moment. Sometimes God calls us and beckons us in the moment and we must be very careful to respond to Him at once and without delay or the blessing, the calling, the opportunity…may be delayed or pass by.
Today, what is God doing that is unexpected in your life? What is He calling you into that may be unpredictable? The question truly is…will you walk in it? It’s a choice. What will you choose today?
FBC Aztec Member
Some battles are not fought with physical weapons. They are spiritual in nature. The Father outlines in His Word very clearly that our battles are not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12); there are dark forces at work. These battles must be fought with supernatural weapons.
There are supernatural weapons listed in Scripture and even protective supernatural gear. You are already familiar with them—truth, righteousness, and faith—think the armor of God in Ephesians. Prayer is a key weapon at our disposal in the spiritual realm and so is the Word of God. And though we have these weapons and gear within our reach that the Father has given to us and teaches us to use, sometimes the battles we face do not require all of these items; instead, there is a need to get ready and simply prepare, gird, and wait…wait on God to act.
In 2 Chronicles 20, the king of Israel, King Jehoshaphat, was faced with warfare and prayed the following prayer:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ ” 2 Chronicles 20:6-9
The king glorifies the Lord with his praise. He acknowledges the Father’s authority and power. He reminds God of what He has done for the people; then King Jehoshaphat declares that whatever the circumstances are, the people will turn to God and cry out to Him. Jehoshaphat with confidence declares that the Lord will hear and save.
And look at God’s response to this genuine prayer:
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17
I love this! The battle is God’s—get ready, stand firm, and watch what the Lord does! The Father says not to be afraid or discouraged. And listen to this instruction…“Go-out-and-face-them.”
My friends, sometimes God does not need us to do the work in a battle. He just needs us to be present and ready to go. Like King Jehoshaphat, we need to praise the Father! Acknowledge His authority and power, remember His already great and miraculous works in our life, turn to Him in our distress, then rest in confidence that He will do what only He can do and is able to do.
FBC Aztec Member
There is a Christian song on the radio that lately seems to have gained some popularity. It’s a beautiful song sung by Rachael Lampa and TobyMac. I had heard it a few times before, liked it, and even added it to my playlist, but it did not really fully capture my attention until a couple of weeks ago. It was the lyrics in the bridge that grabbed ahold of me one day. The first part of the lyrics in the bridge say:
“You’re not a problem
You’re not a mistake
Don’t need fixing or solving
In the arms of His grace.”
That particular day, in that moment, it struck me differently than it ever had before and suddenly I began to cry. I had no idea why I was crying, but I knew it was resonating with some part of me. Then it registered, deep down inside I must believe this about myself…a buried “truth”? And I had to ask myself and the Lord, “Do I really believe these things about myself? And the answer stunned me: “Yes, I think I do…I’m a problem…I’m a mistake…I must be fixed before I’m good enough.”
Truly, it shocked me. I had no idea that I had bought into these statements or others like them but when I really thought about, I guessed I could kind of see the evidence of this. And let me be very clear before I proceed that I am in no way attempting to incur sympathy over these thoughts, but I would like to share with you what the Lord spoke to me through this and what He opened my eyes to.
He showed me that I had not recognized these lies for what they were when they came knocking at my door in a variety of ways and situations, but He did make it clear that these beliefs I had accepted were a result of demonic attacks. I had unknowingly let the enemy in. And it hit me hard. I began to wonder how many other lies from the enemy I have bought into and not realized it?
It should be no surprise, though. In 1 Peter 5:8, it says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Jesus says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy will do anything to keep us from living fully in Christ. But Jesus also says in 8:31,32, “…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is only in Him, in His Word, in His teachings, and by His Spirit that we can combat the lies with the truth.
But here’s the beauty of it…in all our struggles and failures and as He gently and lovingly undoes the works and the lies of the enemy, He remembers who we are. He knows our frailty and does not condemn us for it, but instead patiently keeps pouring His love and His truth into us. The second part of the bridge is a reminder of this:
“You’re perfectly human
Made from the dust
You’ve got a heart, broken and scarred, yet perfectly loved.”
Today, let the Father’s love wash over you. Let His Spirit breathe life back into you. Let His Word and reassurances undo what the enemy has done, and then rest in His Presence as He refills you with His Grace and Peace and Power and Truth.
FBC Aztec Member
The Lord has been talking to me quite a bit lately about not worrying about tomorrow…in other words, stopping dwelling on the future and circumstances I cannot control. Usually, when it comes to things that carry a certain amount of import, I like to plan and prepare, organize and think ahead. With other things that have less weight to them, I’m pretty laid back and flexible and just go with the flow. But the Lord has been repeatedly showing me that in everything, I have to trust Him. I cannot possibly plan ahead enough, think things through enough, or trouble-shoot enough to manage a particular outcome. I have to trust HIM for the results.
This is difficult. I think most of us struggle with it, and it can be a constant battle. It is so tempting to put our hands on a situation that the Lord has said, “Don’t touch. Let go. Let Me take care of this. Sit back. Spend time with Me. Listen for My Spirit to speak to you. Let Me fight for you. Trust Me…” This doesn’t usually mean that there is nothing to do. Depending on the situation, there are mostly like some logical steps to take, things that must be done, taken care of, but beyond that…the Lord is saying: “Hands off.”
Most of us are familiar with Matthew 6:25-34. In this passage, Jesus talks in detail about not worrying and how the Lord takes care of His creation, including us. He ends the passage with this: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We are to seek God. He will take care of us. Consider today. Trust Him for tomorrow.
But how do we do that practically? Sometimes it’s a moment by moment battle. We have a very real enemy ready to distract us, doing his best to keep us from seeking and trusting the Lord. He’s very effective in helping us to keep our eyes on our situation, breathing suggestions of worry and doubt when the Lord has very clearly directed us not to. So what do we do? We follow Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
And the truth is, my friends, we cannot possibly know what is going to happen tomorrow anyway, let alone try to control it. In fact, James warns us about this: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ ” James 4:13-15
Today, if like me you’ve struggled a bit with worrying about tomorrow…stop. Together, let’s moment by moment take our thoughts captive, submit them to the Lord, seek Him, trust Him, and rest in His Presence and His promises.
FBC Aztec Member
The other day as I was walking from my car to my classroom, my arms were full—purse, backpack with laptop, bag full of tissue boxes, my breakfast, a drink, my building and classroom keys, a card a friend handed to me on my way in—but I was barely able to hold onto these items, and it was not as if I were loaded down with a bunch of unnecessary items; they were all things I should have been able to carry in one trip but as I was struggling to hold onto all of the stuff, I had the sudden realization, “I’m not handling this load well.”
With great difficulty I tried to hold everything together, but it was becoming clearer and clearer that I was about to lose my grip on the things I was carrying. It had crossed my mind to stop and set everything down and readjust to make the load more manageable, but I was a little too stubborn and it was a little too cold that morning, and I kept going all the way to my classroom doing the juggling act.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I entered my classroom and the things in my arms toppled from my grip onto my desk. But I started to think (you know…the kind of thinking that leads to reflecting and you’re pretty sure it’s Lord guiding your thoughts wanting you to have a takeaway” from your experience). As I began to consider the situation, I realized that I had handled it poorly.
#1 I had been in a hurry when I grabbed all of the items from my car. I had not picked them up in a way that was best for handling. #2 At any point I could have stopped and readjusted the load, setting things down and reconfiguring. #3 Though the load was a lot, it was not too much to bear, but it was too much of my focus.
This made me speculate how many times I have thought about obligations and responsibilities and been concerned that “it’s all too much”, feeling like I’m on the verge of “dropping the ball” so to speak, when sometimes it’s actually not that at all. I’m just not handling what the Lord has entrusted me with properly.
And it’s not that I need to start getting rid of a bunch of things, but perhaps it is necessary to set them down for a moment, collect my thoughts, re-center on the Lord, and then pick up my load again, wisely readjusting what He has entrusted to me so that my focus is back on Him and not on what I’m carrying.
In order to do that, I have to stop and pause the scrambling about. Actually take a moment to slow down, breath, and seek Him, remembering that it is HE who gives me strength to bear burdens: “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” I Chronicles 16:10,11
I need to have a conversation with Him about what I’m struggling to juggle and carry (Paul gives a formula for this in Philippians 4:6,7), and I need to put my trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5,6), putting my eyes back on Him and making HIM my focus, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
Today, if you are struggling to balance everything, perhaps it’s not that you are carrying too much, but maybe it’s that the load and the focus need to be readjusted. Don’t be afraid to stop for a moment, recalibrate, and seek the Lord.
FBC Aztec Member
The other day, I took off during my lunch break to grab some food in a drive-thru, but it was during a time when the road was partially blocked off for road construction. I realized that it was going to be tricky to get in and out of the food establishment and then try to maneuver through the traffic afterward, but I was motivated and took the risk.
When it was time to pull into the lane of traffic after getting my food, I had to wait for a reasonably sized opening in order to make my way into the single lane of slow moving cars. There just didn’t seem to be a break. Then finally, after many cars had passed, one driver slowed down and hurriedly waved me on. Problem number one solved.
The next step was to get through the traffic quick enough to make it back to work with enough time to be able to eat my food. The car in front of me took forevvveeerrr!! At least, that’s what it felt like. I could feel myself growing impatient as I tried to beat the clock and found myself telling the car in front of me to, “Hurry up!” And even added a few extra comments like: “Truly? Does it REALLY take that long?” “You could speed it up a little, sir…”
Then without warning, a deep conviction pierced my heart. Here I was, giving little to no grace to the driver in front of me when just moments before someone had slowed down, let me in, and showed me undeserved grace in the moment I needed it, and the Holy Spirit brought to mind “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” in Matthew 18.
In the parable, there is a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. There was one man in particular who owed him a great sum of money. When the man learned his punishment, he begged the king on his knees, saying: “ ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ ” The Word says that the king had pity and erased the debt. But the story does not end there. Take a look:
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.”
The other servants of the king were so disturbed by this, they told the king about it. Here’s the king’s response: “…the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”
This parable hinges on grace, mercy, and ultimately forgiveness. God so graciously demonstrates these qualities without measure to us, and yet…do we do the same? I know that this particular day when I was more worried about my tummy and getting back to work than being gracious or merciful, the Holy Spirit in His infinite wisdom slowed down my heart and soul to reflect and in doing so humbled me, and I am so, so thankful.
Today, let’s not forget to extend grace and mercy and forgiveness. No, people do not generally deserve it, but then…neither did we.
FBC Aztec Member
There is a story of a woman named Ruth—a foreigner to Israel—found in a small book called “Ruth” sandwiched in-between Judges and 1 Samuel. Her tale is one of heartbreak and of loss but also one of redemption and favor. Ruth was no ordinary woman but a woman of great dedication and devotion.
Her husband’s family was from Israel but had moved to Moab during a time of famine; Moab is where Mahlon, Ruth’s husband, had met and married her. As time went on, not only did Ruth’s husband die but her father-in-law and her brother-in-law died as well. Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, stayed with their mother-in-law, Naomi, for a period of time after that.
Then Naomi, after hearing that there was food again in Israel, decided to go back. Ruth and her sister-in-law began the journey with Naomi but before long, Naomi decided that the young women should go back to their own people in Moab. Neither woman wanted that, but eventually Orpah acquiesced and went home. But Ruth…Ruth could not make herself do it. Look at her response to Naomi:
“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ “ Ruth 1:16,17 The intense amount of devotion is breath-taking…
My heart is rent within me every single time I read this story and consider her words in this passage. I pray earnestly and deeply that this would be my heart and dedication in everything pertaining to the Lord…where He goes, I will go…let NOTHING separate me from Him, from His will, from His plan, from His purpose, from His heart…
And the beauty of it is, in this story of Ruth, that one single decision—the decision to follow her mother-in-law back to the land of Israel, to land of the chosen people of God—that one solitary decision changed the course of history.
From the lineage of Ruth, who married Boaz, an Israelite (an amazing man with a heart of integrity, generosity, grace, and kindness), from her lineage came God’s anointed king for Israel—David, a man after God’s own Heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). He was Ruth’s great grandson.
And here’s the clincher, my friends…not only did King David come from Ruth’s lineage but THE King of kings and the Lord of lords—Jesus Christ of Nazareth—is in the lineage of Ruth as well. Wow!!
Ruth was a foreigner to the land, seemingly the least likely person to fulfill the high purposes and calling of God. She was not of noble birth or of great stature but because of her constant willingness, pure heart, dedication to doing the right thing, God used her, again, to change the course of history. Why not you and me?
Today, let’s allow our story to be like Ruth’s. Let’s allow the Lord to use us. Let’s be dedicated to doing the right thing, to having a pure and willing heart that will always say “yes” to the things of God. Let’s cling to Him in the same way Ruth clung to Naomi and to the promises of the people of God.
FBC Aztec Member
What do you hold onto? What brings you comfort? A baby holds onto a bottle for comfort and security. A toddler holds onto a blanket or stuffed animal. A child his favorite toy. A teenager their phone….but what do you hold onto? As an adult there are certain things that give us daily comfort and some security…our wallet, our bank account, our keys, our car, our house, etc.
But what do we hold onto when it matters? None of those things can bring back a loved one, heal a broken heart, cure loneliness or marital conflict; they cannot bring home a wayward child or fight an incurable disease.
We know the Sunday School answer is—“I hold onto Jesus when it matters”—but is that true? What do we really turn to first in the time of need…when we need comfort and a sense of security? Food, movies, another person—our closest friend, a family member, or even our superb reasoning and analytical skills? None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but none of them are a perfect fix. All of them are subject to availability and even change.
Change is inevitable. There isn’t much in life that is constant. Conflict destabilizes circumstances. Heartbreak can bring tumultuous thoughts and emotions…but the cool part is that the Sunday School answer truly is THE answer…God never changes and He is the ultimate security and comfort.
Take a look: “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Psalm 102:25-27 And, “I the Lord do not change…” Malachi 3:6a Also, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
How do we avoid turning to other things first when we need comfort and security? We can ask the Holy Spirit to remind us to turn to Jesus first, to turn to the Father in the moment of need. We can learn to take our own thoughts captive instead of letting them lead us in circles. We can read the Word and talk to the Lord. And we can believe what He says about His own character…He’s our Shepherd, our Refuge, our Rock, and so much more.
Today, whether life is going well or filled with a bit of uncertainty, let’s continually find our comfort and security in Jesus. Let’s hold onto the Father (who never changes) so tightly. Let’s trust Him because He has never failed us.
FBC Aztec Member
When I was a little girl, I loved to go on walks with my dad. I used to tell him all about my hopes and dreams, my aspirations and desires for a future career…which happened to be a ballerina and a scientist, and I’m pretty sure I thought I could be both at the same time—why not? He would patiently listen and would always encourage me with, “Katie, you can do anything you like.” He never squashed my dreams, even my childish ones.
On these walks, sometimes I would get tired and ask him to carry me, which he always did. I knew the extent of his father’s love and I felt confident that if I needed to make that request, I could, and he would meet that need with love and compassion for me, his child. And today, as I listened to a song on my playlist that I had not listened to in a long time, the chorus sang out, “I will carry you.”
The Lord reminded me, yet again, of just how deep His Father’s love goes and that He will carry me, and you my friend, with great love and compassion. Take a look at His words to the Israelites:
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3,4
Isn’t this beautiful? Though the words were directly written to the Israelites, this is an aspect of the Father’s character and it does not change, which means this is true for us as well. Until our last day on this Earth, He—who made us—will carry and sustain us and rescue us in our time of need.
Take a look here at what Moses says to the Israelites about the Father:
“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.’ ” Deuteronomy 1:29-31
“…as a father carries his son…” In our most terrifying, daunting, or uncertain times, God will carry us even as a father carries his son…with the same love and compassion, He will hold us close. Just as He carried the Israelites until they reached the Promised Land, He will carry us on our journey as well, all the way to the end of our days and until we reach our promised Heavenly Home.
Here’s my personal favorite:
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
My heart is melting as I consider this and as my mind tries to wrap itself around the picture of the Father gathering us in His strong arms and holding us so close to his heart…so close that we can hear the very beating of it. Such comfort and security there in His arms!
I don’t know what season you may be in—one of difficulties or pain or perhaps one of fulfilled promises and joy. Regardless, take comfort in the beautiful reminder that Your Father loves you and is carrying you and holding you as you walk out the path He has for you on this Earth, and He will continue to do so until the end of your days.
FBC Aztec Member
When I was nineteen, revival came to my church in Fort Worth, TX. Individuals and groups of people spent hours in prayer, praise, intercession, worship, Scripture reading, and the like…and God met us there. It started with a hunger—a hunger for God’s Word, for His Spirit, for His Presence, and it grew and grew and grew until it became a desperation.
Lunch hours became times of fasting. Normal services became times of repentance and weeping over sin. People prayed for people. There were bondages broken, hearts were healed, and many received the call to ministry…but none of it came easily. There was a cost.
The cost of desperation was sacrifice. In the pursual of the things of God, it meant that each time we would hear the sweet, firm, and steady voice of the Spirit calling us to pray instead of watch a movie, fast instead of going out to dinner, read scripture instead of reading a book…we would have to make the choice to sacrifice that which was already in the moment, change course, and choose to follow the Spirit’s leading, and…it was worth it.
The intimacy, the freedom, the joy, the adventure of following God was LIFE-CHANGING! I know, for me, because of that time of revival, I will NEVER be the same. Learning to know the Presence of God and His miraculous power, learning to lean deeply into an even more personal relationship with Him…it changed me.
Why do I share this? I share this because revival is on our radar again. God is moving powerfully and many of the hearts of the people at First Baptist Church, Aztec, long for what God is currently doing in a university amongst a group of passionate young people to happen here as well. I’m on that crew, too—because I know first-hand that God can use revival to change individual lives, homes, churches, towns, and an entire region, like San Juan County.
What do we do then? PURSUE GOD!! It’s just that simple and just that difficult. The answer is simple, but it requires effort, sacrifice and obedience. The real question is…Are we ready? Think back to the picture Pastor Mike showed us of a child and a mother on a roller coaster (aka us and the Holy Spirit). Are you ready to take that ride? My friends, I cannot imagine saying “no” to this kind of adventure.
Isaiah 26:7-9a says, “The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.”
Today, let’s pursue God. Let’s pursue righteousness and holiness and walk in His ways. Let’s allow a holy desperation to begin taking over; let’s wait for Him, yearn for Him, long for Him. Let’s allow the desire of our hearts to be His renown that His name might be made famous and that others may also come to know Him through the word of our testimony.
FBC Aztec Member
I bought a new planner for the year a couple of weeks ago. It took me forever to find just the right one—it had to be the perfect size, have a whole month view and sections for individual days, enough room to write notes and plans, a comfortable fit for my colorful sticky notes, and of course it had to have a pretty cover.
As I set it up so that I could start using it this past week, I heard very clearly in my spirit to write this scripture at the top of the page, “My grace is sufficient for you…” I admit I was a little blasé about it and didn’t really see what it had to do with anything at the time, but I’ve learned not to question the Lord and just obey, so I wrote it and moved on.
“Ironically”, this phrase was my lifeline this past week. In the ebbs and flows of each day, as subtle feelings of failure, frustration, tiredness, and discontent would sneak in, the jotted note at the top of the page would catch my eye and the deepest most perfect sense of relief and mercy would come flooding over me and electrify my soul. The truth of this scripture would wash over me and suddenly the cares of the moment or the day would be replaced by this pulsating truth beating loudly in my heart.
Admittedly, the kindness in the words made me cringe because there was always this feeling each time of, “I don’t deserve that right now…I took my eyes off of You and let myself get distracted, weighed down and bogged down AGAIN. What’s wrong with me…” But with a gentle and steady rhythm the words would softly but firmly repeat: “My grace is sufficient for you…”
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God is not afraid of our weakness—we may be afraid of our own weakness, but He is not. His promise again and again in Scripture is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us wherever we go. He is the One who is able to keep us and there is no place that we can go that is beyond His reach or His infinite love.
Where do you find yourself today? Wherever you are, His grace is sufficient for you…His power is made perfect in weakness—your weakness. Sometimes (if not all of the time) our self-reliance and arrogance—trying to “fix it” or say, “I got this God.”—is a road block in what God is able to do in us and through us and in our circumstances but when our weakness has humbled us yet again, God can (yet again) have the room to do His work.
Today, rely on the Lord and His infinite GRACE. It is more than enough for you.
FBC Aztec Member
I cannot seem to get past the message of Hope lately. The Lord keeps reminding me not to lose hope, and I keep feeling the need to share this message with you, which to me means that there are those of you who need to hear this, too…that there are circumstances or mindsets that keep bringing us to the precipice of losing hope. I don’t necessarily mean in some extreme sense per se but that our trust in the Lord may be waning in certain areas of our lives…not our faith in the Lord but our trust that things will turn out for the good in certain situations.
One morning this week during my time with the Lord, He took me on a detour—to a different book of the Bible than where I had been reading, and I ended up in Psalm 25. I’m familiar with Psalm 25 and have probably written about it here before, but it was significant for different reasons this time. I won’t burden you with its applications to my personal situations, but I will tell you that there it was again…that message—Don’t lose Hope:
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame…” (vs 1-3) and, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (vs 4,5)
That last part really got me, “…my hope is in you all day long.” ALL day long—not just for a moment, not just for an hour but ALL day long. Wow…that shook me a little. In order to have hope in the Lord ALL day long, I would actually have to turn to Him, talk to Him, think about Him, give my burdens to Him, praise Him, sing to Him, meditate on His Word, ask Him for wisdom and guidance…again and again and again—from the time I woke up in the morning until I lay my head on my pillow at night. But how?
I think the answer may be found in the following verses: “Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.” (vs 20, 21) In verse 20, David says, “…I take refuge in you.” Refuge is a place of protection, sure, but it also becomes a dwelling place, at least for a period of time but if God is our constant refuge, then that means we are to dwell in Him—in His Presence, in His Word.
In order to hope in Him all day long, we must LIVE in Him all day long, abide with Him, dwell with Him, find our living space and habitation in Him. And in each of the verses above, David says that His hope is in the Lord. His hope as He lives and dwells in the Lord is not in his own abilities, analytical skills, reasoning, interventions, and so on, but His Hope in the Lord…the one with whom He abides in ALL day long.
Today, let’s find our rest in Jesus; let’s dwell in Him today. Let’s put our Hope in Him again and again and again ALL day long. Let’s not rely on ourselves or the things or people around us to give us Hope but in the Father, His Son, and in His promised Holy Spirit.
FBC Aztec Member
I think a majority of my life I’ve sought the approval of others. I suppose many of us do. Thankfully, with age, this has waned. Somehow the approval of others seems much less important. Approval indicates (at least according to the dictionary) that in those times I’ve sought approval from others that I was actually seeking permission…but permission for what?
Permission to breathe, to exist? Permission to have a favorite color, a favorite type of food? Permission to have my own thoughts, my own point of view? We all do it, don’t we? We all at some point—or at many points in our lives—look for permission from another that we are indeed “okay”. We are looking for that feeling of validation, I believe,…or perhaps there’s other motivating factors, like fear.
But that’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? Few of us enjoy conflict or the disapproval of another, so sometimes we compromise the integrity of our convictions, we shut up the voice of reason in our heart or mind, we even forsake basic things that are individual to us, like our favorite flavor of ice cream, because we want to please another and in doing so garner their approval, even their love. But the Bible has a very different view about where approval should come from.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” And it is so easy to get entangled with various forms of seeking approval. Paul does say in Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” but that is different than attempting to obtain approval. This speaks to respecting one another.
The apostle Paul makes it very clear in Galatians 5:1,7, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Our freedom is found in Christ, and our approval comes through Him and from Him alone; He is the one who validates us. But it is possible in our walk with the Lord to be burdened again by many things, including seeking the approval of others.
This does not mean that we are not to be accountable to one another, but there should be no bondage in this; no seeking of another’s approval or trying to please them. Paul says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
I like the way Paul sums it up in this statement: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 He says that he wouldn’t even be a follower of Christ if he was trying to please others because being a follower of Christ isn’t even popular.
It is impossible to truly please others and obtain their approval. Even if we manage to gain their approval for a period of time, it will not last.
Today, remember: our Father in Heaven loves us. This is not something we have to “work” for. We already have His approval through Christ. Yes, He will grow us, mold us, and shape us, bring conviction and repentance and much more, but we already have His unconditional love. Rest in His love today.
FBC Aztec Member
I was watching a movie recently, and there was a line that struck me: “Where there is life, there is hope.” It reminded me that where there is Jesus, there is hope. Jesus is life (John 1:1-5) and if our life is found in him (Romans 6:4,8), we have hope…a hope that will not die.
This time of year often awakens within me pictures of this same hope. God has placed this hope all around us. Though winter is frigid and biting and brings with it a type of death, in just a short time, it will give way to spring. That which seems to be dead will actually give way to a resurrection, if you will. That which is buried deep in the trees and their roots, that which is hidden under the frozen soil of the ground, is being washed and baptized by the rain and snow. And in the spring, it will come to life again with a breath-taking vibrancy and beauty that will speak nothing of its apparent death but everything of its life—a life that could NOT have happened of its own doing.
Within the very framework of the nature God has put all around us, He prophetically placed the message of hope that He would one day fulfill in Christ, and has now already done so through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Now, it is a constant reminder of what He has done for us and in us and what He can continue to do for us in our circumstances.
We are never without hope because we are never without Him. And I feel as if lately, it has been on His heart and on His mind to revive in us this message of hope…to remind us that He is here with us and He can still do the impossible—bring new life to that which seems dead.
On more than one occasion lately, the Father has caused the following scriptures, and the ideas found there, to stand out: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Isaiah 43:18-21
And I feel as if the message here is this: Though the last few years have been like a winter, or like a dry desert, we have hope. God is doing a new thing. HE is causing the season in our lives to change. God is making a way in our spiritual wilderness. He’s bringing refreshing. And He is bringing new life.
It would be easy to dwell on the difficulties, but God says “no”. It is time to move on. And we are not just to move on into an unknown, vast, and uncertain future, but we are moving on into His promise, a promise that says God is making a way in our circumstances.
Today, grasp onto this HOPE. Don’t let go of it. God is doing a new thing. Don’t let go.
FBC Aztec Member