Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Tent – Camping Out

Scripture Ref: 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

If you’ve ever gone camping, you know it’s a lot of fun…but not for very long. After a few days, you start longing for things. It’s a temporary situation.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-8, Paul compared our physical bodies to a tent. “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (v. 1).

When we move from this tent, this physical body, we go to a permanent temple, a house. Paul’s analogy in this passage is simple and clear. One is temporary (the tent); one is permanent (the house, the building). One is flimsy; one is sturdy. One is weak; one is strong.

Your body is like a tent: it’s temporary. After a while, the threads start to unravel, the flaps become more prominent, and it starts to leak. It’s just the nature of this temporary body. It’s interesting how some people want to make their tent look like it’s a brand-new model, younger than it really is. So they’ll stretch the flaps, and nip and tuck, and dye the threads. But it’s only temporary.

James went a step further and said, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Our bodies are not meant to last. The tent will be taken down. In the last letter Paul ever wrote, he said, “The time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). The word departure means that it’s time to take down the tent and move on.

And we trade in the tent for “a building from God.” This is not referring to a mansion in heaven; in context, the building must be a reference to our glorified, resurrected body.

We are sure that’s really going to happen because verse 5 says, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” The word guarantee could be translated down payment or first installment. If you give a down payment, it means you’re going to pay the rest off. Or if you give your girl an engagement ring, it means there’s going to be a wedding. And we’ve been given the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us. You’ve noticed that you’ve changed since you gave your life to Christ. You have new desires, new hopes—the hope of heaven. All of that is a foretaste of what’s to come.

And as Paul said in verse 8, we’re confident, whether we’re in this body or in heaven. Because those are the only two places where God’s people can be not soul sleeping somewhere or in purgatory. You’re on earth as a believer, and the moment you leave this earth, you are in God’s presence.

We are only camping out here. There will come a time when the vapor will disappear, when the tent will be taken down for something more permanent. Those who don’t know God will have a body fit to endure everlasting punishment, and those who do know Him will have a body fit to experience and enjoy everlasting heaven. I pray if you don’t personally know Jesus or have slipped along the way, that in this interim we call time, you would make a choice to follow Him.

Fay-Ann Swearing
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The First Step To Joyful Living

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 2:2

Conventional wisdom says that you must always look out for number one and do whatever it takes to succeed. But that is not how the kingdom of God works.

Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose” (Philippians 2:1–2).

The Message puts it this way: “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

This goes against conventional wisdom about how we are to succeed in life, but this is what the Bible says. Some people may say, “I don’t know what planet you’re from, but that won’t work in my situation. You don’t know what it’s like in the world that I have to live in.”

What we are talking about is the way that a Christian should live. The Bible says the first step to joyful living is to put the needs of others before yourself. Paul said, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4).

That seems like a recipe for disaster and failure in today’s culture. But here’s what the Bible says: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6).

If you want to be a happy person, then you cannot be a self-absorbed person, because a self-absorbed person will be a miserable person.

Fay-Ann Swearing
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Your Deepest Cares

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” I Peter 5:7

Why is it we feel we need to minimize our pain? Where did we get the idea that we would become a burden to God? How did we come to believe that it is unspiritual to admit that we have been a victim of something awful?

Abuse, violence, the death of a loved one, divorce, a bad accident, incarceration, war. God cares when we have suffered as the result of something being done to us. And God cares when we have suffered from trauma as the result of something not happening. When love, safety and security from those we trust is missing, we get trauma in the form of abandonment, unfaithfulness, betrayal, gossip or neglect. And to pretend that we are not affected and everything is fine is to only add to the damage that is already left in trauma’s wake.

It is not spiritual to “tough it out.” It is spiritual to be healed. Peter is pleading with us to cast all of our cares onto Jesus. His whole book speaks about the suffering of Jesus and how He understands our suffering. And here Peter assures us that Jesus “cares for you.” He cares for you with deep affection. Today, bring your pain to Jesus. Tell Him about your trauma. Ask Him to give you strength, forgiveness, peace and a deep understanding of love. Ask Him to heal your broken heart; heal your deep wounds of grief and anger. Bring all of your cares. Cast them on Him and leave them there.

Father, I come to You. I come to You with all my burden, all my cares. You know my pain. You know my suffering. I bring it all to You. Heal my hurts. Heal my heart. Return me to joy, I pray. AMEN

Fay-Ann Swearing
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What If I Fall?

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 (NLT)

It seemed like a great idea at first, until my fear and procrastination caused me to miss a blessing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time I’d let fear and procrastination interfere with God’s blessings in my life.

Jesus knew we would struggle with procrastination. He gave us Truths in His Word to combat it. But in today’s key verse we also see that not doing what we feel called to do is not only procrastination, but sin.

When God calls us to make a “risky” move for Him, we often worry and try to reason ourselves out of it. We might spend time looking at our obstacles rather than at God, which makes courage flee and fear paralyze us. In fact, when we wait for every life circumstance to be perfect before we step out in faith, the devil is happy to spend his time trying to bring us down and convince us to never move at all.

Procrastination may seem to come normal for us, but it is never God’s best for us. We don’t often think of it as sin, but anytime we don’t do what God called us to do, when He calls us to do it, it is sin. It’s easier said than done, but we must not let fear outweigh faith.

Jesus encourages us to fulfill the work He called us to do and not to waste time procrastinating. Not simply because it’s a sin, but because time is precious, and He promises that obedience brings blessings. How sad to miss the abundant blessings that come when we follow God’s call, simply because we keep putting it off.

Not pushing past my fears to represent a group obviously was not sin, but not doing what God instructs me to do always is. I’ve finally learned that when we take a leap of faith, with God, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose but fear.

Father, give me the courage to take a risk for You and the strength to take a leap of faith in whatever You call me to do. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 9:4, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.” (NLT)

If you struggle with procrastination, be inspired to take a leap of faith and move forward.

Fay-Ann Swearing
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fayannswearing.wordpress.com

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Fay Ann Swearing

January 25, 2015

Scripture Ref: Luke 18:1

Men always ought to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1

Another reason we should pray is because prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things. I am not describing God as some kind of celestial Santa. The fact of the matter is, the Bible tells me that I should go to God with my needs. And we all have needs. Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer,
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:9–11)

Jesus taught us that we are to approach God with our needs. Do you have needs right now? Pray about it. Do you need his provision? Pray about it. Do you need his healing touch? Pray about it. Go to God with your request, and Scripture says that your Father who knows you have need of these things will hear you (see Matthew 6:32).

And listen to what James 4:2 says: “You do not have because you do not ask.” Think about this: You might wonder why it is that you never know the will of God for your life. Answer: You do not have because you do not ask. How many answers to prayer would be waiting for you if you would just pray about it? Ask God about it. The worst-case scenario is that God will say no. But what if God says yes?

Prayer is also the way God helps us to overcome our anxiety and worry. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). He didn’t say, “In only the big, scary things of life, pray.” Or, “Just pull out the prayers when things get really bad. Otherwise, just sort it out yourself.” No, he said, “In everything. . . ”

Nothing is too small to bring to God in prayer. He is interested in even the smallest details. We sometimes only think about the big things, but little things can turn into big things. And little problems can turn into big problems. Nothing is too small or too big to bring to God.

There is nothing productive about worry. In fact, the word “worry” originates from an old German term that means “to choke or to strangle.” And this is exactly what worry does: It chokes you spiritually. It creates an emotional and mental stranglehold on your life. It doesn’t ever make anything better. In fact, it makes things worse.

When you worry about the future, you cripple yourself in the present. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. So in times of trouble, don’t give in to your natural reflex of worry. Instead, condition your reflex to pray.

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Prayer – Part 1

Scripture Ref: Luke 18:1

Men always ought to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1

Have you ever been gripped by fear? You know the feeling. Your blood goes cold. You get a shiver down your spine. Your stomach sinks. Your hair stands on end. All of these are emotions associated with fear.

Then there is the emotion that is often coupled with fear, which is worry. There are a lot of things people can worry about today in our nation: the state of our country, our economy, crime and violence etc.

And of course, there are personal worries. We are concerned about our health. We are concerned about our family. We are concerned about our future.

When we feel worry approaching, we need to get into the habit of turning to God so that our reaction will be like a conditioned reflex.

A normal reflex is different from a conditioned reflex. A normal reflex comes naturally. For example, if you touch a hot iron, you will pull your hand away very quickly because it is hot. A normal reflex comes naturally. A conditioned reflex, on the other hand, is something you learn over time. You teach yourself to do it.

It can be compared to driving. When you are first learning to drive, you have to consciously think about everything you do. Key in the ignition. . . look over my shoulder before pulling out. . . look before making that turn. . . turn on the turn signal. . . change lanes. I am coming to a light, hit the brakes now. You had to think about it. But after a while, you get it down and it comes naturally. You don’t even think about it anymore. You just drive.

Now let’s apply the same principles to fear and worry. Our natural tendency when we are in trouble is not to pray. Rather, it is to worry. Something happens and we go through various scenarios that start stacking up like dominoes in our minds. What if this happens? What if that happens? What if this other thing happens? But here is what we need to teach ourselves to do: We need to teach ourselves to pray.

It is not what we naturally want to do. Often when we face adversity, our first instinct is to turn to people for help. God can work through people, of course. There is no question that he can provide through family and friends and help us. But ultimately, we should turn to God when trouble comes. And it will come.

One reason we should turn to God and pray is because Jesus told us to. He said, “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 NKJV). Even if prayer were a difficult thing to do, which it is not, or an unpleasant thing to do, which it is not, we should pray, because Scripture commands us to do so.

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What Doesnt Scare The Devil

I was on my way to prayer meeting last Saturday, and as I walked down the path while thinking about my life and my spiritual walk, I had a revelation.

It now occurs to me as I write this that it seems sort of strange that I would get a revelation on my way to prayer. I thought I was supposed to get revelations while I was in prayer, but hey, He’s God and He can do what He wants, right?

I have become increasingly dissatisfied with what I see as a lack of effectiveness in my Christian walk. I want so much to have an impact on this world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so when I die, I will leave behind me a trail of people whose lives have been enriched as a result of God working through me. And it was there, while listening to some quiet worship music on my phone that the Lord started to reveal to me the solution to my problems.

And just like the Lord, He made it very clear to me. He said, “You know, words don’t scare the devil. The devil isn’t even afraid of My Word. It’s when words translate into action and change a life that he becomes afraid.”At first I was taken aback. “What do You mean, Lord, that the devil isn’t afraid of Your Word?” Then He reminded me of one particular instance in the Scriptures where Satan actually quoted the Scripture quite casually. The most famous instance would have to be when Satan was tempting Jesus to throw Himself from the highest point of the temple.

He reminded Jesus that it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Matthew 4:6).(Not that Jesus needed any reminding!) There are many other Scriptures that support this as well. Psalm 119, a beautiful piece full of praise and adoration for the commands, precepts, and statutes of the Lord.

But David doesn’t stop short of relating to his readers the effect that the Word has on his life. The Word turns our eyes from worthless things (vs. 37); it gives us an answer for those who reproach us (vs. 42); it restrains our feet from every evil path (vs. 101); it causes us to detest falsity (vs. 104); it keeps us straight in the midst of persecution (vs. 157) — just to name a few.

God’s message to Israel through Joshua was this: This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all this is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8).

Furthermore, Jesus said, If you love Me you will obey what I command (John 14:15). In this hour, God is renewing His call to the church for purity and passion. If we are going to be the pure and spotless bride He desires, we must let the Word take its course in our lives. It is no longer good enough to sit in church, sing the right songs, memorize Scripture, wear the right clothes, and know all the Holy Spirit catch-phrases if we are going to turn right around and live our lives as if God doesn’t exist.

There is a process to interacting with the Word. First, we must receive it. That is done through our spirits. Secondly, we must reflect on it. That takes place in the mind. Finally, we must respond to it. That takes place in the flesh — with our bodies. If we never get up and GO (as we’ve been commanded), we have embraced a form of godliness but have denied its power. Revelation 12:11 says,They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

The blood portion has already been taken care of by Jesus on the Cross. The testimony is up to us. And the testimony isn’t just a 15-minute speech someone gives on Sunday/Saturday morning about how God delivered them from drugs and alcohol. Your testimony is your changed life. It’s the evidence of a life that has allowed the Word to do its work to the point that you and I will not shrink from even death itself.

Remember: the devil isn’t scared by all the Scriptures you’ve memorized. A life of mere words will soon be forgotten. But if today you will embrace a spirit of get-up-and-go, you can impact this world in a way that will continue to reverberate for generations to come. People may be reading books about you when you’ve turned to dust. But most important of all, you can be sure that your name will be written in the one book that matters most: The Lamb’s Book of Life.

Fay-Ann Swearing
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