Monthly Archives: February 2015

God Empowers

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Psalm 25:10

Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.Jeremiah 29:11

In moments of weakness, we are tempted to let our insecurities and limitations grow. Suffering generates anxiety, and we end up hiding our potential and withdrawing from the opportunities God has in store for us.

What a relief to know that God has plans for us, plans for our welfare and not for evil and distress! Knowing that God trusts us gives us the strength and courage to face our challenges and to realize our potential and our gifts. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

Thought for the Day: We are all capable because God empowers us.

Prayer: Thank you, God. Even when we doubt our abilities, you hold us in your loving arms and show us how capable we are.

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Be Careful How You Walk

Ephesians 5:15-17
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

If you want your life to count, live it in the centre of God’s will for you!

You rarely worry about learning what to do in a fire until you are in one. Then it suddenly becomes very important. When things are bad it is especially important to know what to do. Well, “the days are evil”. We live in a world that desperately needs us to know what God wants us to do. We need to “make the most of the time”. And to do that, we need to “understand what the will of the Lord is”.

God does not want you to be content to just drift through the demands of life, meeting expectations, paying bills, working, eating, sleeping. God wants you to live with purpose, His purpose. He wants you to pray and get godly counsel and test your gifts and ask for His leading. He knows what He designed you for and He wants you doing that. Let Him be the Lord of your to-do list today.

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Helping Others

Galatians 6:1-2

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
 
So much of the sin in our life is due to our emotions. We get upset, worried, stressed and the emotional pain starts to build up. This leads us to sin. The solution is found in relationships. Relationships with God and other close friends gives us the love, support and comfort that is able to tame our sinful behaviour. It is in these deep relationships that Paul encourages you to gently and humbly help a person return to sanity and stop their negative behaviour.
 
How? By sharing their burdens and pain. In using a kind word, a listening ear and a prayerful heart, your sincere help will keep a person from acting out on their negative emotions. Your empathy and love will help keep them from committing deep relational sins. Today ask God to help you share in someone else’s burden and restore them to a place of peace and joy.

Father, help me be there for other people. Help me share their burdens and gently bring them back to You. Thank You for Your grace and mercy extended to me. Help me do the same to others. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

NB: You would have noticed that I shared on the same scripture yesterday. However,  the Lord keep taking me back to there. As believers, let us endeavor to be our brothers keeper as we strive to be citizens of heaven.

Do enjoy the blessings and favor of God today.

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Stay In The Yoke With Jesus

Reference Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Has life worn you out? Tired of trying to get it all done? Tired of trying to please God, feed your family, help a friend and take care of the million little demanding details that life can be full of? Go to Jesus! He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him.

Yokes are usually for a pair of oxen. Younger oxen would often plow with the older experienced ones. Imagine yoking up with Jesus. Talk about experience! He went through it all without sin. He can teach you how to plow through life. Yoked to Him, you will learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart. No better qualities could you find in a teacher. He won’t get on your case because you didn’t get it right the first time. He gently instructs and directs. Learning from Him is a place of rest for your soul. That means your thoughts, emotions, and impending decisions can all rest in His perfect instruction.

Yoked together with Jesus you will see that God has it all under control. He teaches us to trust in the Father and act at His leading. When we do that, everything comes out best in the long run. We can trust in His wonderful knowledge about all things and His power to do anything. That makes the yoke feel light and the load we pull easy. He plowed this path before us and broke up the soil we could never have pulled the plow through. Now we pull the plow through the furrow that He already plowed for us. Just stay in the yoke with Him. Don’t go trying to plow another field in another yoke. You’ll find that without Him, you can do nothing. The yoke will be unbearably heavy and the burden unmovable. Which yoke are you under? Which burden are you pulling?

Consider: If the yoke is unbearably heavy, it must not be Jesus’ yoke.

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Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Scripture Ref: Matthew 10:37-39

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39

The word of God tells us to love one another. It also tells us to honor our father and mother. What is Jesus saying here? Our mother and father and children and even our very life are all gifts from God. Our primary love and allegiance is to be to the Giver of all good things. If we love what He has given us, more than the One who gave it, we have entered into the realm of idolatry. This all surpassing love can only come through a revelation of His great love for us. Love produces love.

Jesus goes on to say that if we do not take up our cross and follow, we are not worthy of Him. When a criminal was sentenced to crucifixion, the judge ordered the cross beam to be secured to the victims arms and back. He had to carry it to his place of execution. Once that beam was on your back, you were as good as dead. They then followed the soldiers to the place of execution. Do you see the implications when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me”? We must ask ourselves whether or not we have that mind set. Is your life over and His life in you begun, or do you still go where you please?

If you find your life you will lose it. If we go where we please and find satisfaction in things of the world, our life will be lost. That is Jesus explanation of reality. The only way to really find life is to lose it for Jesus’ sake. The listeners had not yet seen the final display of His love for them. Perhaps it was His compassion and the miracles that helped them look beyond themselves. We can look at His display of love on the cross and see that He was literally willing to do that for us.

Consider: Should we respond with any less willingness to do so for Him?

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Prayer Is The Answer

Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV) 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

When you look at a crowd, what do you see? Jesus’ heart breaks for them, because they are so helpless. That image of sheep without a shepherd is full of implications. They don’t know where to go for food or water. There is no one to tend to wounds. The wolves come in whenever they please and devour as many as they like. We are harassed by our flesh from within, and the carnality of others from without. Then there is the Devourer. He is ready to give us what ever we lust after that will destroy us. Harassed and helpless!

Jesus used the analogy of a harvest loaded and ripe. If no one gets out there and picks it, the harvest is wasted. I have seen it happen when there is a bumper crop. The fruit is just waiting to be picked. But when you can’t find enough help, and in our world today it is hard to find laborers that will work at a wage that makes it profitable, the fruit starts to drop to the ground. Those that will work give it their all every day and go home exhausted. The Fall winds come and shake the fruit off the tree. Finally the freeze comes and destroys what is left.

If you are willing to share the heart of Jesus, what should you do? Our first thought is practical. Run out and join them. But that is not what Jesus asked us to do. He requested that we ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His harvest field. You have to know how to pick without damaging and wasting the fruit. Running out and trying to help is not the solution. Prayer is the answer! God is training the harvesters. Pray that He will send them. God wants you to participate through prayer, by praying His will into the earth.

Consider: Next time you see a crowd, what will you do?

Fay-Ann Swearing
fayannswearing.wordpress.com

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Be Fervent In Prayer

…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

The value of a mirror is not in itself, but in its potential to let something else be seen. And the value of prayer is not in itself, but in its potential to let the power and beauty of God be seen.

A mirror is utterly dependent on the source of light from outside itself, and prayer is the posture of the childlike, utterly dependent on the resources and kindness of the heavenly Father.So praying is the way we mirror God. And if I am right that each of you, in the image of God, has a deep desire to be a mirror of God, then it is also true that, even if you don’t feel like it now, there is buried somewhere in your subconscious the longing to be a man or a woman of fervent and effective prayer.

Do have a relaxing and restful weekend. Much love!!!

Fay-Ann Swearing
fayannswearing.wordpress.com

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PRAYER AT HARVEST TIME

Scripture Ref: Matthew 9:35-38
 
“When he saw the crowds he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

People without Christ are like sheep without a shepherd. They will soon run out of pasture and starve, or they will get lost or caught in some thicket and die. And in the meantime they are harassed, wearied and helpless. Now the unbelievers you know may not seem to fit that description. But if you see them with the eyes of Christ and are not misled by the shell of self- assurance, you will recognize sheep who desperately need a shepherd.
 
Notice in verse 36 that Jesus had compassion on them. The word means literally to be moved in one’s stomach with pity. Do you remember the last time you felt real strong pity. Our need is to feel compassion because of their need. Our need is to care and love like Jesus did. He was so much a man for others! We need to be honest and admit that compassion does not come natural to us. It is a work of grace in our hearts and for that reason the product not of works, but of prayer. “He saw the crowds and had compassion for them.”
 
Then notice that Jesus saw an amazing potential. Not just a deprivation found and compassion felt, but now a potential seen. Verse 37: “then he said to his disciples, ‘the harvest is plentiful.'” The metaphor changes. Unbelievers are not only like sheep who are in trouble. They are also like wheat that can be harvested. There is not only privation. There is potential salvation. And if we need the eyes of Christ to see the lostness of people and the compassion of Christ to feel pity for people, then we need just as much the expectancy and hopefulness of Christ that anticipates harvest time.

Do you look upon your neighbours, colleagues, classmates and associates with the lively sense that here is a potential saint. It has probably been so long since the Lord has used most of us to lead a person from unbelief to faith, that we really wonder if there is any potential left. We still know from scripture that there is terrible privation; we still feel some compassion when we let ourselves think about it, but potential? We wonder. Could it ever be harvest time in my life after so many years of fruitlessness? The answer to that question is resounding, Yes!
 
When Jesus said that it is hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom, the disciples responded, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus seemed to take away all potential for harvest. But actually, what he was doing was laying a new basis for potential. He answers, “‘What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:24-27). If there is going to be harvest time it will not be because there are so many competent communicators. The harvest we want is impossible with men. New birth is a miracle. Our goal isn’t a big church or fancy statistical charts. Our goal is to see God do the impossible through failures like us. That is the way it has happened in history and that is how it will happen again. In God’s time, he will perform the miracle of harvest and it will be marvelous in our eyes. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and (then!) you shall be my witnesses (harvesters!)

That leads us to the fourth and final observation. Not only did Jesus find a privation among the people, and feel compassion and see a potential harvest, he also commanded us to pray it in. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (verse 38). The strangeness of this command points to something very important. It is strange that the farm hands should be told to beg the owner of the farm to send out more workers into his harvest. Surely Jesus doesn’t mean to imply that God doesn’t know there is a shortage of reapers! And surely he doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care whether the harvest comes in! Why then are the farm hands told to beg the farmer to get more help?
 
There is only one possible answer. God has willed that his miraculous work of harvesting be preceded by prayer. He loves to bless the world. But even more, he loves to bless the world in answer to prayer. It is God’s way before he does a great work to pour a Spirit of supplication upon his people so that they plead for the work. Therefore, the sign that God is going to bring in the harvest will be a widespread movement of prayer among you people.
 
In summary the text teaches us four things: First, there is a great need in the world just as there was in Palestine — people without faith in Christ are like sheep without a shepherd, no matter how goal-oriented and self-assured they seem. Second, we have need of compassion for these people. We need to feel pity for them, pity that makes us earnest and solicitous for their eternal welfare.

Third, we need to see the potential of conversion. We must look not to our failures and incompetencies. The harvest we want is, in any case, impossible with men. The potential all lies with God. “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” With God, helpless sheep become a plentiful harvest. Fourth, therefore, we must pray to the Lord of the harvest. See the privation of men with the compassion of Jesus; and it turns into a potential harvest to be reaped.

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Nothing Is Too Great For the Power of God

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…” -1 Corinthians 10:13

There’s a great question about which most of us wonder from time to time “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. 

Taking into account the scripture verse for today (this would be a good time to read it, if you haven’t!), there is also a great Bible story in the book of Daniel, Chapter 3, of three Hebrew boys who refused to worship the idols of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Even though they were threatened with being thrown in a furnace, they held fast in their devotion to God. Their response: “God can spare us from the fiery furnace; He has that power. But, even if He does not, we’ll never serve your gods or bow down to your statue.” Were they afraid? Yes. Was it a little warm in the furnace? You bet. But, they chose to trust God even when it made no earthly sense to do so. And, much to the amazement of their captors, God repaid their faith and they were not harmed by the fires in that furnace.

Now to be sure, bad things will always happen to good people. Adam and Eve made sure of that when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. But God will never take us through a time of testing that is too tough for us to deal with. No matter how difficult your trials, you can count on His promise. Not one situation is too great for us to face with the power of God. He will give us a way to endure it, to resist it, or to get through it.

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Be Constant in Prayer

Scripture Ref: Romans 12:12 
Ephesians 1:15-23 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Ephesians 1:15-23 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your lovetoward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…

What Does It Mean to “Be Constant in Prayer”?

First, let’s first talk about the meaning of “Be constant.” The word “constant” here doesn’t mean that every minute you are praying. It means persist in prayer. Persevere in it. Stay at it. Be devoted to it. Don’t give up or slack off. Be habitual. It’s the opposite of random, occasional, intermittent. In other words, Paul is calling all Christians to make prayer a regular, habitual, recurring, disciplined part of your life.

Treat prayer the way you treat eating and sleeping and doing your job. Don’t be hit and miss about it. Don’t assume it will fill in the cracks of other things. Dealing with God in prayer deserves more than a dial-up. He is, of course, available any time. And he loves to help any time. But he is dishonored when we do not make time in our day to give him focused attention. All relationships suffer without regular focused attention.

Paul is calling all of us to a life of regular, planned meetings with God in prayer in which we praise him for who he is, thank for what he has done, and ask him for help, and plead the cause of those we love, including the people of the world. So “be constant in prayer” in this lenten season and beyond. Ask God to help you. Resolve to use your sanctified will to make it happen. Plan the time and the place.

Fay-Ann Swearing
fayannswearing.wordpress.com