National Poetry Month – Mountain of Life

DerrickMountain of Life

By Derrick Collins

I feel a strong wind blowing across my forehead,

The thought of what I’d live my life to be.

The pressure that I fear is coming faster,

And sometimes when I close my eyes I see.

Future lights shining my name boldly,

And past forgotten, all except my friends.

But sometimes the lights are dim and dirty,

And in the race for life my sorrow wins.

The few years that I’ve lived I’ve learned some lessons,

The first like on the bill, “In God We Trust”.

I’ve also learned of passion and perseverance,

Focus, don’t be distracted by every lust.

When it seems you’re all alone remember Jesus,

He’ll lead and guide as only Jesus can.

But don’t just turn your back on every person,

For God to make it work He uses man.

Make sure that care and love reflect your image,

Don’t be afraid to show what’s deep inside.

Realize that each mistake is just a lesson,

And learn, don’t get deceived by foolish pride.

Remember as you travel up life’s mountain,

That love’s the prize possession that you own.

And with your faith, your strength and God the Father,

At the top of the mountain you will set your throne.

National Poetry Month – I’m New

All_New_Season_eBook_cover_030613I’m New

By Julia Royston

New life, new walk

New right to a new talk

Newness in Christ

The payment and the price

A sacrifice made for me

The rugged cross on Mt. Calvary

I’m clean and free

No longer bound indeed

Free to give, free to love

The spirit in me from above

Free to worship free to praise

Living with the father the rest of my days

Purchased by the father

from the enemy, there is no doubt

Planted in the Kingdom of God

Makes me want to shout

Prayer: Father, I ask that you daily help me to walk in the newness of the Christian life and to be pleasing in your sight.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Julia Royston is a singer, songwriter, poet and producer poised to expand the boundaries of Praise & Worship with her anointed voice and uplifting lyrics.

In 2007, Julia recorded and released her first live CD/DVD “A New Season in Word and Song” with an accompanying book of poetry and inspirational writings titled, “A New Season in Word: Inspirations for Divine Living”.  Visit her site at http://juliaroyston.net/

What Good is Prayer?

By Robert Burk

prayerSome experiments have been done to test if prayer works but this is not what this article is about. The question here is “What good is prayer?” Usually we already have the answer given us in Scripture.  At other times the answer is our head and two arms. We know what God wants. We have the information in the Bible and the tools in all the good things He has given us. Often all we need to do is to obey.

So, what good is prayer?

Prayer will not change the Laws of God; it does not change the Great Commission. Prayer does not alter what the church is or how we are to act with one another. After we pray, the words in the Bible remain as they have since dictated to the prophets.

Prayer does not change things. God’s Plan will unfold. It is the one certain thing in this universe. Yet, we all pray and many believe this is the main focus of a Christian’s life. But what good is prayer if it does not change anything?

Prayer does not feed the hungry. Prayer will not put a roof over a homeless person’s head. Prayer does not give those who are lonely a friend. Prayer does not introduce the lost to Christ. God works through us. What good is prayer if we are not the answer? We pray that lost souls should be saved but what is the point if we do not seek to save the lost?

What is the point of prayer to make the world a better place if we are not living as we ought? There is a right and wrong in this world, if we are not living right what is the point in praying for things to get better? God has given us our instructions and everything we need to carry them out. The Bible tells us how to live.  Why pray and ignore what He has told us to do?

What good is prayer when we are the answer? We are the way God answers prayers. If we are not the answer to prayer then what good is prayer? God made us to be an answer to each other’s prayers. If we were the answer to prayer, life would be far different and far better.

If the world does not believe prayer works it is because we do not do what we are meant to do.  We are not answering prayers and we are not doing the work of God.

The church prays but the church does not answer prayer. How then can prayer change anything? We were given a head and two hands for a reason.  If all we are to do is pray, Scripture would be far less demanding and contain fewer instructions. If we would focus on being an answer to prayer, we could and would change the world. We would create a church that is one body under Christ. Denominational difference would melt under the light of our love. And no one would be asking, “What good is prayer?” for they would see us and know the answer.

About the Author – Robert Burk is a writer and consultant on motivation who studies the Bible as a document that provides real clues to how we should be living and organizing our business and economics. http://www.rationalexchange.com/

Voices in a Crisis

by William Higgins

Crises are a part of life. If you aren’t experiencing one at present, you can be sure someone close to you is whether you know it or not.

healthelandDeath of a loved one, a family member in prison or living on the street, news of a debilitating illness, loss of a job; they all bring pain and added stress. The pain you feel is real. The stress you experience is real. And they aren’t to be minimized. They won’t go away with just a few words, or a few days. It will take time. And the time will be a challenge to your well-being and your faith.

Others go about their lives seemingly without a care in the world. Life’s a breeze. Everything’s great. But you’re dying inside!

During this time there are numerous voices clambering for your attention. Which voices do you listen to? Which voices do you give credence to? Do you listen to:

The voices inside your head? This voice challenges you to make it on your own. You say to yourself, “I really don’t need others to help me with this, I can do it.” You don’t want to rely on others and appear weak. You want to pretend that all is well and carry on as you always have. You are proud after all. This voice could also present the other side; you just can’t make it through this pain. You won’t survive.  However, in listening to these voices you’re denying what Christianity is all about; helping others and being a body as described in I Corinthians 12. Don’t listen to these voices.

The voices of others? These voices tell you to try this miracle cure, or that exciting moneymaker, this magical remedy, or that amazing counselor. While Christ does tell us in Luke 16 that the people of the world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind, you must weigh what these voices are saying. Too often they’re acting only on worldly wisdom, humanistic philosophy and easy escape routes. Weigh what these voices are saying on the scales of scripture to see if they have value or not. Don’t just listen to them and do what they say.

The voice of God? God is there in times of crisis. He is there to carry you through it. But His voice isn’t easily heard. His voice may be drowned out by the other voices you hear. You need to pay attention to what He’s saying, and how He’s saying it. Learn from the prophets of old.

Elijah was in a crisis. He had told Ahab of his wickedness and God’s punishment in the coming drought. He further angered King Ahab by defeating the prophets of Baal. He had a contract on his head thanks to Queen Jezebel. So he did what any of us would do; he ran. Forget the victory over Baal. Forget how God had taken care of him in the past; he just ran for his life man! Forget even trying to hear God’s voice. Doesn’t Elijah sound just like us?

But was this man trying to hear from God, or just running away from his crisis? You read the story starting in I Kings 17 and you decide. Even in Elijah’s running God took care of him. First, ravens fed him. Then a widow helped him out, an angel brought him food, water and comfort. But that wasn’t enough. Elijah kept searching for what he couldn’t seem to find. He went to the cave, he went to the mountain; but didn’t find God. He looked for God in the tornado, in the earthquake, in a firestorm, but God was not there. We look for God also, but fail to hear His voice.

But God finally got his attention in a gentle whisper. C.S. Lewis says, “God screams in our pleasure, but whispers in our pain.” God challenged Elijah to remember His faithfulness, encouraged him to retreat and spend time alone with Him, prompted him to reflect on how God had been there in the past, and directed him to re-establish relationships. These were the keys to Elijah’s renewal and are your keys to a renewed relationship with God also, and to handling a crisis.

Other biblical characters faced crises also. Joseph was a spoiled son to whom his father Jacob  presented a beautiful coat, which only added to how his brothers felt about him. They hated him and Joseph didn’t do anything to appease that hatred. He flaunted his dreams in their faces, so when they had the opportunity they threatened to kill him. Instead of killing him however, they sold him to a band of wandering traders. The traders in turn sold him to a high government official in Egypt where he worked as a slave. He was then thrown in prison as a result of a false accusation, where he spent the next ten years. You could say Joseph had a crisis, and his went on for over 13 years!

But we catch a glimpse of the fact that God was at work in him and for him even during the crisis. His story starts in Genesis 37, and in Genesis 40:2 you find a phrase that is repeated over the next few chapters, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered…” We don’t have a lot of detail in the chapters starting in Genesis 37 about what Joseph did and didn’t do to find God blessing him, but what we do find is that Joseph was true to how God had made him, and he was true to his God

When he couldn’t see what was happening, Joseph was true to himself and to God. When he did what was right and still suffered, Joseph was true to himself and to God. When his crisis went on for years, Joseph was true to himself and to God. You can read more about Joseph and how God worked on his behalf in a soon-to-be-released book; Your Road to Damascus: 6 Biblical Secrets for an Effective Job Search (www.MindWarePublishing.com).

You can make it through your crisis; not just by listening to yourself, not just by listening to others, but by listening to God. He is there, and He knows your pain. He may not be visible. He may not be audible. He may not reveal Himself in miraculous ways, but you can trust that He is there and is working on your behalf.

The way Joseph and Elijah handled their crises is also your answer to how to handle your crisis and what voices to listen to. Learn from Elijah and remember God’s faithfulness, retreat and spend some time alone with Him, reflect on how God has been there in your past, and re-establish relationships to help you through the crisis. And learn from Joseph and be true to yourself, how God has made you, and true to God by believing that He is still in control even when you can’t see anything to prove that.

He is working and He’s not finished yet!

About the Author: BILL HIGGINS is currently the Managing Director of MindWare Incorporated, an independent training and career coaching consulting firm. He previously served on the pastoral staff of churches in the U.S. and Canada, and worked in a managerial capacity for industry leading organizations. Bill is a graduate of Biola University and Talbot Theological Seminary.

A Prepared Place

From the book: “The Promises of Jesus” By Vanessa Collins

Scripture Lesson

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 John 14:1-3

Prepared PlaceMeditation

It was a strange day the disciples probably thought.  It was just all kind of strange.  Jesus was acting strange, Judas was acting real strange and now it just all seemed, well, strange.  First Jesus washed their feet at dinner, then Judas abruptly leaves and now Jesus was talking about leaving, again.  He had mentioned this leaving thing before, but this time it was different.  It seemed more imminent now.

Moving and travelling was something that the disciples were used to.  For the last 3½ years, they had been on the move.  But now Jesus was talking about going somewhere that they could not go.  They had worked together as a team for the last 3½ years, and they had left everything and everybody they knew behind. To the disciples, it was apparent that there was still a lot of work to do.  This gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God had to be preached everywhere, including Rome and places even further away.  This was no time for the leader to bail out.  Besides, who was going to do all of that work?

It is here that we find our promise for today.  Jesus told them, in the previous chapter, that they could not go with Him.  This news was heart breaking.  However, Jesus encourages them to not allow their hearts to be troubled.  It was now time to believe, not just in God but in the power of His Son, Jesus.  He told them there were many mansions in His Father’s house, real mansions.  He told them that He would prepare a place for them and that He would return to receive them unto Himself so that they would be where He was.  Not only did they not need to fear His death, they did not need to fear their own.  They would spend eternity with Christ.

That same promise is also for us that are born again.  We will have eternal life with Jesus Christ.  Because of that, we don’t have to worry what will happen when we die.  Will we stay in the grave until the rapture?  Does our spirit immediately go to be with Christ?  Is there a holding place somewhere?  Will we be in heaven or will we be on earth?

You can have lots of fun proving or disproving the many theories there are associated with the afterlife, but there is one thing that is for sure.  When it is all said and done, we will be with Him.  That is the only thing that is important.

Affirmations

Jesus has prepared a place for me to be with Him forever.  As a born again believer, I will have eternal life.  I do not have to worry about dying.  I rejoice and I am grateful for the promise that Jesus will come again and receive me and that where He is, I will be also.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Truth Forged in the Fire

From the book: “Truth Forged in the Fire”  By Michael D. Daniel

TruthForgedintheFire_VCIn what continues to be a perpetual cause of concern for the body of Christ today, is the glaring absence of New Testament truth emanating from our pulpits. Uncompromising men of God that once flourished in the church just a generation ago are now only a fading memory. Saintly men that graced the pulpits like A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Paris Reidhead and Watchman Nee, once set the bar of Biblical truth at a benchmark determined by God Himself. These stanch men of God knew nothing of concession, and would have gladly laid down their lives in defense of their sheep; their God; and their love of the truth. But where are their kind today?

 

The measure by which God tells us to judge anyone is by their fruit, and the fruit of a preacher must be evident almost immediately within his selfless humility. His life of surrendered obedience to God will only be exceeded by his complete hatred for anything that brings recognition to himself or his ministry. Like his Master, he will not shy away from the unpopularity that truth brings; but will embrace any hardship that counts him worthy to suffer as his Lord did. He will have a dedicated love for his sheep and will suffer with them through every affliction. In everything that he does, his life will be completely transparent, giving no place to the enemy or man to accuse him of questionable conduct. And most importantly, he will never neglect his time with God; his time in the prayer closet will be his most precious time of the day and will always exceed his time spent in the company of men.

 

Men of this caliber are not made by other men in the seminary, but are hewn out of a divine building material reserved exclusively for those saints that were chosen long before the foundation of the world; men that God knew would one day be willing to lay down their life in humble obedience to do His will. The great weight of their cross will never be relinquished for a minute, but will remain a constant source of self-renunciation as they surrender every hint of friendship with the world and the love of comfort that so easily ensnares those of a less noble character.

 

In contrast, what we find today is the product of a generation of politically correct crowd pleasers. The benevolent humility of the preacher’s heart has long been sacrificed on the altar of ambition, as he yields to the pressures to build bigger and better sanctuaries. The cross has become little more than a small piece of a vast curriculum learned by rote in the seminary classroom, and has never gained entrance into the preacher’s heart. The price for this costly sacrifice will be felt as soon as he opens his mouth to preach.

 

The greatest loss however to the body of Christ is not to be found in their loss of time sitting through hours of lifeless sermons, but in the loss of something much more costly; namely their relationship with Jesus Christ and the experiential knowledge that comes from an intimate revelation of New Testament Christianity.

 

The primary objective of every true shepherd should be to impart a vivid understanding of the sufferings of our Lord; the death of the flesh associated with His cross; and the spiritual maturity that is to be acquired on the other side of that suffering. But this kind of lesson can only be taught by someone that has carried his own cross and born his own stripes. Anything short of this experience will make the shepherd a product of his own design, and the sheep he feeds no closer to God than himself.

 

Those holding on to the teachings of Christianity without suffering, are those that have not examined the teachings of the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were promised material blessings in exchange for their obedience (Deut 28:1-14). In the New Testament, Christians are told to be content with their basic needs being met (1Tim 6:8). In the Old Testament, believers were provided treasures here on earth (Deut 8:13). In the New Testament, believers are told to store up for themselves treasures in Heaven (Matt 6:20). You cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and expect material prosperity in this lifetime. What you can expect is to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29), who was meek, lowly, humble, and homeless! (1Co 4:11)

 

That’s not to say that a Christian can never be financially blessed; but before God would trust one of His children with something as spiritually lethal as wealth, he would first have to destroy every desire that the Christian might have in attaining that wealth!

 

This is the message of New Testament Christianity; deny yourself and take up your cross! Jesus set the example for those that wanted to follow in His footsteps; does anyone have the right to teach anything other than this (Gal 1:8-9)?  If your church makes no effort to teach the meekness, humility, and hardships that identified the followers of Jesus Christ, then this is not a New Testament church. It is one thing not to know the truth and be mislead, it is quite another to follow the crowds that choose to believe the lie!

 

Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Choose to be one of the few; surrender all affections for the world, and fully submit to the chastening hand of your Heavenly Father. The hearts of the saints are being tested my brethren; the Lord is separating the sheep from the goats, and sealing His remnant for the final harvest. Stay close to God, stay long in your prayer closet, and only pursue those treasures that will be laid up for you in the Kingdom of God!

 

About the Author – Michael Daniel was born in the early fifties in North Texas and raised in Southern California.  My career went the way of professional salesman and motivational speaker. God has since broken that man, replacing unquenchable pride with abject humility. Homeless now for 18 months.  http://www.whollysanctified.com (personal ministry website) michael@whollysanctified.com (email)

I Am the Lord That Maketh All Things

From the book: “The Promises of God” By Vanessa Collins

Scripture Lesson:

Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Isaiah 44:24

makeallthingsMeditation

There is nothing more frustrating than depending on a promise that is later broken.  Many times people have good intentions and they try their very best to fulfill the promises they make but they are unable to.  They really meant to call but ran out of time.  They had every intention of coming but the car broke down.  They really meant to do it but something beyond their control happened, and as a result, they were unable to keep their promise.  When this happens, we understand.  We, too, have been in this position where we intended to do something, but for whatever reason, we were unable to fulfill the promise.

 

What about when you are deceived?  Sometimes people make promises that not only do they have no intention of keeping; they have no authority to make.  A salesman can promise to lower your payments, but if he does not have the authority from the manager or owner, it won’t get done.  Sure, I can promise to sell you a mansion for a $1, but if I don’t own the mansion or have authority to sell the mansion, I would not advise you to start packing.  I would have made you an empty promise.

 

God does not make empty promises.  His promises are not empty because He has authority to act on any promise He makes.  As He clearly states in today’s promise, He makes all things.  He can make the promise because He owns the stuff.  As He states, He is our redeemer.  He formed us in our mother’s womb.  He made the heavens and the earth by Himself.  Because He owns it all, He can declare a promise and it be fulfilled.

 

Many theologians today have major problems with the idea that Isaiah authored chapters 40 through 66 of the book that bears his name because of the prophetic nature of these chapters.  How could Isaiah know the specific name of the king that God would use 150 years before?  Easy.  Just as an author can tell you how their book will end before they have actually written the words on paper, God can tell Isaiah the specifics of these incidents.  God is the author.  As stated in Isaiah 44:24-28, it is He (God) that can confirm the word of His servant and perform the counsel of His messengers.

 

In this volume, we have looked at some of the most precious promises of God.  Some that many may believe are too good to be true.  Can God really fulfill these promises concerning life here on earth and eternal life to follow?  He surely can.  He is the maker of life.  He owns life.  He designed life.  He has the authority and the power to fulfill every promise made.

Affirmations

The God I serve is all powerful.  He is able and has the authority to keep any and every promise that He makes.  He is the maker of all things.  I am gratefully for God’s Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It Shall Be Done – The Law of Agreement

Scripture Lesson

 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 18:19

shallbedoneMeditation
Agreement on earth is a powerful thing.  Nations have risen and fallen just on the power of agreement.  The word “agree” means to concur or to consent to as a course of action.  We have often misunderstood the word “touching” as used here to mean physical touch.  The word translated here is “peri” which means about, concerning, on account of, because of, around, near.  So we are told by Jesus in this scripture that if two people shall agree on earth concerning anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.  What a powerful promise!  Is God really prepared to back this up?  We can come up with some pretty wild stuff.  Does Jesus really know what He is saying?

Well, God has found himself in some very interesting positions because of this law of agreement.  Now this law did not just come into effect when Jesus spoke about it.  It has been in effect since God gave man freewill.  And it as made for some very interesting times.

One of the most memorable is the Tower of Babel mentioned in Genesis 11.  Although you may have heard differently, the Bible does not tell us that these people were wicked or that their motives were bad.  We do know that their desire to build a city and a tower got God’s attention and that He “came down” to see what they were doing.  Since the word “heaven”, used here, also means sky, God was not concerned that they would build a tower that would reach to where He abode. We have many skyscrapers today, so I do not think God has a problem with tall buildings.  God seems to be concerned with the fact that these people, being on one accord, would be unlimited in what they could do.

So did God take their power away?  Did He cancel the Law of Agreement?  No.  He scattered them by changing their language.  Did He tell them that they were wrong? No.  He did not send a prophetic message to them.  He just caused them to move.  Guess what? They got with people of their own language, and they moved to other areas and did exactly what they were going to do there.  They built cities and towers all over the world.  Perhaps it wasn’t what they were agreeing to do that was the problem.  It was who they were agreeing with.

Maybe you find yourself in the same place.  God may be stirring things up not because of what you are believing Him for, but maybe it is who you are agreeing with.  If the language people around you are using is becoming confusing, perhaps it is time to move on.  Since we have been on this journey of renewing our minds, I am sure that our language has become confusing to many.  We are not talking about lack and sickness and the works of the enemy.  We are proclaiming the power of God in our lives.

Affirmations
I agree with the Word of God.  I am who it says I am.  I have what it says I have.  I will seek God’s wisdom when I agree with someone concerning their prayers.  I rejoice and I am grateful for the promise that when we agree concerning anything, it will be done for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I Will Heal Their Land

Scripture Lesson

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

healthelandMeditation
King Solomon had completed the biggest project of his reign.  He built the temple of God.  What an honor!  Although this was a dream of his father, David, God chose to give this project to Solomon.  It was magnificent and would become one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  This day, the day for the dedication of the temple, was for God.  Solomon made sure to try to show God his love and admiration.  He sacrificed thousands of burnt offerings in an attempt to show God how much he cared.  He prayed earnestly that God would be pleased with his efforts and that God would honor this place as His dwelling place.

Solomon also prayed about the sins of the people.  Not their current sins, but their future sins.  Being wise, Solomon knew how hard it was to walk according to the law.  He struggled with it and knew his people did also.  But He loved God and he wanted to be assured that their sins would not separate them too far from God.  God responded to Solomon’s prayer in an awesome way.  First, He sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.  He then filled the temple with His glory so strongly that the priest could not enter in.  Finally, He verbally responded to Solomon’s prayer in a dream about a week later.  It is from this response that we get our promise for today.

God explains the power that the people have concerning judgments that would come as a result of sin.  He tells Solomon that if He decides to judge the people by drought, locust or sickness, that there is a way out.  If His people, which are called by His name, would humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will He hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Again, we see Jehovah Rapha, The Lord that Heals, at work.  Even in the face of sin, God is ready to heal.  Healing is truly in God’s nature.

Although this seems like a pretty easy formula to follow, the children of Israel were not able to do it on a consistent basis.  As a result, they lost the land that God had promised to heal and are still, to this very day fighting for the promised land that God gave them.

For the New Testament Christian, this verse can be summed up in one word, JESUS.  It is through Jesus that we humble ourselves before God.  It is in the name of Jesus that we now pray.  It is through Jesus that we seek the face of God since Jesus said if we see Him, we see the Father.  It is through Jesus that we have access to the Holy Spirit, whereby we can trade our wicked ways, or works of the flesh, for the fruit of the Spirit.  And finally, it is through Jesus that we realize the promise.  God hears us from heaven, He forgives our sins and He heals our land.

Affirmations
God is my Jehovah Rapha, The Lord that Heals.  I thank God for my salvation through Jesus Christ.  I thank God for the abiding Holy Spirit.  I rejoice and am grateful for the fact that God hears us from heaven, forgives our sins and heals our land.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

This article is from the book, “The Promises of God”  by Vanessa Collins.  It is available on Amazon.