Friday, November 27, 2015

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer- A book review

FerVent- A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer
By Priscilla Shirer

A Book Review
I had the privilege of receiving this book from the Lifeway bloggers group in order to offer a review. In my opinion, this book by Priscilla Shirer is such a critically important book for all believers.

She begins each chapter with a paragraph of how our enemy, Satan, might look at our lives and form plans to thwart us and keep us from praying and living victoriously.

It’s a sobering thing to read about. Often as Christians, we forget to realize that we are in the enemy’s cross-hairs. Satan cannot take our salvation from us, but his next best thing is to make us believe we are defeated and live defeated lives, forgetting to access the very power of the Holy Spirit that resides in us.

Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Fervent reminds us of who we are in Christ and who we belong to. It gives great battle plans to combat doubt, fear, discontentedness, anger towards one another, chaos, lack of passion, relationship issues and the list goes on.

The key she hits is that none of those things are from God, they are tools of the enemy to make us believe a lie of defeat and switch our focus to the wrong culprit.

I felt like every chapter was the most important as I read it. I have personally experienced Satan’s attacks in each area and so I know intimately the weapons he uses that Priscilla sites.

The good news this book provides is that we can have victory over Satan through Christ’s power! Our privilege as children of God is that we can go before Him, speak with Him intimately, daily and constantly. I Thessalonians 5:17 clearly calls us to “pray without ceasing”.

Priscilla says in her last chapter… “So while I know this is a battle- a daily fight- expect your fervency to lead you to a place of peace and rest. Because God is the One who’s fighting for you, and He will surely prevail.”

I would recommend this book that provides a guide to strategic prayer to anyone! We need to have eyes wide open to what we are battling against. Priscilla Shirer hits the nail on the head with this one!

Monday, November 23, 2015

You are Significant to God

This is the final installment of the series on who we are in Christ. For the first two, please see Am I Accepted- Part 1 and Guaranteed Security for Life- Part 2

The thing about your significance in Christ's kingdom is that it's not based off anything you bring to the table or anything you can do to prove your worth. It's 100% Him, all the way! You are the message bearer. Our participation is not self-promotion, it's Christ promotion. Christine Caine said "You and I are personally responsible for the evangelization of planet Earth before the second coming of Jesus."

As a Christian, you hold the single most valuable piece of information to every person on this earth. He delights in using us because God's story of redemption and Christ's saving power is clearly demonstrated through His work in us. We are imperfect, messy people with disastrous lives. What Christ has done for us is remarkable, unheard of and is not like anything else the world has to offer. 

Our magnificent God asked His Son to step off His throne, leave His majesty behind to become like one of us to provide us with salvation and freedom from these wretched bodies of death. His story is so convincing in flawed humans because there's no way we can affect the change in our own lives that He can do. It requires His supernatural power to transform us. What a story to share!

See what God's Word has to say about our significance to Him.
I am Significant in Christ

Matthew 5:13&14- "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses it's flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

John 15:16- "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you."

Acts 1:8- "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, the ministry that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

2 Corinthians 6:1- "We then, as workers together with Him, also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain".

Ephesians 2:10- "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

He chose you, loved you and died for you while you were still a sinner, before you ever thought to choose Him. He appointed you to be an heir with all the rights of a natural born child, He has changed your life, given you the very same access to the power He used to raise Christ from the dead. He uses your broken vessel of a clay pot to be reformed and used in glorious service to Him! He came into this world to forge a relationship with you because He loves His creation so much! 

You are significant in God's plan! He wants to use you. Don't miss the opportunity to experience this joyous part of being who you are supposed to be in Christ.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Guaranteed Security for Life

This is the second installment of the 3 part series of who we are in Christ. For the first part please see Am I Accepted? 

Security is an important issue to us today. Security for our homes and city, for our computers and technology, security for our jobs, healthcare, retirement and finances, security for our children, security for our cars and driving experiences, for our country and soldiers. It literally permeates every part of life. However, none of them is permanent and for all of eternity. They waiver, are unreliable, they depend on flawed people, and you can't take any of them to eternity with you.

Have you ever considered that you are permanently secure in Christ? It doesn't change from day to day and definitely not based on your behavior or anything you can achieve. It doesn't change with external influences either. It is a gift Christ provides us when we receive Him as Savior. You cannot lose your salvation because He is the perfect covenant keeper. No where in scripture does it speak about an event or decision that removes your security in Christ once you are a believer.

Considering where you spend eternity is undoubtedly 
the most important decision of your life, 
it is paramount to understand that you are secure in Christ.

To add to the importance of understanding this is also grasping that He has started a work in you. A work to sanctify you into His image. Sanctifying is a supernatural change that takes place when Christ changes your heart and mind into becoming more like Him. All four of the gospels and Romans chapter 12 expound upon Christ's character that we are to emulate. As Christ followers, our goals are to worship God almighty, become more like Christ everyday and tell others of the miraculous saving grace of Christ.

You may be skeptical. You might think that your past behavior, or even current life choices are to terrible to forgive and therefore make you null and void to having complete security in Christ. The bible says the exact opposite, as clear as day. You have to choose to believe that The Bible is the spoken Word of God and is truthful through and through. It is relevant and for you today, right now, in what ever circumstance you are in.

See for yourself...
I Am Secure In Christ

Romans 8:1&2 "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me FREE from the law of sin and death."
You don't have to daily punish yourself for your choices and sin, Christ has made you free!

Romans 8:31-34 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us."
God fights for His children and equips you with what you need to do His will!

Romans 8:35-39  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written " For Your sake (Christ's) we are killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquers through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The middle of this passage talks about Paul the apostle and others like him who are persecuted and killed for their preaching of the gospel. This list is compelling proof that truly nothing will remove our salvation from us. 

2 Corinthians 1:21&22 "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 
It is the full Trinity that establishes you, anoints you and seals you with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit. Did you see that scripture uses the word guarantee? A synonym for secure.

Galatians 4:7 "Now you are no longer a servant but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you His heir."
We have full establishment of all God's riches and are secure heirs to heaven.

Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you 
will complete it until the day of Christ." 
That means I am in progressive sanctification, Christ is working on me until the day He returns.

Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only are you a child of God here on earth, you now have a new home to look forward to in eternity.

Hebrews 4:16 " Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 
God desires us to claim the promises of grace and mercy from Him with the boldness of a child walking into their own home and asking their parents to help in times of need.

As a believer, you possess the ability to ask God's forgiveness, expect mercy and grace, and complete security in your salvation. You are not just a sinner sliding under the radar, getting in by the skin of your teeth. God, through Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, has provided you with the full benefits of a natural born child. You are the apple of His eye and desires you to participate in the full fellowship as an heir with Christ!

The final entry in this series will be on our Significance in Christ.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Am I Accepted?

This is part 1 of a 3 part series, guaranteed security for life is part 2 and You are significant to God is part 3.

So much of life is achievement based. It is an expectation that we'd accomplish all stages of growth for a baby, a toddler walking, a kindergartner learning the basics of reading, 5th graders leaving elementary, 8th graders leaving middle school and finally graduating high school. Then we move on to pursue many other things like college, careers, marriage and family. Life is constantly about accomplishments and being accepted within our little worlds, our communities.

Many people struggle with ways to feel accepted and that is why they strive so hard towards achievement. So that they fill the longing to be accepted.

God has created us in His image has set our souls to long for eternity in heaven. This is why we strive for the bigger and better and for unconditional love and acceptance. God created us to long for it because He is the bigger and better! 

The purpose of our longing is to drive us to Him, 
the One who can fill our deepest needs and longing!

He not only created us with this inherent need, but He also provided us with answers. I have felt convicted to share a 3 part blog series about who we are in Christ. This first segment is focused on the fact that in Christ, we are accepted and belong!

God's Word has made it crystal clear that He chooses us! Let that absorb into you...the very same God that created this incredible world in 6 days and possess the power to raise Christ from the dead chose YOU before He ever laid the foundations of the earth. Christ thought of you when He was dying on the Cross for your sins some 2000 years ago.

Let God's Word speak to your heart today.

YOU are accepted in Christ:

John 1:12- "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called Children of God, to those that believe in His name."

You are adopted as God's own!

John 15:15- "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what His master is doing; but I have called you Friends; for all things I have heard from the Father I have made known to you."

How often do you speak with your friend that saved your life?

Romans 5:1- "Therefore having been Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Our sins are removed from us when we confess and ask God's forgiveness!

I Corinthians 6:17- "But he who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him." 

Your very existence and essence of your being is one Spirit with the Living God!

I Corinthians 6:19&20- "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." 

That price was the precious blood of Jesus.

I Corinthians 12:27- "Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually."

How are you functioning as a body part in the full body of Christ? 

Ephesians 1:1- "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the Saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Jesus Christ."

He made you a Saint!

Ephesians 2:18- "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father."

You can speak intimately with God anytime, anywhere!

Ephesians 5:1- Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the pleasure of His good will. 

You are God's pleasure!

Colossians 1:14- In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

To be redeemed is be freed from captivity by payment...Jesus!

Colossians 2:10- And you are Complete in Him who is the head of all authority and power.

Do you see that scripture says we are complete in Him? Lacking nothing- complete.

Let it sink into your soul today that in the eyes of God, you are accepted in Christ! You can do nothing to earn it or achieve His approval or acceptance. His acceptance of you is not based on you and what you bring to the table. It is based on Him alone and the perfect justifying, redeeming work of Christ on the cross.

The next topic to come in this series is that you are SECURE in Christ!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mysterious contentment vs. Ever-present discontent

Philippians 4:11- Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Ever hear of these cliché’s or sayings – “We all have a God-shaped hole”, “We start each day with an empty cup, and you can try to have others fill it or ask Jesus to fill it”  “Don’t gain the world and lose your soul”.

The verse above is in a passage written by the apostle Paul talking about being in prison and being able to find contentment in whatever place he is in and concludes with the verse- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Many people choose Philippians 4:13 as their life verse, not realizing that it points to the whole passage talking about finding contentment in Christ in whatever circumstance you are in. It’s not meant as a “get your quick fix of empowering encouragement” for whatever task you are trying to complete. We have to look at the whole counsel of God and make sure things are in context when we use them.

So let’s talk about this mysterious idea of true contentment. Many people search it out like they are in a game of hide and go seek, as though it’s just out of reach.

Our world offers contentment in things. Why do you think there’s a new phone every 6 months, or new cars every year, new computers and programs, new bigger homes being built, options upon options no matter where you go be it Starbucks for 80,000 different ways to get your coffee or the famous “Have it your way” slogan of Burger King. We have more television shows than a person can watch, and here’s a biggie…. More “ways to God” than there ever used to be.

Maybe you don’t fit into those general categories. Maybe your's resembles the desire that creeps up while you walk through the mall, or the shoe store, or handbags, the hair salon, or the nail salon, the gym, or Hobby Lobby, whatever it may be. I am by no means saying these things are bad in and of themselves. It is the love of them, the burning need to have more, and the fake feeling of contentment you get from them that only lasts until you want something else.

As a believer in Christ, your source of contentment is in Jesus Christ! It is constant, sufficient and there’s a never-ending supply! It will never disappoint.

Just as your need to fill your stomach is daily, so is your need to choose to fill yourself with the things of Christ daily.

Are you wondering why it always feels like something is missing? It’s Jesus. We are made in His image and with eternity in our hearts. No wonder we search and desire something bigger and better!

Stop filling your need or contentment with the world, because scripture says in I John 2:15-17: Stop loving the world and the things that are in the world. If anyone persists in loving the world, the Father's love is not in him. For everything that is in the world, the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God's will remains forever.