Stir Me Up Lord!

Stir Me Up Lord!: December 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fired Up

Are you a believer? Are you a child of God, bought and purchased by the blood of Christ? Are you redeemed and have received salvation through grace and not by the law or good works? If so, then you know you are under the new covenant (blood of Christ) and not the old covenant (Old Testament laws). 

I recently entered a ‘conversation’ that revolved around people who are Believers, but who have chosen to judge or condemn others based on laws of the OT (specifically Leviticus). Laws in Leviticus were very specific on rituals to perform after childbirth, what was allowed to be eaten, and offering sacrifices on an altar, etc. The problem with trying to uphold any of these laws, they must realize they are now selecting to ‘overlook’ Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross!  Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV) 

If we love GOD first and then love our neighbor next, we will never fall out of GOD’s will for our lives. When you are loving; you are not judging, you are not hating, you are not coveting, you are not sinning. When you are busy loving GOD and others, you don’t have time for all the stuff we shouldn’t be doing. Where our focus is, where our thoughts are, that’s where our heart is. So if we focus on GOD, if we are thinking of HIM and others before ourselves, our heart will follow; thus our words and actions will follow.

Religion is a cold and ritualistic burden, that is why I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.“Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”….”Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ (Matthew 16:6, 11-12 NLT) The term yeast was often used in the Bible as an evil connotation, as to what is small, may corrupt the whole. We see that a lot today in terms of laws being created based on minority beliefs and not on the majority's. 

Salvation is not based on rules and regulations; salvation is through grace. Faith cannot be seen and when our relationship with GOD is based on laws, we start to fall into the trap of the Pharisees. Agape love is selfless love (without a personal agenda and what can I get out of this attitude). Law is restrictive and binding, law sees right and wrong and doesn’t have room for love - but JESUS said that LOVE is to be first! Sin is a flesh and worldly desire. Repentance is a heart movement, if a believer sins, they will know they have sinned and they will ‘ache’ in the spirit and want to right their wrong; you can't have repentance if you don't have love. 

One thing that we see in the New Testament that angered JESUS, was the burden the Pharisees were putting on man. JESUS came to earth to save the people, not to burden or condemn them. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either……. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.  Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:13-15, 23-28 NLT)

Our heart is what GOD is concerned with, our heart for GOD! First we must concentrate on the inside, the heart and when the heart is right with GOD, the outside will change to be more like GOD as well!

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.  When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”  “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11 NLT)

Here is another example from Jesus that specifically instructs us NOT to judge others….

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?   You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:1-6 NIV)

How can we love others and lead them to Christ if we are condemning them? How can we share GOD’s love when we are burdening people with laws and regulations? I’m not saying go against the Bible; I’m saying we cannot share GOD’s love if we are judging. We are to open our arms and share love; if someone is sinning, GOD will speak to that Believer and deal with them. I’m not saying you should encourage a Believer to sin or even turn a blind eye (I am not talking about sins that HARMS a person). Think prejudice, people have thoughts on piercings, tattoos and both of those are tied into OT Leviticus laws and have nothing to do with modern day tattoos and piercings, but yet people are so fired up over these issues that they are allowing the yeast of the Pharisees to hardened their hearts and cast judgement.

People are getting riled up about the wrong stuff, that have nothing to do with the heart of GOD. Doctrines are being preached that are against the Word of GOD, people are claiming to be christian believers and are preaching hate instead of LOVE! These are the kind of things that people should be riled up about, these are the things that will lead a non-believer away from JESUS, or turn a Believer away from GOD. I can only imagine the tears in heaven over the division in the church and what she has become. As Believers, we are the church, we need to show the world that we are LOVE!! We need to be fired up for GOD and fired up for showing GOD's love for others!!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Miracles and Encouragement

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief.”  (Mark 6:4-6 NLT)

Jesus performed miracles everywhere he went, sharing GOD’s Word with all, healing and showing loving kindness to all. The only place Jesus was limited was in HIS hometown.  A person has to be receptive to GOD’s Word; they have to be able to receive GOD’s message and healing. If a person has placed a wall up and closed their ears, they cannot receive what GOD has for them. It’s like a water hose that has a kink in it, causing the water to only trickle out; if you get rid of the obstruction, the water pours out - the obstruction/kink being the people (unbelievers and even some Believers whose faith is weak) unable to receive GOD’s message. If GOD’s Son was unable to perform miracles due to the unbelief surrounding HIM, then we Believers will have the same results when we are surrounded by people who do not want to hear or accept the Good News.

The reason for the people’s unbelief is they knew Jesus before HE started HIS ministry. They watched HIM grow up in their town, they knew HIS parents and it wasn’t possible for them to conceive that someone they knew would be sent from GOD, let alone be of GOD. Consider this in your own life, once you become a new creation in Christ, you want to share with others, but those who knew you before – they have a much more difficult time accepting this ‘new you’. Your old friends are probably attached to the old lifestyle you shared with them and if you are now living a life for Christ; this will ‘convict’ them (this isn’t you judging them, we as Believers are never to judge anyone). A non-believer will feel ‘conviction’ because they do not have the Holy Spirit in their lives. The HOLY SPIRIT’s process in dealing with one’s own conscience, alert and sensitizing us to GOD’s Word BEFORE we have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior. Once we are saved, we no longer are convicted, we may feel guilt and need to repent for a sin we have not confessed, but we are never convicted or condemned.

“If you sin without knowing what you're doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you're doing, that's a different story entirely. Merely hearing God's law is a waste of your time if you don't do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God. When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.”  (Romans 2:12-16 MSG)

The HOLY SPIRIT is a comforter and encourager in Believers, HE is not a convicter or condemner!

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  (John 14;15-18 NKJV)  The Amplified version of this scripture explains the HOLY SPIRIT’s role; “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever--The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.” (John 14:15-18 AMP) 

When you read about Jesus’ ministry throughout the Bible, you see that HE was always telling the people, to not fear, to have faith. He would always encourage others before HE performed a miracle, it was always a ‘just wait, hold on to your faith, and it will be rewarded greatly’ kind of message.“While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.  Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”  And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.  (Mark 5:35-42 NLT) 

Another thing I’ve learned from this scripture is that Jesus cleared the room of all the unbelievers; he got rid of the people who would block the miracle HE was going to perform.  GOD can perform any miracle in our lives, but we have to receive that miracle.  In the scripture John 14:17 it explains the word ‘receive’, The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. It’s not that we just hear the Word, but we have to ‘receive’ the Word of GOD as well. Notice to be able to 'receive' we also have to 'know GOD', that is, you must be a Believer! That’s why so many times Jesus would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.” (Matthew 11:15 AMP).

When a person is bringing down your faith, distance yourself from them. This doesn’t mean you are no longer friends, but you can tell them that you cannot allow their disbelief to be part of your life. Hardened hearts and disbelief will block GOD’s love and message from being received in a person’s heart, that’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with GOD’s promises and fellow Believers. The Bible tells us often how we need to always encourage one another, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT). 

When Jesus was walking on the water towards the disciples and they feared it was a ghost, “But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.” (Matthew 14:27-30 NLT)  Notice that Jesus told them to have courage, to not be afraid –  HE was ‘encouraging’ them.  Peter was able to perform a miracle and walk on the water as well, that is until he took his eyes off of JESUS; when he took in the surrounding circumstances, the pressures of the world, that’s when he lost his faith and began to sink. So keep your focus on JESUS, surround yourselves with fellow Believers, and encourage others - this will open the doors of GOD’s blessings in your own life and receive the miracles GOD has for you!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Sowing Mercy

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12 NKJV)
“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ (Hosea 10:12NLT)
“You have plowed and plotted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your [own] way and your chariots, in the multitude of your mighty men,” (Hosea 10:13 AMP)

We’re told to plow the ‘hard ground of our hearts’, in other words, our hearts are hardened and in order to soften our hearts;  we need to seek GOD and sow mercy for others. The Bible is filled with references of ‘sowing’ and ‘reaping’ and some of Jesus’ most famous parables used examples of sowing. The verse above uses the Hebrew word,  ‘zara’, which means: to sow, to scatter seeds; to plant seed in order to increase the returns; to disseminate. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 NKJV) There are several sayings today that follow that scripture, 'you get what you give' concept, or 'sowing' and 'reaping'. If you give 'love' you will receive 'love', if you give 'bad things' you will receive 'bad things'.

Mercy is when someone does something and deserves a punishment, but we reward them with mercy. Mercy shows, even though, someone gave us 'bad things', we can show 'mercy' by responding  with 'good things'. Everyday we have opportunities to show mercy: like when your child does something that might normally get them grounded, you offer more leniency or if your spouse upsets you, instead of responding in your usual fashion, you might overlook the matter. Because GOD gave us mercy, we need to show mercy to others. We can never do anything good enough to earn our way to heaven, through GOD's son, is the only way we can achieve GOD's righteousness. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24 NLT

In verse Hosea 10:13 (above), our sin is the belief of self-sufficient strength and wisdom. One of the hardest things is to give up control, because giving up control means giving up of power. Sometimes we get stuck on ‘if I want it done right, I have to do it myself’. When I turned in my resignation, I took pride (major sin alert) because so many people said that they needed me, that the business wouldn’t run without me, etc. I was the type of person, who multi-tasked, did so many things at once, and boasted about it (another sin). I also took on so many responsibilities that it was draining me, and I was putting my work above all other things in my life (yet another sin). This is why I caution people who go around saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle", because people are taking control and taking on more than they can handle. We are the ones taking on the extra burdens and then believing GOD is the one giving us these extra responsibilities and problems – Do not be deceived, that is a lie the devil wants you to believe!  So next time, you’re asked to do something (even if it’s a ‘good thing’), don’t say yes (or no) right away, pray about it, make sure it won’t distract you from what GOD has planned for you.  When we seek GOD’s will for our lives, we are giving control to HIM. When we stay in GOD’s will, we are staying on the path and purpose HE has for us, “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:1,3,9 NLT)

Faith is an action, faith is stepping out, it wasn’t just that people ‘believed’; it was when they ‘spoke’ or made a ‘movement’- once you believe, show  you believe. “You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.” (James 2:22-24 NLT)  Faith is believing that even though we see the circumstances surrounding us, we are not worried, because GOD will see us through.  Faith is giving up control, letting go and letting GOD. Faith is losing our pride and acknowledging that we don’t know what to do and we need GOD to help us through. Faith is saying, I was wrong GOD, I made a mistake in taking on this (even if done with good intentions), I need you to help me get back to the path you have for me, not the path I want for me. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

GOD sowed love and mercy with HIS Son, and as HIS children we reap HIS righteousness. We can come to GOD with tears of sorrow, repentance and shame, yet, no matter what we’ve done, HE forgives us and loves us. HE allows HIS children to reap something far greater than we would have been able to sow, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6 NIVUK)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Child of God

Are you living like a child of GOD, a child with an inheritance in heaven, a brother or sister of Christ? This doesn’t mean we are equal to Jesus, we can never meet the righteousness of Christ, but because of GOD’s grace and mercy, we have been given the right to call GOD our Abba father. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” (Romans 8:14-17a NLT)

As Believer’s we have an eternal inheritance in Heaven, we just have to remember that there is work to do for the 'family' business. “Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then he looked at those around him and said, ‘Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Mark 3:33-35 NLT) Jesus has given us instructions to do GOD’s will; our main focus is to be on GOD and not ourselves. I’ve been trying to catch myself in the words I choose, when I refer to ‘my life’, I have to correct myself and say, ‘this life’; because this life, is no longer mine, it was bought with the blood of Jesus. So this life, needs to live the will of GOD and not the will of ‘me’ and ‘my’ wants and desires.

Jesus gave us specific instructions on HIS will, “…Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16 NLT) As Believers, as the Body of Christ, as the Church; our job is to share the Good News. People have a tendency to stop right there and put up a wall saying they are not a preacher or a teacher - they have a misconception that they are exempt from sharing the Good News. Remember, you can always invite someone to your church (so they can hear from a preacher and/or teacher that do have that gift). Each and every Believer upon accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, receives the Holy Spirit and HIS gift(s), as well as gift(s) of the Father and the Son. Perhaps, your gift may allow you to be generous to others, helping with your time or money, listening to a friend, offering wisdom and advice, or maybe just sharing your experience and faith. Your gift may not mean you will stand up and evangelize for Christ as a preacher or teacher BUT the life you are leading is sending a message with every word and every action you do when you say you are a Believer.  

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  (Colossians 1:9-14 NIV) Once we are children of GOD, we want to do GOD’s will and live a life for HIM. We want this, not because of who we are, but because of who GOD is and what HE has done for us through HIS Son Jesus. So live ‘this life’ for GOD, receive your inheritance and receive the good gifts GOD has for you, start by sharing HIS Good News with those around you.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

I sit at night anxiously filling my time
With nothing important or pressing to do
It seems my life is wasted
Time better spent and more prepared
 There is but one thing matters
 One thing that should hold my focus
 But instead I push it down and move around
 No no I don't have time tonight
 This show is on, I need to make a comment
 We munch on snacks hoping to fill the emptiness
 We compare and judge others so we can feel great 
Our attitude is better than theirs so we know we're safe
 We must be able to accomplish it all, hurry, don't be late
 We expect perfection and it's okay to complain
 As long as we fit in
 Don't shine your light or stand out, no one likes a show off 
Your life isn't perfect so why do you wear a smile
 Be like us, act like you have it all, tired with no hope 
We like to pretend and we'll be your friend til the end
 We love the stuff that can make us happy
 Spend while you can, you deserve it anyways
 No one appreciates you so why not 
 God couldn't love me, if He's seen what I've done
 I don't like myself, I don't like anyone, I feel so alone
 I try and try but still I'm empty inside
 God doesn't even know me, so why would He care
 But He does love you, He wants you as you are
 He loves you more than you could ever know
 He's been with you since before you were born
 The emptiness you feel
 Is the longing to have Jesus in your heart
 You just have to invite Him in 
 His Kingdom is your inheritance
 His forgiveness came with a cost, 
 Salvation can be ours
 Because Jesus did His part

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stir Me Up Lord!

Have you ever gotten into a routine and found yourself lacking that ‘fire’ or ‘desire’ you once had? I had seemed to have gotten into a bit of a rut lately, praying for others, trying to encourage others, writing my blog and devotions for others, posting scripture for others…but forgetting about myself in the midst of all that. I don’t mean I was being selfless and not  praying for myself, I mean I was without passion, just praying the same prayers without any sincerity. Sometimes I get caught up in trying to be strong for everyone else, that I forget that I NEED Jesus to strengthen and encourage me too!

I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be able to attend a Ladies Prayer group, where I was able to fill myself up on prayers. Kind of like, a porcelin vase with a nice glaze finish on the outside, but if you looked inside it was empty, dry and cracked. Today's humbling experience showed me to receive the blessings HE has for me I needed to have someone else pray for me, I needed someone to stir me up. Because GOD didn’t empty me, I emptied myself, but GOD can take any mess we get ourselves in and HE can bless us beyond measure. HE wants us to be full of HIS Spirit, full of HIS love, full of HIS blessings, favor and grace. We just have to receive it and I am ready to receive again.

The reason I began this blog of devotions was to bless and encourage others, but I forgot I also need those blessings and encouragement myself.  I got the name, Stir Me Up Lord, from Haggai 1:14 (NKJV), “So the Lord stirred up the spirit ...of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,”. This is a book of the Bible, I was not very familiar with before, but when I saw the words ‘so the Lord stirred up the spirit’ that spoke to me.  Stirred up means to rouse, awaken, excite, raise up; to incite; to arouse to action; to open one’s eyes. The Hebrew word used in the Bible, is actually ‘ur’ and this same word is used in Isaiah 51:9, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord!...”  Notice the example, arouse to action, to cause movement, to physically step out and cause an action. Our eyes can be opened and we can see the changes we need to make. We need to get fired up, awakened to GOD’s plan for our lives, and put those plans into action!

When we pray for GOD to reveal our purpose, HE will answer us, we need to pray to stay on the path that GOD has for us and to not stray from it. During prayer today, our Pastor’s wife spoke about John the Baptist and preparedness in Matthew 3:2-3 NKJV, “…”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ “  And the part 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'  jumped out at me. We need to prepare for Jesus' return, we need to be prepared, we need to be doing our 'jobs' our 'purpose' that GOD has given us. We need to keep ourselves in line with GOD’s word and will, keep our hearts tender and repentful before GOD, if we do this, our path will remain straight.  

In Haggai, the people of Israel had stopped GOD’s work and replaced them with their own worldly desires – they had a big problem, they had a developed a disinterest in GOD. They had just returned from captivity and instead of rebuilding GOD’s temple, they were putting themselves before GOD and only giving GOD what they had left, which ended up being nothing. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” (Haggai 1:4-6 NLT). You cannot fill yourself with worldly and fleshy things, you will never get enough to fill the void that only GOD was meant to fill. If we keep ourselves stirred up for GOD, we will never know hunger or thirst; if we put GOD first we will always have plenty and never lack. 

The next problem in Haggai, is discouragement. You see the people that had been around to see the Temple of the Lord that Solomon had built, they knew the beauty and splendor of the past and could not ‘vision’ the future temple.  Sometimes, we get into a rut, we know how we were on fire with GOD in the beginning and and when that fire starts to burn cooler until its just a flame, we can't imagine that fire burning that bright again. GOD's people had this same problem, they needed to get from 'just getting by', to being stirred up again, so GOD encouraged HIS people and said: “…Be strong…Be strong…Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised….so do not be afraid.’…In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Haggai 2:4-9NLT). GOD’s got a plan for us, we need to be strong and we need to keep on working, because the splendor of GOD’s plan will bring glory and peace!! Don't stop, don't give up, keep on moving in GOD's direction, stay strong, you're on the right path now, just keep taking steps in HIS direction!!

The final problem was dissatisfaction. The people wanted to be blessed, they wanted to receive more than they had put into the building of the Lord’s Temple. “’Think back. Before you set out to lay the first foundation stones for the rebuilding of my Temple, how did it go with you? Isn’t it true that your foot-dragging, halfhearted efforts at rebuilding the Temple of God were reflected in a sluggish, halfway return of your crops-half the grain you were used to getting, half the wine?” (Haggai 2:15-16 MSG). If we only give GOD half our heart, if we only give GOD half of our efforts, we’re not going to receive GOD's full blessings. HE’s ready to give us an abundance, but we have to prepare our hearts, we have to follow GOD’s path for us, all the way! We can't give GOD our hearts and attention half the time; don't just follow GOD on Sunday morning, and then here and there throughout the week, we need to give GOD our hearts 24/7. Remember we don’t earn GOD’s blessings, we are graced with GOD’s blessings, although the people had just started rebuilding the temple, and after only 3 months, when they had neglected GOD for 16 years; GOD still blessed them; “…But from this day I will bless you.’ “ (Haggai 2:19c NKJV). My Bible says this about this verse, “Make the work to which God has called you a priority in your life. When you establish that as a foundation in everyday living, you will see the Lord’s blessing begin to flow in and through your life.”

When we keep ourselves stirred up for GOD, we can bless and encourage others. When we keep ourselves stirred up for GOD by giving HIM all of our heart, all of our efforts, we become a channel that allows HIM to pour out HIS abundance of blessings into our lives. "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.  (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT)

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Warrior of GOD

I was inspired by several of the Psalms and Ephesian's armor of God for this, I think of it as a day in the life of a Believer...

I will praise the Lord at all times; I will sing songs of joy and love to the one who has saved me from myself
I will shout to the earth and tell of the great things HE has done for me; everyone must know of HIS greatness
When I pray to HIM, HE answers my prayers
If GOD is for me, then who can be against me
My GOD is my strong tower, my defender, my strength
My rock and my refuge
Storms may blow and waters may rise but with GOD by my side, I will fear no evil
Even though I walk through the shadow of death
Your righteous right hand preserves me
You prepare a table for me in front of my enemies
I am able to sit in your perfect peace and enjoy the feast
My cup runneth over because of your neverending love, abundant mercy and everlasting grace
I may fall down, but I will not stay down, I will continue the fight of faith
I will run this race with the strength of lions and renewed like eagles in flight
I will live for YOU o’GOD, let me be a living sacrifice
YOU are my purpose for living and my reward in dying
My armor withstands and defeats all evil
My belt of truth, keeps my heart right before you o’ GOD
My plate is of righteousness, as YOU have made me righteous by the blood of YOUR son
My shoes are walking to share the Good News and to stand on the solid rock, that I am fighting on
My shield is my faith, blocking and defending all the fiery attacks of the evil one
My helmet is my hope in salvation, knowing I am forever a child of GOD
My sword is the mighty Word of GOD, piercing and cutting through all enemy attacks
ALWAYS praying without ceasing, this is my constant battle cry!
The battle is raging on, whether seen or not seen, I will be prepared.
Lest I be caught off guard, without ALL of my armor, for the enemy wants all to be his prisoners while seeking to destroy!
I am a warrior of GOD!

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