Saturday, August 31, 2013

Grace In His Presence

The book of Esther is such a beautiful story that depicts the favor and grace of God. The king loved Esther, and he delighted in bestowing his favor and grace upon her. This all began after she was prepared and then taken to the king. He took one look at her beauty, poise and elegance, fell in love and chose her as queen in place of Vashti.

That story has many elements, but focus on the fact that Esther was taken into the presence of the king. In the New Testament we find that we don't have to be taken into the presence of God our King. He calls believers to come.

The awesome thing about this is that He already knows everything about you. He knows the good, bad and ugly, yet, He beseeches His children to come into His presence. Look at what the Bible says about this in Hebrews 4:15-16. "For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

This is powerful because, in spite of what you have done, God wants you to come into His presence. The enemy knows this and does everything he can to get you to run from God. Resist the urge to run. He wants you to come into His presence to receive mercy and find the perfect, well-timed help that you need. He wants you to experience His love, peace and blessings. He wants you to experience His grace, growth and glory; all which come from spending time in His presence.

The grace of God is a powerful thing. It is His unmerited favor. It is God's riches at Christ's expense. It is His power and equipment to get the job done. These are familiar concepts, but the revelation of them will never come until you daily, consistently and habitually spend time in His presence. You must spend time with God for it is in His presence that you will find the grace for these five things.

First, you will be enabled to forget the past. The past, if lingered upon has the ability to paralyze the strongest believer. So, whatever it is, forget that and press toward the high calling of God for your life (Philippians 3:13-14). Secondly, from spending time in the presence of the Lord, His grace will remind you that your fiery trials are not strange (1 Peter 4:12-13). You are not the only one going through. God is working some things in and out of you that can only be done through fire. Third, grace from His presence will cause you to remember that your faith under fire is working patience in you (James 1:2-3). Funny thing how faith under fire works endurance in you. Then, when in the fire, you learn to find reasons to rejoice! There is always, and I mean always, somebody whose fire is hotter than yours so, REJOICE (Philippians 4:4)! If you can just learn to find reasons to rejoice, you will find the grace from His presence to declare, "For we know that all things work together for the good" (Romans 8:28).

God wants you to find grace in His presence so He can give you revelation of His light, life and love. He want you to receive revelation that He is your loving, caring, sharing Heavenly Father who delights in giving you His kingdom. When you receive the revelation, His revelation, you will realize, recognize and know that the "good" in Romans 8:28 is referring to your character growth for the sake of His Kingdom growth (Romans 8:29).

Therefore, today, purpose to daily spend time in His presence. He is waiting for you there to refresh, revive and restore your soul. He is waiting for you there to pour out His grace and mercy. Yes, He is waiting for you there and remember, you don't have to be taken, just come.

Love, peace and blessing,

Dr. Sheila

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Familiar With The Familiar

After serving the Lord for some time, there are some verses in the Bible that become quite familiar. For instance, Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 23, John 3:16 and Romans 12:1-2 are verses in the Bible that most believers are aware of and can quote, but they have become so familiar, that they have lost the meaning and are not lived out.

One of the marks of a mature Christian is the ability to be able to read and or hear something multiple times and still hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying. In other words, no matter how many times you read the logos Word, you should have an ear to hear a rhema Word. This is important because if this principle is not put into practice, it opens the door for pride and a stagnation of growth.

Pride will read a verse like Romans 8:28-29 with a view of, "I know what it says." Yet, when the Spirit of the Lord comes in to bring revelation that person can't hear that God is not interested in bringing you good things. No, the "good" in that verse is a reference to character growth for kingdom advancement. Pride is never interested in character or kingdom because it feels it already has character for the kingdom.

At this point, you must do a self check and ask yourself, "Self, have I become familiar with the familiar?" When you ask the question, be careful not to answer too quickly. Pause, ponder and pay attention to your behavior patterns to see if you are really living out the truths in the Bible that you profess to be your basic instructions before leaving earth.

This self check is critical because every believer at some point in their life will have their faith tested or proven. This test is to prove that you really do believe what you say you believe. Look at what the Word says in Deuteronomy 8:2-3, "And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

Faith is tested and proven through trials. When money is low will you trust in Proverbs 3:5-6 or will you trust in your own resources? When you are offended will you obey Ephesians 4:32, or will you be mean, hard hearted and harbor unforgiveness, knowing that you have been forgiven? If you are single, will care about the things of the Lord and how you may please Him as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:32, or will you focus all your energies on being married?

These are important questions to ask, because if you do not allow your faith to be proven, you will become familiar with the familiar verses. This is a dangerous place to be because when you are familiar with the familiar, you cannot grow beyond what you are familiar with. In other words, you will never grow beyond what you know because you think you know all that you need to know. And that my friend, is pride.

Don't allow pride to keep you in its grip. When you spend time with God, ask Him to speak to your heart new and fresh revelation. Ask Him to help you grow in the grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that you do not get snared in the trap of becoming familiar with the familiar.

Love, peace and blessing,

Dr. Sheila

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The More Excellent Way

There are many lessons taught from the Bible that when they are heard, they are always relevant. Two of those lessons are offense and love. Offense because the Bible says in Luke 17:1 "...“ It is impossible that no offenses should come..." This is a fundamental teaching, yet believers struggle with overcoming offenses. The other, which is love, is always relevant because one of the ways to overcome offense is through love.

Today, let's look at this timeless message of love.

1 Corinthians 12:31 says, "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way." The "more excellent way" in this verse is love. It is love that overcomes offenses and enables us to live in such a way that God will always be glorified. It is love that is at the fiber of all sonship (mature, kingdom minded) relationships with the heart set upon pleasing the Father and fulfilling His kingdom purposes.

Since love is the more excellent way, first and foremost we must repent for not walking in love. Once that is done, it is clear that the mindset of "I love the Lord, but don't like the brethren," is false and needs to be corrected. A Christian cannot love the Lord and not like His children. This is an oxymoron. However, it presents the question of, "How then, do I love people I don't like?" It's simple. Pray!

Prayer does three things that will change your heart toward someone who has offended you or someone you don't like. First it will enable you to see them as God sees them. Second, it will impregnate you with His love for that person and finally, it will empower you to love like He loves. Prayer is the key to loving like God, but in order to pray, for this kind of love, the Father has to reveal His heart to you on this matter. You need, I need, we all need a revelation from the Father that love IS the more excellent way!

Since love is the more excellent way, let me leave you with what the Word says about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. Here it is in the Amplified Bible.

Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing. Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self- seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].

Meditate on these verses this week, paying close attention to what love does and doesn't do. Ask the Father to give you the revelation so that you can love like He loves. Then, you will be a living epistle of His love, showing everyone that love IS the more excellent way.

Love, peace and blessing,

Dr. Sheila