Same Old Way

Same Old Way

Psalm 18:30 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Oh how I hate stains. They are my arch nemesis. It’s funny that the older I get the more like my grandmother I become. She was a nurse back when the profession wore bright white uniforms – spotless and starched. She never used bleach yet her uniforms meticulous. She always hung out her clothes and rarely used her clothes dryer. She believed the harsh chemicals and high heat were not good for fabric. I have taken to some of her ways. So when our little grandson stained his onesie with baby food with blueberry and blackberry, I was in a frenzy to get the purple spot out. After a quick treatment and run through the wash still showed a faint mark where the bright colored stain once was – it was time for stronger measures. I tried everything I could think of while in the back of my mind I was telling myself it is probably less than $5.00 to replace it but now it was the point. Standing over the sink, surrounded by modern day cleaning solutions, and staring at my ominous opponent, I remembered my mission trip to Africa. I brought a white skirt and it was soiled in the orange clay indigenous to the area. The ladies who did the missionary’s laundry had my stained garment laying over a rock in the sun while hanging the rest on the line to dry. Applying some baking soda and a bit of lemon juice to the blemished apparel, it was now laying out allowing the sun to finish the work. The skirt was spotless by the end of the day. I tried it on the onesie minus the sun and the spot disappeared. Oh glorious day!

This God – His Way is perfect! Too many times – God’s Instructions for life are disregarded as out-of-date, old-fashioned, and impossible in this world of settlements and substitutions called compromise. We disregard the lessons that seem simple for the much more elaborate plans of society forgetting that normal will change with each turn of the calendar page. God is sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. But that’s not all – He is filled with unfailing love, unending grace, overwhelming thoughts, and forever patient with us. With all this in mind, before our first breath turned into a cry, the Lord predestined us with potential and purpose carefully handwriting the details forming His Plan. (Psalm 139) As I sit here pondering how simple removing the stain and achieving victory was a few moments ago, I cannot help but consider the missed opportunities caused by choosing another way rather than trusting and believing that He is the way! God’s Way is perfect!

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (ESV) For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Is this the declaration of your life today? Is it the dedication and determination of your life? To declare it is just words but when it becomes our dedication and determination which turns into discipline everything changes. Our declaration turns into the prophetic voice that leads us to destiny. To ascribe greatness to God and never move from this season or exceed your current condition is evidence that though your voice says that God is great – your heart, mind and soul are yet to agree. When our soul prospers so does the rest of our life. It is a natural reaction to the supernatural response of those who choose faith and trust to back up their words. God is the immovable rock which is good news for us. We will never have to wander to find Him or wonder if He will be faithful. The Truth is His Word. The Word is His Son. Jesus always leads us from grace to grace and victory to victory.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. Both of these characters will always produce new life. Choosing God’s Way is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was the Word. When He came to the earth as a man, the man obeyed the Word set forth flawlessly. Since sin had separated mankind from God, Jesus died to allow us to enter the Presence of God and become His Children. The Word did not change in order to accommodate our sin but paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God doesn’t change so it is up to us to align our life with God’s Word. I cannot have a fully functioning and flourishing life as a believer outside of obedience to God’s Way. His Word. Jesus.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Could it be that the Lord is calling us to be the “repairer of the breach” or “restore of streets to dwell in”. It is not our mission or the great commission to save the world. God’s Heart and Mind is set on His People. To prepare the way of the return of the Lord to bring us all together as His Kingdom. The unity and harmony called Kingdom starts with agreement to terms. The terms and conditions of our life do not change. God has set them forth in His Word. The Word is a guide to success and prosperity as a direct result of salvation. Obedience is the only requirement. It is our choice thanks to freedom. It is silly to get mad when others are blessed or prospering when it is an opportunity in our life as well. The terms of God’s Word are non-negotiable or He would be like any other man who could lie or change his mind. God is perfect in ALL of His Ways.

I cannot help but examine my heart today for obedience in all things. I must continue to study God’s Word, apply it first to my heart and make it my lifestyle. It is in such agreement that the Power of God who is Christ in me is released to change the atmosphere. I believe that it is his message to us today that it will be simple repentance and obedience to His Word that will cause the radical revival that the modern day church is desperate for. It begins in me. I am the rebuilder. I am the restorer of the breach. I must simply rely on the Rock who is my refuge and Jesus (the Word) who is the foundation of my faith.

Psalm 118:21-13 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

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Get It Together

Get It Together

Romans 12:3-5 (ESV)  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

One body. One Spirit. One church. Oh, so many members. The human body has many components that somehow can figure out how to work together in one fluid movement. Our brain tells our organs how to function, our limbs to work in unison, and somehow there is a coordinated effort it all work together. A handicap is when there is a component of the body not properly functioning according to its original design. The word “handicap” means a disadvantage. It makes success more difficult. It is considered a disability or burden to the bearer. It creates a challenge to the proper function of that which it impairs. To some this word is considered offensive. I mean nothing of the sort. Our body was designed by God to function a certain way. Sin introduced certain disadvantages that Christ has overcome. The Body of Christ suffers certain handicaps that the Spirit works in us to overcome. I am encouraged today that I serve the Living God who gives resurrection power and life to all His People.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Everything created by God works in the realm of relationships. Even our bodies were designed with many members and one brain that works together. Right down to cellular regeneration within us, everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of our natural bodies. When a part of the body is not fully functioning, it may be considered disabled or handicapped. If our immune system is not successful in overcoming an attack, our body becomes sick or infirmed. If an organ ceases to function, life is compromised by the adverse condition. This is all in the natural AND spiritual realm of relationships. Our body’s ability to coordinate all its members into a fully functioning operation is what perpetuates and propels us through life. We are not only a physical body but a member of the Body of Christ.

Within our participation as a Child of God, believer and even Christian – we are part of a body. We have a purpose and place within the Body of Christ meant specifically for us. I have five children. Two boys and three girls. Each one has a special place in my heart and in our family design. It would be ridiculous to think that if something happened to one of them that it would be okay because we have four other children. There is no such thing as collateral damage in a household. If a family member passes, they will be missed. It will create a void. It should be so in the Body of Christ. He is a Good Shepherd. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. We must learn to place value and worth on the Body of Christ that we belong to. It is vital to our successful prosperity in life. To be a fully functioning member produces the promises of God not only in our life but for those around us in relationship with us, too.

The early church came together. They became a body. A functioning unit that added to the Kingdom daily. They spent every day in close fellowship with one another. None too busy or self-involved, these believers experienced miracles, signs and wonders as God’s Power flowed through them. His Breath is life to us. When we breathe together, it becomes a source of power. God loves unity. Harmony is precious anointing that He is ready to pour out over the Body of Christ. Are we ready to receive it?

Romans 12:9-13 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

In Romans 12, the believer is encouraged to become a living sacrifice. To live a holy and acceptable life that promotes a fully functioning body. It is called worship. We must not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Hence the war of self begins. It is human nature to survive. Yet, we are called to thrive. No one will prosper if they are not willing to invest. There is no return where there is no investment. It’s Biblical for a man cannot reap what he has not sown. With this in mind, to become a living sacrifice means something must be fully surrendered. To say, I surrender all means nothing if not accompanied by change. Sacrifice is not generally a comfortable effort but completely worthwhile endeavor.

I am led a ladies small group the other night. I am challenged to do so. Women are tough when it comes to relationships. I should know… I am one. However, I know that God desires us all to maintain healthy, loving and trusting relationships with those around us. We struggle because of past experiences. Trust forsaken is tough to recover. Yet we must find a way to overcome our differences, and forge strong bonds together to see the Body of Christ become healthy again. To see a Body fit for our soon and coming King!

Let love be genuine.

I Corinthians 13 lays out the guidelines of God-like love and commitment that characterizes genuine. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. This is genuine love. This is the love that God places in us and is the kind of love that He wants us to have for others. Lord, let my love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We must flee from evil. Do not entertain it. Our minds are like sponges the things we permit to remain will assert dominance in us. You cannot love God and love sin at the same time. There is no meeting of the minds when it comes to the Goodness of God and every kind of evil. We must learn from God’s Word what He defines as the sin that defiles us and permit the Holy Spirit to change our mind from loving sin to loving God more than sin. This is how we combat evil in us. Our flesh wants to live. It wages war against the Spirit. There will be no unity in the Body of Christ if each member seeks its own way and allows sin to have dominance in their life. The word “abhor” is a strong verb. It means to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion. To detest and loathe something. Sin is rampant in our world. Violence at an all time high. Love has grown cold and there is complete disregard for others. Lord, show me the sin and evil in me and around me. Teach me to abhor it as much as you do!

Hold fast to what is good.

God is good. He is always good. No matter what is happening around you He is still good and His Goodness is for you. It doesn’t matter your present conditions or situation. God is still good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are pursuing you. On those days when nothing is going right, Lord I challenge me to still sing, “You are good!”

Love one another with true affection.

We are all members of one body. Mic drop. The first commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. The only other one is to love others. Loving one another is non-negotiable. By choosing to remain offended and unforgiving, we are the ones who are limited. Love is expendable and thereby expands into full satisfaction and inexpressible joy, not in its reproduction or reciprocation, but as the Lord fills more and more of our heart with His Love.

Outdo one another showing honor.

Comparison is a joy killer. I need my right and left hand equally to type these words to you each day. My left and right hand are both appendages but they do not fight for superiority. They were created with a job to do and they do it seemingly unaware of the other hand doing essentially the exact same thing. The Word of God tells us who we are in Jesus Christ and promises to make us a new creation in our abiding relationship with Him. My purpose and promises are not your purposes and promises – this is not a competition for the Father’s Love. We care brothers and sisters in Christ with an equal proportioned inheritance. It already belongs to us. There is nothing to do but remain in a righteous relationship through Jesus to secure it. Lord, help me to look for my value and worth in Your Word. There is no competition. Hands down! I have victory in You!

Do not be slothful in zeal.

Praise the Lord! No seriously! We have to live in a constant state of praise and worship to maintain life in His Presence. It creates enthusiasm in our spirit person when the Holy Spirit responds to the close proximity of God. The Lord inhabits the praise of His People. Get excited. Stir up the Gift of God within you. You have every reason to celebrate even on your worst day knowing that all things work together for your good!

Be fervent in Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. Resurrection power and life live in you. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Teacher. Mentor. Guide for life. Utilize this power gift imparted to you by God through His Son – Jesus.

Serve the Lord.

Wow! This fell so far down the list. Love. Be loved. Finally, we come to service. Serving God must be precipitated by a deep and abiding relationship of love for Him and other people. We owe no man anything but love. To serve God we must be lovers.

Rejoice in hope.

The hope that has been given to us never leads to disappointment.

Be patient in tribulation.

Tests and trials are temporary. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. If I break a toe, I am not likely to cut it off.

Be constant in prayer.

Communication with God is essential to maintain a right relationship with Him.

Contribute to the needs of others.

The blessings in my life are not just for me. God provides seed to the sower. He gives to us in the name of generosity so we can pour it out on others. The Body of Christ needs each member to become united. To live looking after one another so the Body will thrive again. The fractured, dysfunctional unit presented to the world today does not offer anything any different than another group of people. Where is the power? Where is the difference? What happened to the Light? Why aren’t we salty anymore? Could it be that rather than considering God and His Purpose to love others – that we have become lost in ourselves?

Seek to show hospitality.

Church of the Living God and Members of the Body of Jesus Christ, I am challenged today. I am moved in my heart and soul that we need to get it together. God has set forth characteristics for Christian believers. One thing is clear. It is not about me. Or you for that matter… It is all about Jesus. His Body is hurting, broken and fragmented. I can do nothing other than be sure that my “member” is ready. I must examine my own heart. I must allow the Holy Spirit to change my mind. I must remove myself from the throne of self and put Jesus back in His Rightful Place. The early church was exciting. Charismatic. There were signs, wonders and miracles. Life was a party in the midst of terrible tribulation. They were murdered for believing back then yet risked it all to be together as one. What will you give up to assemble the Body of Christ again? What am I willing to sacrifice for unity? We have to get this together before Jesus comes for us. We must put aside our differences and find commonality and community in Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Together in Common

Together in Common

Acts 2:44 (NIV) All the believers were together and had everything in common.

Last night was Halloween, we live in a neighborhood that is quite popular with families and trick-or-treaters. Since our children are mostly grown, no one was dressing up instead choosing to decorate pumpkins and pass our candy to the army of little superheroes, monsters and the like. The first text message came from my oldest just before lunch to let me know that she had invited a friend over to be the candy police. No problem. As the day went on a text message here and a call there turned into a pop-up party at our house. I was cooking dinner as everyone began to arrive and hungry children filled my kitchen. By the time the parents had gathered, my supplies had run out so we ordered a pizza. The girls greeted the treat seekers while older siblings accompanied the younger ones around the neighborhood. There was food, laughter, and fellowship and as I fell into my bed thoroughly exhausted from the day – I couldn’t help but smile. This is community. This is what God wanted and He was happy. Even on a day heavily debated by many Christians – good had overcome evil.

This is not to debate the participation of Christians in the fall season festivities. God looks at our heart and judges us accordingly with His Love and Immeasurable Grace. The gathering of believers in our home was not about celebrating the darkness or any sort of evil. In fact, it was about coming together as a community. That’s right a community. God loves community. He loves fellowship. A community may be the social group in which we operate, the local of our residence, and a shared government. It can also be an occupational group. The “ecclesiastical” definition of community is a group who shares common interest. Our common bond is Jesus Christ. He brings us together and reconciles us to Himself so that we can identify with each other.

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The group who gathered in our home last night all attend church together. Sitting on the front porch, the mamas helped me with a tutu for homecoming week sprung on me by my teen who was out in the neighborhood with the others. Everyone talking, laughing and commenting on the princesses and ninjas on our doorstep. As the night progress and people cleared the streets, we moved inside out of the cold. Our home is not an open floor plan so I often hesitate to invite people over because it doesn’t seem to flow. By the end of the night, there were about a dozen people with an oversized dog all together and it seemed to work out just fine. Laughter filled the air. Everyone enjoying one another – I just cannot help but think the Lord is showing me the value and worth of putting aside our insecurities about where we live, what we have to offer and our opinions on certain subjects long enough to do community. To be a community. To share life in Christ together. Maybe this would end dumb arguments and stupid separation caused by misunderstandings and isolation – we would know each other’s heart and the love to be found there. Did you notice that in the coming together of believers that “the Lord added to their number daily who were being saved”? I wonder if the community called church has lost its ability to come together and have fun. Have we lost the concept of the “more the merrier”? What if we decided to come together and be one? Imagine the possibilities?

In verse 47, there are two key words – together and common. Together means in one gathering, a company, mass, place or body, union and in relationship. Relationship pleases God. It is the whole reason He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us so that our relationship with Him could return to right standing. The Love of God invested in us pays a dividend when it is released from us. It is the harvest that blesses the Kingdom and our Father. The word in “common” has meaning too. The division of believers is a difference never set forth by God. The common bond is Jesus Christ. We are to reconcile our life to Him which incorporates and infuses a love that binds and never restricts. Common means belonging equally to, shared a like by, joint, united, widespread and frequent occurrence. Together in common is the community facilitated by the Love of God through Jesus Christ that should be the practice of the modern day church according to the Word of God it will produce the salvation in many and result in an expansion of the church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let us consider…think carefully about as to make a decision, contemplate and reflect. The church of Jesus Christ wants to build the Kingdom. I think we lose our focus on how to do that by trying to perfect the people rather than concentrating on loving each other. Community in Christ is all about Jesus. Jesus. That’s all. As we come together to encourage each other and build each other up – His Spirit moves in us. Conviction and conversion by His Spirit is way more effective than our personal opinion or religion. I am not entirely convinced any of us have it all right but Jesus is my righteousness. Yoked to Him, I can give myself to relationship and community freely because He is my expectation.

Before you post on social media, think about this. Is it kind, necessary and true? Does it bring together or tear apart? Before you hit send on that text, is it kind, necessary and true? Am I sharing the love and grace of Jesus or getting my point across? Before you hesitate to join together with others (not only believers) but the sharing of your life with others, remember Jesus is all you need to be a good host or hostess. He has provided all you need to meet together, fellowship and enjoy the company of others. Use every opportunity to have a pop-up party – I am a type A personality kind of planner. I begin the process months in advance. To have an impromptu gathering is outside of my comfort zone, but it is exactly the kind of ministry I am called to. I wonder if we consider our attitude and actions in each invitation or interaction with the community according to Christ what might happen in the church of the Living God.

Finally, I am to be a Light in this world. Like a city on a hill drawing others to Christ, those drawn to the Light will do so in love and their message will be heard by soft hearts safely in a relationship. We must learn to consider our community and incorporate it in our life. We should spur others to love not offense. Just because you interpret God’s Word one way does not mean others will do the same and it doesn’t mean that you are always right. The only thing that you can’t go wrong with is unconditional love and overflowing grace – the qualities of Jesus Christ – the example for the church. Religions dictates our life. Relationship decides to love with our life. Each person lives by a standard. Ultimately, Christ is our standard. We make the choice each day. We are called to build a Kingdom. We are mandated to encourage one another. The Body of Christ is broken and maybe if we consider community first – it will come together as one.

Romans 12:3-5 (NIV)  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

 

Power of Agreement

Power of Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

How many churches have you attended in your lifetime? Can you count the number of places you have attended? I posted something on social media. A friend liked the post. Another friend inquired how the person knew me. We had attended church together many years ago. I have had this happen more than a few times. I do it myself. I have a high school friend who teaches another friend’s children. The Body of Christ is to be just that a living, breathing, working, communicating complete unit. It seems like just when a ministry is growing and strengthening into a fully functioning body something happens and it falls apart. It is time to out the enemy and his assault against unity to become the Body of Christ – a strong source to be reckoned with in the world today.

After years of tearing apart Christians, how ironic that Paul would give the rest of his life after coming to Jesus Christ to rebuild the ruins of wreckage left behind. In an almost pleading fashion, He says, “If there is any consolation (comfort, solace) in Christ…if there is any comfort in His Love…if there is any fellowship in His Spirit…if there is any affection or mercy for one another…fulfill my joy…do it for me if no one else…be like-minded…have the same love…be of one accord…be of one mind.” (paraphrased) The tone reminds me of trying to deal with our teenagers. We teach, instruct, discipline, and finally exasperated in effort plead with them.

It’s funny how families work together. Dysfunction is a key trait in families. Our children fuss, fight, pick and disagree on just about everything UNTIL someone dares mess with a sibling. Suddenly there is complete agreement that that person is about to get hurt as they rally together. The church isn’t much different. Rather than walking in love and commitment together, it only happens in the midst of opposition or tragedy. God desires unity in the Body of Christ. He purposed it for us. Jesus even prayed for us to be one. The Holy Spirit identifies us as one family. How do we overcome the natural sense of family to become one as God’s Family? To stop fussing and fighting all the time and begin to function as Christ intended. It may be harder than you think.

Genesis 11:4-6 (NKJV) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 

After the flood, Noah and his family replenished the people of the earth. The whole earth had one language and one speech. Unity. They decided to build a tower all the way to heaven. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Self-preservation and pride decided to make a “name” for itself. The Lord came down to see the city and tower. Immediately, He interrupted the building of such idolatry by confusing their language and ability to communicate ending the unity and stopping their downfall. I wonder sometimes if church communities built on the wrong foundation fall apart for the same reason. False prophets who create a community built on foundations other than faith in God’s Word and an introduction to Jesus Christ.

The point of opportunity in this passage and promise rising from another’s misguidance is that when people become one “nothing they propose will be withheld from them”. The power of agreement works naturally and spiritually. Natural agreement produces favorable results in the world. Supernatural agreement builds a Kingdom. It creates a living, breathing body that will become the Bride who Christ is coming for. We have a long way to go!

Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The early church set the precedent of fellowship. Thinking of fellowship today, I smell fried chicken and a desert table piled high on a special day at church. In the South, there is homecoming or maybe it’s a “Friends and Family Day” to invite or entice new members. This is not the concept set forth in the New Testament. The church broke bread together and prayed together daily. Every day. Not Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Not small groups. Not via texting. No, every single day. The word “fellowship” or koinonia means sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society or contributory help. Every member was a valuable asset to the group. They sold all their possessions and goods dividing up the proceeds evenly among everyone and giving to those in need. They lived in one accord. The early followers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit literally devoted their whole life to unity with God and each other.

John 17:20-21 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

This was the prayer of Jesus Christ for all of us just before going to the Cross. He desired that those who will believe in Him through the message of the disciples and apostles “that they all may be one” like Jesus and God are one. To abide in love and fellowship together in one accord. One heart. One mind. One body. How are we doing?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I wonder if the Lord allows confusion and discord to set in to the church so it doesn’t become built of pride and self-preservation. Is it possible that it is the heart of His People causing the issue and not the enemy to blame? Pride is a human trait overcome by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the spiritual fruit that feeds our soul. As our soul prospers, it overflows those same gifts and characteristics into our natural life. We must live lowly and gently lives. Patient. Bearing one another with love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit who binds us together in peace. There is one body. There is one Spirit. In 2016, there were estimated to be over 300,000 Christian churches in America. Where is the impact and influence of such mass numbers?

We have been called together in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in us all. We must work on the Body before we take on the world. What is lacking?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us united with Christ in full fellowship together according to His Spirit. It is not about building new buildings and erecting new walls – physically, structurally, emotionally, congregationally, or corporately. It is about tearing down every barrier between us and God and everyone else. God doesn’t desire one person over another. Our God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all. His Love is for us all. His Kingdom has a place for us all. His Body has a function specifically for us and no one else. We cannot fulfill our purpose without the other members of the Body no more than my hand can function apart from my arm if detached from my body. We must learn to live in fellowship. We must figure out how it all works. We must strive to live in harmony and unity with all mankind. It is the Will of God for us and the Way to the Father’s Heart. It is to achieve the Mind of Christ.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

 

 

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Mama always used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…” I completely agree. Our words hold power and should be released thoughtfully and completely filtered despite my fourteen-year-old who insists that people need to know the truth. I concur. People do need to know the truth. Who am I to give it to them? Do I really know the truth about life, love and happiness? Contentment, peace or joy? I used to tell people that I wished I could break open my heart and let people see the real Jesus who lives inside. Who He is? The Living God who I have experienced. They would have to love Him, too. Well, as I sit here this morning, I still hope that I can share Jesus with others. Tell them of His Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in a believable and acceptable way. However, I can feel the little sting of those words running through the broken pieces of my heart. The hard places of pride and stubbornness now rubble in the Hands of God as He gently and lovingly molds and shapes them into the kind of heart He desires. The tiny shelter where His Glory resides. Did I ask the Lord to break my heart? No, I just invited Jesus into it. Just like old wineskins will burst when filled with new wine, my heart in its previous condition could not contain the fullness that the Lord had for me. He had to make room for His Presence to fill me. I have to be broken for it to come spilling out.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We have the Light of His Love shining inside our hearts. The Presence of God, His Spirit lives in us. He came by invitation but is He truly an honored guest. A question for another day, I guess. I think that the error in our way as believers is the through that the holy inhabitation of God in us is another layer to the armor in our life when it is not like that at all. Yes, we have the full armor of God available to us but it requires leaving the old armor behind. Who can stand in fight in such a condition? The Great Power of God living in us must find its way out of us for the Glory of God to ignite a revival that will wrap around the world.

Exodus 34:29-32 (NLT) When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

One person. Moses. Though His Children were all around Mount Sinai, only one person dared go into the Presence of God. Moses remained their fasting and communing with the Lord for forty days and nights. When he came down, in his arms were the Ten Commandments, and on his face was a tangible radiance so bright that the people were afraid. In Exodus 40, these tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant and hidden behind a heavy curtain or veil in the Tabernacle. No one could come in contact with the Ark except the high priest after undergoing proper repentance and cleansing. The Ark of the Covenant represented the embodiment of God’s Presence among the people. The atonement cover or mercy seat – God’s Throne. (2 Samuel 6:2) God’s Presence was above it. (Leviticus 16:2) If a person approached the Ark, it was entrance into God’s Presence. Sin is consumed in the Presence of God so those who attempted entrance without proper remission of sin would die. Sin prohibits life. (Psalm 5:4-6) In Numbers 11:16-17, it tells us that God administered His Spirit to people individually according to His Will and Purpose for them. It all started with one person. Moses was the only one willing to go into God’s Presence and he came out changed.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

I promise this history lesson is almost over. It is vitally important in our understanding and utilization of God’s Power and Presence in us. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, God identified Him as His Son and placed His Spirit in Him. The Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove. Now the Son of God is crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is an acceptable sacrifice and so now God releases His Presence (His Spirit) to all mankind. The first thing the Spirit does is rip the curtain from top to bottom so that God’s Presence is available to us all. The Spirit didn’t stop there but then began breathing life into all the dead. Resurrection power released in a moment that immediately perpetuated life.

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT) On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Here we go! Wee! This is where the Pentecostals start shouting, Baptists are cringing and Catholics are like “what in the world”. For just a few moments, take your doctrine in one hand and the nametag of your church in the other – put them aside. Just listen… The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. He is the identifier of those who believe. He is the guarantee of all God’s Promises. You cannot experience Christ and not encounter the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that every person will manifest these gifts the same way nor does it mean that we have to. Religion demands the context of doctrine not God. The Presence of God is not some performance or show. It is not defined by certain procedures. Jesus did away with every condition. His Grace is enough to access God’s Presence without my ability to do a single thing.

Now then…moving on.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:1, “on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Hmm… Believers meeting together in one place. What did they believe? They believed in Jesus Christ. (period) Agreement. Unity. Harmony. Nothing is more pleasing to the Lord. These believers had been through the ringer. They were hiding because the “church” wanted to kill the idea of a risen Savior and missed Messiah by murdering the people. They were praying for their very lives. God’s Presence with all the Power and Majesty of Heaven descended on that place. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues or any other spiritual gift. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Now that everyone here is looking at Jesus Christ. In His Presence, the first manifestation of His Spirit is to love each other. Care for one another. Create a community of communion with God and each other. (period) Signs and wonders are birthed in this connection of believes as they agree and meet together in “one place”. Speaking in tongues is for our own gratification. It is a prayer language. I do very much believe in it but I do not believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or live in the Presence of God. What I do believe is that the Glory of God available to us in His Presence has been put behind a curtain and covered in clothes because we fail the first test – to love others like Jesus loves us.

We can share the Gospel, preach the Word of God, and even demonstrate every gift eluded to in the Bible, but the absence of love. Self-sacrificing and pride-killing kind of love that puts everyone else before our need to have, do, or be right. We all have the Presence of the Living God inside of us. He is waiting to be pressed down, shaken together and run over every blessing that He has in store for us. However, if we choose not to let God break our heart enough to love others and care for each as a community of believers – the Word will fall on deaf ears like water on a rock.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22) We do not have the privilege of defining what love really is – it is clearly stated in God’s Word. I Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us all the qualities of true love. Patient, kind, no jealous, boastful or proud, giving and forgiving. It never loses faith or hope. It does not give up. It endures all circumstances. It goes so far as to comment in verse 8 that “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) I wonder if the Glory of God is not producing revival because the church does not know how to love? I am concerned that His Presence is somehow stifled by our routine and religion hindered by a lack of real relationships among believers including me…

If the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The only thing that lasts forever according to God is His Love. Love remains when all else fails. It is the glue that holds together the believers as one to make the body of Christ who will be His Bride. To cry out for revival is to ask God to show us how to love. Love will break your heart every time. It will crush rebellious spirits as two become one. With the new covenant, there should be boldness and confidence that is not demonstrated in most churches today. (Verse 8) If the Word is not watered down, it is hidden behind a wall of religious values and doctrine that no one really can endure. Grace removed the sin that kept me from Jesus. Who am I to place a condition on a love so freely given? Who am I to condemn others when Jesus refused to do it? Who am I to withhold my life from anyone else when it is no longer mine at all? Who am I? I am a Child of God. I am filled with His Spirt. His Spirit is the very essence of resurrection power and life that will spark the next revival. The same spirit that lives in me as a believer lives in you. We all must be broken of our prideful, stubborn and selfish ways to let His Glory escape from us and become the radiance in our life that attracts others.

Let me ask you something. Are you frustrated in your walk with the Lord today? Are you disappointed because your ordinary life is not the extraordinary promise you thought He would make it? Has the monotony of your walk and the mundane existence got you thinking that there has to be more to life than this? Friend, sin stole the glorious standard of living from us but Jesus gave it back and more. He promises us a rich and satisfying life. Love produces that life. Plain and simple. The kind of love that builds up community and bonds together people. Religion points out differences. Relationships overcome them. God’s Glory is available to all of us. In fact, it dwells within us. It radiates from our life in our ability to love unconditionally. It’s time to remove the veil and let the Love of God shine through us again. Busting through doubt, fear and insecurity to put our life out there like a city on a hill again. You were meant to be the Light. It begins with love and ends the same way. Let God out of the box today. Take the next step in putting yourself out there. Stop hiding behind the curtain. There is nothing there anymore. His Spirit is alive and well in you! It’s our time to shine! For His Glory…

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

 

Build a Fence – A Devotion

I Corinthians 1:7-10 (NLT)

Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

 

Our family has contemplated building a fence around the backyard for many years. Each year carefully laying out the boundaries of our property and considering enclosing the area for personal use. With many factors to consider, the fence project has never really gotten off the ground. This year looks like it may be the year. With many benefits, a fence establishes what is yours. It is binding as long as one is careful to determine the property lines around one’s home appropriately and build upon this principle. A fence keeps those things out that are unwanted for the most part and adds protection of what is yours. It also is effective in keeping something inside which is also a good thing. Children and pets are aware of the borders by the fence that guards them keeping them safely inside. It also keeps them from wandering off into the unknown. There are a variety of fences to choose from with various styles and sizes. We all must choose the one right for us. We opted for a family vote. Everyone decided to surround our backyard with a lovely scalloped privacy fence as our home borders a road and is directly across from a bustling elementary school. The children specifically decided against a chain link fence due to the possibility that animals such as snakes could slither inside through the intentional openings. We decided that access would be limited to one way in and out as multiple gates would be unnecessary. Soon workmen will come to our home and begin to dig deep holes to establish the posts to hold tight the sections of fence to be attached. They will pour concrete into these holes to make their foundation strong. Then after allowing it to set and become strong, they will begin the task of affixing the planks together to form the fence that we desire. It is a lengthy and tedious process. It has a cost. But in the end, we will have the satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from establishing boundaries and fortifying our home. God has established His Church for much the same purpose. Through unity, the Body of Jesus Christ has the ability to make a connection to one another and build a strong line of defense against the enemy’s distractions and dangers along the way. It will keep the babies in Christ in and the devil out. Through accountability and love, it will strengthen believers and make them effective. The Church needs to build a fence.

 

Paul identified division in the early church. God had equipped these new believers with every spiritual gift needed to live successful Christian lives and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the enemy had gone to work to destroy men and women of faith. Satan had invaded the territory known as the Church and was wrecking havoc. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Paul lovingly encouraged these people to live in harmony without division in the church. They were to be of one mind united in thought and purpose. This can be very difficult. Unless you are a family of one, you may have already experienced the challenges associate with family life and group living. The more the merrier is all good until it is time to make a serious decision. Truthfully, choosing where to eat collectively is a challenge for our family. However, it is essential that the Body of Jesus Christ embrace the concept of harmonious living and unity to live successful Christian lives. It is the best line of defense against the enemy of your soul. There is a price to be paid in community living. The early church in Acts (Acts 2:42-47) gave up all that was theirs to share a life and form a community of believers together glorifying God and sharing the Good News of Jesus.

 

Colossians 3:14-15 (NLT)

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 

It is time for the body of Christ to build a fence. Establish boundaries for a holy life separated from the darkness of this world in the Light of the Love of Jesus Christ. The purpose is not to keep others out necessarily but by limiting access to one way – Jesus – all who enter will be introduced to their Savior and given the opportunity to enter the community of the Kingdom of God. No productive fence has ever been constructed of just one panel or section but it is the unification of several sections to strong posts in a firm foundation that is effective. Our foundation is the Word of God. Spiritual leaders are those who join us in faith through our partnership in relationship that includes the local church body. Through relationships built upon the foundation of God’s Word and connected in love, a great line of defense is formed against the enemy of your soul. Many people have given up on “organized” religion, and so have I. But I have not given up on relationships because they are Biblically founded and if some of those develop in church that is awesome. We are like-minded people united in purpose and as the Body of Christ unites in love and harmony peace rises from within. We are called to live in peace. Lives clothed in love are easily bound to one another because they are not self-seeking. Let our community be the one of faith in Jesus. Let Him be our purpose. It is high time that believers sought to protect their relationship with the Lord and each other with the same fervency to protect what is ours. Everything we own in this world will one day be abandoned. However, those we unite with in love and join together in Jesus Name will pass through the pearly gates and meet the Lord together.

 

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT)

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.  So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

We must all work diligently to build a fence of relationships to unite the body of Christ. Churches do not need to be strengthened but THE Church does. God desires all His Children to be bonded together in the midst of giant relationship united together, loving each other and caring for one another. If you build your own life in goodness, peace and joy allowing God’s Spirit to knit your life with that of other believers – you will please God. Your boundaries will be set in the foundation of His Word, His Love will run right through it and you will be stronger. Build each other up. Unite with a local body of believers whose mission is to link up with the Body of Christ. Jesus is the only way. He is your access point. Seek to build a fence of righteous relationships in your life today!

Start Talking – A Devotion

I Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV) …pray without ceasing…

 

Three simple words can change everything in an instant. Prayer has often been interpreted as some religious posture filled with impressive words and boring liturgies. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not speak “Old King James.” God speaks to you in your language. He uses words that you will comprehend. How does such a magnificent intellectual hierarchy come down to such a common creation and relate on their terms? You were made in the image of God. His Spirit lives within you and translates God’s secrets into words, explanations and directives that you can comprehend. It seems ludicrous that we have to make time to pray. Prayer is simply talking to God. With the number of words the average human being of around ten thousand, it would seem that talking does not come as much of a problem. While talking does not seem to be the problem, communication is.

The enemy of our soul has made an impressive attempt to alter effective communication between people. Community has been replaced with individuals. Neighborhoods have become rows of houses. Friends are now a number on Facebook. Families are commonly positioned in multiple households with multiple parents. People no longer talk to each other and even more rarely to God. Texting has replaced a telephone call. It is quick and efficient at getting the message across with limited interaction making it comfortable. However, many sentiments have been lost in translation as one cannot express their true feelings in neatly typed words. Seldom are cell phones used for initiating conversation but simply getting our message across. Email is another culprit that has severed communication lines. Not to say that both of these methods cannot be used effectively but when they become a substitute for human interaction and a barrier between people’s involvement in one another’s lives, there is a problem. When people begin talking there is a connection. When people stop talking, community begins to break down. God’s intent for His People was to be a community and a very involved one at that.

Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV)

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 

God desires the Body of Christ to be together and grow. It is not exclusive but inclusive drawing as many as will come. The early church in Acts 2 did everything together and became a strong community. The Lord added to this church daily. It was thriving and growing not into a mega church but a mega community. Each family intertwining with other families developing a strong network that released the Favor of God, they all had Jesus in common and lived according to His Word. God has called us to pray without ceasing but if we are not communicating with each other than how can we pray effectively. Communication comes in many forms as does prayer. Not all communication is projected words just as all prayer should not be silent dissertations. The main avoidance of involvement with others is the messiness of life. We are so busy struggling to survive ourselves how can we take on the burdens of others. The truth is you are not to take on the burdens of others but pass them on. When someone lays out all the gory details of their life and misfortunes, it is a prime opportunity to pray. However, in a world where community has all but disappeared, we are more comfortable with the three words “praying for you” than the words “praying without ceasing.” Prayer without ceasing begins right there on the spot. It is bringing God into their problem at that very moment. Maybe we can cut out time by saying, “Let’s pray” instead of isolating the matter with “I will pray.” The person who is burdened does not need your encouragement, they need God’s intervention. Why put them off?

The most commonly ignored form of communication is listening. People do not listen to each other and they do not listen for the voice of God. Maybe it is because they feel as though no one is listening or even worse cares about them including God. Such isolation is devastating to human beings who were created to be relational. God is listening and He wants to communicate with you and through you to others. Prayer is as much about listening to God as talking with God. All communication takes time, the one thing we don’t think we have enough of. Yet prayer can be a part of everything that you have committed your time to including using words, texting, emailing, Facebooking, tweeting, in your car, on the phone, at work, at home, with your spouse, kids, friends, neighbors, strangers. Every single aspect of your life can include communication with God. There are a multitude of opportunities to spread the Love of God through communication with the Father and it is your choice to pray without ceasing. Every person makes the decision how to use their time. No one can take it from you. You give it away. If your desire is to pray without ceasing, then it is your choice and responsibility to do so.

James 5:13-16 (NKJV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  

We need to pray. Not to end a conversation but to begin one…a big one between God and His People. There are many suffering today. Not only around the world that is churning in turmoil and tragedy but living in the house next to you. There are many sick among us. There are multitudes of people lost in the darkness of sin. There is plenty to pray about but few are actually communicating with God just releasing rivers of pitying flowing nowhere. A promise to pray does not release the Living Water people are searching for. It is actual prayer that allows God’s Love, Mercy and Grace to flow. Our prayer life must be effective. Our prayers must be fervent and enthusiastic beginning on the spot. Such communication with words and actions will rebuild the community known as the church. It will empower us to once again do what we have been called to do…healing, deliverance and salvation. We need to start talking!