A Know It OWL

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Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

Have you ever heard of the saying “wise as an owl”? Since ancient times, owls have been depicted in literature and folklore as synonymous with wisdom. Mostly because of their huge eyes that give them the ability to hunt at night. They are very interesting birds.

I have discovered a different kind of owl…a “Know it OWL”. This is a person that seeks what I believe is the most important thing anyone could have, wisdom. Wisdom is not just knowing what to do but wisdom is knowing how to do it. In Ephesians 1:16, Paul said that he never stops praying “that the God of our Lord Jesus may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him [Jesus].”

Then in verse 18 he goes on to pray “that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know…” Praying for wisdom allows you to see things with your understanding. It allows you to know what to do in every situation. Wisdom to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Go ahead, be a “Know it OWL”! It’s awesome!

 

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

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Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”

In live theater, a dress rehearsal is the final rehearsal in which everything is done as it would be in a real performance. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately… depending on your viewpoint…our lives are not a dress rehearsal for the real thing. We are living the real thing right now. Guess what? You’re not getting this day back. There are no “do-overs” in real life. It’s the live show for us. There won’t be another. That’s why God wants us to make every day count. Every conversation count. Every moment with our family. Every vacation. Every open door. I could go on and on.

Moses prays to the Lord in Psalm 90:12, “teach us to number our days”. That means to make the most out of every opportunity to add value to someone’s life or your own. Here’s a thought, if you knew that Jesus was coming back in one week (I’m not saying He is, so don’t start any rumors!), what would your week look like? Think about it, who would you meet with? What would you say to some people? Who would you share the gift of salvation with? This is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing. Let’s make each moment of each day count.

 



What Are You Doing Here?

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1 Kings 19:9 “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

I don’t really like caves. This past May, my daughter and I went to the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs, CO. We took a tour inside tunnels that had been excavated over a hundred years ago. It was interesting and insightful, I learned so much, but…I was really looking forward to seeing the light of day outside!

In 1 Kings 19:9, God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” How many of you know that God knew Elijah was there in the cave? So He was really saying “you’re in the wrong place, Elijah.” In 1 Kings 19:1-3, Elijah made a very important decision but for the wrong reasons. Have you ever made a decision for the wrong reason? I know I have. Why did Elijah “run for his life”? Because of a fearful imagination.

In verse 2, Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. In verse 3 it says something interesting, “When he saw that, he arose, and went for his life”. He began to envision what it would be like to die from a sword. Our negative imagination can cause us to make a wrong decision in a moment of panic, fear, or intimidation. The Holy Spirit always leads us, but the enemy always forces or drives us. Today, let the peace of God be the umpire of your heart and mind. Don’t stay where you shouldn’t be and don’t go where you shouldn’t go. Be lead by God’s peace and prompting, even when you’re a little nervous. Bottom line, may we never find ourselves in a place where God needs to ask us, “What are you doing here?”

 

Our Alarm System

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"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 ESV

I'm so glad God blessed us with built in "alarms". We have negative emotions that tell us that something is wrong with our thinking. We have symptoms when there is something wrong with our body. We even have godly spouses, friends and parents to show us things we are too stubborn to receive from God on our own!

But there's one more thing that may not be so obvious. It's a "condemnation meter". It looks like a fuel gauge on your dashboard, but it works in reverse. When the needle is on "Empty", that's good. According to Romans 8:1, God says there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. If you're born again, you have received the gift of NO condemnation.

When you give place to condemnation, the needle begins to move away from "E" and guilt and fear set in. If you give place to guilt and fear, the needle moves again and destructive habits set in. Condemnation is now at dangerous levels! The answer, resist all condemning thoughts, accusations and lies with the truth of God's Word. Warning! Resist ALL condemnation.

 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

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Luke 2:7, 11 “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes...for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”.

Most of us would have never heard of Bethlehem, a tiny village south of Jerusalem, had it not been for the little Lamb that was born there. For centuries a very special breed of lambs were raised in Bethlehem and brought to Jerusalem at Passover to be sold and sacrificed for sin. How fitting is it that Mary’s Lamb, God’s perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus, would be born there. This perfect Lamb became the final Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for sin forever. Think about it…your destiny my destiny, the destiny of the world was wrapped in swaddling clothes in Mary’s arms. Amazing.

In Exodus 12:4 it says “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls...” This tells me that any problem, any illness that your facing, any impossible situation, is not too little for THIS Lamb. Jesus is so much bigger. The situations in your house are never bigger than the Lamb.

Someone once wrote…

Mary had a little Lamb. His fleece was white as snow.

That spotless Lamb was crucified to pay the debt I owe.

Oh, spotless Lamb, with wool so white, Thy crimson blood, I know,

Can take away my crimson sin, and wash me white as snow.

Praise God today for that little Lamb. The Lamb of God who has taken my sin, along with every curse, sickness, lack, and eternal death. Mary’s little Lamb.

 

All In

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Hebrews 11:15 “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned “

The year was 1517, and Hernando Cortez and his three ships of soldiers sailed from Spain to conquer and claim Mexico for his country. When they finally arrived in the Mexican bay, small boats took all the soldiers to the shore to prepare for an inland march to the capital city of the Aztec Indian empire to defeat King Montezuma and his forces. Once all the soldiers were on shore, Cortez then motioned for a few men to row back out to the ships. As the soldiers watched, their curiosity turned to horror as the men lit torches and threw them onto the decks of the three ships. The soldiers stood speechless with eyes and mouths open as they realized they would never again see their home country or families.

They had no choice now but to turn, follow Cortez into battle, and crush the enemy and win the war. There was no turning back. They either had to go ALL IN or not at all! That’s exactly what Hebrews 11:15 is talking to us about. “All in” does not mean most of the way in, or partially in. It’s ALL in. If Abraham had been pining away at where he was and where he came from, he would have had an opportunity to go back! There’s nothing worse than being someplace physically, but someplace else mentally. Especially a place from the past.

God wants us to be all in with what He has called us to do. It starts with being “mindful” of where God is leading you, not from where you came. No looking back. No halfway in. Make a decision now and declare…I’m all in!

 

It's Time to Clean House

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Genesis 21:10 “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bond woman and her son: for the son of this bond woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac”.

To this day, during Passover, Jewish people eat unleavened bread called Matzah in remembrance of the rapid escape from Egypt. In fact, Jews must clean their homes of even the smallest remnants of chametz (leavened food) for the length of the holiday. They do this by "spring cleaning" the home.

Similarly, in Genesis 21:10, Sarah said to her husband, cast out this bond woman and her son Ishmael. She didn’t want the son of his own self-effort in the same house with their promised son. As much as he loved Ishmael, he cast them both out. As soon as Hagar and her son were gone, amazing things started to happen.

In verse 22 it says, “And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do’.” That’s extreme favor. This was a great man of authority in Egypt. As soon as “the law” left the house, favor manifested. The law couldn’t live in the same house as grace.

Do you still have the law, self-effort, trying to earn God’s favor in your house? If yes, it’s time to clean house. On April 1st of this year, I heard this word from the Lord in my spirit, “April showers are bringing May flowers”. We are in a season of great and abundant harvests. There is so much waiting for us. In our house, every day is Spring cleaning day, we want every trace of the law OUT, and the grace of God in. How about you?

 

Prompt and Circumstance

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Romans 7:6 “But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].” (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

Been to a graduation ceremony lately? Did they play that “graduation song”? The real title is Pomp and Circumstance, composed in 1902 by Sir Edward Elgar, which comes from Shakespeare’s Othello. Didn’t know that.

What I do know is that in Romans 7:6, the Amplified Bible explains a graduation of different type. The difference between the old covenant and the new covenant. Under the old you lived by obedience to a written code of regulations, thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not… It says that it restrained you and I and held us captive or prisoner. The law restrains you, holds you back from progress, and keeps you prisoner to guilt and shame.

I’m introducing a new graduation song…Prompt and Circumstance. As a believer, you have graduated to a new way of life where the Holy Spirit prompts or urges you in your life throughout your day. The Message describes it as “the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30). You are now prompted by your friend Jesus what to say and what to do. So, congratulations on your graduation! You are free. You can now live by the promptings of the Holy Spirit and newness of life. Enjoy today and every day!

 

Surrounded by Grace

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Psalm 5:12 “For thou LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield”.

When our son was in his teens, he decided that he needed speakers for “surround sound” in his room to watch movies, specifically action films. What a difference it made being completely “surrounded” by sound. This technique began in theaters years ago, and then progressed to all types of music.

In Psalms 5:12 the psalmist says by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “The Lord will bless the righteous”. That’s every born-again believer. That’s you. You were made righteous by the blood of Jesus. Because of the finished work on the cross, you stand before God without a sense of guilt, condemnation or inferiority.

The psalmist goes on to say that “with favor You will surround him as with a shield”. The word favor here is the word for grace, or undeserved, unmerited favor. That literally means that God’s favor will surround every area of your life. Your health, your finances, your family, your friends, your career, every area of your life is completely surrounded with favor. If you’re saved, you’re surrounded with preferential treatment and extraordinary advantages. That’s awesome.

Declare Psalm 5:12 over yourself today, make it your own. Say, “I’m righteous, I’m blessed, I’m surrounded with favor on every side”. Amen!

 



A Stone's Throw

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John 11:39 “Jesus said, take ye away the stone”

You know something? If you are born again, no matter what your circumstances are telling you, you’re not that far from your answer at all. That’s good news! “A stone’s throw” is something that is really close by, closer than what you even think. Your answer is right near you, in fact it’s already IN you. The law is like a stone blocking the resurrection life. Remember when Lazarus was raised from the dead, and when Jesus was raised from the dead? Life was in Lazarus, but the stone was in the way. That’s why Jesus said, “Roll away the stone”. The stone must be removed before resurrection life can flow.

Now, just to clarify, we’re not removing the stones for dead people, unbelievers. If you remove the stones from dead people what you get is “stink”! You can’t remove the Ten Commandments from people in the world. They still need the “thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness…” But in the church, it is a hindrance because resurrected people are alive, but behind the stone. So, move that stone folks! Roll it away. Get the law out of your life and let resurrection life flow!

 

Introducing the "Hamon" Sandwich

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Esther 5:9 “Hamon went away that day joyful and elated in heart. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate refusing to stand up or show fear before him, he was filled with anger against Mordecai.”

I didn’t say ham sandwich…I said Hamon sandwich. Let me explain.

Chapter five of the book of Esther talks about an evil man named Hamon who hated the Jews. He had great influence with the king and had just been invited to a special dinner at the palace. He went away ecstatic at what had just happened, but as he was walking away ONE person spoiled everything for him!

That person was Mordecai, who refused to stand up and show reverence for him at the king’s gate. In verse 10 it says that Hamon kept it inside his heart. It says in verse 11 that when he went home he recounted to his family the glory of his riches, the abundance of his ten sons, and the promotion he had just received. Then in verse 13 he said, “Yet none of this benefit me as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate”. He couldn’t enjoy all the blessings of his life because one person really annoyed him for not honoring him like he supposedly deserved.

Ever done that? You were going through your day, everything was going just great, life was wonderful, then one person does or says something that annoyed you and BAM, there goes your joy. You just ate a “Hamon sandwich”! Don’t do it! Don’t allow that one thing to steal so much good in your life, your marriage, your children. Just keep moving and focus on all the good. Let the fruit of the Spirit be your immediate response to comments and situations. Your choice, fruit of the Spirit or Hamon sandwich!

 

Wounded Time is Wasted Time by Natalie Fortunato

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Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

"If you're going through hell, don't stop!” I heard this line in a country song while I was waiting at the car dealership for my oil change. Loved it! Totally got my attention. Such great advice, right?

When we really mess up, totally miss God, sometimes the guilt and shame is paralyzing. It's almost unbearable. But the worse thing we can do is stay there. All wounded and condemned, kicking ourselves. What a waste of time.

The enemy loves to rehearse the incident over and over again in our minds. How we failed. But the Holy Spirit is the exact opposite. When we miss it, He loves to remind us of who we are in Christ. He reminds us that we are loved, accepted, forgiven and righteous. He reminds us of our calling and our assignment.

If you've messed up big time, change your mind and change your direction. Admit where you got off track, take responsibility for your actions, take dominion and authority over the enemy, and allow the Holy Spirit to get you back on track…and move on!

 

God is a Rewarder

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Mark 10:28 “Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.”

Did you know that God wants you to be confident in His rewards? I love rewards! I had the privilege of flying home every month while I was attending Charis Bible College, to see my family and my church family. That’s nine times! What a blessing. And another blessing was receiving travel “rewards” every time I flew. I flew so much, I earned a free flight to anywhere in the USA. What an extra blessing!

Did you know that you can be confident that God is rewarding you? It says it, plain and simple, in Hebrews 11:4 that God is a Rewarder. In Mark 10:28 Peter says, “Lord we have left all, and followed you”. I love what Jesus replies, “There is no man that has left house, brothers, sisters... mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time.” What a promise!

Since I literally left my home and family for nine months, this really caught my eye. But the real key here is “for the gospel’s sake”. What have you left behind “for the gospel’s sake”. Whatever it is, be confident that you will receive a hundredfold reward in this time…that means now. Try and beat that reward system - impossible. God wants you to be excited and have an expectation about the rewards He has waiting for you to claim. Having a hard time believing it? That’s why the true meaning of the word gospel is the “nearly too good to be true news”. Enjoy!

 

Grace Renews Your Youth

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Genesis 21:7 “And she [Sarah] added, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."

The Fountain of Youth is a spring in St. Augustine, FL, discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. I don’t know about you, but drinking and bathing in the same water where others are doing the same thing seems pretty disgusting to me.

In the Word of God, Sarah represents grace and Hagar represents the law. Ishmael was a child born out of the flesh or self-effort , while Isaac was a child of the supernatural and represents a child of grace. I found this amazing that when Sarah gave birth to Isaac at 90 years old, not only did her body change to conceive a child at that age, but her body actually changed so much that she was able to nurse her baby.

Her youth was renewed, that’s what grace does. It changes your body, it changes cells and organs and makes them healthy. No matter what products or programs are on the market, there’s only one way to renew your youth, through God’s grace. So sit back, relax, rest, and receive messages from God’s Word on unmerited favor. As you do tissues will be healed, and growths disintegrated, effortlessly. Praise God. This also includes your finances, your family. Just receive and be renewed by God’s grace!

 

The Cure For Frustration

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Galatians 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law then Christ died in vain”

Frustrate: prevent (a plan or attempted action) from progressing, or succeeding, or being fulfilled, to thwart, defeat, foil, block, stop, put a stop, circumvent, disappoint, nullify.

I was walking up a trail near my condo in Colorado the other day, and the wind was so strong it was almost pushing me backward. A walk that would normally take me an hour took a whole lot longer. I pressed forward, but the wind pressed back, opposing me every step of the way. That’s what it’s like when we frustrate the grace of God.

In Galatians 2:21, Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God”. Do you know we can actually hinder and stop God’s grace from working in our lives? How? He tells us in the same verse, by thinking that our righteousness comes by self-effort, by trying harder to do right, by trying to come up with all the answers, by trying to earn our way. These works frustrate the grace of God. They stop the progress and circumvent what God wants to do in our lives through His free gift.

Romans 5:21 says that “grace reigns through righteousness”. Grace reigns in our lives when we know and believe that we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus. An endless supply of God’s unmerited favor flows in our lives when we simply receive our righteous standing and add nothing to it by our own works. Every time you face a challenge, let God’s grace bring you through. Let the grace of God work through you to work it all out. Be like Paul and boldly declare, “I do not frustrate the grace of God”!

 

The Wet Comes With the Water

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Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus”

Many, many years ago, I was a competitive swimmer and diver. I really loved those days…early morning practices, swimming miles of laps in the pool. I’m so glad I got to do that. It was a grueling but rewarding sport that spanned ten years of my life. But you want to know something? When I was on the diving board, I wasn’t thinking about getting wet, I was more interested in if there’s water in the pool!

Same as with being a Christian. The “wet” is not what I’m focused on. I’m talking about an intimate relationship with Jesus! A genuine relationship where we value Him more than any of the things that flows out of that personal intimacy. In Acts 4:13, it says that people saw the boldness of Peter and John, and took note that they were “unlearned and ignorant men”. In our world today, good looks and talent are a premium. Even in the church. We see how God uses certain people and we practically ascribe them celebrity status. But with Peter and John, they were bold AND unlearned. Their boldness didn’t come from their education. It didn’t come from their good looks or eloquence. It came from being with around Jesus.

That means ALL of us can be bold, no fame or fancy degree required. Our boldness comes from being around Jesus, spending time with Him. Focus on Jesus. Being with Jesus is what attracts all the things we could ever want or desire. The wet comes with the water, not the other way around.

 

Supply Minded

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1 Corinthians 15:10 “…I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”             

When you wake up in the morning do you think about all the demands that you have for the day? Are you stressed out about an upcoming meeting?  How about that big project you’re working on?  Is your mind racing about all that needs done?  Are you feeling pressured and overwhelmed and exhausted?   

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you are “demand minded”.  You’re depending on you-you-you.  You see, grace is all about supply, and the Law is all about demand. God wants us to be supply minded not demand minded.   

Being supply minded is all about what Jesus is doing in and through you.  It’s about His power, His supply.  In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul says “I labored more abundantly than they all...” If he stopped there, it would be all about stress and pressure and demand.  But thank God he didn’t stop there.  He went on to say “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”!  Not only does Jesus give you the grace to do what He has told you to do, He also rewards you for using the grace that He gave you.  

So today, I want you to stop and ask yourself, “Am I supply minded or demand minded?”  Then ask the Lord, “What have I been doing in my own strength?” When He shows you, quickly say “Lord, I turn these things over to you right now”.  Then rest, and be confident in His inexhaustible supply of grace within you to do all that He’s called you to do. 

 

Fasting? What For?

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Matthew 17:19-21 "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

What comes out only by prayer and fasting? The spirit? No. He was referring to unbelief. It's unbelief that only goes out by prayer and fasting. He fully expected the disciples to cast that spirit out, on the spot, or He wouldn't have rebuked them saying in verse 17, saying, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" The issue wasn't casting a spirit out, it was their unbelief.

Prayer and fasting brings us from a place of unbelief - where my mountains refuse to move, where everything seems impossible to me - to a place where nothing is impossible for me.

When we fast, we are enforcing the positional truth that the sin nature was crucified with Christ and our flesh no longer has the power to rule over our spirit. Our fasting doesn't move the devil, he's not the one with our problems. Fasting doesn't move God, it moves us into a place where we can receive from God.

Fasting destroys the hold that the flesh has had on our lives, that has defeated us time and time again, year after year. Lies that tell us things will never get better, or that we will never accomplish more than we've already accomplished, that this is it for us.

Fasting has the same effect on our flesh as it had on Jesus' flesh: it braces us against the temptations of the devil and helps us shut down the flesh by enforcing the perfect standing Jesus has already given us. As the flesh loses ground, the peace of God can begin to rule in our lives.

You choose. A meal. Or a mountain. Which would you rather do without?

 

It's Worth the Wait by Natalie Fortunato

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Acts 1:4-5 - "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Jesus didn't recommend or suggest that the disciples not depart from Jerusalem until the "Promise of the Father" had come, He commanded them. After His resurrection, they had spent many amazing days together, He taught them kingdom principles, and He knew the disciples were eager to share the good news all over the world. But He commanded them not to get started until they had been clothed with the Spirit's power (Luke 24:49).

In 1 Corinthians it says that He gave this command to about 500 people, yet in Acts 1:15 it says there were only 120 men and women in the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit. What happened to the other 380? Perhaps they didn't want to wait. They wanted to get started doing the work of the ministry…without the power of the Holy Spirit!

When God calls us to do something, we need to make sure that we don't get so excited about the task, that we move out ahead of Him. Moving out in our own power and timing will actually interfere with what He wants to do in our lives, and interrupt the process. Our decisions greatly affect the lives of those around us, and the people that God has called us to reach. Slow down! Don't worry, you'll know when the Holy Spirit says to move, and He will empower you for the task at hand. It's worth the wait.

 

Time to Raise Up a Grace Generation

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Judges 2:10 “and also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel“

As many of you may know, I am finishing my third year at Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, CO, in the World Outreach Global Training School. I have been assigned a year end project with a group of my classmates called “Charis on College Campuses”. It’s been a very eye opening experience to say the least. I’m getting quite an “education” about what’s happening in the 17-30 age group in America. Part of our project includes visiting local college campuses to conduct a survey regarding biblical beliefs and the relevance of the church. My first stop - a branch campus of one of the largest secular colleges in CO. My first student – a Satanist who responded with a resounding “No!”, then proceeded to get up in my face and yell vile things about Christianity. Whoa. Though there are some students who openly believe in Christ, it’s no secret that many of our college campuses in America are purporting a philosophy and ideology that strongly opposes the Word of God.

Judges 2:10 sadly speaks of a generation that grew up after Joshua died, who “knew not the Lord” nor “the miracles that were done for Israel”. What happened? The older generation failed to share the Word of God with the younger generation. To tell of who He is, the miracles He did for them, and how He delivered them from bondage. Folks, no matter how older you are, there’s always going to be someone younger than you in your life. God has called us to raise up a GRACE generation that knows Him intimately. How? By living a life evidenced by God’s favor, goodness, miraculous power, and love for them to witness firsthand. Simply stated…to “attract” them, not “attack” them. The time is now!