They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
Raise your hand if you have ever had a pity party for yourself. Good now that hands are raised all over the place, this will be easier to write. God has created each of us with a purpose. He has also commanded us to preach the Good News and have compassion towards others as we aspire daily to become more like His Son Jesus. I myself have been struggling a bit these last few months as I have been adjusting to all of the changes in my life. I have been divorced, fell in love all over again and become remarried….all because God decided what I needed in my life. Well in this process I feel I have lost a bit of my purpose as a Christian writer.
I knew at the age of 5 when I wrote my first poem in kindergarten that I wanted to be a writer. Not a journalist but a writer. I loved words and had fun putting them together in an array of sentences to make some semblance of meaning on a page. As I grew older I had a teacher who spoke life into my writing and I was hooked. I wrote journals and poems and short stories. As I moved forward in my ministry aspect of life, I began this blog and wrote two books, looking towards the life of becoming a published author and having a way to share my love for Jesus publicly. I have since fell short of these goals in my life. I have not blogged and the two books I have completed are sitting at the publishers waiting on me to locate financing to have them published.
I was really feeling low today and I prayed with my husband looking to God for solutions. I surrender it all to God on the way to a revival meeting, knowing that I cannot do anything in my power to fix me. I surrendered the books and my blogs. I surrendered myself as a writer and I asked God to show me the next steps to take. Leave to our loving Father in heaven to send a message to a man of God to speak at the very end of the of the meeting with a word that spoke straight to my heart. This man spoke of dying fruit. He painted a word picture of a lonely grape still ripe on a vine among other wilted ones. The moment I heard him speak I knew it was for me. I felt that my usefulness as a Christian was dwindling and that I really did not matter to the purposes of the Kingdom work.
I went up for prayer and he spoke life into me. Told be that God was turning things around. I now have regained hope in this area of my life. God has renewed my passion and I am ready to press in and move ahead. No more accepting the lies of the devil. I am ready to realize that I have more fruit to produce for the Kingdom and I say to each of you reading this blog, don’t let your fruit die. You have a purpose. God has given you a reason to be on this earth. Do not be led into darkness away from your destiny or dreams by the lies Satan likes to feed us everyday. Be strong in the Lord and in all your way acknowledge Him, trusting in His plan for your life.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Who are we that we choose not to have compassion on those around us? This is a burden I am carrying at the moment and I just want to highlight some things I have been feeling about this area of my walk. So often we see the homeless or witness the handicapped people all around us, however, are we really moved to act out to help? We say we don’t have enough to give or don’t have the time…mere excuses for not showing the mercy heart of the Father.
I was recently in Chicago for a class for work and we had an opportunity to visit the heart of downtown Chicago at night. I went with some new friends from my class and we ate Chicago pizza and witnessed the sites of the city. I saw several homeless persons along the way, however, I chose not to even stop as I was “busy” site seeing. I did however say hello to an elderly couple who responded with a “bless you” and this began a work in my heart so deep for the people of Chicago that I had no idea what God was about to do right there in the dark of night in the middle of a HUGE city.
We arrived back at the bus station 45 minutes early and I decided to do a little shopping at a corner store. As I entered the building a homeless man said if I had anything left to spare when I was done, he could really use a bus pass. I said okay and entered the store. a few minutes later I witness a military man in uniform asking the clerk to buy a bus pass. As I turned my attention to what I had just heard, there was the homeless man patiently waiting for his gift. I was so amazed at the act of kindness this man was doing I kinda got excited. As I exited the store I saw this man standing on the busy street corner and I found enough boldness to walk up to this soldier and I explained to him just how blessed he was going to be for being so generous to this homeless man. He was moved to tears.
As I walked away thanking God for the opportunity and was half way across the street when the homeless man called out to me. He was asking for prayer. He had seen what just happened to the other man and he wanted the same for himself. I stopped in the middle of traffic and return to the street corner where there was about 10 people gathered and I poured all the Jesus I had in me into this mans heart. Again moved to tears, this man thanked me. Fearing missing my bus I departed the corner, however, God was not done. As I was about to board the bus another man approached me and showed me all the money he had and explained that he needed another $5 to get into the shelter for the night.
Wow! Another chance to bless someone and so I gave him the money and I grabbed his hand, asked his name and I prayed with him and blessed his life. His spirits actually changed right there in the middle of the night in the heart of downtown Chicago. Filled with so much joy at what God had just done I walk onto the bus and He leads me into a conversation with some young adults who had witnessed what had happened on the first street corner. It was an amazing night as God used me to reach out to people that some would have just walked by and not even noticed.
Everyday we have the chance to share Jesus with complete strangers. Everyday we have the choice to let someone know the difference between heaven and hell. Each person we pass is an opportunity for God. How willing are we to allow God to use us for His purposes? How willing are we to be used by God to save lives? He sent His only Son so that non should ever perish and be placed in the pits of hell. What if you or I just kept walking by? How many more would perish?
2 Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
What is prayer to you? Is it something you do because you are a Christian? Do you only pray when you are in need as a desperate, last call to God? Are your prayers more like a routine, right before bed? Whatever your prayer life is, God is calling you to step it up. I attended a meeting at church today and the speaker discussed how in the “olden” days people came to the church early to pray before the service and they prayed before the Bible studies and things HAPPENED during the services which followed. How have we strayed? Has church also just become a routine in our lives? What IF we prayed continually? What if we entered the church EXPECTING something to happen while we were there?
Would we become overloaded and overwhelmed with the process? Would we grow tired of praying to God over and over again??? Well, let me the first to tell ya, being on my knees and face in prayer is where it all happens. God has pulled me out from the mess I had gotten myself in and it was not for the lack of my praying (screaming) to God when things were at their worst. Perhaps He would have assisted me sooner if I had decided to surrender my situation for Him to take care of instead of hoping it would change on its’ own. Nothing I can do to change that part of my life, but when things began to grow less dim for me was when I began to pray continually.
Now, praying continually does not necessarily mean completely stopping what you are doing, finding a quiet place, folding your hands and closing you eyes and then speaking this eloquently prepared prayer. Sometimes prayer is singing a song while you are in the midst of a trouble. Prayer can be in your head (or heart) where no one else even knows you are praying. Praying can be saying a few words of healing when you see an ambulance drive by. A prayer can be a simple act of looking towards heaven and saying , “Help me.” I think sometimes we have this idea that prayer takes up too much of our time, perhaps it is because we are trying to be too formal about it or put it into parameters, kind of like when we put God in a box. Other times we feel awkward in a setting where others are involved and we lack the freedom to really pray to God like we need to.
I challenge each of you to discover what is hindering your prayer life. There is no 101 on praying except for the Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus to the disciples. As that prayer alone is a start and very powerful, sometimes we need to ask God directly for what we need and then we need some knee time to talk to God. God is going to hear you no matter what, yes we need to be quiet to hear God’s still, small voice, however He can hear us loud and clear no matter where we are at the moment. I used to be the kind of girl who prayed before I went to sleep as my head lay on the pillow, where soon I was fast asleep before I could finish my prayers. Now I just pray all the time.
I pray at work when I am frustrated. I pray in the car for those who cut me off. I pray each time I hear sirens blaring around me. I pray at the grocery store when I see a situation I just know in my spirit needs attention. I pray when I read a status on Facebook. I pray on my way to work for my co-workers. I pray on the way to church and let God know I am going expecting something awesome. I pray when someone asks me to pray, not waiting until later. I find being in continual prayer is like a continuous conversation with God.He listens while I ask for my needs and He answer accordingly. Recently I have found myself stuck to floor face down in surrender and then WOW God begins to answer the big questions in my life and shows me He is at work on my behalf.
Whatever your goals are in 2012, add continual conversation with God to that list. Things happen when we pray. Healing begins. Family situations are mended. Minds are renewed. Blessings flow. God is a wanting a relationship with each of us and prayer is the beginning. Let’s commit to a stronger prayer life in 2012 and see what happens. God longs to move in our lives but if we don’t ask, He cannot provide. What if each of us began today praying at least two more times than usual? Do you think that is achievable? I do. In the beginning of my increase in prayer, it was uncomfortable, but the more I practiced it, the easier it became. You can do this! I have faith in each of you! One thing you will discover is that you are more at peace knowing God is answering your prayers, and the more you are at peace, the more you feel like you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
“[Dedicated Service] Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1 NASB
Okay, with a show of hands (don’t worry I cannot see you) how many times have we stepped up to the altar, raised our hands in surrender thinking we know what a man or woman of God will speak into our lives like we have it all figured out? I know you cannot see me either but my hand is raised, not in knowledge but in surprise. There have been so many times I think I don’t need prayer and God shows me I do. There have been times when I had to drag my flesh to the front because I did not think there was another thing God wanted to heal in me. Whether we like it or not, God knows us better than we ever will. I do not care how many psychology or self-help books we read, never will be able to figure it all out. Let me use tonight as an example.
A friend of mine and I went to Boot Camp tonight to hear a prophetess speak, not expecting prayer or a word of knowledge, just a lesson in the things God had in mind. I expected to learn, not release or have God show me something I had really misunderstood about myself. Now the lesson was clearly about false prophets and good trees producing good fruit and bad trees producing bad fruit. She clearly taught how the body of Christ can easily be deceived. After a time of refection she called those up front who wanted to become pure and holy with no bad roots in us so that we may be trees of life bearing the good stuff the people of God needed. Of course, I went up front, knowing I knew just what needed to be ripped out of me only to have God show me something completely different.
I was figuring she would say doubting was my downfall and maybe she would say something about the direction of my writing or the restoration of my family, NOPE! God had something totally off the beaten path for me that hit me like a train. He clearly stated He freed me from depression and a brokenness in my mind. What? Huh? I am the type of person who tells everyone that I am not a depressed type of person and I am thankful I do not have to conquer that. I also thought I could not help those who are dealing with depression (including my own daughter) because I had not walked through that in my life, yet here was God telling me He had delivered me from it. Once again, Huh? I was really confused and then she told me I was anointed to free the broken-minded and hurting. Boy, did I miss the mark or what?
Yes, if you look at my WHOLE testimony, I should have been depressed: adopted into a family where the dad was a drinker and the mom a yeller. Molested at age 5 by a family friend. Teased in elementary school so badly I cried almost every day. Parents then divorced when I was 16. Smoking by age 13. Drinking at age 15. I had three random relationships before marrying my husband who was a drinker then an drug addict. Had two children I tried to protect from everything that was going on behind the scenes in my marriage only to end up 20 years later, separated and living with just my daughter in a run down trailer. Who wouldn’t be depressed? But let us dig deeper perhaps so that through writing this out I too might grasp what God is saying. Did I hide everything from myself? Did I just think I was okay? I wasn’t a cutter. I did cry myself to sleep, but I didn’t just stay in bed all the time, I was always active. I thought I was pretty positive about things. Maybe I have a misinterpretation of depression. (one moment as I go get Websters answer to the meaning of just this word)