Saturday, June 28, 2008

God used a mosquito...

In this past week, I've upped my "quest" to hear God's voice more clearly. It's only been four years or so since I even realized that God wants to speak to me, but I don't feel that I've made much progress. Jesus said that "My sheep hear My voice." For me, this is what I think I need most... to be able to hear and instantly recognize the voice of the One who orders my days.

A few days ago, I visited Bring the Rain, and again, I was blessed. She talked about the significance of what Samuel said. "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening." I realized that it's really that simple, so I resolved to make that prayer my own throughout the day.

So yesterday I went across the road to see if I could find my daughter's bouncy ball for her. There is a small hill at the edge of our property, and the cars tear over it at 40+ mph, so our kids aren't allowed to cross the road for any reason. (They'd be totally out of sight of drivers until it was too late.) Consequently, she had to let the ball go until I had time to go look for it.

So yesterday she was in our yard, telling me about where it bounced. I walked up and down about 20 feet of grass and weeds, trying to find it and failing miserably.

After a few minutes, I said, "Lord, You know where this ball is. Can you help me find it for my daughter?" I walked up and down, asking again, and saying, Lord, I'm trying to hear Your voice. Let this be another exercise in recognizing it. Can You tell me where it is? I really want to find this for my daughter... Your daughter. Should I give up? Where should I look? What about-"

"You might hear Me if you can be quiet for a minute," He said.

I shut up and listened.

"Step to your left."

I stepped to my left and looked and looked. I still couldn't find it. Which set me to wondering if it hadn't been God who said to step to the left. What if it was just me? I really didn't know.

I started thinking about giving up again. But just then, a mosquito buzzed around my left arm. I looked down and swatted at it.

And as I pulled my hand away, there, another step to the left and exactly beyond the mosquito... was the ball.

I had to laugh. A mosquito! "Lord, it was You who said step to the left. Somewhere, in all that re-hashing what I had or had not heard, did You say to step to the left again? I don't know, but thank You. You are more good to me than I deserve."

I tossed the ball to my daughter and told her that God used a mosquito to show me where it was.

And last night, my husband wanted to know if I killed God's messenger.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Upside-down...

I know... two posts in three days! I've got so much tumbling around inside of me lately, and I'm having trouble getting it all out, except to those who have shared it with me! (Like my new pastor's wife and already-dear-friend, whose ear I've talked off half-a-dozen times in the last few weeks. Sorry, Angela!) The result of all of these confirmations is an overall confirmation from God that I am where He wants me to be... here, in Ohio, and a part of At His Feet Christian Center. (Isn't that an awesome name?)

Anyway... Saturday's post made it out, and my sister's comment actually leads right to one of the other things jumping excitedly around in my brain/spirit/soul. She said, "God's been showing me so many things in creation off and on, and it's cool because ... I'm really seeing that humans see life upside-down of what it really is. Things here on earth ... they're a picture of heaven, right? So we think something like, "God's Word is so much like eating." When really it's, "eating is so much like learning God's Word." See the difference? What difference does that make? Well ... just knowing where the reality lies, I guess. It makes a difference. :)"

That's EXACTLY what the pastor who visited yesterday said during his message. Well... one of the things he said.

This man is involved (to a degree I quite honestly am unsure of) in Kenneth Copeland's ministry. Now I must admit that I have had some serious problems with the "faith message" since I was a girl. I clearly remember our church calling up a man who had one leg longer than the other, and who needed crutches. This precious, gentle man of God was prayed over, had his crutches taken away, and told to walk if he had faith. When he fell, he was blamed for not having enough faith. I, as a child watching this, KNEW it was not right, although I hardly knew exactly where our church had gone wrong. But as the years went by and I watched and heard more and more people turning faith into a work... taking the glory away from God and lavishing it on anyone who had enough faith to accomplish God's work for Him... burning and blasting God-seekers left and right, I quickly got to the point where I wanted nothing to do with anyone who claimed to be part of the faith movement.

Since that time, God showed me that I had thrown the baby out with the bathwater. I resolved to stop judging men of God, and just be very, VERY cautious about who's authority I accepted over me, looking for confirmation every step of the way (which is another revelation in and of itself).

Anyway... Saturday I shared about how this pastor's wife's message was so much a beautiful confirmation of so much that God's shown me, all summed up in the fact that we are not of this world, but ambassadors of another. Well, the pastor's message yesterday was also a gift from God to me, showing me that there are, indeed, some that came from the "faith movement" who haven't screwed everything up. His message was a beautiful explanation of how we've turned everything upside-down, focusing on the promises instead of the Promise-Maker... seeking the provisions instead of the Provider... glorifying the healings instead of the Healer. In fact, he warned about what happens when we do that... the consequences of which I've seen all my life.

That famous passage in Hebrews that talks so much about faith... the one that is often cited as an example of "what faith accomplished." He pointed out that Abraham had no scripture, no pastor preaching an amazing message. Rather, Abraham's faith was real because he knew God, so when God spoke, he had no reason to doubt him. It was that way for every man of God throughout the Bible. As he said, it's not what we know, it's who we know, which is oh-so accurate! Yes, we need to know truths... but God's promises would be empty if He wasn't who He is. And they are empty in our lives until we know who He is.

He so wonderfully stated it this way: Faith comes in hearing the word of a God that you know. Jesus didn't die so that we could be healed, or so that we could prosper, or so that we could come to church. He came and died so that we could be restored to fellowship with the God who wants us to know Him. When we do, and He speaks to us in revelation, we don't waver. Isn't this so much what David said in Psalm 37:4? "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." We look at this whole thing upside-down, all too often!

As I listened, I received my own explanation of 2 Cor. 5:7: "We walk by faith, not by sight." So often, we think of faith as a tool, but in reality, it is merely knowing that we are now children of God, knowing that we are ambassadors of His kingdom, and knowing the other truths that that God has shown us. It means that we pattern our lives and walk daily according to truths that the world does not recognize - truths that cannot be seen or understood with the natural mind no matter how hard we try - truths that must be seen with the eyes of the Spirit and known through God's revelation. When we have no money for our daily needs and we are worried about how we're going to pay our bills, we are walking by sight. But when we can truly rest in His peace, knowing that He will care for us no matter what happens because He has revealed this to us in ways that we cannot deny, that is walking by faith. It does not come after we hear someone teach it, and it does not come if we can only convince ourselves of it. It comes the same way the faith for our salvation does... as a gift from God, given to us as we come to know Him more and more.

Then, when God shows Himself mighty on our behalf, we sometimes make a further mistake! We look at what He did from the outside in, instead of the inside out, as He does! We say, "Look! God blessed me today when I was able to buy $150 of groceries for only $60." Instead, the reality is that we ARE blessed, and therefore He made it possible to purchase the $150 of groceries that we needed for the $60 that He had given us.

See the difference?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ambassadors in a foreign land...

Confirmation is a beautiful thing. ::heartfelt sigh::

I just got back from a Saturday women's meeting where a woman I've never met before shared. She and her husband are friends of our pastors, and they're in for the weekend. I, quite frankly, had never heard about them before this church (which is probably a good thing) and still managed to hear very little about them until today. So I went to this meeting open-minded but cautious, like I am with every other speaker I know nothing about. And during our little worship beforehand, I asked the Lord for freedom from something that still held me bound... He could choose the thing... it could even be something that I didn't know bound me!

What I got was total, total confirmation of practically everything God's been showing me for the last three years.

There have been so many times that I've wondered if I'm the only one He's showing this stuff too. All the things I've shared here about learning to trust completely... about the ever-increasing importance of learning to hear His voice and follow His lead... about the idols that we set up in place of God and what they do to us... about everything that He has for us, yet how we can't receive it unless we give all of ourselves to Him... how everything He has for us is everything that He knows we need, so we need to stop expecting it to look like what we think we need... and I got the summary of it all today.

Not Of This World. That's what she called this message, yet it could just as well have been called The Summary And Confirmation Of What God Has Been Showing Katie. Yet it is so wonderfully obvious that this IS what God has been showing me... that not only are we not of this world (John 17:16), He has made us ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Cor. 5:20). And that is, perhaps, the sweetest confirmation of the whole morning.

What is an ambassador? An ambassador is a representative of a ruling authority, and those in authority have chosen to send that person to another country. Yet, no matter how long the ambassador lives in that country, he never becomes a citizen of it. An ambassador also has the right to expect that the authority that sent him will supply his needs. He does not make his living from the country he resides in, he relies totally on those who sent him. In return, he is expected to represent the agenda, plans, and viewpoint of that government. He is not to advance his own ideas or follow his own itinerary or have his own agenda.

And that's what God says He has made us! When he chose us, we became strangers and aliens here on earth. (Eph. 2:19) We are now citizens of heaven, with both the responsibilities and the rights of that citizenship. Take finances, for example. We are not supposed to be looking to our paycheck to supply our needs, for God is obligated to provide for us, since He has made us His ambassadors!

Would you like more verses about how we are not of this world, and what it means?

Hebrews 11:13-16 - God says that because we desire a country better than the world, He is not ashamed to be called our God. (I have to say that the flip side of that is something to be dreaded... that if we are content with the world, He is ashamed to be called our God. Father, forgive us!)

John 15:19, John 17:14, and Matt. 24:9 - The world will hate us because we don't belong here. We need to understand why we have the effect that we do on others... why they often hate us when we haven't done anything. We need to stop getting offended and stop acting surprised, because if we are acting as proper ambassadors, it has nothing to do with us! Rather, the world can sense who and what we are. In reality, we've got a major problem if the world loves us!

John 16:33 - God has chosen us, and He tells us to be of good cheer and courageous when the world persecutes us, because this means our citizenship is truly with Him... and He has overcome the world! It might not look like that on the natural realm, but we must learn to look at things from God's perspective... that our time here on earth is a limited assignment we've been given, and the victory is already won in the final scheme of things.

More verses that say we are strangers and aliens: 1 Pet. 2:11, Psalm 39:12, Ephesians 2:19, and 1 Peter 1:17.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion