Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another opportunity….

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to minister to a wonderful group of women for their Fall Retreat. Our theme was “How Is Your Soul”? It was a wonderful time and God really showed up and ministered to our hearts. During the afternoon free time we shot skeet. All I want to say about that time together is… All the ducks in Arkansas would have nothing to be concerned about if our group was the only ones hunting them during duck season. Just saying…

We are gearing up more and more for Kathmandu. It is only 8 weeks away. So hard to believe we are this close in. We had 5 more missionary women sponsored this past week. We are up to 26 with only 24 more to sponsor. Please continue to pray for hearts to be moved towards sponsorship. I love it when one of you calls me or I see you along the way and you tell me, “I see you have such and such number of missionary women sponsored so far.” This lets me know that you are following the trip and praying for the ladies. Thank you sooo much. I can’t even tell you how excited the women are that we are coming to Kathmandu. So many of them are working hard and having a difficult time since the “earthquakes”. Apart from Christ it would be impossible not to live in a state of fear in that environment, wondering if and when another “earthquake’ will come. Praise God for all the many ministries and relief organizations that are coming and going in that part of the world to help give hope, encouragement, food, water, etc. 
This week I want to encourage you to take time to encourage someone. Especially, those that don’t look like or act like they need it. Sometimes they are the ones that need it most. God knew we would need encouragement or He would not have said, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13 (ESV)

Love you guys…


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Praise …..

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat.  The theme was “Praising Jesus”. If God has positioned you to minister His truths in such a fashion you will understand when I say “I don’t know what the women gleaned from the messages but God really spoke to me in the preparation time.” I don’t suppose I have ever dug so deeply into the subject of praise even though I have heard and been trained up in powerful biblical truths about it over my 25 years as a believer. Of course only a portion of what you pray about, research and study over for hours and days of preparation ever really make it to the intended group. But, my heart will be sealed forever with those truths this side of heaven. 

The biblical stories of those that praised Him sacrificially in the middle of their circumstance has never been as clear as it is to me now. But we see it throughout scriptures as men and women who are fully devoted to God praise Him in spite of their circumstances. I encourage us as His children to glean the understanding of the power of praise as we continue into these last days. There is a principle that I want to share with you that I gleaned from the story of Paul and Silas’ imprisonment that I had not considered before my preparation time last week. Please read Act 16:16-34 first.

Acts 16:16-34 (ESV)
16  As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17  She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18  And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19  But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.
20  And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21  They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22  The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24  Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26  and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27  When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29  And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31  And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34  Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Ok, common sense principles we get from the story:
  • Paul and Silas were going about the business of serving the LORD with the calling He put on their lives.
  • The enemy was at work (through the girl with the divination spirit) trying to distract them.
  • Paul took authority over the enemy (spirit) in the Name of Jesus Christ.
  • The men who were not able to use the woman for gain took up an offense towards Paul and Silas and stirred up the magistrates (law) towards them as well.
  • They were beaten and thrown into jail (the dungeon, darkness) and their feet shackled.

You know what it’s like to be serving the LORD and have the enemy attack, to speak the truth of the LORD over it and have someone condemn you for it, to have others come along and take up an offense and believe the lies of the enemy, to be bound up by the enemy. 
Did you start praising God in the middle of your storm? Did you praise Him for all that He is doing, has done, and is going to do with tears rolling down your face and a broken heart? 
Paul and Silas praised Him! And as they praised Him they were set free from the bondage of the shackles. Here is the biblical principle I gleaned from this story for the first time…though they were set free from the bondage of the shackles they did not flee their circumstances. They could have bolted out of that cell but they didn’t. They remained (waited on God) in their circumstance even though He had set them free from bondage. The result was their testimony of waiting on God led to the salvation of the jailer and his whole family. WOW!! 

Are you in the dungeon? Is darkness surrounding you, do you feel hopeless, is the stench of defeat holding you in bondage? Offer a sacrifice of praise! Praise Him not because you feel like it but because He deserves our praise. He is worthy to be praised. And when He releases you from the bondage, don’t run out of your circumstance before He leads you. Your testimony in the storm may be the very thing that causes another to look up and call on the name of the LORD.

The following song reminds us of this truth:

We have 21 missionaries sponsored as of this writing.  Thank you so much for your faithfulness to the ministry of Pure Joy International and the desire God has given us to help keep our missionaries and missionary families on the field of service to which God has called them. Please continue to pray as the team is in the preparation stages of the trip. Pray for the remaining 29 missionary women to be sponsored. Remember our theme is “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”. Pray for the worship, messages, gifting that is taking place. Thanks to all of you in local churches here in the U.S. that commit to pray, gift, give and go. His heart beats through all of you to the “ends of the earth”.

Love You with the Love of our Holy God.