Workshop a Great Event!
Approximately 20 people attended a workshop at The Salvation Army, in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, on March 5th, 2011. The morning began with a time of worship, with Dion Durdle. Janice Keats led the group in discussion on how to overcome personal barriers and deep and hidden burdens that some people carry. Oftentimes grudges and bitterness grips the soul within the body of believers, resulting in a loss of freedom and joy that they ought to possess. The Bible has many answers on how to overcome and depend on God with these issues.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Sometimes hurts can escalate into bitterness, which may cause trouble for many. The root problem may be small in the beginning but if it’s not dealt with it becomes more intense and may spread out unto others. But God has made provision to help people overcome these barriers. “But now by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way.” (Romans 7:6) NIV
As we look to God as our conqueror he will help us overcome these obstacles. Once we place our complete trust in God the way becomes clearer. “So I say live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16)
There was a discussion on how guilt weighs heavily on a person. Sometimes a Christian bears unnecessary guilt when God’s Word says that it’s the guilt of sin that He is pointing out. In other words, God shows that He wants the sin dealt with. Psalm 32:4,5 says, “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and you did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
One such lady shared how she felt unworthy and undeserving of God’s grace of living a life of holiness for God. She always seemed to put herself down, bearing unnecessary guilt. Toward the end of the workshop she stood with raised hands and shouted, “I am worthy! I am worthy!”
There’s no need to live with the guilt that saps the energy. God’s Word says to, continue to work out your salvation. (Philippians 2:12). Journeying with God is a lifelong and learning process.
Discussion groups were formed and given various topics to discuss and share.
As an exercise of faith, the group was given photo of a broken jar and was asked to write down some of those burdens that are stored up that needed to be released. After which, a photo was given of an illuminated jar to write praises, signifying God as being the centre of their lives. Overall, it was a beneficial time of openness and dialogue.
Do you remember when God do come through after praying and waiting? How do you feel then? Relief? Joy? Satisfaction? Did you remember to praise God for His guidance? Maybe your special prayer request hasn’t even been answered yet and it seems that it’s nowhere in sight. Yes, it may seem that way but what does God’s Word tell us about that? Do you ever wonder and say, “Where is God when I need Him?”
God is in our midst to hear our prayers and grant forgiveness. God promised the Holy Spirit to seal the promises that He has made until the day of redemption. The Bible says that the Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us everything He promised and that He has purchased us to be his own people.
God is in our midst to protect, guide and strengthen us. In the Old Testament there’s a verse that says: “For the Lord is the one who goes with you. He will not fail or forsake you.” (Deut.31:6) He walks with us all the time and He answers our prayers all the time but…it is always in His time! The prophet Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain and for 3 ½ years it didn’t. Then he prayed that it would and God gave the rain again.
Sometimes our prayers need immediate attention. In the old testament, Queen Esther was faced with the potential death of her people, her entire race that lived in the region. So she urged her people to pray for 3 days just to muster up the courage to talk to her King to plead with him to stop the death of her people. God heard the cries of her people. Job was another person who suffered and needed God in a desperate situation, but he continued to trust and believe that God would come through despite all the trials that he went through.
In James chapter 5 we read about Job’s patience. “For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for He is full of tenderness and mercy.” (James 5:10,11)
Are you able then, to rest in the Lord? To rest on His promises? You can trust the God of glory to shelter and comfort you when the going is tough. Just watch God shine His grace upon you! Just watch God at work as you pass on to others the same hope and grace He sustained you with!
On the journey!!! Jan
Be Careful What you Wish For
My husband and I lived in Fort McMurray in the early 1980’s. While there, we met and befriended many wonderful people. After a few months we became close friends with about 25 people. On most weekends we would congregate either at the local campground, or at each other’s homes and many of us would take excursions to Edmonton on weekends, which was a common thing to do.
Since moving back east in 1986, I’ve always wished that I could see them again. I always kept fond memories of the fun times we would have and how unique our relationships were. I never had the desire to move back to Fort McMurray, although I still have family there. So, I simply kept my memories as they were, memories. That was until this past summer.
My husband and I visited Gander, NL this past summer and we decided to purchase tickets to see the band, Great Big Sea. We met a friend we knew from those days in Fort McMurray, who left the city when we did, in 1986. She told us that her brother was home visiting and pointed him out to us among the crowd. We approached him and wow, what a delight to see our good friend that we hadn’t seen in nearly 25 years. There were hugs between Jeff and my husband, Gerald, and then it was my turn, then we hugged again and again. I got caught up in the emotion and cried tears of joy, which caused everyone else to follow suit. My dream was unfolding.
Shortly afterwards, another friend came along, then another and then another, All this took place rather quickly. We were all overjoyed of what was taking place. People around us were staring and perhaps wondering what the commotion was all about. It was almost a shock to me because I wasn’t expecting to see them, and we haven’t been in touch with each other either. We counted about 20 out of the 25 of the group of friends we associated with. This group of friends went back to NL to celebrate a family reunion and all decided to attend the concert. But to see almost all of my close friends from that time of my life wasn’t only what I wished to see some day, it was a dream come true! It was truly an amazing experience for me.
We parted that night with our hearts warmed, and for me, personally satisfied knowing that dreams do come true; my dream came true! On the way back to Nova Scotia, I pondered the new memories, but I also began to think about my reunion in heaven, when I meet once again many friends and family who have already left this earthly home. If I was overjoyed after some 25 years of not seeing my friends, how much more joy can there be when I reach heaven to see my loved ones and meet my Saviour face to face. The longing and anticipation will not only be a wish or a dream, it will be a promise completed from God’s Word. He promised eternal life, which is my future home in Heaven. Awaiting me there will be my Saviour and loved ones.
God is in our midst to hear our prayers and grant forgiveness. God is in our hearts to seal the promises that He has made until the day of redemption. The Bible says that the Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us everything He promised and that He has purchased us to be his own people.God is in our midst to protect, guide and strengthen us. In the Old Testament there’s a verse that says: “For the Lord is the one who goes with you. He will not fail or forsake you.” Deut.31:6
He walks with us all the time and He answers our prayers all the time but…it is always in His time! The prophet Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain and for 3 ½ years it didn’t then he prayed that it would and God gave the rain. His wait was only 3 ½ years . My wait was 25 years for my dream to come true.A verse in Proverbs says: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) We can’t always see the way before us, but God’s purpose always prevails. When God makes a promise he will see it through.
To think that God gave me the desires of my heart and He delighted me with His favour. What a blessing! What overwhelming joy! And it is no coincidence then that my favourite Bible verse is found in Psalm 20:5, which reads, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
What is The Fight? Ephesians 6:10-20
In Ephesians chapter 6 we learn that as Christians we have a fight on our hands. It has nothing to do with fighting people who we get mad at or has a lifelong beef with. The Bible says that the fight is against the unseen, which is Satan’s powers; it is against darkness and evil.
Verse 12 says: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.”
We do not always know what the evil plans and schemes are. That’s why God tells us to keep our guard up and be watchful in case those testing times come our way. God’s word says: “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will be standing firm.”
The armor is the belt of truth, shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The main purpose of putting on the full armor of God is so that we can stand against the enemy when trials come our way. God gives us strength so that we can stand firm. We can stand firm in our faith because God provides the power that enables us to fight the good fight of faith. So what is it that we must do to win the battles? Put on truth, faith, Salvation and the Word of God, and remember to pray always.
In order to avail of God’s power we must, exercise these disciplines in order to conquer the battle. Faith is found in God, Salvation is found in God, truth is found in God and the Scriptures are found in God. God tells us to use it, exercise your faith, read your Bible, and He also charges us to pray always. Verse 18 says, “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers.”
You may be wondering what it is that may come our way that we have to keep out guards up? Why do we have to put on the armor of God? It may be temptation, It may be unforeseen circumstances, it may be discouragement, it may be bad news etc. Whatever it may be we need to keep strong in the faith and depend upon God to get through, because He does give peace when needed the most.
With faith in Christ, we make the enemy’s work very difficult, why? Because we are “more than conquerors in Christ.” Matthew 16:18 says: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the powers of hell will not conquer it.” So don’t think that you can’t make it as a Christian. We must stay plugged in to God. We must believe that God will deliver on His promises. And strength comes from relationship building with God by prayer, Bible reading and faith.
Faith Like A Rock
A co-worker continually enters my office for a brief chat about life, family issues, health concerns etc. He has had brain surgery several years ago, and suffers from seizures periodically. He’s been having complications due to differing medical prescriptions that doctors prescribe to get the seizures under control. What’s so amazingly funny is that each visit there is a different bruise located somewhere on his body.
On one occasion he had a fall and he came in my office with a bruised eye and a lump on his head and a badly scraped knee. I asked what happened and he replied, “Oh I had a seizure and fell while walking down the street.” Another day he came in and his eye was badly bruised and his glasses were all scratched up. I faced him and laughed because he was so nonchalant about it. He had taken another fall.
This scene repeated itself over and over in my office. It was as though he was preparing for a spot in a movie and each time getting more make-up on for a crash scene. Even though Jimmy was seriously ill, he appeared to be healthy and strong. Without a doubt he had strong faith. Among our conversations was a discussion about his faith in God. Even if he were to die sitting in my office chair he said that he was ready to go and he showed no fear. His confidence in God’s promises was reassuring.
Suddenly, I was taken away from the sight of the bruises and bumps and scrapes, I saw a man who was as steady as a rock. According to the Bible, this rock is Jesus. Jesus is referred to many names in the Bible. In Isaiah 26:4, he is named the “Rock Eternal” The verse says: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal.” When I think about Jesus as being the rock, I think about Him as being firm, steadfast, secure, powerful, solid, unswerving and true. When I think of Jesus as being the “rock eternal,” I think about Him as being true to His promises, certain of who He is.
He promises life abundantly, peace and security in the midst of trouble, and a secured place in heaven if the decision is made to follow Him and trust Him and believe in the promises. We are held up by His mighty power and He is the rock of all ages.
Psalm 139: 7 – 10 David says: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there; If I ride on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me fast.”
Yes, He is worthy of our praise, faith and love and expectations of answered prayers. The Bible says to be thankful in all circumstances of life. Who feels like praising God when we find ourselves in the heavy trials of life? Very few perhaps, but our faith allows us to trust no matter what the circumstances are and since Jesus promised that he will never leave us or forsake us, we can learn to rely on Him for strength and guidance. We learn to trust and acquire faith; we learn to lean on the solid rock!
May we all learn to place our trust in Him in all circumstances of life!
When Heavy Prayer Is Needed
I was looking through my collection of books one day and I came across an old receipt that was tucked in part way through one of the books. I picked up the fragile receipt and quickly became startled. The first item of transaction was “Prayer, heavy.” When I saw those words I was very surprised. “How could I purchase heavy prayer at Canadian Tire?” I thought. I couldn’t read the second item of purchase. Puzzled, I looked and squinted my eyes on the receipt trying to figure out what heavy prayer could be.
What is heavy prayer? What does it look like? What aisle did I find it in? Finally as I looked more intently I noticed another letter in front of the word Prayer. It read, “Sprayer, Heavy.” The ‘S’ was slightly faded off the paper which then became “prayer.” Then I remembered that my husband and I purchased a heavy sprayer several months prior to use on our vehicles. I concluded that this was meant to be a devotional message to share. It certainly was an eye opener; especially finding the word, ‘prayer’ on a receipt.
What is heavy prayer? We know that prayer is conversation with God. We also know that God always answers our prayers whether it is yes, no, or wait. But what is the determining factor when we go before Him? Is our approach to God’s throne dependant upon our need for the moment? Or for an ongoing need? What about the deep secret burdens that weigh heavily upon us?
Is there anything that prevents our prayers from being answered? If it’s faith then what happened to our faith? The devil may have a stronghold on God’s people, much like the days of Pharaoh in the Old Testament. He held God’s people captive and forced them to intense physical labour. They cried out to God day and night for God to rescue them, which he evidently did. Perhaps our people have not yet cried out to God to be rescued. Where does the devil work at his best? Among God’s people, of course. Where does he throw in a little confusion and strife and schemes? Among God’s people, of course.
Sometimes along the Christian Journey all kinds of negative thoughts and turmoil may interfere with walking in peace and harmony with the Master. If we don’t lose heart during the discouraged moments then we have overcome the same temptations that Jesus Himself suffered. How do we then keep forging ahead? Just remember when we fall back, come back! Don’t even entertain the idea of falling back and staying back. Jesus didn’t remain in the garden when He was perhaps at His weakest moment. He prayed to the Father and proceeded to follow His Father’s Will; yes, even death on a cross. Each of God’s children has the opportunity to pray and continue in the journey. That’s where peace is! That’s where joy is! That’s where we belong, in the everlasting arms of the Father!
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Corinthians 10:13NIV)
Keep strong in the Lord! He will light your path along the journey. When you give your burdens to God. What will He do? He will take it. He will rescue you just like He rescued His people out of Pharaoh’s grip. And yes, even those heavy burdens. Pass your burdens over to Him and be comforted by the gentleness of the Father.
Discovering God’s Power
Well there’s not much one can do with a cake that has no milk or flour is there? In fact a cake cannot take form without those main ingredients. Can Christians live without the power of God? How does God’s power work within us? The Scriptures informs us of the answers. In Ephesians chapter 3, we discover how He works.
Ephesians 3: 14-19
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. And to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
- So, He gave us the power to understand His love, so that we could follow Him.
- He gave us power of inner strength to live for Him through the Holy Spirit.
- In fact, He gives the power to live daily for Him because even though we may not fully understand how deep His love is for us, He still gives us His power to be filled with the fullness of life, and that power comes from God!
Verse 20 says: ” Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.”
Now all this comes through faith, through daily guidance, through daily prayer and through daily walking with the Lord! Remember one thing: His power is available! Ephesians 1:7 says: “He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.”
Ponder on His power!!
It’s Harvest Time
I recently heard a story about a woman who went into a store and found God behind the counter. He asked her what she wanted, and she said “I want to buy a little joy and prosperity and a lot of peace — not just for myself — but for everyone.” God replied, “We don’t sell the fruit here…we just sell the seeds. Once you get the seeds, you have the power and authority to produce the fruits yourself.”
Have you looked out your back door and scanned the fields lately? Did you become curious enough to want to know if your planted seeds were rising up to life? or Have you been planting any seeds at all? Jesus spoke figuratively about sowing and reaping but His purpose was to explain the meaning of reaching out to others with the Gospel message. Why?
What is God’s work? “The work of God is this: to believe in the One he has sent.” (John 6:29) Then what is the work that is required from the believers? Jesus said, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So if we are to believe, what is it that we believe? Do we believe that God came down from heaven? Do we believe that he gives life to the whole world? Do we believe that in order for the Gospel to be preached we have a part to play? Is it enough to believe that Jesus exists? Even the devil exists. We have the duty of taking the good news as we travel the narrow road. We have the duty of spreading the good seed on the fertile ground along our journey to heaven. Think about it…didn’t someone plant your seed? Were you encouraged in the faith? Did someone remember you in prayer?
“Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life…” (John 6:40) Isn’t that our earnings? our wages? If we invest in a little sowing and reaping don’t you think the principle of getting a return on our investment will come about? An investment for eternity; more wayward souls brought home to glory. Or do we even believe the importance of pointing the way of Salvation?
What did Jesus do? Let’s pause by John chapter 4 for a moment. When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman, she realized her need for God. As a result of her newfound joy, she ran back to her village to tell everyone she saw, and they all came running to see this man who knew all about her. The seeds were scattered all over the village. It was fertile ground! The people needed to hear the good news about the Christ.
Seeds continued to germinate throughout Jesus’ journey. The Bible says that crowds followed him and were amazed. Seeds were scattered all over the mountain as Jesus miraculously fed the five thousand. Didn’t they witness a miracle before their eyes? Didn’t they learn about Jesus as Lord at that moment? Seeds were planted in the jailer’s heart when Paul was miraculously freed from prison. His entire family became believers. Seeds were gathered in the hearts of the Centurions’ home when his servant was healed. Yes, these families became believers, believers in Jesus, the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world.
What can we do? We can share the good news. We can wait upon God to water the ground. We can till the ground and keep it maintained. In other words, we can share the good news of salvation to people and maintain a friendship with them and introduce them to God’s greatness. And all the while we are in the planting mode, God gives us the power and authority to speak and sow in his name. It’s not about a sowing a new plantation for the believers. It’s about reaping all what has been sown, row-by-row, person-by-person. God came to offer life; therefore God will bring the increase!
Remember My Chains! Scripture Reference: Acts 22: 3-16
Remember My Chains. That’s what the apostle Paul said when he concluded the book of Colossians. I don’t think that Paul wanted his fellow Christians to run out and put on chains and shackles to remember him by. He encouraged the believers to continue in the faith and to carry on the work in the Lord.
First of all it would be good to reflect on why Paul was in prison and in chains in the first place. It was because of his faith and sharing Christ’s message. He said in Philippians 1:13 “For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.”
Paul was a missionary and he traveled extensively planting churches. Paul was known to be a Christian. In his former days he persecuted the church. He actually put people in prison himself because of their faith. But then he met God on the Damascus road. Paul’s life changed after that moment. Paul was converted, he became a believer and he immediately followed Christ.
So how does a new believer end up in prison for sharing his faith and building up the church? Normally, a jail term wouldn’t bring joy or comfort, but in Paul’s case he rejoiced not because he was a prisoner, but because the Gospel was still being preached. He stated that his fellow brothers of Christ have been encouraged to speak the gospel of Christ more courageously, because of his chains.
It didn’t really matter to Paul how the Gospel was preached. He said, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice…” (Philippians 1:18)
The buzz on the street was that Paul was in jail for spreading God’s message. That made him glad because the message of God was the buzzword. That’s why Paul was so joyful while he was in prison. The good news continues as God’s messengers steps out in faith.