Thursday, July 24, 2014

Faith is the Victory



When Jesus heard this, he was astonished
and said to those following him, “I tell you
the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel
with such great faith.”
                        Matthew 8:10 NIV 


     Matthew 8 recounts the story of a centurion with faith to believe that Jesus could perform a long-distance healing of his paralyzed suffering servant. He believed all Jesus had to do was speak the word and his servant would be healed. As a result of the centurion’s faith, his servant was healed and the centurion commended by Jesus for his great faith.
 
      “Indeed, there is nothing God will not do for those who will dare to step out in faith onto what appears to be only a mist. As they take their first step, they will find a rock beneath their feet.” F. B. Meyer
 
     We often hear the quote, “He is the wind beneath my wings.” True! But, I like this statement by F.B. Meyer. It reminds me that Christ is the rock on whom I stand.
 
     There have been times in my life when I did not need wind to soar as I could not even get off the ground. Loneliness, inadequacy, the feeling of being forsaken, emptiness of spirit and prayers that seemed to hit the ceiling and bounce back in my face left me with one thing—faith! No matter what my circumstances, I have always known that although I may not feel the presence of God, He remains steadfast and strong and near. I cling to that faith when all else fails.
 
     One of the advantages of having decades of life behind me is the list of opportunities I have had to see God work. Faith builders! I have seen Him work miracles in the sanctuary as a young woman healed of cerebral palsy rose from her wheelchair and walked to her mother for the first time in years. I have been present when a pastor, after reminding his congregation that they may never have another opportunity to say yes to Christ, walked to the back of the sanctuary and dropped dead.  The church dropped to its knees and after many long minutes of waiting and praying God restored his life. Faith builder! (His wife told him never to use that illustration again!)
 
 
     While traveling on our bus during the years of our singing ministry, I heard Him speak to my heart with one word “Pray.” Although I did not know what it meant, I urged my friend to join me in prayer for our traveling safety only to avoid an accident before we could complete our prayers. Faith builder!
 
     I recognize the love, mercy, grace and hand of God in my life over the years. You do too. These examples are unique to me. I know you have your own. Remember them. Allow them to build your faith. Acknowledge that no matter the circumstances, when you step out in faith believing, Jesus is the rock beneath your feet. He is the Cornerstone of our faith. He is the Rock of our salvation. Jesus never fails!
 
     The next time you feel defeat headed your way, do not slump down with your head bowed in that defeat. Stand straight and tall and remind yourself that you have faith, and that faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
 
 ©Joyce Powell
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Intimacy With the Almighty


O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as
you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness
all around you?      
                          Psalm 89:8 NIV 
 
 

Rainbow - God's Reminder of His Presence
     Seeking intimacy with the Almighty, the God of all creation, the One and Only Eternal God is a relationship worthy of pursuit! It is difficult to imagine that as God’s children when we kneel in prayer we actually enter the throne room of our Heavenly Father. Yet in the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John on the Isle of Patmos, Revelation 5:8 confirms the existence of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (ESV)


     God knows my name—your name. Psalm 139 reveals some things God knows about each of us. He knew me before He formed me. As a writer I grasp that concept in a limited way. Before I put a character on paper, I already know her, where she came from, what she has been through, what she is hiding from others. I have an intimate relationship with that character because I created her.
 
     Psalm 139 continues to tell us that God wrote down the number of my days before I had lived one of them. Verse 17 conveys that God thinks about me—that His thoughts toward me are priceless and innumerable. He sees me and knows what is in my heart—when I sit down and get up and what I am thinking. God knows exactly how I live and what I speak.
 
     Yet, knowing me—knowing you—knowing my faults and failures, my warts and wrinkles, my pride and inconsistent love for others, His steadfast love for me holds on and will not let me go! In Luke 11:9 God’s Word encourages me to ask, seek, knock—I must do that by prayer. In Revelation 3:20 Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (ESV)
 
     We have an invitation to intimacy with Almighty God. He is calling us to know Him, and I cannot think of a more worthy pursuit in all of life than to know my God. So, I will keep seeking, asking, knocking on the door to the throne room of heaven. I will continue to open my heart’s door to the Almighty. I want to sit with Him, listening as He speaks to my heart of the wonders of His will for my life. I want to see Him in His power and glory. I want to know Him like I have never known Him before.
 
 
     Whether He whispers my name or causes circumstances to direct my path, whether I am excited or fearful in His service, whether I am already equipped to do His calling or am walking on new ground; I trust His steadfast merciful faithfulness to bring about in my life those things which will bring honor and glory to the Almighty Loving Merciful Creator Eternal God.
 
     You may be far ahead of me on your journey to intimacy with Almighty God, or you may be just beginning. Either way there is joy in the journey as we draw closer to the day when we shall see Him face to face. In the meantime, I pray that you and I will allow nothing to interfere with our quest for intimacy with Almighty God!
 
©Joyce Powell
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Light the World


For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the
Lord. Live as children of light. 
            Ephesians 5:8   NIV 

Light reflects. When you strike a match in a dark room, you have enough light to walk through the darkness. A lit candle in that same dark room can provide adequate light by which to work and read. The purpose of light is to dispel darkness.


It is noteworthy that Ephesians 5:8 does not say that you were once of darkness but are now of light. It says you were once darkness, but now you are light. In Matthew five, Jesus told those listening to His Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world.”  
 

Thinking about the difference between being in the light and being light reminded me that when you are in the light you are in the reflection of something or someone else. When you are the light, you are the one shining forth and others are standing in your reflection as you provide the light needed in order to see. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  
 
 
Therefore, as a believer in and a follower of Christ we serve a dual purpose. We walk in the light of Christ, and we are His light in this world. We shine in order to light the path that will lead others to Christ.
 
 
After thinking about this, I was compelled to ask myself if I am simply soaking in the reflection of the light of Christ today or if I am His light shining in the darkness. What about you? Is your light shining?
 
 
As children of God in Christ, it is up to you and me to go and light the world.
 
© Joyce Powell
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Grace Changes Everything


They have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the lamb.
                           Revelation 7:14 NIV

     I find it fascinating that God can take a heart made black by sin, dip it in the crimson blood of Jesus, and it becomes as white as snow. His grace, unmerited favor, loving kindness, His outward expression of love for mankind—for you and for me—changes everything!

     The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well came in her sin and left with eternal salvation. The leper, one among ten, came to Jesus crying unclean and left in purity of body and soul. The woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus as a last resort after years of suffering, and with one touch of the hem of the garment of Jesus—whole! Throughout the Bible we read accounts of how God’s grace changed life after life. God’s grace changes everything.

     God’s grace continues to change lives. Some years ago my husband and I sang in a Southern Gospel quartet. During a revival for a small church in our hometown, our group was asked to provide the music. One night we noticed a man seated near the back—alone. He appeared troubled but attentive to the songs. After the service, the men in our group made their way to the man on the pew. His story—chilling!

     Life had not been kind to him. On that particular evening, he planned to kill himself. While sitting with his loaded gun, he noticed the newspaper that told about a revival and the Southern Gospel music—his favorite. He decided to attend the revival to hear the music and then return home and pull the trigger. After the music, however, he was drawn to remain for the preaching.

     As the men spoke with him, heard his story, and ministered to his heart, God’s grace intervened, and he walked out of that little church a changed man. Hope replaced hopelessness. Mercy replaced despair. God’s grace changed everything.

 
     There is no pit so deep that God’s grace cannot pull you out. There is no sin so black that God’s grace cannot save you. There is no hurt so bad that God’s grace cannot heal it. God’s grace changes everything.

     Today, I pray for an opportunity to reach out and tell someone about God’s grace.

Grace is a river that flows from Calvary
Grace is a fountain of life for you and me
In the presence of Jehovah, grace makes paupers royalty
Sinners are made holy

For grace changes everything

 

©Joyce Powell
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Grief, Be Still and Know


God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though the waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging…
Be still and know that I am God…
                Psalm 46:1-3, 10 NIV
 

     A few months ago my baby sister closed her eyes to the pain of earth and woke up to see the glories of heaven. The cares of this world fell like shackles unlocked and released from a prisoner’s leg. The momentary sting of death delivered her into the arms of Jesus.

     But overshadowing the joy of knowing she no longer suffers in a cancer-ridden body hangs the loneliness; a daily reminder she is gone.

     As Christians we do not grieve as those who have no hope. However, we do grieve. Sometimes family or friends require that we grieve along their timeline, and we feel pressured to get over it, move on with life or just stop thinking about it. Oh, that it were that easy.

     Having grieved before has not prepared me for this time of grieving. I find grief unique—different for a parent, a sibling, a spouse or a friend. Some days it consumes me as unexpected tears make a path from eyes to chin. Some days grief allows me to breathe and look forward with hope. On other days, the slightest sound irritates my nerve endings and I want to hide—even from those who love me.

      So it goes with grief. Bad days. Good days. Lonely days. Days of thanksgiving for the freedom from pain for the one I love. And, during this process of loving and losing and grieving, God waits. He continues to be my refuge and my strength—the One I run towards. He is the solid rock on which I stand without fear. He wraps His strong arms of compassion around me reminding me He is ever present.
 
 

 
     He does not grow weary with me on the days I appear stuck in my grief but encourages me to look forward in hope. He does not grow angry with me on the days I want to run and hide from the world but rather gently pushes me towards interaction with others. He does not give up on me when my heart beats fast in fear and anxiety but provides refuge under His wings.

     He will not allow me to get lost in my grief!

     Are you grieving? Join me today. Together, let’s sit at the feet of Jesus, feel the compassion of the Father and allow healing to begin.

 

© Joyce Powell  

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Seven Day Wait


And after seven days the waters of the flood
came upon the earth.
                                  Genesis 7:10 ESV  

     Imagine for a moment that you are in Noah’s position. God told him to build a boat because God was going to flood the earth. Noah obeyed, becoming the only man in his subdivision with a boat in his driveway. Neighbors began complaining about the eyesore distracting from the beautiful landscape of their peaceful community. They began to plead with Noah to tear that thing down or at least move it to some remote piece of land out of their sight. Then, after talking to him, they believed him to be crazy—build a boat—rain—God said? They decided to form a committee to pursue having him institutionalized.  

      His wife nagged him, his boys were embarrassed by his behavior—even the family dog seemed confused. But Noah kept building. Upon completion of the monstrosity, animals began showing up in the neighborhood—two by two they came. Giraffes! Elephants! Zebras! Sheep! They came, and they came and they came. Finally, amidst all the police cars, fire engines and ambulances, Noah escorted Mrs. Noah, his three boys and their wives into the ark. Then they waited! 

     Day one the crowds grew larger, day two they began taunting Noah, “Where is this rain you were talking about?” Noah believed God! Day three and four the crowds increased. Day five the crowds began to dwindle, walking away and shaking their heads in pity. Day six Mrs. Noah and the children are getting worried. Noah believed God! Day seven—a week of waiting! 

     Finally, after seven days, the rains came. Then the neighbors came—knocking on the ark begging Noah to open the door. The flood waters rose and the ark began to float. And life as Noah knew it would never be the same.  

     Have you been through a life-changing circumstance? Have you found yourself in a situation where you feel everything is out of control and you are getting direction for your life from friends and family, but the problem seems to grow as each of them offers a different solution for your situation? Have you finally heard from God about the direction you should take, but continue to get push back from those around you who believe you are making a mistake? Are you, like Noah, in that seven-day wait—believing God and hoping to be rescued? 

     Do not despair! Believe God! Obey God! Trust God! Like Noah, you too can find grace in the eyes of the LORD.  Today  a fresh beginning will provide opportunity to walk with God in new and exciting adventures. Do not be discouraged, and do not give up hope. Like Noah, you may have a seven-day wait but when God says, “Let’s Go” I guarantee it will be the ride of your life.  

© Joyce Powell
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Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Mercy Seat of Grace


Then put in the ark the testimony, which
I give you. Make an atonement cover of
pure gold…
                  Exodus 25:16-17 NIV  

     God’s directions to Moses regarding the building of the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle, included a chest made of acacia wood and overlaid inside and out with pure gold. It would be so holy the instructions for building included permanent rings into which the priests could slip gold-covered acacia wood poles which would allow them to carry the Ark of the Covenant without touching the Ark.

     The instructions included the most important part of the design—the atonement cover. The Ark was to be placed behind the tabernacle curtains where only the high priest could enter and once a year meet with God as the priest sprinkled the blood sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the Israelites.

     God’s grace delivered His law for the protection of His people. God’s grace also provided a plan for redemption in the face of disobedience.

     Each time the Israelites moved from place to place, the Tabernacle of God was disassembled. Only the priests could carry the Ark of the Covenant, and touching the Ark itself meant instant death. In this way, the Israelites were assured that God was with them as they wandered through the desert.

     Today’s Jews no longer have the Ark of the Covenant, and as archaeologists go in search of the “lost” Ark, documentaries are made hoping to be on site if the discovery of the ages is made.

     But God no longer tabernacles with man through an intermediary—a high priest. We no longer sprinkle the blood of goats and rams in order to seek forgiveness for sin. We no longer have to wait for the presence of God over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus came!

     Born of a virgin, Christ—the Anointed One, with sandaled feet on dusty roads, walked and talked with men. After He was crucified and laid in a borrowed tomb, He was resurrected the living, breathing, holy mercy seat of grace. No longer do we need a human intermediary in order to meet with God. Upon acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, we become the Tabernacle as the Holy Spirit of God enters into our hearts. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

     I don’t know about you, but I am grateful for immediate access to God’s mercy seat of grace. As Anne Graham Lotz simply but profoundly states, “Just Give Me Jesus!”

© Joyce Powell
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