Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Crumb Snatchers"

Mark 7:27  "Jesus told her, "First I should help my own family... It isn't right to take food from the chldren and throw it to the dogs."

After telling the religious leaders the meaning of clean and unclean....Jesus now heads for "unclean" Gentile country - Tyre.    Interesting that Jesus would go there.... when you remember what Jesus said about Tyre in Matthew 11:21.  "There Jesus began to denounce the cities where He had done most of his miracles....."For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre...their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse."

I can imagine the religious leaders saying, “Why is he going there? What is he doing in Gentile country?  Doesn’t he know that these people are unclean?” Even his disciples had to be wondering, “Jesus, why are we here?   Shouldn’t we be preaching to our own people? 

What I glean from this....first we are to share with our family, neighbors, co-workers...with those all around us. And those who are DIFFERENT than us.  Even to a wicked city like Tyre....The wickedness and idolatry of this city are frequently denounced by the prophets and it's final destruction predicted (Isa 23:1Jer 25:22Eze 26;28:1-19Amo 1:9,10Zec 9:2-4).  But, here a church was founded soon after the death of Stephen, and Paul, on his return from his third missionary journey spent a week teaching with the disciples there (Act 21:4).

Why do we look and long for a place to go that is NOT like it because I/we have forgotten that our purpose here on earth isn't for finding our comfortable, safe, peaceful place...and wait for the LORD's return. We are to go to those around us to those who desire a deep repentance.

So who are these "Crumb Snatchers" and where do we find them?   Probably, in places like Tyre...where wickedness and idolatry are out of control.   Those who deserve forgiveness the least...need forgiveness the most.  That's when I got saved...reading Tarot cards at with my boyfriend, drinking and doing drugs....and that's when inside my heart was crying out...didn't know what it was I was crying for...until I saw some "crumbs on the floor".

Blessings on your day,

"A Bitter Cup Turns to Sweetness"

Matthew 26  "A Bitter Cup Turns to Sweetness"

In Matthew 26 we see Jesus....In the darkest hour of his life, choosing not to withdraw into himself, but to connect with the Father in prayer.  His soul is in torment, his flesh desires to avoid the suffering that is to come... yet, even at this difficult time, Jesus goes to prayer and willingly submits to the Father, willing chooses to drink from the cup of suffering.  

We all know that our life (if we live long enough) will be affected with a certain amount of suffering. We will all be betrayed by someone we considered a friend, we will all face death in some form... some of which will cause a great amount of suffering and pain.  The example of the struggle that Jesus went through can give us comfort, strength, and direction when we too face difficult times....Like Jesus, we can pour out our heart to God...Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me...while simultaneously choosing to trust His purposes, proclaiming, as Jesus did, "....your will not mine." Matthew 26:39.

When I consider that Jesus looked fully at the cup of suffering and still chose to drink of that cup...I stand in awe.  He could have called thousands of angels to protect Him and yet He loved me, you and the whole world so much...He chose not to:

"Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly?"  In Matthew 26:52

Jesus chooses to look beyond the cup... beyond the Sin, the Suffering, the Sacrifice... and even the Separation... and in the bottom of that cup was the bottom line, the one thing that turned that bitter cup into sweetness.  Salvation...He was and is our only hope!

First, Jesus loves the Father and it was His greatest desire to do God's will in God's timing...that is why He prayed the same thing three times.  But, Jesus  loves you....He loves me... and that is why He looked beyond all that the cup had to offer and He got up from praying, dusted himself off, released the disciples from the weariness of prayer and he went down the "via del a rosa'... the way of suffering.  All that we may be saved today. (Romans 5:8)

"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). 

And to quote Pastor James MacDonald:  Well, here I am - present and accounted for. It's the hard times and the unhealthy times and the hurting times that reveal my weaknesses. And it's also during those times that God
shows up strong.  

1 Samuel 30: 6 ..."But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God."

In His Strength,

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Acts 16:14,15  "...the LORD opened Lydia's heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying and was baptized...and she asked her guests.  ..."come and stay at my home."  And she urged us until we did."

Lydia, a new believer is already putting 3 John 1:8 into practice..."

We ought therefore to show hospitality" 

Practicing hospitality is modeled for us throughout the Old and New Testaments. Again and again, we see that the purpose was to serve others and to be a vehicle for God's grace.   

1 Peter 4:9 & 10  Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

I found it interesting that in the Webster's dictionary we find the definition for hospitality wedged between the word "hospice," which is a shelter and the word "hospital" which is a place of healing.  

As we open our homes, hearts and lives to others...we are given an opportunity to give to others...something that the LORD has given to us....whether it's a meal or words of encouragement.  Matthew 25:35...I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.  I was lonely and you made me welcome.   Hospitality is simply to say, I care, I love you, and I have prepared a place for you....

I had a friend years ago (she was in her 90's and with the LORD now)...she would never let me leave her home without first praying for me...she would say, "the LORD gave me this home to use for His glory...let's pray."  I loved that about her!

My desire would be that whenever someone was in my home that as they leave they would be able to say what we read in Luke 24:32 “Were not our hearts burning within us while he (she) talked with us on the road (in her house) and opened the Scriptures to us?”  

Father, would you use my home for Your purposes...make it a place of encouragement, a refuge, a sanctuary for others..a place of healing by the sharing of Your Words of hope.  And may I be like Lydia, who makes it clear that she isn't just saying the words, "come to my home" just to say them...she really meant it and wanted them to know that.  
In Jesus name, Amen.

love, Sharon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Surprised by Answered Prayer?"

Acts 12:5,7b  "But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him...and the chains fell off his wrists."

When we link hands with God through prayer, chains will break.  Do you believe this?  Or are we surprised when our prayers are answered?  

The church is praying earnestly, night and day for Peter...Peter is in prison, chained between two guards, and yet he sleeps.  Their prayers are answered...but, they are surprised. And I'm surprised that they are looks like faith to me.

I can't help but think of Mark 9:24 when a father, whose son is possessed by a demon, and he comes to Jesus asking for help.  "But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  The man doesn't seem to sure if Jesus can help.  The "if" in his words reveal his lack of faith.  So Jesus says, if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  When we trust God, we will take Him at His Word, and we will know that all His promises are true, that all things are possible with Christ. 

I like the response of the father, he doesn't try to back peddle, try to change what he said to make it sound like he doesn't doubt..." what I meant to say is, "I know You can, but not sure if that's your will for my son."   No, immediately he is open and honest with Jesus..."Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

The father in this story believed in Jesus' power to deliver his son...that's why the church was praying and why Peter could sleep even though facing a trial....that's why they came to Jesus. Their unbelief was not a rejection of God's just seemed too good to be true.  They have faith...but are in need of more.

Spurgeon said:  “Help my unbelief” is something a man can only say by faith. “While men have no faith, they are unconscious of their unbelief; but, as soon as they get a little faith, then they begin to be conscious of the greatness of their unbelief.” 

Peter is no novice disciple, when he preaches, thousands believe.  When he heals, demons run. When he prays, the dead live again.  Visions and miracles are happening all around him.  The church is witness to all this too.  And yet, when they ask for the impossible and the impossible happens...they doubt.  

I've been surprised too many times by answered prayer. I cry out too"Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!"   In the greek "help" run to the cry of those in danger, bring aid, to succor.  Father, here my cry and bring help to those I love who are in need of your deliverance.  I believe that prayer breaks the chains, the sins that binds the heart of my prodigal.  Lord, I believe but help my unbelief today. Increase my faith and help me to stand in full assurance of Your promises.   In Jesus name, amen.

Standing in Him,

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Right in Front of Your Face"

Acts 11:8, 9 NLT  "Not so, Lord," Peter replied...  But the voice from heaven came again, "If God says something is acceptable, don't say it isn't."

Several years ago, I was in a conversation with a Christian woman, who was being very dogmatic in her belief that someone who is divorced cannot remarry...period, regardless of the circumstances.  The reason this conversation came up was because she was telling others that they couldn't remarry...and telling them they were committing adultery by doing so. 

Now, don't hear what I'm not saying...I want to be clear.  God hates divorce and even in the face of adultery, His desire is reconciliation.  I pointed her to the passages in Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 where the LORD had specifically given two exceptions where divorce and remarriage were permitted.  In the case of sexual immorality or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.  Making it clear that the LORD didn't command them divorce, but permitted them to divorce due to their hardness of heart - sometimes the heart of the offending and/or offended spouse is hard - they aren't willing to reconcile.   

After going around a bit on some of her reasons, she would not be convinced...even though the truth was "right in front of her face."  Then Lord gave me this verse in Acts just popped in my head.  I love it when the Holy Spirit does this and you stand back amazed at what's coming out of your mouth.  I asked her, "Why are you calling something unclean...when God has said it was clean?" or as the NLT says it:  "If God says something is acceptable, don't say it isn't."This struck a cord within her heart, and she immediately realized her error.   She was being like Peter and arguing with God... saying, "Not so, Lord!"  

Sometimes, it's difficult to make changes in the way we think.  We are raised a certain way or maybe we are legalistic or we've just picked up a random idea in our head/heart and don't want to let go of it.  For whatever reason, we close our eyes to God's Word and resist for a time...even though the truth is right in front of our face and we say like Peter, "Not so, Lord!"

But God needs to make changes in our lives so the work He wants to do won't be hindered. Did you notice that Peter had to be told three times by the Lord before he would allow his heart to be changed.  Acts 11:10 "This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven."  Isn't God patient...and shouldn't we be too. Through God's faithfulness and patience...we see Peter's attitude change from resistance to obedience to God's voice...and the Good News spread to the Gentiles.  

Father, I thank you that you see our hearts and you speak to our needs, our weaknesses, our unbelief, our sin.  By the power of Your Word...whether in a vision or as we read your Word (Hebrews 4:12). You diagnose our problem, give us the solution and when we receive it.. we are changed.  Like Peter...I have tasted the sweetness of your patience and I thank you for that.  Examine my heart today, reveal to me any changes that are needed, help me to receive it and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to me, so I too may tell others today about your Son Jesus, without any hindrance's.  In Jesus name I pray. amen.  


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Change is Possible"

Acts 9:11 "So the Lord said to Ananias, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying."

Ananias knew about this man Saul...
heard all about the terrible things he 
had done to believers 
in Jerusalem.   A
nd the LORD knew that Ananias was going to 
have some reservations about Saul.  That's why He told him 
"Behold, he is praying."   The LORD wants Ananias to understand that Saul has changed...he's different for now he prays to Me."  Don't you love how the LORD points to the fact that Saul is now praying to Him as proof that he is a believer, proof that it is safe to go.  "Behold, he is
praying to me now. (NLT)"  

But Ananias has taken his eyes off the LORD and puts them on the man, Saul, and Ananias 
 gone from 
"Yes, LORD" to "But LORD" ~  
"but LORD, ...he is authorized by  
leading priests 
to arrest 
every believer 
in Damascus."   
Whenever we say "but" it means we are in opposition to what has just been said.  And we usually say it right before we give our explanation/excuse for why we can't do something.  "But LORD, I can't go there, I might be arrested!   God isn't only working in Saul's heart...He's working in Ananias 
heart too.

"But the LORD said, "Go and do what I say.  For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel."  Acts 9:15

God is so gracious to Ananias...He didn't have to explain what he was doing...The LORD could have just stopped at "Go and do what I say."   But He doesn't stop there...God shares His plans for Saul, to help Ananias to see more him what he needs to enable him to get up and get going.  Since God did this for Ananias, he will do the same for us as well.   He will always give us what we need ~ to do what He has called us to do.

"So Ananias went and found Saul.  He laid his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the LORD Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you may get your sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit."  Acts 9:17

Doesn't the LORD work in unexpected ways...getting Saul's attention, what a dramatic change.  Who would have thought that Saul would get saved...well, not Ananias...and I'm sure we wouldn't have thought so either.  But at the same time God is working on Saul, he's working on Ananias' heart (a devoted Christian).  

This is a great reminder that no one is beyond the reach of God and none of us have arrived...we all need the changing power of Jesus in our lives, but we need to permit Him to change us...transform us.  Had Saul been unwilling...he would have continued as he was, a non-believer fighting against God.  And Ananias...we would have never heard of him.

But for those who are willing to yield to His will, listen to His Word, and follow His way, He begins to change that believer and accomplish remarkable things in their life.  He also begins to do wonderful things through that life.


Monday, September 26, 2011

"Winter of their Discontent"

Acts 6:1  "But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent..."

These Greek-speaking Christians began to complain, but they didn't complain to those in authority, those responsible, they simply complained among themselves.  The Strong's Concordance tells us that the "rumblings of discontent, complaints, murmuring were done in secret."  It was "a secret debate, a secret displeasure not openly avowed."   Why?  Why were their complaints done in secret?  If there is legitimate problem...and we see that there was...why not go before the apostles and have it dealt with.  

I wonder if the believers "winter of their discontentment" began with a root of bitterness...someone begins to think that they aren't appreciated...and a spirit of complaining begins and what is actually an innocent turned into intentional neglect.  Regardless of the cause of their's always wrong.   

We too can have our "winters of discontentment", can't we.  When we begin to question the motives of others...we can know that winter is here...don't look around with this happens...the first place we need to look is within our own hearts and bring it to the LORD.  If left unchecked...a work of the spirit can be destroyed.   

How wise the Apostles were...when they heard of the problem they didn't ignore it and say, "nonsense!"  They didn't take it personal, "I dare you even suggest that we are showing favoritism."  They dealt with it:  Acts 6:3  " seven men who are well respected and are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom."  Every problem that arises in the church gives us the opportunity to do three things. (1) Examine our hearts.  (2) Exercise faith in the Lord. (3) Express Love in the way that we work out the problem. 

All this causes me to wonder about God's providence.  
Genesis 50:20 comes to mind "But as for you, ye 
thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, 
as [it is] this day, to save 
much people 
Could it be, that the LORD allowed the widows to 
receive the hearts of His people could be tested and revealed so their sin could be dealt with.  Often, the problem we have in loving others is really a symptom of 
a deeper problem...not knowing who God is and trusting Him...our flesh, sin 
is the real issue.

The problem was handled with wisdom, with discernment, with love and grace.  Acts 6:5  "This idea pleased the whole group."  As a result of the godly leadership...true unity began and the Holy Spirit 
moved and did a greater work... 

Acts 6:7 "God's message was preached in ever-widening circles.  The number 
of believers 
greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many  of the Jewish priests were converted too."