Where Are You?

Where Are You?

By Jane Horvath

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

My love of cop shows started when I was 10 years old. The television program name was Car 54, Where Are You? It was a comedy that ran on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The story was about two NYC police officers based in the 53rd precinct of the Bronx. Car 54 was their patrol car. As a child, it was funny to me that no one ever seemed to know where the officers were located. The radio was constantly heard broadcasting, “Car 54, where are you?”

In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to Adam and Eve. He asks them, “Where are you?” Unfortunately, it is not funny in this instance. It is tragic, but also full of grace. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were when He asked. They were hiding from God as a result of deception and disobedience. That is the tragic part. God was calling out to them. He was offering them a chance to confess. The confession of their sin would re-establish the relationship with Him and remove their shame. That is grace.

When we are in the middle of challenging circumstances, God wants to know where we are in our heads and our hearts. He wants to know if we are being deceived by the enemy or trusting in His plan for our lives. We need to be sure we are not hiding in shame and blame. Call out to Him and let Him know exactly where you are. He will meet you where you are. Learn to hide in His shelter, safe from the enemy (Psalm 27:5-6).

Today, God is asking, “Where are you?” He is not asking for a physical address, He wants to know where we are in relationship to Him. He is giving us the opportunity, seasoned with grace, to confess our sins without condemnation (Romans 8:1). He’s providing a chance at forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Give Him the answer to this question every moment of every day.

Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

In a today’s culture, where opportunism and self-appeasement are so prevalent, it can be discouraging to try to find “faithful” people. The primary word translated to “faith” from the New Testament Greek is pistis, which is the same word used for “faithfulness.” Therefore, it represents both assurance and belief. When we think of faithfulness as in Galatians 5:22, it is generally thought of as “reliability.”

It is interesting, I believe, that in the Greek, ‘pistis’ is used for both faith (a quantitative commodity) and faithfulness (a measurable attribute), as they are different in definition but connected from the same root in meaning. You see, the faith in the Lord that we have is in direct proportion to, and indeed developed by, our exercising of faithfulness. The Bible provides a direct definition of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (see Heb 11:1). The only way to build the quantifiable substance of faith is to practice faithfulness!

I hate to admit it, but I am repeatedly guilty of waiting on God to miraculously endow me with any faith that is required whenever a crisis hits. But although God does often give me the faith required, the need for a miracle keeps repeating itself. However, if I were to exercise faithfulness daily, hourly or even minute by minute, the things that are considered crises now would be relegated to minor bumps in the road that we all travel!

Paul establishes faithfulness as a bedrock of Christian living when in 2 Timothy 2:2 he says, “And the things that you have heard from me, among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” It is said: “practice makes perfect” but I profoundly disagree! Only perfect practice makes perfect! God gives us all the gifts we need to “practice” perfectly. So keep swinging as life throws curve balls and fastballs down and in…but just keep swinging.

Looking at each one of the “fruits of the Spirit” individually has certainly called to attention to so much that is lacking in my life! What about yours? Just a thought…for the day.

Exceedingly Abundantly

Exceedingly Abundantly

By Jane Horvath

Ephesians 3:20 starts by saying, “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Many of us have memorized that scripture and prayed it back to God asking Him to do “exceedingly abundantly” in a given situation. However, I was not always sure how that looked until God gave me a great word picture to help me understand it.

I had been saving for a particular household item for months (probably a couple of years would be more accurate). Since this item was not a necessity, other needed items became more pressing, and I would borrow from the want fund in order to purchase the necessary items.

Then, one day God did “exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think.” He provided the item to me free of charge, and the item was much nicer and bigger than what I would have purchased myself. Just remember, this was not a needed item; it was just something on my “wish list”.

So what did God provide? A new TV. He gave me a 55” TV FREE OF CHARGE! I would never have purchased that size for myself. I had a 22” TV in my living room (at least it was a flat screen TV). What I really wanted was a TV that made it easier for my older eyes to watch. The one God provided is just the right size because whenever I see the TV hanging on the wall or I watch a program, God reminds me that He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly.” Moreover, if He does that with a want or a dream, just imagine what He will do for a real need!

Now when I pray Ephesians 3:20 back to God about a situation in my life, I remember how He provided “exceedingly abundantly” in the recent past and ask Him to do the same in my current situation. I have a better idea of what that might look like, and I am confident He will continue to show me in tangible ways what those words from Scripture mean for my life.

Fearing God

Fearing God

By Karen Baloy

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). I felt so liberated the first time I heard this verse. I had been completely owned by my fears prior to hearing it. Whenever I would feel the signs of a panic attack starting, I would recite this verse. I sometimes had to chant it on loop until the feelings passed. I knew God’s words were truth. I wasn’t going to let the enemy’s lies prevail. I wanted to be calm and loving, just like my precious Jesus.

As 1 John 4:18a reminded me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” (NKJV) Fear had no place in my life! Romans 8:15a was right, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear”. These verses brought me to a place of total reverence and awe of God, not to mention giving me an appreciation for the continual peace His Spirit provides.

Once I became more settled in my New Testament understanding of God, I began to study the Old Testament. I was immediately bombarded with verses that told me that I needed to fear God to find peace. The voices of my fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my youth came flooding back. Is God good or is God bad? I’m supposed to demonstrate my love to God by showing him I’m afraid?!? The mixed messages continued to confuse me, even while reading other chapters of Psalms.

Reading Psalm 25 was a transformative experience. I felt urged to research verses 12-14, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

After reading this verse, I wanted to find out why being afraid of Him would bring me wonderful things. It didn’t take long to discover that there are TWO definitions of fear. According to Eugene H. Merrill on BibleStudyTools.com, the two definitions of the verb fear are: 1) produces awe, reverence and obedience; and 2) that which causes one to cover in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.

Prior to the revelation of these two definitions, I hadn’t quite reached peace because I thought I was flawed by not being afraid of God. But then I realized this is exactly what the enemy wanted. Now I can rejoice: Hallelujah, His truth has set me free! I’m no longer a slave to a misunderstanding of a single word. I have now released the spirit of fear by fearing God with all of my heart and all of my soul!

Let My Heart Beat Again

Let My Heart Beat Again

 

By Jane Horvath

Have you ever had a situation that astounded you or made your heart stop? I am not talking about a beautiful sunrise or sunset or the birth of your child or grandchild. I am referring to that phone call you never wanted to receive, the work situation, the overwhelming health problem or the relationship that seems beyond repair.

One of my new favorite shows is Code Black. A few definitions of code black, a medical term, is mass casualties or personal threat. Any of the situations above could fall into these definitions. We do not live in a vacuum, so work, health and relationship issues can feel like a personal threat and may involve mass casualties. In every episode of Code Black, someone’s heart stops beating for one reason or another, and the doctors and nurses use a variety of means to restart the heart.

When these situations occur, what means are you using to restart your heart? On the other hand, would you prefer to be just another casualty? What will it take to go from the flat line of your heart not beating to hear your heart beat again?

In Code Black, sometimes the heart starts using basic CPR. Other times a powerful medication like epinephrine is used. If all else fails, the heart jolts to life with a defibrillator. In the case when our hearts stop beating because of overwhelming circumstances, God may use a variety of means to start our heart again.

Many times God uses a verse in His word, a song or a text from a friend to jolt my heart back to life. Other times, it is a message from church or something from a book I am reading that startles me back to life. For other times it takes counseling over a period of time for me to start hearing a faint heartbeat.

I do know that the longer it takes me to recognize my heart has stopped beating, the longer it takes it to start beating again. God is the common denominator for my heart to start beating. He uses people, places and things, but God is the one who breathes life back into my body and soul.

If your heart has slowed or stopped beating because of overwhelming circumstances in your life, do not be another casualty. Instead, seek God through His Word or through a person who knows the life-saving treatments to start your heart beating again for Him.

To Bean or Not To Bean

To Bean or Not To Bean

 

By Jane Horvath

I have had the opportunity, privilege really, to go on several mission trips. One trip was to a school in Jamaica where we were involved in their ongoing building program. Construction is not my forte. However, we were bringing most of our own food for the trip and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for our group was part of our responsibility. Now, cooking for groups was an area of expertise for me!

Part of our planning responsibilities was making menus and gathering as much food and dry goods as we could prior to our trip. I reached out to the director of the food services at the school cafeteria associated with our church with the hope of getting some donations. The director was very helpful, but there was one problem: She wanted to donate a big, industrial-size can of baked beans. I HATE BAKED BEANS. I could not think of any reason why we should bring this giant can of beans. After all, probably many people felt the same way as I did, and it was going to be hot (really hot). Why would anyone want hot beans after working in the heat all day long? Moreover, do we really want people eating beans when we are sharing our bedrooms with up to six people?

Well, guess what? I did end up reluctantly bringing the can of beans. I was not planning on opening the can and cooking them. I figured I would leave them with the missionaries to dispose of as they saw fit — through their stomach or in the garbage. At least I did what I was supposed to do — bring the beans.

As we were unpacking the groceries, the missionary saw the beans and exclaimed, “Those are my favorite beans, and I have not had any in the five years since I have been here.” THAT was the reason I was supposed to bring the beans. Serving can be difficult in America, but it can be even more difficult in another country. Isolation and feeling as if God does not remember who you are can be a lie we hear and believe.

It was obvious God knew the missionary well and used a willing participant (the cafeteria director) and an unwilling participant (me) to bring His gift of love to this missionary. I do not think we ate the beans that week, I cannot remember. But I do remember being thankful that I brought the beans even though I did not want to do it. God knows exactly what can encourage us and often he uses us, willing or not, to encourage others.

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