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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Draw Near to God in Trials (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 8)

  
Image created by Wordswag, used with permission. 

I have been thinking of you. I have been thinking of the world. If you turn on the news it is quite easy to become unsettled, fearful, or to experience great sorrow. 

I asked the Lord what to share and His response was, “Share a message of hope. My children need hope.” 

What message could possibly be shared to lighten the load of mother’s losing their children, children losing their parents, bombings, shootings, terrorist attacks, viruses, and the sorrow that is repeated on the news? What about hope in the midst of our own challenges?

Last week I sat in a funeral watching my friend, his children, and our mutual friends grieve a great loss. What do I say to two young children who lost their mother? What do I say to my friend who I know loved his wife deeply. We had so many conversations about the healing power of God. What could I say through his tears and my own? I wept for a very long time. My heart ached deeply. Yet life had to go on right? I spent the night before the funeral trying to clear up other issues. I could not even grieve. 

Those around me did not feel or know the pain. It was not their pain. Some did not even acknowledge I had any grief. God, however, did. He did what He does best. He stepped in as a best friend, and brought His unfailing comfort. 

Last week and the past month have   presented some deep challenges and awesome truimphs. Such is life, right? I found hope, love, help, joy, and comfort in the place I know best, the heart and arms of God. 

So, in thinking of what message I could share of hope, I can only think of one thing-God is our sure hope. I only know of one message that can bring hope to a hurting world. The message is Jesus. Hope has a name and it is Jesus. There is no greater name and no greater love or power than the love and power of God. 

If we are to place our trust in anyone or anything, let it be God. 

Some things we are delivered through…

There are so many things in life we are called to walk through. There is no, “Beam me up Scotty,” and we are transported to a place away from trials. God promises to walk with us  through every single challenge; I know no better friend or comforter. 

The Bible tells us there will be tests, trials, and tribulations as a result of the fall of humanity and persecution for living a godly life. The Bible says the godly WILL face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). 

God did not leave us without hope. He gave the world His Son, His Spirit, His Presence, His promises, angelic help, and His Word. He also gave believers every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). 

Let’s take a look at His word. I love Psalm 23. Here is an excerpt. 

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with meYour rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me,~Psalm 23:4. 

As stated, there are challenging situations we are called to walk through with God. God does not always deliver us from evil. He sometimes delivers us through evil. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. He was not consumed. 

We see the uncompromising, supernatural strength and power of God in challenging seasons if we lean on Him. We may be weak or challenged; His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 

In a world that says there is no hope, God says: 

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows],~John 10:10 (AMP).

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.],~John 16:33 (AMP).

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation],~Isaiah 26:3. 

These verses give us keys to living in victory. 

  • Focus on God.
  • Trust God.
  • Take refuge in God.
  • Set the mind on God.
  • Be courageous, confident, filled with joy.
  • Fear no evil (from Psalm 23).

Abiding in God and deep friendship/connection with Him brings peace in the midst of trials, challenges, and storms. He is the Source of peace, agape love, joy, and hope. 

What are we hoping for, expecting from God? 

  1. God to keep His word! He cannot lie. If God said it, you can expect it to come to pass (1 Thess 5:24, Deut 7:9).
  2. God to work all things together for the eventual good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). 
  3. God to hear our prayers. The answer may not come exactly the way we think, yet God answers our prayers that align with His will (Matt 21:22, Job 22:27, 1 John 5:14-15). 
  4. God to bring comfort and deliverance (2 Cor 1:4, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 50:15). 
  5. God to empower us to destroy the works of the devil (Acts 1:8). If we have the Holy Spirit, we are already empowered! 
  6. God to help us overcome because He has overcome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith,~1 John 5:4. 
  7. God to turn our sorrow into JOY, our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). 
  8. God to avenge the wrongs (Romans 12:19). 
  9. God to reward those who stand strong until the end and every person according to what they have done (Romans 2:6, Revelation 22:12). 
  10. Jesus to return and reign on the earth (Matthew 24:29-31). 

No matter what we face, we have a sure hope in God. I will share this last story and end in prayer for you. 

Part of Operation God is Love ministry is praying for the sick at the free clinic. Last Tuesday, I was on the schedule to go. My heart was already heavy from a loss and some relational issues going on in my circle. I had not slept well in days. Yet, I went and gave thanks. 

One of the first ladies prayed for was going  through some of the same things that I was either dealing with or had walked through in my life. I wept with her. Almost every time I start to feel a tinge of discouragement, God sends along someone going through the same things I have walked through in life. 

This woman left with tremendous hope. Her situation was far more dire than mine, yet to have someone to hold her while she cried and to mourn with her brought some healing. She stated she was over Christian counselors who offered scripture yet had no real experience with victory over pain. 

Your (our) challenge is not wasted. God wastes nothing. We can walk out of the fire and stand boldly with someone in their fire. We can be an instrument of hope for someone else.

Our friendship with God is also deepened in trials if we draw near to Him. God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). 

May you and I draw near to God in every season. 

Papa God, I ask for every hurting soul to be bathed in Your comfort tonight. I speak peace over torment, pain, chaos, any strife, worry, or relational troubles. I speak life over every dead situation that You want to live. I speak comfort to every place that hurts. May each of us find hope in You alone. You do not fail! In Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin ❤

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Test Every Spirit/Voice (Abiding & Intimacy with God Part 7)

  
Image created with Wordswag, used with permission. 

The Bible is very clear that we are to discern, use wisdom, and test every spirit. Everything we hear, see, and are taught is not necessarily God. 1 John 4:1 is very clear, it states, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 

Do we understand what testing involves? Do we know who God is so when people come with their messages about God we filter them through our own relationship with God?  Do we know the character of God? Do we know the word of God? God does not violate His word. He expands our understanding, He does not violate His principles. 

Over the years I have heard and seen many people led into ditches because they thought they were following God. They were led by their own   hearing/sensing/feelings/thoughts or by someone else’s. Some were led into cults. Some had relationships or ministries destroyed. Some abandoned hearing from God all together-“It is too messy. I can not hear from God. God does not speak. Too many crazies saying they hear from God!” 

God does speak. What gets people in trouble is not testing what they hear, see, think, or are taught. The devil speaks too. He pretends to be God. He will give people thoughts that start with, “I” so they believe it is their thought or feeling. The flesh also has a voice. So sometimes what people think or say is God is truly flowing from their own soul (mind, will, emotions). The soul is sometimes broken and therefore speaks out of it’s brokeness. 

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks,~Luke 6:45 (NKJV). 

Example, my earthly father has brown skin. He is a pastor and Chaplain. One day a man said to him, “You know! I am so glad colored people get to go to heaven, too bad we will be on seperate sides!” What this man was saying was there was a white’s only section in heaven. 

Lets review this word with the Bible. 

God is not white (Caucasian, European). God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). When God decided to put on flesh through His Son, Jesus came through the lineage of the Jews. He came through the tribe of Judah-one of the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 1:1-13). 

Jesus had no earthly father-He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and came through the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:18). 

Jesus was born in the Middle East/Africa region (Matthew 2:1). He was not European though He is painted that way. 

The Bible also tells us every tribe, nation, and tongue will be represented in heaven (Revelation 5:9), and there is no mention in all of scripture of segregation or God prefering people with paler skintones or European ancestry. You read of God’s love for all humanity and see His favor on the Jewish people (who were not European Jews) and His extention of that favor to the Gentiles. 

All the information I shared with you is in the Bible. The man who spoke this to my father claimed to be a Christian. Where did his thoughts on heaven come from? I have no clue. I will say it is very important we take the things people say, the things we hear in our own minds, things we see…to the word of God. 

My friends could not understand my outrage over the Noah movie that came out a few years ago. I love all people, yet the film was a gross misrepresentation of the heart of God, the character of God, the roles/functions of demons, and painted a horrible picture of Noah and God (called Creator). 

Lets get you going on testing things…

Let’s start with the basics. Who is God. What is He like? 

  • God is holy. He does not sin nor lead people into sin (1 Peter 1:16). 
  • God is love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love) (1 John 4:8). 
  • God has a will and it is perfect (Romans 12:2, Matthew 7:21-23). 
  • God is honest, He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).
  • God comforts and encourages (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). 
  • God redeems and offers grace/mercy to the repentant (Isaiah 47:4, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Acts 3:19). 
  • God speaks and communicates with His children (John 10:27). 
  • God is after relationship/intimacy with humanity (John 17:21-23).
  • God alone is worthy of worship (Revelation 4:11). 
  • God gives hope (Romans 15:13). 

There are certainly more verses and   characteristics about God. Open the Bible and research who He is. 

When something pops up in your head, you have a thought, are given a word/prophetic word/sermon/insight/a book, what do you do with it? 

The Bible says take every thought captive and make it obedient to the word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Get in the word. I do not just take what pastors, leaders, people say and run with it. Where is it in the Bible? Where does God say this is good? Does this draw me closer to God or to sin? Do I have hope? Is there redemption? 

Today people say sex outside a natural born man and woman in lifelong covenant is okay. Yet there is not one scripture to support it. Scriptures on sexual conduct-(Leviticus 18, 1 Corinthians 6:18, 20, Proverbs 6: 27-29, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 5:3-4, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Romans 1:26-27). 

The world says do what feels good to you. The Bible says, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Jesus,” (Matthew 16:24) 

Born again believers are also told to be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-17). The Holy Spirit in a born again believer will bear witness to what is God. It still needs tested and weighed against the Word of God and character of God. 
I have heard countless people say God told them something or to do something that was not fitting the mold of His character and violated His word. 

Examples: 

A lady who told me the Holy Spirit told her to never read the Bible just listen to his voice. Wrong. Scripture says, “Study to show yourself approved,“~2 Timothy 2:15. And there are many encouragements in the Bible to read and study the words of God and His stories. 

A man who said the Holy Spirit told him to change his gender and approved of his homosexual relationship. Please go through and read all the verses on sexual conduct. There is not one and I looked, verse or passage that says, “It is good for a man to have sexual relations with a man.” The Bible states that it is not good. Nor are there any Bible verses that state the gender of a person is flexible. None that state God didn’t know what He was doing so we get to choose. Actually what it says is…”Who are you, mere human beings to argue with God? Should the thing that was created, say to the one who Created it, “Why did you make me this way?“, Romans 9:20. 

A lady who felt God had given her the wrong husband so she cheated with another married man. Wrong. God does not tell people to not commit adultery in His Word (Exodus 20:14) then say, “Oh for you, I will make an exception.” God is not double minded. 

She hurt her husband and destroyed two families, hurt her reputation as a believer, stained the views of those around her of God. God brought restoration through repentance to both families. Yet she followed a lie and did not hold up her thoughts/feelings/urges to the word of God. 

There are also far too many personal experiences I have had with people speaking things into my life or over me that were not God. 

So here are my tests for releasing  things/testing things: 

  • Does it align with Scripture? 
  • Does it align with the character or nature of God? 
  • Does it convey a message of love and holiness?
  • Is God exalted? Or the person speaking? 
  • Will this draw someone closer to the heart of God? Do I feel drawn to the heart of God by what was said or shown me? 
  • Does the Holy Spirit in me agree with this? 
  • Is this growing my knowledge or the other person’s knowledge of God?
  • How would I feel if someone said this to me? Or about me? 
  • If it is a correction word, is there redemption? Or does it simply leave the person feeling hopeless, discouraged, or depressed. 

I take things to God,”Okay God, the pastor or leader or person said this, where is this in the Word of God? What is Your truth? What are we keeping? What are we shelving? What are we tossing?”

If I have a relationship with the person or feel it’s necessary,I provide feedback so there can be growth. If I do not have relationship with that person (they are on tv, etc.), I pray. Everyone is learning, growing, and there’s mercy and grace. Lord knows I need it. I am learning too! 

I do not make a public campaign to smear the person. I do not gossip about them or put them down. We are called to test/judge words. We are called to test/discern every spirit. We are called to love people. Love prays. Love corrects to restore. 

God bless you! 

Erin Lamb 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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