A New Urgency

Scotty-thumbAs 2014 begins, I have a sense of urgency in my spirit.

I see America, drunk on pleasure and wealth, selling out its morality and principles in an effort to keep the party going.  I see the church divided and weak, sliding away from its foundational roots in an effort to stay “relevant.”  And, as the church succeeds in offending no one, it seems the Spirit of God has slipped unseen out a back door, leaving behind a form of religion devoid of the power of God.

I see concerned Christians under bombardment from the enemy.  Though we have never been so digitally connected, many feel isolated in their faith.  They desire to grow in their faith, but finding spiritual mentors, men and women who know the Word, know how to pray, and live out their faith, seems increasingly difficult.  The pressure to conform to the way of the world has never been so great, coming from both inside and outside the church.  Christians are discouraged and weary in the fight.

This picture fuels my urgency and brings to mind a familiar verse:

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”  (Rom 13:11)

And my urgency intensifies.  I hear the voice of Peter ringing out:

 “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”  (1 Peter 4:7)

And I wonder if I am giving enough time to the Father’s business. Have I done enough to warn the many that are walking in the broad way that leadeth to destruction? Have I been an encouragement to those striving to honor God with their lives?  Have I discipled a new Christian, have I shared the gospel, have I lived out my faith…

 Have I done what God has called me do to?

The night is far spent.  There is no more time for delay.  I must rise up and contend for the faith.  I must preach the Word.  I must stand in the gap.  Solomon speaks to me:

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecc 9:10)

Do you hear the voice of Solomon?  Rise up today, this first day of 2014, and begin to fulfill what God has called you to do.

~Scotty

Where Are the Young Ones?

hannah-thumbRecently, my mother and I went to sing at a Christmas party for a local church association. The people attending the party were mostly pastors and their wives. An overwhelming majority of them were in their fifties or much older, and I found myself wondering why there were no young pastors/church leaders there. Do not think that I do not respect older people and all that they have done for the church. I am only asking… where are the zealous young leaders rising to the occasion? You don’t have to be middle-aged to begin working in the church. Where are the young people excited about doing the work, who are not quite so beaten down by the world? The fiery young preachers, the passionate music leaders, the energetic missionaries, and the dynamic teachers.

I know that not everyone is called to a position of leadership, but I would challenge Christian young people to examine themselves as they approach 2014. Who is going to fill the shoes of those who have worked so faithfully in years past? Ask yourself….is God calling me to be a pastor, an evangelist, a music leader, a missionary, a Sunday School teacher? As we enter 2014, I ask you to surrender wholly to God and ask Him what He has for you to do in the new year.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

~Hannah

This, That, and The Other!

Johnna-thumbI decided to make a short list last night of things I really needed to get done this week.   After jotting down 13 items that needed my attention, I was struck with that old familiar feeling . . . despair, as to how I am going to get everything done.  I looked at my list of this, that, and the other.  I felt like quitting before I even got started.  Do you ever feel that way?

I started feeling philosophical (as dangerous as that can be!).  I started rethinking all my priorites, but nothing on the list was anything I felt like could be left off.  Sigh.  I just went to bed.

This morning I began reading my Bible.  As I was reading, the list came back to mind.  But before I could get all bent out of shape, I remembered something.  It was something that I was sure the enemy hoped I wouldn’t remember!  I recalled several times in the past when the Lord blessed my list.  That’s right!  I said, the Lord blessed my list!  But here is the order of how it happened:

1 — I gave the Lord ample time in the morning.

2 — I told Him about the list, and how I could not manage it all on my own.

3 — I began working on the list, and looked back that night in amazement!

Some people are probably rolling their eyes right now, thinking: “You just had a productive day.”  On the contrary.  I have started many days thinking that I would manhandle my list on my own, and let the Lord wait.  But you know what invariably would happen?  I was ill-tempered and selfish about getting things done.  I am sure I got stuff done at the expense of many other important things and people.  There is a lot of pressure in relying on your own strength.  But there is a fantastic release when you have placed your life, your day, and your list in God’s hands.

This “more productive day” is not something that I can adequately describe to you.  All I can tell you is this:  if you will give the Lord first priority in your day, He will bless you for it.  Is this the reason for having ample devotion time with Him?  No.  Not all at.  But it is a benefit I have found!  Look at this verse:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)

The greatest part of my morning devotion times is drawing closer to the Lord!  His making sure my list goes down is a fringe benefit!

When we seek the Lord at the beginning of the day, letting

nothing
nothing
NOTHING

get in the way of our spending precious time with HIm, He shapes us into the people we ought to be.  He does so many wonderful things, and here are just a few:

  • He softens our hard hearts.
  • He helps us appreciate what we have.
  • He gives us understanding of His Word.
  • He helps us put what is earthly into perspective.
  • He curbs our appetites for sin.
  • He makes us hungry for more of Him.

So many people want God in their lives, they say . . . but they don’t make time for Him.  They want the benefits without the relationship.  How I wish I could tell them that HE is so much better than the answered prayer they want, the situation they need fixed, the dream job they hope to land, etc.  Once you taste Him, you truly start to understand that all these things are in His loving hands . . . they will work out!  If we could just stay close to Him, He will give us more and show us more than all the minds of men can imagine.   It is a treasure that few seek today, but for those that still do, what incredible joys await:

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Now I started out talking about a list . . . I almost forgot. 🙂  I can say with perfect confidence that all we really need to do is put Him at the top of our LIST . . . and we can go about our day with full assurance that He is behind us in what we are doing!  I hope I have encouraged YOU to start every single day with Him . . . and watch this, that, and the other fall in line.

~Johnna

Depressed After the Holidays?

Johnna-thumbChristmas is such a wonderful time of year . . . it almost seems wrong to feel let down when the big event is over.  We can be so blessed, yet feel so empty.  We can be in a good position to have a prosperous new year, yet not be looking forward to it at all.  We can also have terrible circumstances, some we can’t even discuss with others, and wonder how in the world we are going to enter another year carrying such a burden.  Friend, if this describes you in any way, I understand.

I have battled depression for many years now.  Thankfully, I am now in a good spot emotionally, and have been for over two years . . . praise the Lord!  Yet, my mind continually thinks of people that might be struggling right now.  I want to speak to you, dear friend, about how you can make it through the next few days.

I have found that the Word of God is the best remedy for my down times.  There are many verses that are so powerful, so uplifting, so matchless in their message!  I know that I could never, ever find such comfort anywhere else.  So let me begin with a particular verse that brings me to a halt, every time:

“When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Psalm 56:9)

Wow!  Just knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is for me brings me an extreme level of comfort.  When we look around at the uncertainty of everything around us, as children of God we can relish the fact that He is FOR us.  We might be down, but we can never be out.  He is on our side, in our corner, and on the throne on our behalf!

The second verse that comes to my mind is one that has brought comfort to millions:

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

The holidays sometimes bring up reminders of a person who has forsaken us.   Maybe someone very special has passed away and left a void in our hearts.  These are very, very difficult situations to manage.  But we have a promise here that gives us great hope: He will never leave us!  If someone has broken your heart, remember this:  He will never leave you!  If someone has departed this earth, and you don’t know how you will go on without them, just think: He will never leave you!  You may just feel so down, and just wish you had someone to talk to.  Take heart in that He is always there to listen, and will NEVER leave!

The third verse that brings me so much encouragement in my down times is one that has become somewhat of a life verse for me.  My depression nearly ruined my life.  I wasn’t sure if I would ever get better.  But this verse was the one that I kept coming back to, over and over:

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

No matter what happens, or what you are facing, He has promised grace for your need.  That is worth more than gold, my friend.  When you are weak . . . He is strong!  His strong hand is always working for your good, with grace that is so sufficient, we can’t even grasp it!  There is nothing, absolutely nothing out there that He cannot handle, fix, or solve.  Rejoice in that sweet grace.  It is a precious thing reserved for the child of God!

You might be thinking:  “that’s all nice, but I still feel down.”  Believe me, I have been there, too!  I have been about as low as you can go emotionally.  But I am a living testimony of the Lord’s power to deliver someone out of deep depression!  There is hope for you!

I want to encourage you to keep meditating on the Scriptures above as well as so many others you will find in the precious Word.  Give the Lord time to work in your life and in your situation.  He wants your trust.

In closing, I hope you will remember these words:

  • God is for me.
  • He will never leave me, nor forsake me.
  • His grace is sufficient for me.

Hold on, dear friend.  I know where you are, but I also know what He can do, because He did it in me. 🙂

~Johnna

(If you need prayer, feel free to contact me: contact@innerfire.com)