Monday, March 20, 2017

Megaphone Man

I was recently in Tampa for jury duty and outside the courthouse was a man standing on a step ladder with a megaphone preaching the word of God.

Most people passed him by ignoring his existence, others rolled their eyes and continued on their way. I of course listened as long as I could to see if he was preaching in love.   When I came out for lunch break there was a much younger man, maybe in his 20's, talking to the megaphone evangelist. He was polite and offered him some suggestions on his technique. An hour later when I returned the two were still in deep conversation and I heard the younger man say "I just think if you changed your approach and spoke one on one your message would be more effective."

As your reading this you may agree with the younger man. I have heard it said many times that people preaching from a street corner were wasting their time, but are they?

Jeremiah was only about 17 when God called him and he was heart broken over the fate of his people, he begged them to listen to him. Did you know he was known as the "weeping prophet" not just because he cried for what was going to happen to them, he cried because no matter how hard he tried no one would listen to him! He was single and all his friends turned on him so not only was he overcome with sadness he was lonely. I'm pretty sure God was the one who not only called Jeremiah but told him what to say.

Jeremiah 1   Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.”  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.  Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.”

Perhaps our Megaphone preacher has a lot in common with Jeremiah.

Then we have John the Baptist, also known as John the Baptizer, he spoke to crowds wherever he went. He was definitely considered weird as he wore clothes of camel's hair and ate locust and wild honey!  He had it better than Jeremiah because many listened to him but in the end it cost him his head, literally.
Can you imagine someone telling John his ministry might be better if he would dress like a regular guy and lay off the bugs? Don't you think God had something to do with his attire and appetite?

My point here Gems is who are we to tell someone else how to do what the Lord asked them to do? Even if we don't get it.  Now I'm not talking about things that are obviously opposed to the nature of God or the word of God but just because it's different than our normal doesn't mean it's abnormal for God or dare I say, wrong.

Some of the things the Lord asks us to do is just practice, for us to learn to hear His voice and for obedience to see if we will do it. 
For example, years ago I was visiting a church I had never been to before. It was a huge church that  had 3 other campuses linked into the live service I was at. This is normal today but years ago this was a new concept for me.

I have a regular occurrence with the Holy Spirit when He's getting ready to ask me to do something that makes me uncomfortable. The tips of my fingers get really cold, not the whole finger just the tips.  Now I'm already feeling awkward because I don't know anyone so when my fingers start to get cold I say to him (The Holy Spirit) under my breath "I don't know what your up to but don't even think about it!" To which He starts a conversation with me that goes something like this:

Holy Spirit: you know that little song you sing to me?
Me: NO
Holy Spirit: You know the one,  I love you Lord  and I lift my voice to worship you Oh, my soul rejoice! Take joy my King In what You hear Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.
Me: coy smile, yes and you're the only one who likes it because we both know I can't sing.

At this very moment in the service the worship leader stops singing and says "I just got a stirring from the Holy Spirit. If there's someone out there that has a song for the Lord please just start singing it and the rest of us will join you."

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you mean us like the hundreds possible thousands of people in this building and who knows how many watching in on video???? Those people??

You could have heard a pin drop as the entire sanctuary went silent. And the worship leader just waited..... He just kept encouraging us to respond to the Holy Spirit. I was responding alright there was a full blown conversation going on in my head.

I figured any minute this guy would go onto something else but NOOOOO he just waited and I'm not kidding, no one said a word (cricket sound) by now my finger tips are freezing and in spite of my reasoning and desperate begging I know this is not going to go away.
So here I go, I begin to sing.  I use that term loosely, as my voice was literally trembling and using a key I'm sure is not on any note scale known to man.

The guy next to me looks at me with a face of disbelief and the worship leader is kind of squinting his face almost like he's in pain trying to figure out what the heck I'm singing so the joining in can happen soon. Gems it was the longest most humiliating moment of my life and trust me I have had many.

I look back on that day many times and have a good laugh but know I passed the obedience test for sure on that day. What I want you to take from this is we have no idea what God tells people to do or how to do it. Anyone who knew me would have said you ARE NOT hearing from God, we have heard you sing!
So let's just pray for each other, especially when it's out of "our" normal. Pray we will hear God clearly and have the strength to make the hard decisions. Pray the Holy Sprit will convict us if we are off course, trust me He has no problem getting His point across.

Who knows He could be grooming YOU to be his next megaphone preacher. Whatever it is He will give you the words and strength to finish the task.
                                             ♫ May it be a sweet sweet sound in His ear♫

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Wandering in the Wilderness

The wilderness, ever been there? You feel like you’re wandering around aimlessly. Like every door you knock on is the wrong one and every street you drive down becomes a dead end.
Your world around you can seem like it's unraveling and your not quite sure how to get it back on track.
Most of us are familiar with this verse in Romans,
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
We like to recite that verse and claim it in public to others but I think we forget sometimes that you actually have to be in a not so good situation in order for God to work it out. You can’t just claim that God will work it out if you’re not living in it. What I mean is you have to actually be going through the thing you need to have worked out. And that Gems can be an unnerving experience, a true test of faith.
Believe it or not the wilderness times can actually be the most holy times we experience with God. It’s in the all things or wilderness times we are in a place to actually hear God the most.
God brought Moses into the wilderness to speak to him through a burning bush. (Exodus 3)
It was also in the wilderness God gave the Holy 10 commandments and the law to Moses. (Leviticus)
It was in the wilderness that Elijah heard God’s still small voice. (1Kings 19)
John the Baptist was also in the wilderness when he heard a holy word from God.
Luke 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
John had another extremely holy experience in the wilderness, on the island of Patmos, where he was a prisoner.
Revelation 1:9 John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea
So I think it’s safe to say that God does indeed lead us into a holy wilderness where He not only speaks to us but we hear Him loud and clear. Rather than kicking and fighting your wilderness experience take a deep breath and embrace it. Consider that you may very well be on holy ground.  Press in and ask the Lord if there's something He's trying to tell or teach you.
I would love to tell you that I have always done this but that would be a lie. It’s something I’m still working at.  Now when I’m in what feels like a desert I’m reminding myself of the goodness of God. We have to believe that God is good and wants what’s best for us in order to stand on the verse in Romans, that He will work all things out for our good. You need to first believe He wants what’s best for you.
A few months ago I saw a quote I knew the Lord was using to speak to me, it said:
“Not all those who wander are lost”
About 2 weeks later my sister sent me a card and guess what she wrote in it??? “Not all those who wander are lost”
I am once again at a crossroads in my life. The Lord let me know it’s time to resign from my current job, which I did. I will be leaving soon and He has not mentioned where I will be going next. I only know that the end of April or May I will be done with my current job assignment.
Did I mention the middle of May my lease is up on my apartment, my youngest daughter is getting married the end of May, my son and his wife are having their 3rd child and P.S. I’m not sure if I’m moving.
Earlier in my walk I would have been freaking out! But I truly have that peace that passes understanding right now from years of being in and out of the holy wilderness with my Lord. I have truly learned that He does work out all thing for my good!
So Gems the next time you’re in a wilderness time instead of focusing on all the stressful circumstances and feeling like you’re wandering around lost, embrace it with an attitude of holiness. Listen carefully there may well be a still small voice trying to tell you something.
“Not everyone who wanders is lost”