In the year of 2011, I attended one of our Women’s Ministry meetings at church; little did I know that God would use that night to change my life. When I look back to that day, I know it was a divine appointment from God. During that meeting, the leader was talking about reading her Bible through in a year. While she was talking, I could hear the excitement and passion in her voice and the joy she had in her heart—it was contagious! I remember sitting on the back row that night and how the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me with conviction, to the point at which my heart hurt.
My mind began to think, “Here I am, a women’s Bible study teacher for the past six months, and I have not even read the Bible cover to cover.” My mind fast-forwarded to meeting God for the first time and I imagined Him saying, “Debbie, I gave you 47 years on earth to read My Word and you didn’t have time. I had so much to tell you.”
I prayed that night that God would give me a hunger for the Word like never before. I knew from past attempts, I couldn’t do it in my own strength. March 6, 2011, began my journey of reading the Bible from cover to cover. I can say to you today that God has blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined! He didn’t bless me financially or materially, but with joy, peace and an appetite to have an intimate relationship with my Savior.
When I read my Bible now days, it challenges me, provokes me and changes me. I can’t remain the same after a morning with Jesus. Reading our Bibles should not be our last thought but our first. Every morning I look forward to spending time with the Lord. God has answered my prayer and He has given me an insatiable hunger for His Word. We live in a world turned upside down and we desperately need to saturate our minds and hearts with God’s Word so we can live right side up.
—Debbie McGrath, Connections Assistant
Begin your journey through the Bible today at www.crosspointechurch.com/resources/bible/page_bible_main.htm.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8
Have you ever experienced a season in your life when everything seemed to be on hold? Have you spent days, months or even years in anticipation of something or someone? Nehemiah can relate. A cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, God appointed him to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem in order to restore the honor of His people. However, Nehemiah had no clue how to begin such an incredible task. So the very first thing Nehemiah did, before he ever began drafting construction plans, was pray. Nehemiah prayed and waited for the Lord to answer.
For four, long, anxious months, Nehemiah prayed and waited on God’s “green light” to begin construction. My point in today’s post is to encourage us to practice the discipline of waiting on the Lord and His perfect timing. I know this is a difficult lesson to learn, and I realize it is tough to wait in our microwave culture. We live in an “instant” world. We’ve got everything from instant coffee to instant mashed potatoes. Life travels at warp speed and it is getting faster by the day. But our God puts a premium on patience.
When you wait on the Lord and pray to Him diligently about a problem or decision, you aren’t wasting time; you’re investing time. Time waiting is never time wasted where God is concerned. But why does God make us wait for answers? Why doesn’t He give us instant answers to our prayers? I believe the answer is very simple: He wants us to get on His timetable.
Nehemiah knew what God had called him to do, but he had no clue how God would provide for the construction or when God would choose to begin the work. Nehemiah just had to pray and wait. As the passage above tells us, God’s ways are not our ways and often His perfect timing doesn’t match with our idea of perfect timing. So I encourage you today, if you are in a season of waiting, take heart. God’s timing really is the best timing; and He rewards those who wait upon Him. Don’t spoil a precious blessing from the Lord by impatiently taking your own course of action. He will lead you and guide you perfectly when you slow down and wait on Him.
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-20
When a poker player believes he has the winning hand, he goes all-in; he bets all his cash and lays everything on the line. Today, I want to challenge us as believers in Christ, to go all-in for Jesus. Because when you go all-in for Jesus, you do so not only for Christ, but for the sake of those who do not yet know Him.
In the person of Jesus Christ, Paul believed that he had the winning hand in life. He was determined to go all-in for both the Gospel and his Master. In essence, Paul was saying, for the sake of the Gospel, “I will do anything, go anywhere, pay any price, and endure any cost.” But being all-in comes with a cost. There are some specific things we have to give up if we are going to be all-in for Christ and for others. One of the things we must be willing to give up is our personal preferences.
Look back at the passage again. When Paul says “though not being myself under the law,” he means that he was no longer under the ritual law. He understood that being right with God was about a relationship with Jesus and not merely abiding by ritual commands. Yet, Paul said, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.” Whatever their ceremonial law dictated he was willing to do it. If they didn’t eat pork he didn’t eat pork.
Why did Paul do this? He didn’t do it to appease them or even to affirm what they believed. He did it in order to open a door of opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. Paul never gave up his convictions, but he was willing to give up his preferences. What would the American church look like today if we all embraced this humbling mindset? Ask the Lord to open your eyes to preferences you need to let go of and give up. A life all-in for Jesus is by far the best life you could ever live.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15
Before we really get into the meat of the message today, I want to make sure I explain where I am coming from. I want you to be clear up front on what I do and don’t believe about the matter of healing. I believe in faith healing; I do not believe in faith healers. I believe that God still, supernaturally and miraculously heals.
In the above passage, James addresses those who are sick. I’m sure some who are reading this post today are dealing with sickness. Whether it is physical or mental, everyone can relate to sickness because we all get sick. Sickness affects believers and unbelievers. Sickness comes to atheists and agnostics. It affects everyone.
According to James, what is the first thing we are instructed to do, as believers, when we face sickness? We are called to pray. And at times, we are called to ask the leaders of the church, the pastors and staff and others, to come together and pray over us. Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying; God uses doctors, medicine, and technology to heal, but all of these are tools in the hands of God.
Let me say it again. There is nothing wrong with going to see doctors and using medicine. Anyone who says you shouldn’t because that shows a lack of faith is ignorant of what the Bible teaches about both healing and faith. The thing I want us to embrace today is to know the difference between putting our faith in doctors to heal, and placing our faith in God to heal. All healing is of God whether your healing comes through fresh air and sunshine, vitamins and proteins or medicine and technology. It all comes from God. It may be the hand of the surgeon that holds the scalpel, but it is the hand of God that holds the surgeon. So let’s remember to seek the true Healer when we face sickness.
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” 1 John 1:3-4 NASB
Most every Sunday, before the preacher speaks and in-between one of the worship songs, the worshipers are instructed to, “shakes hands and say ‘good morning’ to those around you.” Through this simple gesture, we are initiating how the Apostle John taught Christians to live: in fellowship with one another.
These days Christians tend to automatically link the word fellowship with food and fun. And while these things can absolutely be a part of fellowship with one another, they are not what true fellowship is built on. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, which means, “to share in common.” What do we share in common that allows us to enjoy fellowship with one another? It is Jesus.
When you accept Jesus as Lord, you are born again into the family of God and now have the right of true fellowship with all other children of God! One of the wonderful things of being a Christian is that a Christian life never has to be a lonely life. There should be no “lone rangers” in God’s family. We are called to share each other’s joys, sorrows, highs and lows.
True fellowship, both vertically with the Father and horizontally with the family of God, fill us with complete and full joy. Too many Christians are walking through this life with partial, momentary joy. John says, “these things we write, so that your joy may be made complete.” Our joy is made complete by first, having fellowship with God (Psalm 16:11) and secondly, by having fellowship with other believers. So I encourage you, if either of these two areas of fellowship has become occasional in your life, begin today by getting back into fellowship. We were created for relationships. Both vertical and horizontal.