Archive: September, 2009

Desperately Seeking Significance By: Heidi Avery

Imagine with me for a moment…

In today’s Faux World Times Newspaper a personal ad has been placed…

Desperately Seeking Significance

“MMO3 (married mom of 3) seeks personal self-worth. Must “feel”…highly educated and sought after…fun, funny, pretty, thin and sexy…friends with everyone and invited to everything…intellectual, engaging and encouraging…adored and appreciated… respected and revered… loved, loving and lovely… worth her weight in gold… important and irreplaceable… above all content and at peace with her fabulous position in this world.”

MMO3 is feeling insignificant and she’s asking the world to fill her desperate need. It looks pretty ridiculous when you see it written in black and white (or blue), but I think we can all relate to her a little.

I’d be very surprised to hear that any woman doesn’t struggle with a lack of personal self-worth in one or two of the areas mentioned in that ad. The desires of our flesh can have a powerful hold on us, especially if it’s left un-managed.

If you could measure your level of worth in a cup what would that look like? Maybe you’d cheerfully say to me that it’s completely full, spilling over in fact! Or, perhaps you’d say it’s sometimes slightly filled, but occasionally it’s dry and empty? I would honestly say that my cup is usually just under half-way some of the time, but all it takes is a little bump off the table to be spilled out completely and emptied… soon to be dry as the Nevada air.

Where do we go to find this cup filling significance that we so desperately long for anyway? I know we all know the right answer… it’s in God of course, but is that really where we go to find it?

I for one have certainly been guilty of letting the world define me and subsequently accepting that my worth is not really worth much at all. When we are so quick to fill that empty need for significance in our lives we put ourselves in a high risk position. Satan is in the very lucrative business of answering our desperate want ads and using the very available and equipped world to do it.

Just take a look around this world we live in, it offers up self-worth solutions at every turn. We’ve got pills that promise “more energy” or “lose weight now.” Self-help books that boast “be a person of influence” and “how to make more money.” People, successful, beautiful people of great significance (so we think) every where swear… “try this and do that and you’ll be happy, or you’ll feel better and look better.” I’m not saying it’s all bad, but if we are seeking significance and looking for it any where other than God we are probably going to find “something” to fill our cups, but is it the right “something” that’s going to give us what we really need?

Look, we’re not going to submit a personal want ad looking for self-worth like MMO3, I know. But is it really any different than meeting our husbands at the door and secretly asking… “will you fill my cup?… show me that you need me!” Or looking deeply into our children’s eyes… “how about you, will you fill me?… prove to me that you love me!” We call our friends up on the phone… “please, fill my cup… tell me that I’m good, affirm me!” We give our very best at our jobs and examine every word our boss says hoping that they will fill up our cup of significance… “tell me that I’m valuable, irreplaceable!” We give our money to a cause not only hoping we’ll “feel” significant, but to be able to say to others “my cup is filled, I really am important, don’t you see it… oh, please say that you see it!”

Sadly, this worldly treasure hunt only produces fools gold. It’s shiny and promising, has the feel of significance, but really it’s worthless.

Let’s compare it to an ice cream cone on a hot day. It’s July and 102 degrees outside, it’s hot, really hot and you’ve decided to have an ice cream cone. It brings you quick, cool satisfaction, so very yummy. Sounds great, right? It seems to have worked, you are suddenly, cool and happy and enjoying it down to the very last bite. However, it’s still 102 degrees outside and now the ice cream cone is gone. You find yourself not only very hot once again, but now you are very thirsty too.

You see the significance you can find in this world is a lot like that ice cream cone. It provides temporary relief from your present condition, but it is quickly gone leaving you wanting, no desperately needing more. Secretly you know that there will never be enough. There can never be enough of something that doesn’t really exist to begin with.

People can’t make us feel significant and the world can’t make us feel significant. They can try, but it’ll never stick. Our desire to “feel” significant is purely of the flesh and when we submit to it we are taking our eyes of off the One who finds us very significant. Just look at Psalm 139…

“you know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” God knows us intimately. No person could ever know us so intimately.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the sea, even there your right hand will hold me fast.” We don’t have go searching for anything, He is there, where ever we are what ever we need. He is the key to our significance.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Did you hear that? He created us, fearfully and wonderfully He created us! Isn’t that significant?

Psalm 139 is a beautiful display of just how very significant we are to and in Him. Read it, write it on your heart, never forget and never be empty again!

The last verses in Psalm 139 say “search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We all know that feelings can deceive us. When we are anxious about anything, worry, fear, doubt, significance, whatever… He knows! He knows our anxious thoughts and IF we ask Him to show us where we’ve gone wrong, where there is sin, He is ever faithful to show us. He will deliver us. He will lead us in the way everlasting!

We will not ever “feel” significant in this world. Why would we? Paul reminds us that this is not our home… “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) We don’t fit and we aren’t going to. We don’t even want to! We have the promise of Jesus, what’s more significant than that? How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)

The search for SELF-worth in the world is a dead end. But, the search for significance is found on the narrow path, as we follow Christ and because Christ is significant so are we. Thinking anything less makes what He did for us seem insignificant and it keeps us right where Satan wants us stagnant and unable to continue with the work of the Kingdom.

Fill your cup with Truth and it will always be full, spilling over in fact 🙂

Here’s my personal want ad, written here and on my heart…

TCOG (Treasured Child of God) seeks the love of her Father and finds it at every turn. She enjoys being sought after, encouraged, adored and loved. She loves because He first loved her. She’s important and irreplaceable in the work of the Kingdom, but does it for His glory. She’s content and at peace knowing her place in heaven is secure. She wants nothing, fears nothing, desires nothing short of the promise she’s been given in Christ, her Savior.

"The Egg Versus the Potato," By Kelli Zaniel

I desire for my heavenly Father to gaze down from the heavens to see me diligently preparing my earthly home for others the way He is preparing my heavenly home for me (see John 14:2).

In the ring tonight, we have an egg in one corner and a potato in the other. The smooth, incredible edible egg versus the rough, googley eyed potato. Yes, I was cookin’ up some supper and decided to engage my foods in fight night! As the water began to bubble and brew I dipped the eggs in one pot and the potatoes in another. The race was on! Who would finish first? Which food group representative would remain intact after battling against boiling temperatures and extreme environmental pressures? Can you tell I am the daughter of a retired chemistry teacher?

To the touch, both the egg and potato are hard. As the heat rises and the pressure builds, both the egg and potato get knocked around in their heated match. As the bell chimes and the fight comes to an end, the MC grabs her spoon and swiftly tosses each into their separate corners. The winner is…. the good ole potato. He started the good fight dressed in a rough and tough exterior. However, with constant exposure to open-air boiling, his rough exterior began softening. The egg was surrounded by the same environmental pressure but his exterior remained hard. Wouldn’t you agree that some folks are eggs and some are potatoes?

When life calls me into a heated match, how will I react? When I am dipped into boiling waters of trouble, what will my heart look like? Will it be hard like the egg who remained unchanged when the heat was turned up? Or will it become softened and re-shaped like the potato? When the surface temperature rises, I need the calming hands of Christ to stabilize the boiling bubbles beginning to surface in my heart.

My husband was married for a short time years ago. This union produced a son, John, who is now 18 years old. John has been living across the country for all these years and unfortunatley, did not visit often. Recently, life has been reaching back and throwing its best shots at him. He has truly found himself standing in the crossroads of his young and impressionable life. He had begun a slow descent into the shadowy valley of temptation when he called and asked for our help. My husband asked me if John could stay in our home for an undetermined amount of time. He needed direction, a goal and the unconditional love from his Father. Before John arrived, I prayed that God would soften my heart like the boiling water softened the hardness of the googley eyed potato. Not only did God soften my soul but He carved out a special place in my heart just for John.

Okay, now its confession time. When the news of this first broke, I was scared. Scared of what this 18 year old “man,” might bring into our home. Scared of how it would affect my marriage and our children. I felt trapped in between the pressure of honoring my husband and protecting my children. I ran to my secret place (my closet), and fell to my knees. I prayed that my sensitive heart would not be hardened by my fears. Lord, I am yours. I need your merciful hand in mine. Oh, how I desired to show mercy to this child the way that Jesus had shown to me (see Luke 10:37). I realized I would fall flat on my face in a puddle saturated with failure if I tried to do this in my own strength. Jesus, I need you! I need you to fill in the gaps where I am falling short. I believe in your biblical truth that you will, “strengthen those hearts who are fully committed to you,” (see 2 Chron. 16:9). Please help and strengthen mine!

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Christ’s great love for me led him to Calvary’s wooden cross. There he paid the ultimate price so that I might live. My love for others should be of the same kind – a love that goes beyond simple affection to self-sacrificing service. I made the choice to honor God by allowing Him full access to my heart. I looked at this situation as an opportunity to be obedient to my heavenly Father. It was an opportunity for God to be glorified in my weakness. God spoke a very simple truth to my heart, “obey Me and I will take care of the rest.”

Allowing God to work in and through me to welcome John in our home was not the easiest choice but it was God’s perfect plan for John’s life. I could have pitched my own pity party and tied myself together with strings of bitterness and selfishness, but that would not have pleased God. If I make choices to honor God today my feelings will eventually catch up. At first living this way seems harder but in actuality it does the opposite. It makes your attitude more aligned with God’s, thus making it easier to withstand the pressure while floating in your pot of boiling stew. I know that am not perfect but if I consistently call on the One who is, I WILL make a godly impression on those around me.

Last week during my quiet time with God, He impressed on my heart to go buy John a Bible. I instantly remembered that I had a nice Bible tucked away somewhere in my room. I tugged on my bedside drawer and underneath all the toddler books was my old Bible. I dusted off the top and presented the Bible to John. He graciously accepted the gift and has carried it with him every Sunday to church. I believe God’s ultimate plan was to change my heart in His pursuit of Johns.

Lord, when the temperature begins to boil and the pressure mounts, please give me a softened heart that seeks only to please and honor you. I pray that your overflowing water of grace will splash out onto those around me leaving their souls renewed and refreshed. I pray that you will continue to work through me to provide whatever John needs, whether it be just a place to stay, food to eat, a listening ear or simple acceptance.

Clear Direction During Tumultuous Times, Posted By: Heidi Avery

I don’t know about you, but lately I have been deeply burdened by the state of our country. Our future is embarking on certain change and it’s caused quite an uproar among the people of America. People we know are hurting, out of work and some have lost their homes. We as a people seem to be at odds more than ever over the issues and the direction of the government. I have personally been involved in some conflict with people over politics and the health of our nation. It’s been disconcerting and we are all concerned as these times are filled with opposition and uncertainty. We do not know what is going to happen next and we never like that do we?

God has continued to remind me that He is still sovereign, still King of Kings, still Lord of Lords and that is substantial and it’s what we as believers cling to… it is our hope. I feel an urgency to remind us all of our sure position in this world as we experience tough times and conflict at every turn. For today’s blog I am posting the majority of a sermon that was given by Pastor Brian Borgman of Grace Community Church in Minden Nevada. It’s entitled “Do Not Fear Their Fear.” He gave this sermon on November 2nd, 2008. This was just before the 2008 presidential election. It’s what God used to ground me in my fears after the election and it’s what the Holy Spirit has brought back to my heart now in the midst of conflict and uncertainty.

In an effort to reduce the length of this blog I painfully cut out some of the sermon. If you feel lead to read it in it’s entirety I’ve posted the link at the bottom. It’s very powerful and very important for us to understand exactly where God is directing us during these times. Please read this and let your heart and soul soak up God’s truth…

1 Peter 3:14-16

“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Isaiah 8:11-14

“The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: “Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured. Bind up the testimony and seal up the law among my disciples.

I would remind you this morning that the people of God have always been controlled by the Word of God, the character or God, the promises of God—and in dark, tumultuous times—God has always had a Word for his true people and it is that Word that sustains them. It is that Word that strengthens them. It is that Word that instills courage and faith within them and so it is today.

In Isaiah chapter eight there are two things that are happening that give us the background. The first is this…

In the course of Isaiah, the leadership of Israel was being exposed for what it was. In the course of Isaiah’s ministry we come to this king Ahaz.

Ahaz was pretentious in claiming to actually know the Lord and care what the Lord had said to him. And, in fact, when the prophet visits Ahaz in chapter seven Ahaz actually tells Isaiah, “Tell me what the Lord has for me.” And yet the reality is that Ahaz had already made up his mind what he was going to do.

King Ahaz had been informed. He had been shaped. He had been governed by the spirit of the age. It was not the Word of God that had influenced and shaped Ahaz. It was the spirit of the age. As a result Ahaz lacked moral and spiritual conviction. Although he was a man who said that he trusted in Yahweh, he did not obey Yahweh’s Word and, in fact, his claims to moral courage and spiritual conviction were simply a sham.

Isaiah, as the prophet, is beginning to expose Ahaz for the sham that he was. Ahaz’ fundamental problem was that he was relying on worldly power and the powers of the nations. Isaiah’s message to Ahaz was, “You need to be trusting God.” And yet Ahaz, while saying with his mouth, “I trust God,” actually was looking to Assyria for his help.

Now Ahaz had a motivation in relying on Assyria. His motivation was to make certain alliances with nations in order to protect his own dynasty and his nation. But the reality of what was happening is that while he was making these alliances right under God’s nose, he wasn’t securing the protection of anything. He was securing the destruction of himself, his own dynasty and eventually the nation.

Ahaz was a bad king. In fact, Ahaz was a rotten ruler. As a matter of fact, Ahaz was corrupt to his core. He disregarded the Word of the Lord. He disobeyed the prophet. He would end up being judged by God. But notice, Ahaz was put on the throne by God. It is God who establishes rulers and kings. It is God who is sovereign over those who rule. In fact, it would be the prophet Daniel who would tell us…

“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.” (Daniel 2:20)

That’s the testimony of the Word of God. Governing authority has been put into place by the sovereign hand of God.

The second thing that was happening…

The remnant of Israel was being defined in the process. As the leadership was being exposed for what it was—faithless, unbelieving, self serving, hungry for power, reliant upon human power and wisdom—the remnant in that same process was being defined. The remnant was becoming more and more clear because as the nation Israel was increasingly politicized and increasingly secularized even though profession of faith in Yahweh was probably at an all time high, there was a people within the people who were resisting both wind and tide. There was a people within the people that was actually becoming more and more defined, more and more pronounced, more and more obvious, more and more front and center in the life of the nation. And that people within a people was called the remnant.

What marked them, what defined them is that the remnant absolutely refused to look to Assyria for help. The remnant actually refused to think according to the zeitgeist, according to the spirit of the age. They refused to be influenced, formed and shaped in their thinking by the spirit of the age. They refused to be politicized. They refused to be secularized, but rather there was a fundamental defining commitment among this people within a people and that was a commitment to the Word of God at all costs, turning to God alone in repentance and faith and obedience. To them what mattered most was not the ensuing international crisis. To them what mattered most was not being on the cusp of God’s judgment, to them what mattered most was a fundamental commitment to live out according to the Word of God in repentance and faith and obedience. And that is what drove them no matter what was happening with kings and kingdoms and rulers and nations.

Now most certainly the remnant would not be immune from the coming calamity. It is not as if somehow the coming calamity would pass over the houses of the remnant like the plagues of Egypt. The remnant actually would not be immune from that coming calamity, but they would not be swept away with a sense of hopelessness and despair. Although not immune from the calamity that was coming, they were immune from the hopelessness and despair because they had banked their hope on God and his Word. And when your hope is anchored in God and his Word, no matter what comes our way we are not swept away with the hopelessness of the world.

Those are the two things that were happening and that brings us to verses 11 to 15, Isaiah’s words, literally God’s words to the remnant.

Isaiah in many places in the book represents that faithful remnant…“For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power…” (Isaiah 8:11) Literally with the strength of his hand, “and [he] instructed me.”

The very first thing that we notice in the midst of God’s words to his faithful people is this. The source of peace in tumultuous times is the Word of the Lord. Notice clearly “Yahweh spoke to me with his strong arm or his strong hand upon me.”

For Isaiah the most important thing was not what Ahaz was saying nor the political courts of Assyria. The important thing For Isaiah was what God was saying. And so Isaiah takes tremendous comfort that God’s mouth has spoken and his hand was present with power.

By the way, in the Old Testament, often times God’s mouth and God’s hand or arm actually come together as a metaphor to mean what God has promised with his words he will fulfill with his power. And so there is a certitude that the people of God had that when the mouth of the Lord has spoken the hand of the Lord will fulfill what he has said. And so right there it is the Word of the Lord coming with power that sustains and strengthens Isaiah and the remnant in the midst of the tumultuous times. And what we see in the Old Testament is time and time again, it is the Word of the Lord that delivers his people not from calamity, necessarily, but from despair. And it is the Word of the Lord that comes and gives his people stability in the midst of difficult days.

And so Isaiah would say later in that book that God’s Word never returns void. It always accomplishes what he sends it out to accomplish. (Isaiah 55:11) And then he could turn around and he could say, “To this one I will look who is humble and contrite of heart and him who trembles at my Word.” (Isaiah 66:2) Not trembles at the Word of the politicians, not trembles at the Word of the spin doctors, not trembles at the Word of the New York Times or the Jerusalem Post or whatever else you may be reading. It is those who tremble at the word of the Lord that God looks upon with favor.

And so the instruction that God gives to his people is this. “Cling to my Word. Hope in my promise. Deliverance from despair and hopelessness comes not through a party, not through politics, but through my sovereign Word.”

Now that Word is going to come to Isaiah and the remnant in three parts of instruction…

1st instruction for tumultuous times – Separation:

The Word says, not to walk in the way of this people saying, “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.” (Isaiah 8:12)

The very first thing that God says to his people on the brink of this Assyrian crisis is, “Be different. Be separate. First of all, don’t walk in their way.”

What does Isaiah mean? What does God mean? He is talking about the entirety of their lifestyle. Don’t think their thoughts after them. Don’t imbibe their ideas. Don’t embrace their priorities. Don’t think through their own world view. You don’t think. You don’t live. You don’t conduct yourself like they conduct themselves.

And then he says, “Don’t’ call a conspiracy what they call a conspiracy.” Now the conspiracy here that God is talking about is probably what the people of Israel were saying about Isaiah and his disciples. The conspiracy probably went something like this… Since Isaiah and his Word centered disciples are not on board with Ahaz’ pro Assyrian policies, what is really happening is that there is an unpatriotic conspiracy going on with these people.

Isaiah and his followers by saying, “Don’t go with Ahaz, don’t trust the Assyrians, don’t buy in to these policies,” they are being un Israelite. The slur: they are conspirators. “They are trying to overthrow the good of this country. They are unpatriotic. They don’t care about the things that they should care about. They are not driven by securing our national security and prosperity. They are driven by different priorities. They think differently than we do. You know what? It is a big conspiracy.”

And what God says to his people is very simple: Don’t assess the way that they assess. Do not waiver from the past of radical Word centered faith because they say to you that you are unpatriotic and even treasonous.

Understand this. If you are not willing to go with the status quo—red or blue—people will think that you are unpatriotic. If you aren’t driven by the things that drive everybody else, people will question your commitment.

God says to his people, “You don’t assess the way they assess. You don’t think the way that they think and you don’t live the way that they live.” And then he turns around and this is the most powerful statement of all. “And you don’t fear what they fear.”

Don’t fear what they fear. Don’t be in dread of what they are in dread of. Listen to me. Just as it was in the eighth century BC in Israel, so it is in the 21st century America for those who are so politicized and secularized that that encompasses their entire world’s view.

Fear had gripped that nation and once again what God calls for is a separation of his people. He calls them not to give in to the spirit of the age. He calls them not to be afraid of what everybody else is afraid of. He calls them not to be in dread of what the politicized, secularized crowd is in dread of.

Such fear is a sign that the people were clinging to the things of this life far too closely. God says, “You are not to fear what they fear.”

God’s purposes do not begin and end with the United States of America.

2nd instruction in tumultuous times – Sanctification:

It is Yahweh of hosts himself whom you shall sanctify or make holy. Now the idea of make holy is really not the idea of making God holy because God already is holy. The idea is as captured in the NAS and others to regard him as holy or to honor him as holy. So there is a separation. You don’t think the way they think. You don’t live the way they live. You don’t assess the way they assess. You don’t fear what they fear. But there is something that you must do and that is that you need to regard God as holy. In this context, to sanctify Yahweh of hosts, hosts significant, contextually sensitive name for God, Yahweh of hosts. The Assyrians have an army. Egypt has an army. Israel has an army, but the God that we are to sanctify is Yahweh of hosts, Yahweh of the armies of heaven.

And so you sanctify him by looking upon him as the holy, sovereign Lord, the one who has all supreme holy power. Therefore if you sanctify Yahweh of hosts what does that mean? That we will live a life of giving him glory by living in obedient fear. In other words, they are not to think like they think. They are not to fear what they fear, but rather what are they to do? They are to live life, they are to walk with an unswerving obedience to the sovereign Lord’s Word. They are to honor God as the one who is set apart from all others.

Brothers and sisters, you know this as well as I do. We are not supposed to fear men. We are to fear God alone. When we set him apart in our affections so that his greatness and glory eclipses everything else, then all other avenues of rescue and redemption pale in significance to the holy Lord of Israel. And that is what we are called to do. To set him apart is to put him in the highest place. To set him apart is to have the greatest value upon him.

And then it says, “He is your fear. He is your dread.”

Do not lose sight of this truth. The remnant is not fearless. They just know who they are to fear. And because they fear Yahweh, they do not need to fear anyone or anything else. Knowing that the Lord is the holy King, he is sovereign and in control, that compels our godly fear… so that we do not fear what the world fears, but we fear God alone.

This is a struggle right now because people are consumed with what ifs. And they are afraid of the what ifs. And God says, “Don’t be afraid of the what ifs. Fear the one who is sovereign over the what ifs. Fear the one who is in control of the what ifs. Fear the one who is enthroned over the rulers of the nations.”

3rd instruction for tumultuous times – Protection:

Notice it says, verse 14, “Then He shall become a sanctuary.” That is you honor God as holy. He is your fear. He is your dread. He becomes you sanctuary. So you move from separation to sanctification to protection. The one who fears the Lord and honors him as holy has God as a sanctuary and a safe place, not protection from the calamity, but protection from hopeless and despair.

To dwell in the sanctuary of God is to be near to God and to know God and to draw near to the love of God and to be secured that this God is good and he does good no matter what comes. And so those who trust in God, believing his promises and obeying his Word, they end up finding him to be a sanctuary. They end up finding him to be a refuge and a safe place. But not everybody has that benefit from God.

Notice very clearly Isaiah spends far more time on those who don’t than those who do…

“But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the Inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught.”

Relevant, applicable? You had better believe it. Why? Because those who in troubled times put their confidence in men and put their confidence in nations and put their confidence in alliances and policies and parties, these are the ones who will be terrified and so to ignore God and not to fear him, not to honor him as holy is not to have a sanctuary.

To ignore him is actually to stumble over him. To look elsewhere for help is to be snared by him. To resist him is to be broken by him. And so here is what Isaiah is telling us. He is either your safety or he is your undoing. And if you are going to look to party and policies and politics and all the rest to be your salvation, then you cannot look to God. God will not be a co Savior with anyone. And if you will not choose God as your sanctuary, you will not have a sanctuary. And, in fact, that God who has established himself as a sanctuary will end up being a rock that rolls right over you and destroys you, red or blue.

How you respond to God as holy, how you respond to God as sovereign Lord will determine what he is for you.

Now, you need to understand very carefully. The Bible is addressing us for times like these and worse. And so the call is for us to be clear headed, straight thinking, sober minded people for the purpose of prayer. Why? Because the end of all things is at hand. And it has been that way for 2000 years and therefore God calls us to a clear mindedness, a sobriety.

I challenge you this week to wake up every morning and confess, “Lord, you alone are holy. You alone are sovereign. There is none to rival you. You alone are my fear. I therefore will not be afraid of what others fear. You are my sanctuary and I put my trust in you, period.

If you’d like to read or listen to Pastor Brian’s sermon in it’s entirety you can find it at http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=112081536477

A Fresh Encounter to Wake Up the Soul, By Kelli Zaniel

“We state it distinctly and emphatically, that whatever the departure of a backsliding child of God, it is recoverable: not a step he has lost but may be retraced; not a grace decayed but may be restored; not a joy has fled but may be won back,” Octavius Winslow

My children love to drink juice. Apple juice seems to be their sweet drink of choice. As I was pouring one half apple juice and one half water into the sippy cups, I realized an important spiritual truth. Our relationship with God is as sweet and refreshing as the apple juice left untouched by the water. Close your eyes and imagine the water as our sin. When the water is added to our cup, the sweetness of the juice or our relationship with God, becomes diluted. Sometimes, sin can attach itself to the outer edges of our hearts poisening the sweet intimacy found only in a relatioship with our heavenly father. The symptoms, such as a diluted relationship with God and diminshed presence of joy, are obvious but we ask ourselves why? The diagnosis from heaven reads, “unrepented sin.” The prescription, a tablespoon of humilty, absolute surrender and repentance. A daily dose is recommended and refills are always available.

Unrepented sin is like checking an elegant coat in as you gracefully walk through the doors of a five star restaurant. The attendant politely hangs the coat, you leave it behind and forget it ever belonged to you. That sin remains on the hanger of your heart, unclaimed and left unattended. It remains in the shadows of regret until the Holy Spirit lovingly reveals where you misplaced the infamous claim ticket. Once the sin has bullied its way out of the darkness, it can be pulled from cobwebs, dusted off and claimed leaving you forgiven and set free.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:1). Satan pulls his weapons of persecution, ridicule and despair from his fiendish arsenal. Sin stealthily creeps in and launches a frontal assault on our hearts. Unfortuately, we are not immune to its powerful grip. As sin begins to permeate through our lives, our witness begins to weaken and our commitment begins to crumble. When sin deploys its destructive attack against us and begins taking the upper hand, our accessibility to our heavenly Father is limited. We become less effective to Him. Our sin cost Christ the cross and it will carry out its orders to continuously launch seek and destroy missions against us if we do not repent and seek forgiveness from the one who intervened on our behalf.

In my fresh encounter with God, he has enabled me to discect my soul and extract anything that might be offensive to Him (see Psalm 139:24). Once the stain of sin has been carefully removed, He can then repair and fill in the cracks that once brought stress to the relationship. Then our foundation will once again be restored. “He who covers sin will not prosper but whoever confesses sin and forsakes it, will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Do we deserve forgiveness? No, but we are released from the bondage of our sin because of Christ’s righteous sacrifice at the cross. Not because we are deserving of grace but because we are His children and we belong to Him. He treasures those who are His and opposes anything that prohibits us from enjoying a personal relationship with Him. When you become a Christian the Holy Spirit permanently takes up residence in your life (see Romans 8:14-17) and purifies your heart by faith (see Acts 15:9). We, as Christians, have been stamped “SAVED” by grace. The ink may fade over time as sin tries to separate us from God’s love, but once you are His child, you can NEVER lose your salvation or squander your inheritance. I love that truth, don’t you?

Repentance requires intentional living. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Are you intentionally living for Him? How can we do this? First, yield your daily schedule to God. Second, make any necessary adjustments that will allow you to become more sensitive to God’s activity. Third, flush out all the filthy, unrepented sin so you can stand firm and confident before your God ready to receive his marching orders. We are God’s instrument of choice (see Acts 9:15). He desires to use us in His redemptive mission to change lives and draw unbelievers to himself.

Repentance is referred to as one of the most positive and most misunderstood words in the English language. “The word repentance implies hope for sinners who recognize their sin and want to return to God. It describes turning away from sin and turning toward God. It is the ability to repent that gives all Christians hope.” (Fresh Encounter, by Henry Blackaby).

Recently, God personally revived me. My personal revival is Jesus in front of me, over me, behind me, beside me and all around me. He renewed my heart causing it to beat only for Him. I praise God for His gentle convictions in my soul, which lead me to the foot of the cross where my complete repentance for unclaimed sin took place. Are you ready to meet Him there so He can refresh your soul?

Lets take a stand against a watered down relationship with Christ. I only want pure apple juice in my cup from now on. No thanks water, we can do without you! It may be more costly to serve undiluted juice everyday, but when it comes to our relationship with God it is worth the expense. Next time you reach for something to quench your thirst, how will you fill your cup? Will you pursue a relationship with Him that is concentrated and vibrant or dull and diluted?