When No One Else is Watching…

Everyone knows that God chose a shepherd boy to slay a giant, but why a shepherd?

God chose David and displayed His glory through David’s life, making unconditional covenant promises,  “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”  (II Samuel 7:16)  But why David?

David did not ‘score points’ with God by slaying Goliath or championing God’s honor in the face of scorners.  God was watching what David was doing when no one else was watching.  

Most of us know that David was the youngest son of seven and given the lowly job of tending sheep out in the fields.  We’re familiar with his bravery, fighting lions and bears who attack the lambs.  Who doesn’t want that courage and strength?  I really believe though, that God’s eye was on much more…

David was outstanding in a job that nobody wanted.  A shepherd extraordinaire who:

  • never bragged or broadcasted his exploits.  No one in his family seemed to highly regard David – he was initially excluded when his brothers were presented to Samuel.  In fact, his father Jesse could say nothing about David except, “he is tending the sheep”.  David’s fierce courage only became known when he sought to convince King Saul that he could slay Goliath.
  • risked his life with no apparent motive for reward or acknowledgement or even possibility of promotion!  No sheep would celebrate when rescued, neither would David receive an award, trophy, or bonus.
  • worshiped God in the dark and lonely places, praising and exalting without audience or witness except God alone.   Although gifted, David did not perform, he worshiped.

I believe there are such ‘young Davids’ in the Body of Christ who may risk their lives as a servant extraordinaire for their Father.  They may also risk reputation, position, and livelihood and find themselves in lowly places but it doesn’t matter.  They have a task at hand and will excel even when no promotion is possible, no one acknowledges or esteems them and in fact, no one is even watching.   And out in that field they will worship, without choir, without musicians and without special effects.  

Perhaps we won’t meet these brethren until we get to heaven and even then they may be far closer to God’s throne!  There we may find caretakers to the infirm, single parents, elderly believers, disabled brethren…and some whose only ministry was to pray – and giants fell because of them!

Most everyone imagines being a hero, catching the applause, and receiving an award.  Only the Lord though, can change hearts to be like this David’s – fixed to excel at whatever task the Father entrusts,  a heart that worships the Lord with exuberance, just because He’s with us and worthy to be praised.  

God bestows gifts and talents to us all, perhaps they come forth and bear fruit through faithfulness in those lonely fields.  But this communion with God prepares us…when the giant looms overhead, when the enemy encroaches, when crisis arises we’ll know as David did: ‘victory is mine’!

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep….”  

What a resume!  What God is fashioning and refining in us may be unseen to the whole world but He gives life to the given gifts within us…and He will be exalted through them, even if no one else is watching.  

Well, IS a Minute a Long Time?

 

stopwatch IIMiss Chafe, my 4th grade teacher, always gave an easy ‘bonus question’ at the end of every test, something impossible to get wrong.  To this day I remember this one, “Is a minute a long time?”  Who wouldn’t say ‘no’?…but the class was divided!

Well, is a minute a long time?

Unfortunately, our culture so highly values immediacy that any downtime or ‘waiting’ is seen as wasteful loss…inefficient and unacceptable.  Mental pop-ups condition us to cyber-check and multitask.  We wouldn’t dream of waiting a minute to hear from Google or any of the ‘answer gizmos’ of our day.   Fastest car, quickest download… instant camera and telegram = instagram.  

But God’s best – His strength, His revelation, His indwelling – only come to those who wait!

I remembered Miss Chafe’s question while praying.  Do I get up upon my last request and start my day?  Can I linger on, for one minute, and wait for the Lord to speak to me?  Can I pause, even a minute, during prayer time to allow the Holy Spirit to align my prayers with God’s will?

Can I meditate upon a verse for 60 seconds, allowing the Holy Spirit to bring it to life in my heart?

God awaits us and often draws us in through fiery trials, unmet needs, and challenging griefs.  But ‘suffering’ is not the designated time to wait upon God.  The Bible calls that designated time ‘Today’. 

Take the ‘minute challenge’ but with reverent trepidation…who brings a stop watch when meeting with a King?  Sixty seconds exposes what’s in our hearts, the importance of our agendas and priorities.

Could taking a minute before praying make all the difference?

“Once you are sure that you are talking to the One who loves you intensely and the One who has all power to do anything in this universe, i.e. once we see the greatness of God, the greatness of His power, and the greatness of His love, then we are ready to pray.”   Zac Poonen

Oh Lord, let one minute turn into two, into three…let us lose track of time in Your presence.   Lord, let us linger not for just ‘an answer’…but to to know You and fellowship with you.  What burdens Your heart?  “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening…”

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“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning…”

 

When God Keeps Us Waiting….

The work of God in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for…

Tremendous and miraculous works of God, the testimonies of the saints, and the glory of God’s creation all build and grow our faith…and rightly so!  The stories of ordinary men in the hands of our extraordinary God  bring hope to our challenges and trials.

But rarely does our spiritual focus point to the faithfulness of the spiritual giants while waiting for God to move, to rescue, to answer their prayers.  Who really marvels at Joseph’s patience and endurance while waiting years in a dungeon?  With plenty of days and months for discouragement and unbelief, Joseph retained God’s favor by excelling while waiting.

True faith believes that waiting is never wasted or futile but rather a prescribed time of unexpected service, preparation and testing without which God’s perfect will might not go forward.  

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
(Phil 2:13)

Simeon waited years, perhaps his whole life, to meet the Savior of the world and was not disappointed as an elderly man, holding God incarnate in his arms.  Did Simeon imagine that those seemingly endless seasons of God’s silence would mark him for eternity in God’s word?

Waiting often tests us and often weeds out unbelief.  Exodus 32 presents the tragic story of people who refused to wait on God….they foolishly created a ‘god’ and missed the greatness of God’s plan for their lives.

The hardest part of faith is the last half hour….Pastor David Wilkerson

Faithful- even if not always perfect- waiting upon God yields much for God’s people, whether they are waiting for urgent deliverance, miraculous healing, an open womb, or the Savior of the world.   And so I pray…

Lord, encourage those of us who are heavy hearted… dog sad

Renew our hearts with anticipation….

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Keep us steadfast at our assigned post….

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no matter how small our post may seem.

Lord, help us to study your great promises and commit to remember:

The Promiser Keeps His promises. 

 

 

Worshiping in the Boat

Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’.” Matthew 14:33

In this passage, Jesus had walked upon the water as the disciples in the boat fought a raging storm in the dark. Jesus walked on water? Reigned with power and authority over the forces of ‘nature’? Certainly, yes He did.

But the disciples ‘worshiped on the boat’ – without strobe lights, fog machines, tuned instruments or perfected choir? How is that possible?

Jesus said,

But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

God almighty is seeking, looking for, those who will worship in spirit and in truth?   I want Him to find what He’s looking for in me!

I want the boat worship. I want to receive Jesus, acknowledging His power and authority, and meditate on His divine accomplishment on the cross. I want to be led into worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth.

“Christians are guilty of telling more lies to God on Sundays than on any other day….Because it is on Sundays that they sing so many hymns such as, “All to Jesus I surrender”… excerpt, Zac Poonen,  God-Centred Prayer

Human talent, resource, and technology has made ‘worship’ a business…

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Are we attempting to ‘conjure up’ the presence of God?

Many church goers are satisfied with entertaining ‘performance worship’. The emotional appeasement is uplifting, encouraging and even medicinal. But is that anything like the worship in the boat?

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31

I am searching my own heart, asking…

1. Would I sincerely take the words of the songs I am singing and speak them during prayer time to the Lord? Do I have a prayer time to meet with the Lord?

2. Is the music and song or the ‘atmosphere’ engaging my flesh with rhythm and tempo or are songs drawing me into scriptural truths?

3. Am I engaging in something contrived and artificial?

4. Is worship (adornment, deep honor and reverence) already in my heart before I gather with others or is the gathering working up a group cheer for God?

5. Can I sing the songs, even sing the Psalms, during dark storms –  when my circumstances have horribly changed  – with assurance that God has not changed?

There is value in presenting God our best praise and thanksgiving, especially that unbelievers may see that our God is worthy of all exuberant praise.  But lowly fishermen did not rehearse worship to get it right or impress in any way. The presence of God brought them to their knees, their hearts prostrate, filled with awe.

If Jesus walked into our home during our prayer time (or anytime) we would not pull out a guitar, flash vibrant lights nor would we sway and bop. We would fall to our knees with the weight of our nothingness next to His sovereignty. We would worship.

“Lord in heaven, I do want to worship You in spirit and in truth. Help me to understand what that simply means. Help me to wait on You, even if I must stroke the oars through a dark storm. Give us all a true anticipation of Your presence and prepare our hearts to bow down to You. More than anything Father, I want You to find what You’re looking for in me. In Jesus name, amen”.

May the Lord personally bless you!

The REAL Independence Day

We all look to celebrate, especially as this world and our personal lives may hold such cause to lament. In fact, I often pray for reasons to celebrate, for laughter in my soul, for joy that makes my feet dance and arms punch the air.

But the bad thing about man made ‘celebrations’ is that whatever you bring into it, sadness, defeat, loss, sickness, disappointment, you will end up bringing out with you at the end. Man-made celebrations tantalize the flesh with sensory pleasures….fireworks, food, drink and parades….but are powerless to reach the needs of the heart or release us from what really oppresses.

It is our heart and soul that long for victory and celebration.

fireworks

Momentary pleasures are but a distraction

To celebrate freedom from England or any other government can never replace the true cause for man to rejoice – the freedom to approach God, the freedom from sin, from guilt and all that would separate us from our Heavenly Father.

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  II Corinthians 3:17

The Bible says that the devil blinds us, taking us captive to do his will; that sin is a bondage, a prison, from which only our Savior and Deliverer can destroy.

I pray that on this Independence Day and every day our families, our neighbors, our community and country will look deeper for a true reason to celebrate. Lord, stir our hearts away from the temporal.   Let us rejoice as heaven rejoices, when a sinner – anyone separated from God – turns from his ways and trusts the Lord Jesus for forgiveness and new life. When a person is not just born into this world but born again into the family of God, that is cause for us to dance and shout!

May we see the Holy Spirit move and save those around us and celebrate as the Kingdom of God advances – freeing us from all that would ensnare and oppress – and leading us boldly to the Throne of God.

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14

Recognize These Birth Pains?

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Drag Queen Story Hour NYPL – in many other states as well

This above scenario troubles me in several ways. Firstly, while people have the right to live as they choose (within the law) there is grief in seeing a man happily dressed as a woman. Secondly, what could be more disturbing than celebrating this in a public venue of children? The answer – that parents, guardians of the children, are offering up their children to a value system, validating the very morals that offend God, and robbing them of the innocence that could be theirs.

There is no ‘freedom of choice’ when children are prevented from considering the choice to know God and His ways. Parents will undoubtedly shield them from the heart changing stories of Noah, Abraham, King David, the Apostles and our Savior Jesus Himself.  Most children today do not hear of God’s love, so costly and powerful but emotionally feed on stories like Worm Loves Worm, a story depicting same sex marriage.

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Like child sacrifice to Moloch, here spiritual lives are freely given up….

Finally, the logical challenge goes forth, like a warped altar call….

 

drag queen calling

With enthusiastic invite he asks, “Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?”

What could be worse than children being indoctrinated with such sexual values? Worse than the parents bringing them to such an ‘altar’?

A silent – or complicit – or unloving church.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matt 24:12)

When Jesus describes the “birth pains” in the end times before His return, there seems to be a causal relationship between ‘lawlessness’ and the believers’ waning love. Betrayals, persecutions, and apostasy –an increase in wickedness – turns the love of many cold.

Here is the saddest part of the Drag Queen library presentations: most of the church has lost her grief and love for the souls that have no hope without God.

Much of the western church ‘avoids’ persecution or betrayal by ‘hiding in the world’, camouflaged by the same values. Others resist controversy and conflict by avoiding the bold truths that would convict man’s heart toward repentance.  For followers of Christ, the ‘cost’ of proclaiming the truth rises exponentially with wickedness.

There is usually no love found in ‘protesting sin’. It’s hard to find a precedent for it in scripture. But loving that ‘woman at the well’ doesn’t mean ignoring her sin or colluding with her sin. It means having a grieving love for her soul – a love that can’t resist telling her the truth so she might repent.

The ‘silent church’ does not represent the Jesus Christ. The ‘protesting church’ does not represent Jesus either. Worse is the ‘compromising church’ which Jesus warns He will vomit out of His mouth.

These ‘birth pains’ are coming faster and more painful. The devil laughs as men dress as women, men marry men and children are led into sexual and gender confusion. He may even laugh when we protest, boycott or petition these cultural changes. But Satan never laughs at the burdened heart crying out to God for the lost, deceived and confused. The devil isn’t laughing at the pleas and petitions to almighty God to deliver man from captivating sins.

I don’t want to join these ‘story hours’ but neither do I want to ignore them or protest them. I am grieved at the drag queen, the attentive children at his feet, and the deceived parents who usher their children into this arena. But if we focus our eyes on eternity, our view of all this changes.

All may suffer from these ‘birth pains’ described in Matthew 24, the tribulations that precede Christ’s return,  but only those reconciled with God, who ‘endure until the end’ will have the joy of His return. For the unsaved, ‘birth pains’ will not lead to joy of Christ’s arrival but the dread of meeting Him as Judge.

‘Today’ is always the right time to adjust our hearts and minds increasingly to the heart of our Lord. I pray for a heartfelt burden to plead for all those at ‘story time’. I pray that God reminds me frequently to pray for every ‘story teller’, every child in that audience, and every parent that applauds the ways that offend God.

Lord, I pray that you enlarge my heart toward the things that grieve Yours.  Please share Your burden for souls and lead me in prayer.  Let my prayers be aligned with Your will and be fruitful.  I pray for that ‘story teller’, bring him to a place of conviction, raise up a controversy in his heart.  Save him that he may tell Your stories.  Take away the false peace of those parents and pull back the curtain of deception.  Shake the hearts of families with the truth that, without You, there is no peace, there is no order, there is no hope. 

“But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

Who is God Looking For Now?

“Too bad you missed that prayer meeting – it was so exciting!

I always get a puzzled look from others when I share about the Times Square Church Worldwide prayer meeting.  Prayer meeting? Exciting? The large gathering of multicultural believers, the online fellowships around the world and most importantly, the presence of God make this prayer meeting so exciting.

So encouraging and stirring in fact, I am presenting my notes from Pastor Carter’s message preached during Tuesday’s prayer meeting, 6/20/17:

Thoughts on Faith and Prayer – Who is God Looking For Now?

We are living in a time of immense pain, perhaps unrivaled since the civil war…What type of people is God looking for now?  The kind of people who can push back this pain…In Biblical history when the enemy came in to destroy, God sought for a person or people who would stand in the public place and declare who He is.

Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world…”

In the time of Judges…people rose up but then fell to laziness, complacency, fell into darkness…God raised up a voice – Gideon.  He didn’t believe or see that he was a ‘mighty man of resources’ because he looked to himself, not the power of God that could  be his…we are like that – not knowing the strength we have in God…when God sends you to do something, His word is all you need to get it done – whatever He’s spoken to your heart…

You don’t need a diploma, resume, credentials…just belief in what God will do!

God sent Gideon to be a light on a hill – and God will give us His torch, smash the jars and cause our light to shine.  All we are to do is declare the victory that is in God, not us!  They made a public declaration of who God is and how our victory is in Him…God brought confusion upon the enemies and they turned on themselves…He used a people whose hearts wanted to honor Him…

What does God need from people today?  What kind of people is He looking for??

Gideon mustered a large army…~ 32,000…God said “reduce it”…first, tell all the fearful to GO HOME.  Twenty thousand men went home while 10,000 remained.  Fear says, “God is not able.”  God said, ‘those who are afraid to go public – send them home.  They are not a light on a hill’.  

The worst thing that God can ever tell us:  “I have a battle to win – go home!”

That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with fear…we are not called to an absence of fear but to overcome fear.

God continued to decrease Gideon’s army…took them by the water…water always represents the Holy Spirit.  Then sent them to a hill – He wanted a people who would venture out, willing to go public.  And He looks today for a people to speak on His behalf to the addicted, the afflicted, the marginalized, radicalized, the broken…This is where the victory is…The devil has done all he can to silence the church.  By God’s grace we’re going to say what God gives us to say…

We are the light that God has set upon this present hill…we must proclaim, ‘It is the power of God that you need in your life – the power of God will heal your home…the power of God to break your addictions…to give you a sound mind…it is the power of God that brings clarity, a future for your children…It is the power of God alone alone that brings healing to a nation…brings unity to every race, every culture, every people…

The church will rise and be counted…like Gideon’s tiny army against a huge army…we must stand and declare to a lost generation that there IS salvation, there IS a Savior, there is a heaven and a hell…and a bridge called ‘the cross’ between the two… 

The church is going to rediscover her identity in these last days, by the grace of Almighty God!

I am willing to stand and be counted among the ‘foolish’…oh, to the Midianites it must have looked like an insane battle plan…300 people against 135,000…what a site! You had to know God was in that!…

And I know that God is with us when we choose to openly declare His name and talk about His victory…with the compassion of God in the center of our being, we call the lost from every place to His wonderful plan of free salvation and the promise of power to live a new life….

Who wants to go?  Who wants to go to the top of the hill?

Whether you are afflicted, addicted, filled with sorrow, whatever your circumstance – you too are invited to come to that hill called Calvary, invited to receive the strength of God, have your sins forgiven, receive divine purpose in your life…you too are called to hold up your torch and say, ‘follow me as I follow Christ! I know where victory is!  I know where love is, where healing is…it’s all at the cross of Christ!’

My prayer is, Pastor Carter declared,

“Wherever You call me to go, whatever You call me to do…may I have the privilge of being an ambassador of Your power…Let me not boast of myself but boast of You, Your cross Your victory…let me be a light in this dark generation…”  

 

Oh Lord, let that be the cry of my heart too!

What about you?

 

http://www.tscnyc.org/webcasts/tuesday-7pm/

or find the message later in sermon queue for Worldwide prayer, http://www.tscnyc.org

Better, join us in Times Square or online, Tuesdays 7pm….